US Airways Saving Money Because Nobody Is Buying Their Drinks?

US Airways says that their decision to start charging for water, coffee and soft drinks is working — because no one is buying them.

The attendants, who initially opposed the program, would “riot” if the airline tried to return to the old system of free nonalcoholic beverages, President Scott Kirby said Thursday at a Calyon Securities conference in New York.

“Logjams in the aisles, significant trash collection, lines at the restrooms — all those things are largely gone on US Airways because fewer people are buying and drinking sodas,” he said. “We spend less money, we generate a little revenue, and those problems are largely gone.”

The spokesperson for the flight attendants in question thinks Scott Kirby is full of you know what:

“Kirby’s comment that we would riot is just his way of telling himself they made the right decision,” said Mike Flores, president of the Assn. of Flight Attendants-CWA at US Airways.

“This is the very tip of the iceberg on what they’re going to want us to sell,” Flores said. “It’s going to be everything from pillows and blankets to cellphone chargers.”


US Airways sees benefits of charging for drinks
[LA Times]
(Photo: Jenna Belle )


Edit Your Comment

  1. cashmerewhore says:

    I flew US Airways last weekend. Despite making several announcements that NA drinks were $2, the guy behind me asks for a ginger ale so the attendant scoops out ice and tells him: “That will be two dollars.”


    I bet they have been getting a lot of this.

  2. effin says:

    I’ve had this theory for a while. The airlines don’t charge for extra bags because they want to make money on the bags. They do it so you WON’T pay for it, and they’ll save money in fuel costs. Same with the price of food/add-ons.

    I’m fine with food/drinks being an extra charge as long as its not a 12-hour flight. I have to buy my own snacks when i take the bus or drive in my own car across the country. Why not on a plane?

    • cashmerewhore says:


      I would be fine with it if I was getting skybus discounted fares. I happily paid to check a bag and drink/snack on the flight I took through them.

      I wasn’t paying $300 for a flight.

      • DangerousLiberal says:

        @cashmerewhore: Yeah, Skybus’s business model was such a hit that I’m gonna book me a cheap flight from Greensboro to Columbus….

        What? They went bust? Who’d see that coming?

        Eff USAir indeed, but at least they fly from somewhere there are people to somewhere those people want to go.

        • cashmerewhore says:


          I’m in Columbus. Any $10 flight to get me out for the weekend was a godsend. I didn’t mind renting a car to actually drive to the metro area that was advertised.

    • BruinEric says:


      It’s their company so they can do what they want. I’ve not been bothered by the charge-for-food thing, but the charge-for-drinks has me a bit irritated.

      I can (and do) bring my own food aboard flights. However, it is more complicated to bring one’s own drink on a flight. First of all, I can’t get a drink past TSA, so I’m stuck buying in the airport. Then in the airport items are often irritatingly expensive. Then, there is the problem of keeping a drink cold.

      On the other hand, if the actual method isn’t “we come through the aisle once and you have your chance at a drink,” but instead the flight attendant is more like a server, then I would warm up to the new policy.

      If I can pony up $2 for the right to ring that little call light and get an icy cold Coke whenever I want during a flight (not takeoff/landing/turbulence, duh) then that’s perfect.

      • kidgenius says:


        Here’s what you do. Pack a wide mouth water bottle (Nalgene are indestructible). Get through security and go over to a soda machine. Fill with ice. Go to drinking fountain and fill with water. Voila! Thirty two ounces of ice cold water to take with you how you please.

        • nybiker says:

          @kidgenius: Do all airport food places let you just fill up with ice without paying for anything? If so, that’s a good way to go.
          Other choice would be to get an insulator cover for your water bottle.

        • The Dude says:


          On the awkward water-jug + fantasy free ice + grungy water fountain idea:

          Is that and this discussion really necessary regarding a $2 bottle of water every 6 months when you fly?

          • izzy9985 says:

            @The Dude: That’s assuming you fly every 6 months.

            AND I would agree that it’s not such a huge deal if you didn’t already have to pay so much out-of-pocket once you’ve gotten to the airport: $50 to check 2 bags, $25 for the privilege of making the reservation, $2 check-in fee, etc. In other words, another $2 wouldn’t be so bad if you weren’t already surcharged out the behind at every corner…

        • Oranges w/ Cheese says:

          @kidgenius: And then you can pack some of those flavor packets too! :)

      • _catlike_ says:

        @BruinEric: How about those little packets of ice tea and drink mixes that are meant to be mixed into a 16-20 oz. water bottle? Fill up at a water fountain after security and you’re set.

    • TVarmy says:

      @effin: I think that’s probably exactly what they’re going for. They could probably have done it for a smaller fee, though, and gotten the same results. If they charged $.25 for sodas, people would still hesitate. Granted, having to make so much change would take a lot of quarters, so there’s some weight.

  3. tkozikow says:

    I really wonder whether this is true system wide. We flew from IAD to Cancun via CLT last month and the lead FA told me that they were collecting $500-800 per trip (over several days). That does not seem like a bad amount of revenue and I didn’t sense that the FAs were being bothered with lots of $20 bills requiring change.

  4. curious_robot says:

    “This is the very tip of the iceberg on what they’re going to want us to sell,” Flores said.

    Sounds like SkyMall is going to be taking a more literal approach.

  5. pulsar0510 says:

    Aren’t they still loading drinks, ice, carts for same, etc, into the plane? How is all that extra weight saving them money?

    • Applekid ┬──┬ ノ( ã‚œ-゜ノ) says:

      @pulsar0510: I would guess after the first few days of the trial they realized no one would pay. So all of a sudden carrying enough drinks for everyone on the plane becomes carrying maybe a token sixpack.

  6. randomangela47 says:

    If he thinks flight attendants will riot if they have to start serving drinks again, how does he think they will react when customers start taking their business elsewhere? Oh, wait, he can just pink-slip them and not deal with the fallout…

  7. emington says:

    I refuse to fly North American airlines for the most part unless it’s absolutely necessary. For example, on Air France, I was treated to free wine. On KLM, free heineken. *shrug*. I guess those stuck with such airlines are stuck though.

  8. TurboWagon00 says:

    Just took a multi-leg vacation, expedia determined that a combination of USAir, United, Alaska, and AA was the way to go. Only USAir charged for drinks, and their bag check fees were also the highest ($17 vs $15 per bag for the other carriers except Alaska, which was still included). A co-workers father is a pilot for USAir and passed along how they removed the (ancient) CRT-projectors from their fleet and replaced them with… nothing. Saved 600# per airframe.

    Eff USAir.

    • DangerousLiberal says:

      Sorry about the italics. *#(@)! html tags

      @TurboWagon: Removing those CRTs was worth it even if just to avoid having to watch cr@appy sitcoms, insipid movies, and third rate travelogues about Syracuse, NY. Considering that many USAir domestic flights are 2 hour or less, missing 2 hours of tee vee is a blessing, not a curse.

  9. lapazlinda says:

    a sensible person. I’ve been saying that all along.

  10. lapazlinda says:

    sorry, meant to say effin is a sensible person.

  11. mugsywwiii says:

    Seems kind of silly to sell a cell phone charger since you can’t even use your cell phone on the plane. Do they want to be an airborne Radio Shack?

  12. samurailynn says:

    I just hope they don’t start charging for carry on bags.

  13. thebluepill says:

    Just my luck, there will be a coin slot for the toilet on my next US Air Flight and no one will have change..

  14. MyLud says:

    If USAir really wants to commit to this model, they should look into the ordering system Virgin America has…that’d really make things easy for both the customert and the FA.

  15. HogwartsAlum says:

    I’d rather take my own drink anyway. Those little cups are two sips and then it’s gone.

  16. linkura says:

    I wouldn’t mind if they charged for everything except water, but it seems really sleazy to charge for water IMO. What if someone is choking on the plane? Are they gonna make them pay $2 before they give them something to drink?

  17. glater says:

    Yeah, flashbacks to skybus with “sell EVERYTHING”. They were nice for cheap flights, but the crap that they were hawking on the planes was awful; I don’t think I ever saw anyone buy much of anything beyond a beverage on four flights I took with them.

  18. redxmagnum says:

    Charging for the coffee they serve is a crime against humanity.

    The punishment? Tie the executives to chairs. Pump in the pleasant odor of blue disinfectant solution continually. Force cup after cup of that mud into them, despite protestations. Force them to urinate in a square foot room. Do all of this to the soundtrack of a screaming child.

    The nerve.

  19. Triborough says:

    USAir is just going to nickel and dime itself in to bankruptcy $2.00 at a time. Then we will finally be rid of this lousy airline that deserved to die about ten years ago.

  20. Trai_Dep says:

    They treat their customers worse than (range-free) cattle then wonder why passenger rage incidents hike ever upwards. I think that if United could simply shoot a tranq dart into the neck of each customer then stack them like corkwood, they would.
    And charge you for the dart.

  21. irelgep says:

    On my flight from clt to bos last night the flight attendant piped up an hour into the flight to tell us she had something special for us. She proceeded to try to sell us the features and benefits of the usairways credit card. I didn’t see anybody take one on last nights flight or other usairways flights I’ve been on. Yesterday’s sales pitch was particularly annoying because it was so nice and quiet and she was so loud and lengthy. I wonder if the FAs get a refereal bonus for any open cards?
    Usairways has taken the fact that we are all captives on their flights to a new level. Every flight I think of new ways to hate them – charging for drinks, disinterested FAs, broken seats, broken trays, dirty/sticky trays, the credit card sales pitch, the broken door on the bathroom so that the horrible air freshener smell could eminanate throughout the cabin, 7 loading zones(!)….

  22. Geekybiker says:

    The stewardesses will riot if they actually have to work at work? Oh my.

    • SarcasticDwarf says:

      @Geekybiker: They could probably save a lot of money if they were allowed (I am guessing either FAA or union rules would prevent it) to drop the number of flight attendants down to one on most flights. Seriously, is there any reason for them other than to operate the drink cart on anything but 5+ hour flights?

      • failurate says:

        I think this is good riddance. They should have the stuff available, but getting rid of that damn cart is excellent.
        @SarcasticDwarf: I think it might be a safety issue. Need one for each exit in an emergency.

  23. ReadLine says:

    If they really are carrying less drinks because no one is buying them, there’s going to be a real big problem if they ever get stuck on the runway for multiple hours. Which is obviously not such an unlikely scenario.

  24. picardia says:

    Having to buy drinks/snacks would bother me less if I had the realistic option of bringing my own beverages from home. But I don’t, and so I have to choose between getting ripped off at the expensive airport store or ripped off in the air.

    I can at least bring my own granola bars and sandwiches, thank goodness.

  25. One of my friends has started doing a unique solution to the second-bag fee, it works quite well for him. He gets one of the large priority boxes, the ones that you can put an ‘unlimited’ weight in (well until it is full). I think it costs around $13 for him to ship it anywhere in the U.S. – he uses the decent-sized box (12″ x 12″ x 5.5) to ship most of his folded clothes in, and takes his laptop aboard the plane. He ships the package a day in advance to a local acquaintance, so that they have his clothes and any other amenities he wants to have on his trip.

    The real funny thing is that it is probably safer that way too, you don’t have to worry about the airlines losing your luggage! USPS mail is safer than the airlines by leaps and bounds too, way lower chance of a person just walking off with your luggage or bag handlers stealing items from within.

    • SarcasticDwarf says:

      @obamaramallama: Yup, that is what I did on my last flight a couple weeks ago. Additionally, you can also use that to get around the problem of the liquids restriction (so you can actually have a can of real shaving cream, etc).

  26. jdmba says:

    My happiest flights were the ones I brought $10 worth of burger king on. Beats the heck out of anything they would serve by a long shot.

  27. camille_javal says:

    My fiance lives somewhere that is serviced only by USAirways and Delta, and there’s a lot more of the former than the latter. The flight prices are about the same (sometimes a little cheaper one way or the other), but USAirways has more frequent flights going in and out, and the layovers when you change planes to get there are (theoretically) shorter. (In truth, the layovers end up being a lot longer on my return trip, as their flights get delayed.)

    I’ve put up with the total lack of legroom (I’m short and flexible, but there’s a limit) and the general surliness multiple times, usually with the help of medication, but with the first-bag charge and the soda charge, this is ridiculous. When I fly down next, I’m hoping Delta proves itself to be the lesser of two evils.

  28. Ben_Q2 says:

    This is why I do not fly with Airlines. No TSA (is that what you call it?), Food, not over price, not paying rent on anything. The movie, what ever I bring. An its way cheaper in the long run.

    • AlexTheSane says:


      Are you saying you don’t fly at all or are you flying your own plane? I don’t see any other way to fly without going through an airline.

  29. JiminyChristmas says:

    If the airlines are going to run their planes like a flying 7/11 they should replace all of the sky waitresses with guys named Apu.

  30. Wynner3 says:

    What the hell? First US Airways started reducing their excess fuel amounts in planes, removing any entertainment, and now charging for drinks. Do they not want me to fly with them? I flying from california to philadelphia, that’s going to be a long, boring, and dry flight.

  31. 420greg says:

    I flew with them on Wednesday and the guy in line next to me at check in had no idea they charge for the first bag.

    I told him “yep, it will be the demise of this airline and all of these people working behind the counter know it.”

    You could tell by the looks on their collective faces they knew it to.

    I wonder how many times after taking that $15 (CC only BTW) they have heard “Im never flying this airline again.”

    Last I heard taking $15 and losing a potential $300-$400 fare in the future is not good business.

  32. smartmuffin says:

    Capitalism in action folks, and I mean that in a good way. The idea that you’re somehow entitled to a free drink because you buy an airline ticket is insane. If you don’t like it, feel free to travel only with airlines who provide free drinks.

    Personally, I’m going to continue making my airline travel decisions based on price and time of flights. If I happen to end up on a flight that doesn’t offer a free drink, I’ll buy one at the airport. Problem solved.

  33. kdollarsign says:

    I eat and drink like a king on southwest.

  34. kdollarsign says:

    they give you THE WHOLE CAN.

  35. Overheal says:

    $2 for a can of coke. How much water does that buy you though? And shouldnt water be free? And do you still get a drink/watercup with your meal? I bet the dinners and lunches will start getting very dry.

  36. AlphaWolf says:

    linkura: If you are choking on a plane forget it with US Air, and that is even before this new $2 charge.

    I was traveling once a long flight and work up from a nap, my throat was more or less closed, not very comfortable and I asked a flight attendant for some water, she said “We already finished our drink service” and walked away.

    That was it, never flown them again. Hope they go under.

  37. BMRFILE says:

    Although I missed the days of getting free sodas, I agree with what they’re doing. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve sat next to some idiot that, apprently is flying for the first time, keeps asking for sodas and water with no self-restraint whatsoever. Drink them because it’s free. Then he makes several trips to the can and I have to get up so his fat ass can squeeze by.

    Look, if you don’t like paying for drinks, get a small bottled water after you get through the TSA line. You don’t NEED a soda or cocktail. Have those while you’re boarding. You get more for your money anyway.

  38. twigg says:

    I was on two US Airways flights last week on which they announced beverage prices and that they would be passing through the cabin to sell the beverages.

    They never walked down the aisles to where I was seated, about half-way back. Didn’t seem like they were too serious about selling the beverages.