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.
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
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:
A piece of cheese
A can of chicken salad
A fruit roll up
A napkin and plastic knife
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.
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.
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.
1st place, America's Meanest Airlines, U.S. News & World Report, 2010.
"While US Airways improved five percent in passenger satisfaction
according to the American Customer Satisfaction Index, they were one of
three airlines cited as having the rudest flight attendants and serving
the worst food, in a survey conducted by SeatGuru last year.
Additionally, US Airways received a below-average score in the J.D.
Power 2010 North America Airline Satisfaction Study."
1st place, Lowest Customer Satisfaction, Traditional Airlines, J.D. Power 2010 Airline Satisfaction Survey.
1st place (tie), Worst Airline, HotelClub.
1st place, Worst Frequent Flyer Program, Wall Street Journal.
2nd place, Worst Airline, in an analysis of Twitter comments.
1st place (tie), Least Comfortable Seats, seatguru.com, New York Times.
1st place (tie), Worst Food, seatguru.com survey.
3rd Place, Most Complained-About Airlines, Travel & Leisure Magazine.
3rd place, Rudest Flight Attendants, seatguru.com, New York Times.