Wednesday, May 28, 2008

United/USAirways Dead?

Is the deal really dead? I love how they term it "permanent hold." Frankly, this deal makes too much sense to go through. I mean you've got two airlines who have such stellar records. USAirways is still digesting (regurgitating over?) AmericaWest. United's pilots have an oustanding record for cooperative negotiation. I'm not sure, therefore, what the difference between "permanent hold" and "we're moving as fast as we can" might be. Not much from where I sit.

I remember, back when I flew United, a conversation I had on the Dulles people mover with a United pilot, who was trying to convince me that their work slowdown was being done for us. I said "if you want to know what we want you to do, fly the damned airplane." He started to argue but several other passengers reiterated my message, forcefully, and he was smart enough to realize that advancing an unpopular position in a closed vehicle was probably not a good idea.

USAir can't do an integration. United's work force will screw things up. The biggest thing arguing for this deal is that by combining two losing ventures into one, at least there will be just a single bankruptcy filing to manage, and no doubt it will be accelerated by the merger efforts.

UPDATE: Of course it's not over.

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

USAirways Boarding Mayhem

I just love when airline employees don't care. I've heard it said more than once that USAir's customer service motto is "we're not happy until you're not happy." They must have been delighted today. Flying JFK-PHX, they start boarding the pre-boards. Everyone, and this is of course a nearly full plane, makes for the gate. First class boards. People at the back of the line, evidently tired of waiting, form their own line to the right of the original line, rearranging the boarding lanes to get to the front. The gate agent not only doesn't stop this, she just begins processing people from the new line. Second gate agent comes over to help, asking "who are we boarding?" Despite the fact that they had made no announcements whatsover after first class, the agent says "groups 1-4."

The good news, I suppose, is that the plane was a little early. Also, more kudos for Clear. Security lines were longer than usual -- post holiday weekend, I imagine -- but my time in line was under a minute, and that long only because it took me three tries to get my fingerprint to read properly.

Sunday, May 25, 2008

Just when you thought it couldn't get any worse...

Frontier is now charging an additional $25 for carrying antlers. Once Wall Street calculates the revenue potential from this move...

United's Bogus Rationale

I was just going through some old email and came across this missive from United:

"To ensure that Mileage Plus miles earned toward elite status and award travel on United are aligned with actual miles flown, we are revising our base accrual policy. Beginning July 1, 2008, for flights of less than 500 miles, passengers will earn redeemable miles equal to the actual miles flown. Elite Qualifying Miles (EQM) will also be awarded based on actual miles."

It almost sounds reasonable, doesn't it. Only get miles for miles you fly. However, think of it this way. In my experience, the only flights I take of less than 500 miles are shuttle flights like LGA-BOS and LGA-DCA/IAD. On a cost/mile flown, these are among the most expensive flights operating. American at least has the decency to peg its points (as compared to its miles) to fare basis. United is now giving its flyers a double-whammy. High per mile charges *and* fewer miles.

This would bother me more but I almost never fly United any more. After over a million miles on United, I gave up on them a few years ago. I'll probably get into that with other posts but at least I don't have to muster the vitriol about United's actions the way I do American's these days.

As an aside, I suppose I shouldn't be surprised but I guess I am that I haven't heard from United. Something along the lines of "hey, you used to be Global Services, you were VIP before we even formalized the Global Services program, you were good for 50-150,000 miles/year and now you've fallen off the face of the earth. What happened?" You'd think they'd care. You'd think they'd notice. Perhaps they lost sight of what the whole value of LOYALTY programs were all about.