US Airways Reverses Fee, Sodas Free!

US Airways has reversed course and decided that it will no longer charge you for some soda-pop in a cup with ice.

The airline had started charging $1-$2 per drink in coach in 2008. The change was announced in an email CEO Doug Parker blasted to employees, noting that the fee, which was not matched by other carriers, had become a distraction for the airline’s image. He praised the company, however, for trying an “innovative” measure and noted how the fee had reduced the the length of lines to use the bathrooms.

US Airways reverses soda stance: won’t charge [AP]
Free drinks from US Airways [Charlotte Observer] (Photos: jayRaz) (Thanks to Redwoodflyer!)

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  1. Maurs says:

    Kind of surprising the other airlines didn’t match the move, but hey whatever works.

    • Joewithay says:

      @Maurs: I flew with Delta, NWA, Continental past couple months, and they gave free sodas with the flight

    • OprahBabb says:

      @Maurs: Everytime I’ve ever been on an airplane I’ve had free soda as well. I was under the impression Airlines only charged for liquor and “other” fun stuff?

      • spongebue says:

        @OprahBabb: They do, that’s the point. US Airways was the first to start charging for beverages, hoping that other airlines would do the same (much like the second/first checked bag fees).

        When that didn’t happen about 8 months later, they took a step back and realized that their reputation was getting worse, costing more business than $2 in pop would ever cover. It’d be one thing if all airlines did it, and people would come to accept it, like they kind of did with the bag checking fees, but when they are the one airline to do that, they get all the attention.

  2. Geekybiker says:

    They should put in change slots on the oxygen masks too.

  3. twophrasebark says:

    Don’t accept ice on an aircraft.

    Ask for the can and a cup. Or ask for no ice.

    Ice made on aircraft is nasty.

    • samyoed says:

      @twophrasebark:

      I’ll second that: in 2004, 15% of aircraft water tested by the EPA came up positive for coliform bacteria ( [travel.nytimes.com] , [www.nytimes.com] ). Of course, the airlines tested their water and found it to be significantly safer, but ever since then I’ve avoided the ice and brought hand sanitizer into the bathroom.

      • superdantx says:

        @samyoed:

        Many (most or all?) aircraft don’t make ice on board, its pre-made and delivered by catering, or topped off at non-catered stations by the same type of ice machine you see in the grocery stores….. The water in the sinks in the aircraft lav however…. avoid at all costs…. often times its delivered by the same truck that pulls the “blue juice” at the end of the flight……

        • VeiledThreats says:

          @superdantx: potable water usually comes from a hose on the jet bridge and sometimes a separate truck, but never the lav truck. “Potable” is kind of a misnomer since one should not drink the dink water, it it doesn’t come from the poop truck. And yes, ice comes in a fresh plastic bag from the catering truck and is plenty safe.

          • oneandone says:

            @CapitolStorm: Ice is made off the aircraft, but depending on the country it may not be completely safe – or may not be what U.S. passengers are used to. Stomach upset could result.

            Airplane drinking water will probably be under EPA regulation soon – a proposed regulation was published last year, and some airlines are operating under a voluntary testing & disinfecting guideline. Details – including which airline – here:
            [publicaccess.custhelp.com]

            Details of the proposed regulations:
            [www.epa.gov]

            I’ve always noticed that airplane sinks had a ‘do not drink’ sign near them, but this might be because I mostly fly internationally, so the airline is very aware that they have little control over water quality.

        • Jake Pavlak says:

          @superdantx: You have no idea what you’re talking about, so why even comment? Lav trucks do not fill aircraft with water as any passenger waiting for a flight can see. Also, ice is not made aboard aircraft.

    • feckingmorons says:

      @twophrasebark: Aircraft don’t have ice makers. The ice is made locally and provisioning fills the ice bins.

  4. erinrichie says:

    These little things make a huge difference it getting back repeat travellers. It’s only a matter of time i think before other airlines fullow suit

  5. metsarethe... says:

    I guess public reaction > $ generated per flight

    Anybody try and pay with a $100 or something, I heard they’d give you the soda free to not have to deal with the change?

    • RedwoodFlyer says:

      @metsarethe…: Precisely the reason that all decent airlines have gone cashless!

      There’s still issues, however, since purchases can’t be verified until the aircraft is batch processed once every few days – on most aircraft where you slide the card at your seat, you can actually just use your Costco card or hotel key and it would let you watch the movie or whatever…but you didn’t hear that from me!

  6. 1stMarDiv says:

    How the hell was this an “innovative meaure” on the company’s part? What a douche.

    • RedwoodFlyer says:

      @1stMarDiv:

      You uh..you haven’t flown much on US Airways I take it? This is less douchey than most things they’ve done – like the time the CEO got a DUI…

    • Communist Pope says:

      @1stMarDiv: Agreed. I wish I could remember which satirist/comedian/commentator I’m paraphrasing here, but it’s just as innovative as robbing someone at gunpoint.

  7. CyrusOpeth says:

    Years ago, on Compuserve’s travel forum, I predicted the day would come when airlines would charge for food. You should have heard the hullabaloo from everyone, who ridiculed me mercilessly. I predict that ALL airlines will charge for sodas, just as soon as they think the public isn’t looking–or as soon as a barrel of oil goes back up to $150.

    • jamar0303 says:

      @CyrusOpeth: Well, any airline exectuive with half a brain would hedge as much of their fuel as they possibly can at this price if it’s really going up.

    • shepd says:

      @CyrusOpeth:

      ;-)

      Anyone with enough money to use compu$erve (when network time cost more per hour than some well paid executives) would be talking to people with so much money they’d never flown below business class, and, AFAIK, business class and above have never met with these sorts of ridiculous charges.

      • RedwoodFlyer says:

        @shepd: NW actually considered charging domestic F and J (Business class) for an optional “premium” breakfast – but backed down and made a huge deal about now offering free fresh fruit – translation: They downgraded a hot breakfast to a $0.10 banana

  8. Plates says:

    When will they just finally go out of business?
    They have to be the worst airline ever.

  9. InThrees says:

    If he really wanted to be innovative there would be a fee to use the restroom.

  10. tankertodd says:

    They reversed the fee because the value of the negative press exceeded the few bucks they saved per flight. Idiots. If only we had a free market in aviation…

  11. DMXParsons says:

    I appreciated how this policy made beverage service much calmer. As someone who has come to loathe USAir but still must fly them regularly, I’d much prefer they keep charging for drinks and stop advertising their crappy credit card at painful volume while I’m trying to sleep.

    • RedwoodFlyer says:

      @DMXParsons: If you haven’t already, definitely read this…the guy calls US Airways execs at 6 am to pretend-offer them a credit card, and when the execs get annoyed, his point is proven!:

      [www.zug.com]

    • Anonymous says:

      @DMXParsons: @DMXParsons:
      Oh those credit card announcements are incredibly annoying – especially on commuter flights where almost everyone is a frequent flier and has the stupid card already. Equally as annoying is getting hounded by the credit card people in the terminal…Reagan National has some of the most annoying by far…

  12. Con Seannery gives up on subtlety, BAN FACEBOOKERS! says:

    I love how the reason it was reversed was that the other airlines didn’t start charging. Does that kind of show something about their operations? “Hey, let’s have this fee!” Then you get, “HEY, THEY HAVE THAT FEE! ADD THAT!” And the chain broke, and now we all know how it works. As if we didn’t before…

  13. hills says:

    I like usair – and this makes me happy:)

  14. oldtaku says:

    It also reduced my chances of waiting in line to get on a US Air flight. A company that’s willing to nickel and dime you on soda is doing the same on their maintenance. Very innovative sir, I salute you.

    • RedwoodFlyer says:

      @oldtaku:

      I know I give US Airways a hard time – their service frankly deserves it….but I will defend them as having top notch maintenance – despite what a few overblown media fits may make you think, operating standards and heavily enforced domestically. If anything, worry about jetBlue getting their maintenance done in El Salvador (not kidding)

  15. savdavid says:

    Wow! This is really sad when are thrilled to get a little cup with lots of ice and part of a can of soda. I remember when you got magazines, blankets, pillows, sodas, etc…free. They WANTED your business or at least pretended to. Still, I guess we have to be happy for an little nod to us as customer so pour that 1/3 can of Coke, flight attendant! Thanks.

    • shepd says:

      @savdavid:

      Heh. I know things were going downhill when the last flight I was on stocked only French newspapers for a flight from London to Toronto.

    • RedwoodFlyer says:

      @savdavid: Fly us or Southwest! We give you unlimited free drinks..just order them from your touchscreen – and Southwest will always give you a full can & more snacks if you ask. Southwest’s Spirit magazine is one that I would pay to subscribe to…it’s great, and we both have an entire section of overhead cabin (above the exit row area) dedicated to pillows and blankets – which are regularly cleaned.

  16. Michael Belisle says:

    Yay! Free soda! It used to be that you had to get stranded by a hurricane in the Dominican Republic and kicked out of the airport by guards with guns to get free soda.

  17. Rachacha says:

    I am waiting for the day when airline tickets will all be handled through Ticketmaster and food is handled by Aramark [www.aramark.com]

    Airfare: $350
    Boarding Pass: $100
    Convenience Fee: $99.99
    Window/Aisle Seat Surcharge: $50
    Center Seat Surcharge: $60
    Baggage Loading Fee: $20
    Baggage Unloading Fee: $20
    Soda in Souvineer Cup: $10
    Hot Dog $30
    Nachos $30
    Shaved Ice in Souvineer Cup $40
    Large Foam Finger$15

    Total Flight Cost for a family of 4 :$7500

    • catastrophegirl chooses not to fly says:

      @Rachacha: you forgot the $2.00 fee to print your boarding pass in advance from your own printer at home.

      • Rachacha says:

        @catastrophegirl: I figured that would be lumped in with the $99.99 convenience fee. The Airlines, & Ticketmaster wouldn’t be that greedy…would they.

        In my next strange but probable business matchup, I think that I might look at the airline industry working with Monster Cable*. I am sure that aurline crashes are because the airline industry does not use the highest quality cables that are available to them.

        *Monster is a Registered trademark of Monster Cable International, the manufacturer of the world’s highest quality audio/visual cables. Monster is not a registered trademark of Monster Golf, Monster Energy Drink, Monster.com, Monsters Inc., The Consumerist, or any other party. All rights reserved, Some Restrictions may apply, Results not typical, Professional Driver on closed course do not attempt at home, Wear clean underwear every day as you never know when you will get into an accident, Wash Rinse & Repeat.

        • ViperBorg says:

          @Rachacha: Excellent disclaimer. I think you might get sued anyway.

        • RedwoodFlyer says:

          @Rachacha: Funny you say that…when the A380 had wiring issues, the jackass CEO of Monster – who clearly has no knowledge of wiring (of any kind probably) publicity-whored and said that he’s willing to assist Airbus at-cost in order to provide them with the best quality of wiring needed!

          To bad that Monster cables would have made the aircraft overweight, and wouldn’t have fit in the corridors.. and too bad that copper is copper and aluminum is aluminum no matter how your braid it.

        • catastrophegirl chooses not to fly says:

          @Rachacha: last time i bought ticketmaster tickets [3 weeks ago for the circus] there was a choice to have them delivered for $6, printed from my home printer for $2 or picked up at will-call for free. that was in addition to the per ticket convenience fee and the per order processing fee.
          so, yes… that greedy, so far as i have seen

  18. Corporate-Shill says:

    But my best inflight sex with a flight attendent was with US Airways.

    See, back in the day you did get some freebies.

  19. albear says:

    If the charging for sodas idea would have worked, USAir would have stepped up to the next level!

  20. FuryOfFirestorm says:

    If US Air also makes the booze free, it would keep me from grabbing the brat kicking my seat and throwing him out the emergency exit.

  21. chiieddy says:

    My husband and I are trying this for the first time. We’re going to Italy in a few weeks and will be attempting to do this with only two carry-on bags (one for each of us). No bags to check in and lose. The only way to do this is the wash clothes in hotel sinks, but Woolite makes little packages.

    • spongebue says:

      @chiieddy: I think most airlines give you 2 checked bags for free on international flights. Should be the same if you have a domestic connection before the international segment, you might want to look into that.

      • KLETCO says:

        @spongebue: At least if you’re going to the Caribbean or Central America, you still have to pay. Going BWI -> Houston -> Belize, we paid on the way down but not the way back. That was on Continental. We’ve found that going to the Caribbean / Central America, bag claim fees are terribly inconsistent. I never know when we’re going to be charged. One US Airways person didn’t charge us because her credit card machine was broken. So, you really never know. Going to Europe might be more consistent.

        • spongebue says:

          @KLETCO: If I remember right (I didn’t work with this stuff directly), international meant anything outside of North America in terms of luggage (Canada would have the charges as well, for example). At least, that was the case for Northwest when I worked there.

  22. idip says:

    That’s the most enjoyable part about Southwest Airlines, the free coffee. Well.. that and the on-time flights and the very funny flight attendants.

    US Airways, ugh. Expensive, rude, and always delayed.

  23. Ratty says:

    Beer and wine are free on Alaska/Horizon! I discovered this much to my delight the last time I flew. So if they’re a viable flight choice and you want free beverages, go for it.

  24. tvh2k says:

    Free soda starting March 1st

    …my flight leaves February 25th. DAMN

  25. ZeeroxFalls says:

    I notice that sign on all airplanes – for both domestic and international flights. And as far as I can recall it’s been there for years. I remember seeing it when I was a kid.

    Honestly I don’t really taste any difference in airplane ice from “regular” ice. The taste of the ice is the absolute least of my worries when flying.