U.S. Airways Gives Employees Misinformation About 'Mad As Hell' Petition

In September, a combination of advocacy groups banded together to launch the Mad As Hell petition in an effort to alert regulators about consumers’ dissatisfaction with the trend of charging fees for just about everything that used to be included in the price of an airline ticket. But if you ask U.S. Airways, they’ll say it’s the people that they hint may be behind the petition who are really the greedy ones.

The Philadelphia Inquirer’s Tom Belden, who covers the airline industry for the paper, has called out U.S. Airways for making misleading statements about the petition in a recent employee newsletter.

In a Q&A section of the newsletter, someone asks the airline to talk about the Mad As Hell petition, to which it replies:

Some industry experts suggest the real instigators of the “Mad As Hell” website and media campaign are the Global Distribution System (GDS) providers who power the industry’s computerized reservations systems. These firms may claim they want consumers to have greater transparency, but they are ultimately motivated by the cash that will come their way if the DOT forces airlines to list their fees (for things like bags and preferred seats) with the GDS firms.

According to Belden, that’s just not true. “The three groups that sponsored this campaign — the Business Travel Coalition, the American Society of Travel Agents and the Consumer Travel Alliance — thought it up themselves,” he writes. “he GDSs referred to may eventually get some cash for displaying the fees, but that’s not who’s behind the effort, despite what some ‘industry experts,’ also known as shills, may suggest.”

He also takes issue with this statement from the newsletter regarding airlines’ adopting “a la carte” business models:

We understand that no one likes change — especially when you’re accustomed to getting something for free.

Belden correctly points out that “None of those services were ‘free’ in the past. They were included in the ticket price. Now they are separate and airlines should stop prevaricating in that way, too.”

US Airways’ disinformation effort re ‘Mad As Hell’ petition [Philly.com]

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  1. FatLynn says:

    Ah, but it was attributed to “some industry experts”. Certainly that is true, that some industry experts think GDS is behind this.

  2. Caffinehog says:

    Call me crazy, but if I can get a cheaper ticket by not having luggage, or by not having a carry-on, I might think that was a good deal. The only issue I have is that it makes it harder to compare ticket prices.

    • ARP says:

      That’s the problem. Often its difficult to to determine the “me and my stuff on the plane” price. Which makes aggregators like kayak, expedia, etc. less accurate and involves more manual labor to determine actual prices.

    • nybiker says:

      I am not calling you crazy, but when someone says “I don’t fly with any baggage or I don’t have any carry-ons” I would like to know how many passengers fall into those categories? How many flights have people who are just literally carrying maybe a purse-size bag? Maybe the shuttle flights along the East coast? Ok, so for those flights, then maybe the no-luggage and no-carry-ons will be in the majority. But I’d imagine that most every other flight will have people taking carry-ons and/or checking at least one bag. So for those flights an all-inclusive ticket price would be a good thing and would allow for easy price comparisons.
      The concept of The Needs Of The Many Outweigh The Needs Of The Few occurs to me whenever I read the ticket price stories.
      /just my opinion, I could be wrong.

      • Caffinehog says:

        It costs the airline money to haul bags, due to the weight and available space. Charging for these leads people to pack less, which gets them a cheaper flight AND saves the airline money. How much does it really hurt to spend 3 minutes to compare the baggage fees? This actually HELPS anyone whose time isn’t worth $200/hr.

        • jamar0303 says:

          The problem is when it doesn’t lead people to pack less. Then they start stuffing everything into the overhead bin or under the seat (not possible on some planes depending on location due to in-flight-entertainment box also being under the seat). People expect the ticket price to include them and the things they’ll need at the destination (thankfully where I am it’s more sensible- check in all the bags you can bring, there’s just a weight limit on all of them combined).

        • Pax says:

          … the airlines charge considerably more per pound for baggage, than they would for the same weight and volume of CARGO.

          On the exact same plane, for the exact same flight, at the exact same moment in time.

    • sleze69 says:

      I would prefer they just weight every passenger and their items before every flight. That is the fairest way to charge for service (moving the passenger and their belongings from one airport to another).

      • Pax says:

        I’m a big guy. And, given roughly the same weight in baggage … if I have to pay more for my seat than you do, I damned well better GET more seat than you do.

        • AnthonyC says:

          You get more fuel. That’s what a weight-charge would be for. If you want a bigger seat, buy first class. I don;t know that I agree with such a charge, but that is how it would need to work.

          • Pax says:

            Perhaps you don’t understand. You pay for more than just the fuel to carry you – you pay for the space you occupy, as well.

            So, exclusive of luggage, if you pay $100 for a seat and I pay $150 for a seat? My seat had best be 150% the size of yours.

    • Beeker26 says:

      Traveling without luggage or carry-ons is a great way to get red-flagged at security checkpoints.

    • Difdi says:

      Traveling without any carryon or checked baggage is the second biggest red flag for suspicion of terrorism/hijacking. The biggest (other than being caught with weapons or explosives) is flying without bags on a one-way ticket.

      What you save in money, might be more than made up for in strip searches.

  3. TuxthePenguin says:

    Yes, because we know whenever there is a movement against your business/political thought/pet you always assign the root cause of it to the evil specter that looms just beyond reach. During the Bush years, any organization against Bush was “funded” by George Soros and his litany of organizations. Now with the Tea Party its the Koch Brothers. Now we can add another group to the list…

  4. Slave For Turtles says:

    It seems that airline tickets look like more and more like hospital bills.

  5. bravohotel01 says:

    So, bring your own

    - pillow
    - blanket
    - water
    - lunch
    - urine bottle
    - peanuts
    - coffee

    …and wear all your clothes on your person.

    Problem solved!

    • dreamfish says:

      … except you won’t get the water and coffee through security and the pillow and blanket combined would be treated as hand luggage and incur a free.

      • alstein says:

        Are airlines really reducing prices with , or just raising revenue.

        See DLC and video games for how I think it really works.

      • Me - now with more humidity says:

        wear the blanket as a poncho — problem solved!!!

        • apd09 says:

          are you a shill for Snuggie or Slanket? Just turn it around and wear it like a coat going through security then when you are on the plane wear it the proper way again.

  6. sufreak says:

    Clearly there is no chance that travelers are actually upset about the fees. And if the tickets included the prices of luggage, etc before, how come the prices haven’t dropped.

    They had no problem raising rates when oil was at an all time high..but its lower now, and yet, airline ticket prices haven’t adjusted.

    Unless you want to travel on the slowest travel day at the worst time. With the worst airline, out of the worst airport. ( Tuesday afternoon, on US Air from Philly?)

    • squirrel says:

      You nailed it with the airline and the airport, dunno about Tuesdays… pretty much any day sucks there.

  7. CharlesFarley says:

    As long as the predominate way of searching travel sites is by cost, airlines will do everything they can to carve out an expense from the “published” price of a ticket.

    This is simple Pavlovian response.

  8. Beeker26 says:

    Traveling without luggage or carry-ons is a great way to get red-flagged at security checkpoints.