2012 Shittiest Airline Award

Winner: US Airways

The ballots are in, and it was not even close: US Airways wins this year's trophy in a landslide.


    1. Advertising Everywhere
    2. Surly Front-Line Personnel
    3. Customer-Unfriendly Booking and Re-Booking Policies
    4. If US Airways Can Charge You For It, US Airways Will Charge You For It
    5. The Food Selection
    6. Filthy Airplanes
    7. Temperature Control
    8. The Dividend Miles Program is the Worst Frequent Flyer Program in the World (Literally)
    9. Others Agree

Advertising Everywhere

Flip down your tray table, there's an ad for Zappos. 

Start to drift off to sleep, and the flight attendant gets on the loudspeaker with:

"Because we value you passengers so much, we want to take a minute to introduce you to a special offer that can help you earn tons of miles -- by opening a US Airways credit card!"  This prepared script typically extends for at least two full minutes.  Passengers might not mind being marketed to by other service providers, except for the fact that Federal air regulations require airline passengers to listen to the flight attendants. 

Oh, and I also love checking in and being assigned boarding group 6, while listening to the announcement that holders of the US Airways credit card receive priority boarding.

Surly Front-Line Personnel

I'm not sure what it is about US Airways flight attendants and counter personnel that make them so grumpy, irritable, and intractable.  But most of them are. 

Customer-Unfriendly Booking and Re-Booking Policies

Most airlines, if you are booked for a scheduled flight and arrive at the airport early enough to take an earlier flight to the same destination, will permit you to stand by for the earlier flight.  They don't charge you to make this attempt, with the understanding that your ability to get on the earlier flight depends on seat availability.  If the earlier flight is full, you're out of luck -- but at least you can try.

US Airways does not allow stand-by passengers.  If you want to take an earlier flight, you are welcome to pay a $50 re-booking fee.  Even if the flight you are booked on is oversold, and the flight you want to stand by for has plenty of seats available.

I actually had this happen to me once, booked for an oversold flight, but arrived early enough to take an earlier flight with plenty of seats.  I would have thought US Airways would have welcomed the opportunity to take me off the oversold flight and move me to the one with available seats, so as to avoid booting people off the oversold flight and giving them free ticket vouchers.  Nope.  No fewer than FOUR US Airways representatives at the airport told me that day that my request was impossible without my paying the $50 re-booking fee.  The last of them had the temerity to insist to me, repeatedly, that "every airline has this policy."  Which is patently ridiculous.

On another occasion, I called the US Airways 800 number to try and determine how many seats were available on an earlier flight, to look into the possibility of opting for the earlier one.  The phone representative would not tell me how many seats were available -- only that "there are seats."  There might very well be a good reason for this, but clearly US Airways has made a decision, by not permitting the release of this simple information, to prioritize its own interests over those of the customer.

If US Airways Can Charge You For It, US Airways Will Charge You For It

Leaving the $50 re-booking fees aside...

$2 for a can of soda.

Checked baggage fees for even the elite-tier frequent flyers.

The Food Selection

US Airways has the audacity to sell the most poorly designed $5 snack box on earth.  Here is a list of the contents of one:

Who in their right mind would include in a snackbox no fewer than FOUR items that need crackers to make them edible (jelly, peanut butter, chicken salad, and cheese), and only TWO crackers for all of them?  And who would choose to make those four items, for the most part, mutually exclusive?  You wouldn't put chicken salad and jelly on a cracker.  So you're left with 75% of your food uneaten because there is no way to eat it after you spend your crackers (note that the only utensil provided is a plastic knife).

It's like US Airways hired the only people on the planet who never eat snacks to design their snackboxes.

Filthy Airplanes

Do they even clean the interiors of the planes between flights? I have personally witnessed old newspapers, a McDonald's bag, and even spilled chili at my feet when I have taken my seat.

Temperature Control

It's fine to have a hub in Phoenix. It's also fine to let the interior run a little hot on the ground to save on energy costs. It's not fine to do both.

The Dividend Miles Program is the Worst Frequent Flyer Program in the World (Literally)

A recent Wall Street Journal study rated US Airways as the worst frequent flyer program out of all 21 airlines surveyed -- with only an 11% success rate at converting miles into free travel.

Others Agree