USAirways Meets the Cockroaches

Keith Alexander, whose Washington Post “Business Class” columns are generally quite good, writes today about a recent meeting between USAirways executives and a group of frequent flyers who call themselves cockroaches.

USAirways revealed that they aren’t getting rid of first class sections of their cabins, even as they try to transform themselves into a low cost carrier. At the same time, they have already reduced the number of first class seats on some planes and their heavy use of regional jets limits the flights that have those cabins now.

Unfortunately, USAirways isn’t bringing back real glasses to replace plastic cups in first class. And the dirty state of some of USAirways older planes goes unmentioned.

The article also includes the first public call I’ve seen from Randy Petersen to burn rather than earn USAirways miles.

    The cause for Petersen’s concern, he said, is not that the airline could file for bankruptcy. In bankruptcy, a traveler’s frequent flier points are still honored. His concern is that travelers could lose their points if US Airways is liquidated.

Randy’s right. USAirways is not at all attractive as a takeover target. They do have assets, but those assets are only useful to another carrier purchased piecemeal.

When USAirways and United attempted to merge, United’s pilots (who held a seat on United’s board of directors) went nuclear. Even if USAirways manages to get tremendous cost concessions out of their unions, their personnel still have incredible seniority. Any merging of the USAirways workforce with another carrier will leave that other carrier’s existing employees in more junior positions.

Any acquisition of USAirways will almost certainly lead to higher labor costs for the new carrier combined with acrimonious labor relations.

So there’s certainly more downside risk than there is upside to USAirways miles at the moment. Personally I’m down to 16,000 miles in my account. I’ll probably top that off with some Membership Rewards points in the near future and burn them for a trip — that I’ll take very soon.

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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