Tag Archives: US Airways

Why American Air Was Right To Get Rid Of Bereavement Fares

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Boeing 757. Photo courtesy of American Airlines

The Internet and my aviation geek chat has been abuzz ever since the newly merged US Airways and American Airlines announced that bereavement fares would no longer be offered.

For the uninitiated, airlines used to regularly offer last-minute discount air fares in cases where a family member has died.  I myself have used bereavement fares three times in my life, and I was grateful. That being said, I’m glad that the new American Airlines has ditched these fares.

Many times when a death happens, it’s a surprise. Having planned three funerals in my life, it’s also not cheap. There’s the coffin, flowers, handling of the body, the church/place for the ceremony, the services, and the repast, among other things. So here’s my question: Would it ever occur to you to ask any of these vendors for a bereavement discount?

They are all businesses participating in the capitalist system that need to be paid the going rate in order to stay in business. And like it or not, airlines are also businesses that have shareholders and need to look at the bottom line. And as sad as a death is, and as cold as it seems, it’s not the airlines’ fault that someone died and you have to pay the going market rate for a ticket.

If you really need a ticket, go to someone like Hotwire or Priceline. Or go to an exchange where folks sell frequent flyer miles. Or consider driving, if that’s an option. Again, I’m one who has taken advantage of bereavement fares.  But most airlines don’t even offer these fares anymore. So I’m with American on this one.

Random Aviation Photo

I lived in Phoenix from June 2001 to December 2002, when I worked for Mesa Air Group.   I went back to Phoenix in March 2008 for an airports conference and spent some time taking photos of the US Airways fleet.  And since that livery will eventually only be a memory, I thought I’d start sharing some of the ones in my Flickr collection. Enjoy!


Why American Air And US Airways Employees Are Helping With The Merger Fight

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You may have noticed a spate of media stories about the employees of American Airlines and US Airways coming out and helping their companies fight against the Dept. of Justice lawsuit that has put a proposed merger on ice.  We’re always hearing about employees and management fighting over things including pay and benefits, worker rules and destinations/bases, to name a few, but not either side showing much love.

And most of the employees who would be affected by the merger were either against, resigned to it or just didn’t care — until DOJ came knocking at the last minute to put the kaibosh on the deal. Then it turned into an “us against the world” story, which is irresistable. Having seen this type of thing up close and personal in my 20 years of covering the industry, here’s why these airline employees have become strange bedfellows with their carriers in the matter of the merger.

First, they now all have a common foe. There’s an old Arabic saying: the enemy of my enemy is my friend. These employees may not be enamored of the management of their airlines, but when a common foe arrives, they are all in the same boat. For good references to this phenomena, see Delta vs. US Airways and Atlantic Coast Airlines vs. Mesa Air Group.

Second, that common foe is the U.S. government, as represented by DOJ. We all know in what high esteem citizens currently hold for the government, in the wake of the battles over the debt ceiling, the budget, Obamacare and sequestration, to name a few. So it’s pretty easy to make the government the bad guy and rally the airline troops for this fight.

Third, the lawsuit has created a “why everyone else and not us” mentality with both groups. Look at the history — DOJ has let other airline mergers pass without a whimper, including American and TWA in 2001, US Airways and America West in 2005, Delta and Northwest in 2008, Southwest and AirTran in 2010, and United and Continental in 2012. The last one they opposed was United-US Airways in 2001, and that one didn’t happen. So why object now, they ask?

Fourth, both airlines are putting a lot of time, resources, and most importantly, money to fund this employee campaign as part of the overall PR effort to fight DOJ’s opposition to this merger. I got a good look at this when Delta was pressing Congress for pension reform. We did a series of editorial board meetings that always included representatives from all the employee groups (including a gate agent who had already lost one pension when Eastern Airlines went under). The bill became law in August 2006.

Finally, these employees see the handwriting on the wall. Conventional wisdom says there still needs to be more airline consolidation (hello JetBlue, Alaska Air, Frontier, Virgin America), so with the American-US Airways announcement, they knew where they stood. Now, everything is in limbo again, so by rallying with their airlines, employees can feel like they’re fighting the good fight.  It will be very interesting to see how this comes out.

Random Aviation Photo

Back in June 2008, I took a trip to Pittsburgh to speak at an airports communications conference.  I had some time to kill, so I decided to wander around Pittsburgh International Airport. At the time, the airport was still adjusting to its dehubbing by US Airways over its high operating costs.  During my wanderings, I discovered that the airport had the Alexander Calder mobile, below, on display. You all know how I love art in airports. Enjoy!