US Airways took over American Airlines a decade ago and kept the American name, just as America West kept the larger airline’s name when it took over US Airways. The US Airways brand went away in 2015.
The carrier US Airways was itself an amalgamation of airlines. When I was much younger I knew the name as an acronym: USAirways Still Allegheny In Reality, Why Alter Your Signs?
I simply assumed that the ‘US’ name was chosen to give the carrier a more national brand. But it may have had a much more practical explanation, according to a story that long-time airline CEO Ed Colodny would tell new hires when they onboarded.
- His main interest in the airline’s name change was the phone book.
- Allegheny was the first airline listed in the yellow pages. People would shop for ticket prices by going to the phone book and calling airlines, calling Allegheny first and calling United Airlines last.
- When they would reach United, which would have a price similar to others they’d called, they’d be on the phone anyway and ask to make the purchase rather than starting over and dialing another carrier.
This change was made in 1979, right after airline deregulation when airlines began setting their own prices rather than prices being set by the Civil Aeronautics Board. Changing Allegheny to US Air meant they were last in the Yellow Pages. Customers would call them last and buy their ticket.
What this speaks to is that customers would behave differently with airlines than most businesses, who wanted to be first in the phone book which would provide an advantage – first call would get the service. But people shopped fares, and this is prior to the internet, and of course it only applied to those buying directly and not through travel agencies.
The airline was US Air before US Airways. Allegheny traces its original to the All American Aviation Company founded by the du Pont family. It became US Air in October 1979. Colodny was President and CEO from 1975 to 1991.