US Airways now selling formerly free services - East Valley Tribune: News

US Airways now selling formerly free services

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Posted: Friday, August 1, 2008 11:59 am | Updated: 9:28 pm, Fri Oct 7, 2011.

If you are flying on Tempe-based US Airways, take plenty of cash along for the ride.

A formerly free Coke now costs $2, a cup of coffee $1, a cocktail $7.

Even a bottle of water will set you back $2, unless you seem to be in dire need of hydration and out of small bills. In which case, flight attendants can slip you a free one.

But the airlines won't have credit card swipers on board until 2009, said Morgan Durrant, US Airways spokesman.

So if you are just moderately thirsty and don't have change for a $20, you'll have to suck on your saliva.

The airline announced in June plans to make money by selling refreshments and other services in hopes of mitigating soaring fuel prices.

Flight attendants said the new charge-for-everything plan, implemented Friday, makes them feel like flying vending machines.

"Rather than charge the fare necessary to produce their product, management has chosen to resort to the tactics of ultra-low fare carriers such as Allegiant Airlines and Irish carrier Ryanair," said Mike Flores, union president for US Airways' East Coast fight attendants. "This model resorts to a nickel and dime approach to the airline's most valuable asset - the passengers. Flight attendants are trained and certified safety professionals, not cashiers to be used in management's futile attempt to bolster US Airways' bottom line."

Flores said there was a lot of passenger grumbling Friday morning as the announcements were made at gates in Charlotte, N.C., a major US Airways hub.

But he said it will be a few days before flight attendants can calculate the full fallout.

Durrant said US Airways management has set up a "command center" to handle complaints or compliments from passengers and flight attendants. As of Friday morning, there had only been a few calls, he said.

Flores said since US Airways started selling meals six years ago, it's been a disaster determining the right inventory levels to load on flights. He expects the problem to get much worse when virtually everything is for sale.

"It's not worth the $20 million they say they'll recoup from this," he said. "And it won't stanch the losses because of fuel."

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