US Airways News
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Posted March 12, 2009 by Nicki Krawczyk
I played the lottery a few weeks ago. Generally, I don’t go out of my way to buy tickets, but a few friends and I had been talking about how we would buy a yacht and sail around the world. Also, we would buy polar bear cubs because they’re cute and we’d employ a guy just to remind our friend Kate not to burn the bacon when she makes breakfast for us at sea. Living the good life, indeed.
To my grave disappointment, I didn’t win. (This time.) But the lure of free money remains. I want lots of money and I don’t really want to have to do too much for it—don’t I deserve lots of money? So, I can kind of empathize with Yale Junior Jesse Maiman, 21, who is trying to sue US Airways for a million bucks. Free money!
But here’s where the empathy ends and the desire to punch him in the head begins: Maiman is suing because his souped-up Xbox, valued at $1,700, was stolen out of his checked luggage. For the record, that’s .17% of that million bucks going to cover the game console and the other 99.83% going to cover Maimon’s “non-economic distress”—as he lamented to the press, “That thing was my DVD player.” (Perhaps unfairly, I prefer to imagine it as, “Dude, that thing was, like, my DVD player, bro.”)
I feel for the kid. I do. Nobody likes to get their stuff ripped off. However, I also don’t hand expensive things over to unseen strangers and expect to get it back. And then I don’t expect to get a million dollars of free money because I neglected the warnings. What warnings? Come on, does anyone really need to look through a multi-million-dollar airline’s baggage policy to know they don’t recommend checking really expensive things in your luggage and that they won’t be held responsible if said expensive things are missing?
Just for the record, US Airways Spokesperson Valerie Wunder points out that, “there are federal loss limits applicable to all airlines on their liability for lost luggage and belongings, which are currently set at $3,300 per bag." (That’s .33% of a million, by the way.) “Further,” she says, “our publicly available baggage policies specifically exclude liability for electronics checked in luggage." Yeah, that could hurt the suit.
Here’s what I’m thinking, Jesse: It does suck that your Xbox was stolen. And I understand that you’re upset. But that doesn’t mean you get a whole bunch of free money because of it. One million bucks isn’t the price US Airways will pay because your Xbox is gone; your Xbox is the price you’ll pay for being careless enough to check an expensive game console in your luggage.
I think we’re just going to go ahead and chalk this one up to a life lesson, kid.
Posted February 27, 2009 by Katie Blais
When I fly I become a creature of habit—iPod charged, gossip magazine bought, comfy shoes on, wrapped in my shawl (it’s a sweater/shawl and the best purchase ever), but my biggest in-flight attachment is that I need tomato juice. I know that sodium-packed little can probably causes more harm than good during a flight, but there is something so satisfying to me about sitting here sucking down my plastic cup of tomato juice, or Bloody Mary mix as sometimes the case may be, and eating a teeny tiny bag of pretzels. Now, I haven't flown on US Airways in quite awhile so I didn't even know they had instituted such a fee, but this week they decided it was best not to continue with $1 coffee and tea and $2 water and soft drinks, which is good news to this traveler because what I like best about my tomato juice and pretzel snack is that it doesn’t cost me an extra cent!
With carriers instituting tons of airline fees these days to generate extra revenue, US Airways rolled out their “beverage purchase program,” much to the chagrin of parched passengers. Upon further consideration (and most likely a lot of angry letters), the airline decided it didn’t pay off and discontinued the program.
So … stock up on soda, tea, and tomato juice on your next flight. Don't try to put them in your carry-on though ... you might get charged for that extra weight!
Posted February 3, 2009 by Carl Unger
In the weeks since pilot Chesley "Sully" Sullenberger, co-pilot Jeffrey Skiles, and the entire crew of US Airways Flight 1549 completed their successful and heroic splash landing in the Hudson River, the media has struggled to talk about anything but. The entire crew was honored before the Super Bowl and Sullenberger, especially, has been everywhere, enjoying his much-deserved fame and glory.
Well, now you, too, can be a hero like Mr. Sullenberger and the rest of Flight 1549's crew, though fame and glory will not likely be yours. Two free online video games based on Flight 1549 have popped up, and each allows you to splash land a crippled plane into a body of water. In one game, Hero on the Hudson, your job is to stabilize a wobbly plane as it descends into the icy New York river. The other, Double Bird Strike, requires you to steer clear of geese as long as possible, and then land the plane safely if necessary.
Both games have proven to be extremely popular, with over 1.5 million plays of Hero on the Hudson and some 147,000 attempts at Double Bird Strike. Still, the games come loaded with controversy, as one would probably expect. After all, this was close to being a horrific crash, and the fact that not one passenger perished still boggles the mind. Hardly seems like ideal video game material, does it?
At the same time, however, the games do stand as form of recognition of the crew's flawless emergency landing, and perhaps it's exactly because no one died that these games can exist. Either way, they're out there if you're interested. Double Bird Strike is by far the more difficult of the two, in my opinion. And whether you play the game or not, I'd love to hear what you have to say about this topic, so leave a comment below. Good luck!
(Photo: Angus Wilson/Ocean Wanderers)
Posted January 22, 2009 by Nicki Krawczyk
Arizona football fans, I’ve got some good news and some bad news for you. First, the bad news: Fares for nonstop flights to Tampa from Arizona and back are up. Way up. If you can even find any by the time you read this story. For Friday arrival in Tampa and a Monday return to Phoenix, US Airways has flights from $1,323 and $1,747. If you don’t mind hanging out in an airport, oh, overnight for a stopover, you can get a flight on Continental from $527. American will offer you significantly less stopover time, but to the tune of $1,214 and up. (I should also point out that these prices and availability are accurate at the time of writing this story. Thereafter, you’re on your own, kids.)
OK, now for the good news: The economic laws of supply and demand are still in full force! Wait, wait, this really is good news; bear with me for a sec. These prices have gone up because more people want to take these flights. But, by those same laws, prices go way down when the flights aren’t as popular. When these same airlines offer flights for 60 bucks, we’re happy, right? Economically, it’s a good thing that airlines are still raising prices while the demand is high and lowering prices while the demand is low.
But, of course, if you don’t have a nice chunk of change to set aside for one of these flights, this good economic news might not adequately cheer you. Therefore, I’ll offer a few ideas for alternate means of travel.
Drive. Unemployment is up, but gas prices are down! Rent a car or take your own and, even with a night or two in a hotel, it’ll probably net out cheaper than a flight.
Walk. You could scarcely ask for a more pleasant trek than Phoenix to Tampa in the winter. Why, Northerners wish they could enjoy such a pleasant jaunt.
Bicycle. Looking to whittle that waist per your New Year’s resolution? Hop on a bike and burn some serious cross-country calories.
Take a bus. No, I’m just kidding; no one likes the bus.
Pretend. The real Tampa may just not be an option for you. But don’t despair! You’ve still got a TV, right? Well, fill the bathtub with saltwater, pop a couple of construction paper palm trees on your rec room walls and throw on a pair of black socks under your sandals. Presto! Instant Tampa Super Bowl weekend, right in the comfort of your very own home. Sure, it’s not the ideal, but it’s definitely a solution: Skip the plane ride, pass the nachos, and go, team, go.
Posted November 26, 2008 by Carl Unger
No one really knows what Thanksgiving travel will be like this year. Chaotic? Frustrating? Totally awesome? Hard to say. But what we do know is that the air travel industry has changed dramatically since last year, with numerous bankruptcies, countless new fees, industrywide capacity cuts between 10 and 15 percent, and the disappearance of beloved traditions such as
free snacks and beverages. The question on everyone's mind, then, is how these changes will affect travel on what is traditionally the busiest travel holiday of the year.
And if you happen to be flying this Thanksgiving, you may be asking yourself how you can make things go a little more smoothly. Well, you've come to the right place. Here are a few tips:
- If you're flying home with a pie, keep in mind that while pies and cakes are permitted
through security, they may be subject to additional screening. Now, by "screening," does the TSA mean its security officials will eat the pie? That's not for me to say. But yes.*
- Do not wrap any gifts, because security screeners may have to unwrap them for further inspection. (What's that, you say? Don't security screeners have X-ray machines that can see through luggage, and should therefore be able to see through wrapping paper? Thus negating any need to unwrap presents? Well … ) Instead, just wrap them when you get where you're going, or ship them ahead of time.
- Check in online, thus allowing you to skip the long, torturous line at the check-in counter and proceed directly to the long, tortuous line at security. Hey, it's one less long, torturous line. Let's focus on little victories, OK?
- Get to the airport early, at least by a few hours. Why? Do I even need to explain it? How about those long lines, the potential for weather-related delays, the difficulty of rebooking a canceled flight during the busiest travel period of the year, and the awesome shops at the airport mall. Yeah, get there early.
*This, of course, is not true in any way.
To those of you taking to the skies this Thanksgiving, I wish you luck and safe travels. Hopefully these tips will help you a little. And if anyone else has additional tips to share, please leave a comment below. Thanks!
(Photo: New Hampshire Fish and Game Department)
Posted November 6, 2008 by Nicki Krawczyk
As tends to be the case lately, there’s been a big kerfuffle (a fluffy kerfuffle) about US Airways' plan to start selling blankets and pillows to flyers instead of just offering them for free. ( Jet Blue is already doing it.) I’ll be honest: I just don’t get the outrage at this one. Who wants to use some skeevy old blanket or pillow that’s been reused and drooled on by flight after flight of intra- and inter-continental strangers? I say, you people can keep your recycled germs. Bring on the sterile bedding.
There is, though, one more element to this little debate that seems to have been overlooked. Specifically, it’s the fact that no matter how hypo-allergenic your pillow may be, no matter how warm your fleecy blanket keeps you, you will not sleep on your flight. I can say this with more confidence than ever now, considering that ain’t nobody able to afford those ultra-platinum-class seats with the full-reclining bed in a plush cabin-of-cozy. Sorry, Emirates.
If you can afford to fly, you’re still going to be sardine-packed into your four-inch reclining seat. (Which goes with the territory. To all of those who are still complaining, I offer you a resounding “eh.”) You can read your book, listen to your iPod, and perhaps even enjoy in-flight entertainment in relative peace and comfort. But you will not—I repeat—will not sleep. The human body was not designed to sleep upright. Horses, sure. Flamingos, you bet. But not humans. Unless the airline starts pumping chloroform through those air vent thingies or mixing Ambien in with the ginger ale, there is absolutely nothing in this world or above it that will allow you to sleep.
Well, nothing … save one thing. If you get yourself all wrapped up tight in your new pillow and blanket and snug as a bug in a rug, request a copy of the airline’s policy on new charges and dig right in. It may just be the opiate a weary and fee-squeezed traveler needs to finally to catch a few furtive moments of sleep.
Posted May 28, 2008 by Zak Patten
My parents always told me not to fill up on junk food or I would ruin my appetite for dinner. That won't be such a problem the next time I fly US Airways, which according to the Philadelphia Business Journal, will be ending its snack service on June 1. We all know about the airlines' checked-bag fees and other cost-cutting measures by now, so it's not much of a shock to learn that the latest victim of high oil prices is a tiny, defenseless bag of pretzels.
Will we rise to the occasion and take on this new travel challenge? I hope so, and to aid in this noble endeavor, I'm proposing a number of solutions. They are as follows:
- Load up on your pre-flight calories. You won't go hungry if you are so full you have to waddle through the security line. A pint of Ben & Jerry's Chubby Hubby ought to do the trick.
- Make your trip a spiritual experience by fasting throughout the day. If you don't eat anything at all, you'll purify your body and mind while saving money. By the time you reach your destination, you'll be enlightened. Not to mention very, very hungry.
- BYOS. Yep, bring your own snacks to the party. I recommend trail mix consisting of one part peanuts, one part raisins, and four parts M&Ms. Hey, it's gonna be a long flight.
- Mooch. This is in many ways the easiest solution. You don't have to hit the store or some expensive airport eatery beforehand, so you'll save money there. And you won't need to carbo-load prior to takeoff or adopt monk-like discipline. Nope, just strike up a conversation with your neighbor and make a few friendly remarks about how delicious his/her food looks. If your fellow passenger doesn't take the hint, let a few drops of drool hit your armrest. They'll either run away or offer to share their goodies. Either way, you're getting something to eat.