I declared last year that US Airways elites are hungry. They don’t get fed in first class on a 3 hour flight.
When the CEOs of US Airways and American sat down to pitch the merger to the New York Times, I had 9 quotes in the ensuing piece and pointed out that CEO-to-be of the joint airline Doug Parker has traditionally believed that all that matters is being an on-time airline and thus the importance of actual service might be diminished.
Focusing on good value and good service was one of my key points in a USA Today op-ed when the merger was finally green-lighted back in December.
Earlier this week I worried about the US Airways-ization of American, code for giving customers less and finding more things to charge for.
So it’s only fair to point out positive changes the combined airline is making as well.
Back in December it was revealed that US Airways would be adopting American’s meal windows (effective April 1) and service standards (effective September 1).
First Class Meals on More Flights
On flights less than 1 hour, enjoy a morning and afternoon/evening beverage with a snack
We’re offering our signature snack basket on flights 1 – 2 hours in length
Lite Bites, a new snack basket including fresh fruit, breakfast cakes and finger sandwiches, will be offered on flights 2 – 2:45 hours long, as well as on flights departing after 8 PM
On flights from Charlotte to Minneapolis and from Philadelphia to Minneapolis, enjoy meal service: Breakfast 5 AM – 9 AM, Lunch 9:01 AM – 1:30 PM, Dinner 4:01 PM – 8 PM, Lite Bites 1:31 PM – 4 PM and after 8 PM**
A meal is offered on flights 2:45 – 3:30 hours long from 5 AM to 8 PM, and Lite Bites are offered after 8 PM**
On flights longer than 4:30 hours, enjoy meal service with a snack basket 5 AM to 8 PM, and Lite Bites with a Continental Breakfast Box served after 8 PM and on late night flights
New glassware on all domestic First Class flights
They also declare “Premium Wines on domestic flights” (3 1/2 hours and longer). Since I won’t even drink US Airways’ international business class wines, I’m skeptical.
Inflight Entertainment Improvements
Doug Parker hates inflight entertainment, I’ve heard him say so, he hates the person that invented it because it’s expensive to install and its heavy which means carrying the systems burn fuel.
US Airways even took out inflight power from many of their Airbus aircraft to save weight and thus fuel. Hopefully premium improvements ultimately mean bringing back seat power.
It’s not surprising the direction they’re going for inflight entertainment, following American’s lead it’s not going to be heavy systems (although I’m shocked by the heavy systems American has installed in some of its domestic aircraft).
International business class gets Samsung Galaxy Tabs on Boeing 757 and 767 aircraft (which don’t have their own inflight entertainment systems) and they’re doubling the selections on their Airbus A330 aircraft. They’re also planning to add Bose QC15 noise cancelling headphones.
Personally I’m surprised they don’t just go with an inflight server to stream entertainment to customers’ own devices, coupled with seat power to keep those devices powered.
What’s in a Name?
Since American Eagle will be called Envoy, US Airways is changing the name of its business class product from Envoy to.. business class.
Coach and Economy are now called Main Cabin, which always made good sense to me in American’s nomenclature.
What Does the Future Hold?
If I were a betting man I’d say say 6-12 months from now, with American and US Airways aligned, we’ll see additional adjustments and not in a direction that we’ll like.
Coming in September ‘service standards’ are supposed to be brought up to American levels. That probably means hanging jackets in first class, thanking customers, and generally doing things other than reading magazines. Well see how that goes!
For now though we’re seeing service improvements, the kind of things that will mean I don’t try to avoid flights through Philadelphia, Charlotte, and Phoenix once reciprocal elite status recognition across American and US Airways begins to include upgrades.