US Airways PR: United States Airways Jacks Passengers For Pillow Money

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Today’s PR Goofy Award literally flew into our offices. US Airways announced today that it is charging for pillows and blankets for those customers in coach. These “Power-Nap Sack” essentials will set those reduced to economy flying back $7, according to Yahoo! News. Airlines worldwide are scampering to find a path to profitability during this recession, and US Air is following JetBlue in what should be termed an “Airlines Pillow War”. In all seriousness, one has to wonder at the sanity of the corporate world sometimes.

Fees for checked luggage, extra this and extra that have become the airline standard as profitability sinks for the airline industry. It look s like a bigger problem for US Air is that they “cheaped” out on PR and marketing before charging for pillows. Marketing spokesman Kevin Jackson for US Air had this to say:

“Selling the pillows and blankets is a natural extension of our ‘pay for what you choose and use’ model we began rolling out last year.”

In line with this model, one can expect the following “choose and use” selections from US Air the next time traffic falls by over 5 percent:

  • Individually wrapped 1 oz. bags of peanuts will cost $1, while the loose variety found rolling in the aisles will still be free
  • Pay toilets will be in effect for flights that leave the ground. The cost will depend on a factor of how much fuel the plane saves from allowing you to jettison waste
  • Landing with the airplane will become an option, while taking the express landing via parachute will be standard.
  • Passengers will soon have a choice of pilot/co-pilot options. As an example, an experienced pilot and co-pilot will cost an additional $200. Lesser options include the basic team of Barnstorming Bob with his trained Airedale. US Air recommends the “Leave no passenger behind” program, where there is no co-pilot, but the pilot trains one of the passengers just in case.
  • Other Carte Blanche services may include – Premium or cut rate flight attendants, optional air conditioning and heating, padded seat cushions, boarding ramps instead of the convenient rope ladders for boarding, or anything else US Air deems necessary to keep their profits airborne.

The ridiculous thing to me is having some corporate stooge sound as if people are actually getting a value for their $7. Jackson actually said he thought the sleep kit was an affordable value so that customers could be comfortable! The news went on to describe the airline logo clad kit as if it were something from Neiman Marcus. Of course the airline went on to announce that Trans-Atlantic and First Class customers will continue to get pillows. For those of you out there who cannot wait for your “Nap Kit”, they will go on sale before the February 16 deadline on the company’s Website.

Well, there is no doubt that Jackson and US Air can pick up their PR Goofy Award right now on our Website. I cannot help but wonder if everyone out there thinks like I do? I mean, every time I hear about some airline getting cheaper with creature comforts and the like, I cannot help but wonder what is going on in the repair hanger? Then my mind always wanders to the pilot hiring interviews. “So Captain Skyhook, You say you have never been found negligent in any of your 14 crash involvements?” There is a psychology to air travel you know Mr. Jackson. Did you guys ever wonder if the 6.5 percent reduction in traffic was a result of your last “rewards” program?

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Comments

  1. says

    I have visions of airlines parking planes out near the runways at major airports and giving people the option of walking or paying for a bus to get to them. The paying toilet notion gave me a laugh – they could call it the “go before you go” or “try before you fly” option.

    With air fare prices as they are I do not see a problem with paying for extras and helping reduce waste.

    • Phil Butler says

      Hi Sue,

      We are all actually on the same page here. I understand the need for cost cutting and etc. The chastisement was for the statement and its apparent suggestive I guess you know. The problem, as I said, is in not only what is conveyed, but the underlying issue – safety. From an engineer’s standpoint, one can often deduce the value or mechanical workings even, of a machine by its external characteristics. In home appraisals for instance, it is assumed that any builder who uses 8 inch crown moldings and the best door knobs and bath fixtures, would also not cut costs on things the appraiser cannot see – like internal wall supports and etc.

      I hope you see my point. Everything we do is to a degree symbolic of something else. If an airline is cutting costs too blatantly in a superficial area, one can honestly assume they “may” be doing so in more critical areas. The line we begin to draw in the sand starts to encroach upon things that should never even be considered. This is the second part of what I was alluding to. Bottom line, if the airline cannot afford to provide pillows, it may not be able to afford a grade 8 bolt in an important replacement part. Or perhaps the regulations require X hours of maintenance by Y mechanics, but Z hours is optimal with AA mechanics. Which would you hope would be done? The minimum, or other?

      For me, with my behind hanging 35,000 feet in the air and traveling 550 mph, being driven by another driver, I would prefer to pay more and have my pillow as a symbol I am not flying “Billy Bob’s Take A Chance Airways”. :) A better PR move would be to tell the public every time they need to cut cost or raise prices and why..every time. This way people are given the right choice…between an airline that is fully transparent, all be it a little more expensive. Putting people’s lives in the hands of bean counters is not exactly where we should all go. Some of these people would just as soon hire an actuary to figure the cost over incidences ratio. :)

      Thanks for your comments always Sue.

      Always,
      Phil

  2. says

    Interesting subject. Well, they sure got some discussions going around this. Personally I agree with Chris above.

    I can’t understand why people always tries to turn things to something negative. I see it as something positive: now I’m not FORCED to pay for something that I don’t use.

    …and I love some of the suggested new options there, especially the pay toilet – that will reduce the toilet lines! *giggles*

  3. says

    My wife and I have been using US Airways as our airline of choice for years. Between us we average 2-3 free tickets a year from our frequent flier account with them.

    While there is no doubt that they crossed the line into silliness in their marketing spin on this one, I personally don’t have a problem with them charging for blankets and pillows on flights.

    But then I don’t see things like fees for extra luggage or extra amenities as “extra” fees. From my perspective, as someone who rarely uses these extra amenities, I see that my favorite airline is doing everything they can to keep my costs down.

    The bottom line is they were charging for all this stuff before. We just couldn’t see those charges because they were contained in higher fares for everyone regardless of whether they used the amenities or not. When you get right down to it I’m grateful they are keeping my costs as low as possible.

    Besides, even if you fly a lot, you just pay for the blanket & pillow once & it’s yours to use as often as you want. Same thing with the headsets for movies. Customers still save money.

    Unless they wastefully just toss them aside at the end of the flight, that is.

    • Phil Butler says

      @ Ma, I am glad you knew about the kids calling me Mr. Magoo when I was a kid. Hopefully US Air will not include this package in their next offering. The Mr. Magoo pilot option often results in unusual landings as we saw recently. AWW..oka, I am actually super impressed with whoever was flying that plane.

      Always,
      Phil

    • Phil Butler says

      Hi Chris,

      I appreciate you taking this back down to actuality, and I like US Air as well. The part that brought on the tongue in cheek criticism, was their PR’s rather arrogant and obtuse attitude with regard to sounding like customers are getting a real value. I knew about the reusable nature of these things, but why could the not come up with a better monetization or at least a transparent statement? This is why they got the PR Goofy, not the Airline Goofy. LOL

      I know, a better way to chop losses would be to cancel all bonus miles programs! Just kidding Chris, I hope this does not give them ideas for your sake. :) Thanks for your input man.

      Always,
      Phil

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