The Sorry State of US Airways Domestic First Class

I had come across a very cheap first class fare and made a trip down to Florida (I purchased the tickets at $256 all-in, by the time I posted the deal it was $309, still a value). Of course, the fare was on US Airways.

Now, I understand their desire to cut costs in all dimensions. Their stock symbol is LCC after all! And their current market valuation is not just lower than other mainline carriers, it is actually substantially lower than niche players like Hawaiian Airlines. True enough, this is an airline with problems.

But the low levels of service provided by their flight attendants on this trip can’t really be justified by cost cutting, the airline is paying the flight attendants the same amount whether they service passengers or sit in the galley reading magazines. Perhaps the workforce is just too darned demoralized.

First, meals, and I recognize that is a cost issue. I had a 2pm and 2:45pm departure, but on flights over 1000 miles. No meals were served in either direction. One pass awas made with the snack basket — sun chips, granola bars, cookies, peanuts.

Second, drink service. On the outbound a predeparture drink was served. Not so on the return. After takeoff a drink was offered, both flights only one single drink service was ever provided on a two and a half hour flight. Since I was pinned into my seat (see below) I had to ring the call button to get some water… Oh, and the drink I ordered both ways was a bloody mary. The first time I got only Mrs. T’s mix, no salt.. No pepper.. No tobasco.. Nothin’. On the return I got a wedge of lemon to go with the Mrs. T’s. Thanks!

Third, legroom. Seatguru says US Airways offers 37 inch pitch in first on their 737s, which is an inch less than standard. I don’t buy it, it felt the same as the 34 or 35 inch first class on a Northwest DC-9. Or maybe they just offer substandard pitch and better than average recline?

No wonder there were empty seats in first after clearing all the upgrades. On the outbound they added a last minute non-rev to the cabin, and on the return there was a non-rev and an operational upgrade. The ‘op up’ traded seats with… Another non-rev in order to sit back in coach with her fiance. (Though I can’t imagine she’s marrying the guy, he was apparently whining how unfair it was that she got the upgrade and he didn’t, and he was happy to have her downgrade herself.)

About Gary Leff

Gary Leff is one of the foremost experts in the field of miles, points, and frequent business travel - a topic he has covered since 2002. Co-founder of frequent flyer community, emcee of the Freddie Awards, and named one of the "World's Top Travel Experts" by Conde' Nast Traveler (2010-Present) Gary has been a guest on most major news media, profiled in several top print publications, and published broadly on the topic of consumer loyalty. More About Gary »

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  1. I recall you inquiring about this trip on FlyerTalk. You asked what an A fare is on US Airways as compared to other carriers. Well now you know! LOL Seriously, this is why I don’t fly US Airways anymore. I can get similar fares and a better, more consistent product elsewhere.

  2. Gary, I was shocked by the poor condition of US first class.
    It is a shame to promote the product as such.
    Other than sitting in the front of the aircraft, nothing about my US flights resembled first class.
    The aircraft was dirty, no pre-departure drinks were offered, no snacks of any kind, no IFE of any kind.
    I admit my US F flights were short in length, however that’s no excuse to disguise a coach experience as ‘first class’
    My son summed it up best when said “what can’t we fly Ted airlines instead”.

  3. Demoralized indeed. This is an airline that two years later, still hasn’t merged its two components and rumor has it that they’re being considered the carrion to be picked over by UA and CO in the next round of bankruptcy court proceedings.

    When I flew US Faux class, I’d always “enjoy” the ink blots on the seat back in front of me. It seems this Jackson Pollack artist rarely flies F on other carriers. Dirty, dirty, dirty.

  4. As long as US F fares credit at 3X to BD I hope they keep discounting their fares. to match their inferior product…

  5. I’m glad to have read your post, and thanks for the pics. I’ve flown all over the globe in economy, business, and sometimes (rarely) in first class. International first class in carriers such as Air France and Virgin Airways couldn’t have been better. Domestic business/first class with airlines such as; United & Continental were decent. But the airline I despise above all others…drum roll…you guessed it, US Airways. I’m typing this from my iPhone at the airport so I don’t have enough time to elaborate the many, many times US Airways has caused my blood pressure to skyrocket, nor can I count the number of hours I’ve spent trying to reach a non-existent customer service representative. I’m sure by know you’ve realized I’m not a big fan of US Airways…but as fate would have it I have to take an impromptu business trip from MO to Phoenix on one day notice. I decided to dish-out an extra $600 for the first-class seats since all of the other flights through this wonderfully airline would have required at least 1-stop making a 3hr flight a 7hr flight (no, I’m not kidding). I searched on US Airways website to see if I could find any information about their first class amenities and what I found was a small bullet point list with no pictures. When I conducted a Google search I found your pictures, I was not surprised. Well, it’s time to board, wish me luck! Here’s hoping we land safely, they don’t lose my luggage (again), and no Bloody Mary’s for me thanks to some advice I just read.
    Andy R.

  6. I’ll just have to disagree across the board here. I fly international business often… and US Airways is MUCH nicer than either United or Air France.

    United and Air France didn’t have video on demand. NO VIDEO ON DEMAND. What the hell? How is that acceptable on an 8 hour flight when you are in the highest class they offer? Some of their new planes are obviously nicer, but they charge a king’s ransom for them.

    ALL of US Airways international planes have On Demand video. And I found the service to be above both United and Air France. (Those are the three airlines that I’ve done LON -> JAX/NYC on)

    Oh, and bitching about domestic first…. so yeah, domestic first isn’t crazy-nice. But its super cheap! I’ll pay for that! And I always get upgraded. So, I’m just happy to have paid a coach fair and get a nicer seat.

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