Folks, it is time to face reality

Old Sep 16, 2005, 1:08 pm
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Lightbulb Folks, it is time to face reality

This merger appears to be all but done, which means that the consolidation will begin in the coming days. There is one thing you can count on: There will be a lot of changes to the current US. I suggest that keeping a tally and continually commiserating over the “good” and “bad” decisions surrounding the forthcoming changes to the current US is an exercise in futility and will only lead to exasperation.

Priority number one for the HP management team will be to get this new airline above break-even. That will involve cost reductions wherever reasonably (by their definition, not ours) possible and route, equipment, schedule and policy modifications to maximize utilization and revenue, all of the above hopefully resulting in some level of profit.

Priority number two will be on improving US’s operational performance and reliability, which will obviously support priority number one.

US is destined to be a very different airline than the one that has fallen into bankruptcy twice and that HP has saved via this merger. Like it or not, disagree with their approach or not, HP management, which overwhelmingly controls the new company, have created and perfected (to their satisfaction) a model that they believe will work on a much larger scale. It appears they are very intent on proving that with this new company.

That model is:


                  The model does not include a lot of the services of legacy carriers such as transporting pets as baggage or transporting unaccompanied minors on flights involving connections, 50% off child seats, free pretzels, power ports and who knows how many more current services that will soon be discontinued.

                  One of the things I believe that HP management has proven to themselves is that (again, disagree or not) they do not need to cater to their elite frequent travelers in decision and policy making. Elite travelers have seen their mileage bonuses cut, drastically in some cases, and their opportunities for first class upgrades on popular business routes substantially reduced via the “affordable first class” initiative. I believe they have proven to themselves that for every elite member who storms off to another airline, two new business travelers come along behind them who are willing to pay higher fares for a Y-up or discounted first class seat. In spite of their elite-unfriendly changes, loads are up and average fares are up. They’re running a business -- that’s all they really care about.

                  Many of you label the HP management as a collection of ignorant, small market hicks who don’t understand the colossal differences between doing business in the lackadaisical west and the high-power eastern corridor. Perhaps you’ll be proven right, management will screw this up royally and US will end up in bankruptcy number three. But the reality is, this management team has a model they believe in and US customers are about to experience it. That experience, like it or not, is going to be very different in many ways.

                  My suggestion is that you let go of the US you knew and hated (or in a few cases, loved), watch this unfold, weigh the pro's & con's and then vote with your butts. Chronicling and judging every decision between here and there will most likely only leave you miserable.

                  Last edited by AZ Travels the World; Sep 16, 2005 at 1:11 pm
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                  Old Sep 16, 2005, 1:35 pm
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                  Here here! That was well said AZ.
                  olympicnut is offline  
                  Old Sep 16, 2005, 1:36 pm
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                  AZ,

                  Very well put. I for one have made my feelings clear about the power port issue, but I am under no illusions that the new US can in the face of that information still do whatever it chooses.

                  If you're running a business it's as important to choose what business you're *not* going to do as it is to determine what business you *are* going to do. And it looks like they're saying that doing business with people who like to eat free pretzels or work on their laptop is not cost-effective for them. I happen to think they're wrong, but ultimately the choice is theirs. My choice is whether or not to fly them.

                  I will continue to make them aware of what's important to me as a customer, but there's nothing obligating them to act on that... the result could be that customers like me leave the fold. And, for US, maybe that's the decision that maximizes shareholder value. Or, maybe not (particularly the number of BloFares I've brought their way recently).

                  Time will tell.
                  bigred93 is offline  
                  Old Sep 16, 2005, 1:57 pm
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                  I couldn't disagree more. I find the suggestion rather patronizing, frankly.

                  The beauty of this forum, in my view, is learning about changes to services that affect me directly. If Troy hadn't mentioned the loss of powerports, my next trip to DFW (paid Full fare coach by my employer, by the way), would be on US. Instead it is now on AA.

                  Some of the best products of this forum were as a result of "chronicling and judging" decisions made by this company. While the management may not have always enacted our changes, this forum ensured that they heard from the customer, at the very least.

                  So while the advice to "let go" may be appropriate for some, it is not appropriate for all. I think I've probably lasted longer with this airline than most of the folks on here. But several of the actions taken in recent weeks have me flying AAnother cAArier for the time being. I'm not bitter, but I find this forum can be helpful to USAirways flyers by giving them recent experiences on the carrier to make informed choices about travel. "Letting go" does not achieve this at all.
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                  Old Sep 16, 2005, 2:04 pm
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                  Originally Posted by AZ Travels the World
                  This merger appears to be all but done..... which means that the consolidation will begin in the coming days.
                  Is it really happening? Most of us on the US forum must have been under a rock or asleep.
                  Miami_Flyer is offline  
                  Old Sep 16, 2005, 2:26 pm
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                  Of course, most of the airline boards on this site do exactly what you suggest we refrain from doing -- offer opinions and relate experiences regarding the airlines on which they travel the most. I'm sure the archives of this site contain records of almost every decision affecting passengers (and many decisions that may not affect passengers) undertaken by major airlines in the last few years. You may perceive it as complaining or nostalgia for an outdated product, but I for one enjoy the chronicles of the airline industry.

                  I think most of us understand that the new US will involve changes, some for the worse from our perspectives and, hopefully, some for the better. But we certainly can discuss what we perceive to be the negative changes imposed by the new airline and evaluate the quality/price of the product provided. For example, you cite priority number two as improving US' operational performance and reliability. Those of us in PHL certainly would appreciate a renewed focus on reliability at our airport. However, in several posters' opinions, including mine, the decision to go from a rolling hub at PHL back to a banking hub operation is antithetical to that priority.

                  Hopefully the new US can make a go of it and become a very successful "low-cost full service" airline. In the meantime, I think all of us will continue to debate the definitions of "low-cost" and "full service" and to chronicle the successes and the setbacks of this airline.
                  flyphl is offline  
                  Old Sep 16, 2005, 2:29 pm
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                  Cool I refuse to "accept" it.

                  Great post AZ, but I have to disagree in some areas.

                  One of the things I believe that HP management has proven to themselves is that (again, disagree or not) they do not need to cater to their elite frequent travelers in decision and policy making.
                  That's a very myopic view, and for the sake of HP's future I hope it's not true. Any company that doesn't cater to their best and/or most frequent customers is probably not looking at a long prosperous future.

                  US has a poor image already. Taking a "We don't care about frequent flyers" attitude in only going to ensure higher load factors on competing airlines.

                  I believe they have proven to themselves that for every elite member who storms off to another airline, two new business travelers come along behind them who are willing to pay higher fares for a Y-up or
                  discounted first class seat.
                  Until those business pax storm off due to a poor product. High fare bus pax are very finite pax demographic. You can bet that all the other airlines would be happy to accept those that HP feels they don't have to cater to.

                  The field HP will be playing on is on a much larger scale now. There is a big difference between paid F flyers on PHX-LAX flights and paid F pax on PHL-Europe routes. You can't just jerk these pax around and expect them to keep coming back time after time. It may have worked for HP out west, but HP didn't have a lot of F competition on many routes out of PHX or LAS.

                  Now they're going up against AA, CO, and UA(in some respects) not to mention the intl carriers. Shoddy or subpar service for the same cost(as they won't be much cheaper) as the bigger airlines will most certainly mean failure.
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                  Old Sep 16, 2005, 2:30 pm
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                  Well Said and Very Reasonable...AZ
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                  Old Sep 16, 2005, 2:35 pm
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                  Personally I hope that many outspoken members of this forum continue to speak up after the merger. Because of these people US was forced sometimes to reexamine some of their decisions. Just because they have merged with another airline is no reason that anyone should just roll over and accept it.

                  Any good business values comments from its customers.
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                  Old Sep 16, 2005, 2:42 pm
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                  I, too, found AZ's posting to be a reasonable capsule form of where we stand with US as of this moment. The primary point being that US is on the cusp of a "make it or die" chapter with HP management at the helm.

                  Personally, I disregard the notions that HP's management staff is ill prepared due to their desert/leisure orientation. That sells them short; these aren't idiots. However, it will require some real effort for the rank and file (as well as mgmt) of BOTH HP and US to assimilate with one another in this new environment.

                  Mergers have never been pretty, but this time around, the stakes are far higher for all players and the industry environment is lousy, as best. I hope the new organization can find a personality and a profitable footing in the months ahead. If not, we'll know their experiment failed.
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                  Old Sep 16, 2005, 2:56 pm
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                  Originally Posted by AZ Travels the World

                  That model is:

                    The model does not include a lot of the services of legacy carriers such as transporting pets as baggage or transporting unaccompanied minors on flights involving connections, 50% off child seats, free pretzels, power ports and who knows how many more current services that will soon be discontinued.
                    you're certainly right things will be changing, but disagreeing with pieces of that, as necessary, is what keeps them sharp. HP would have messed with its elite members a lot more if they hadn't been vocal.

                    pets? not an issue I care about, but... they've banned pets as cargo too, not just as luggage. ironic for an airline that famously let a pig run loose in the cabin pooping on people.

                    as to operational reliability-- re-banking the most crowded hub sure is a funny way to go about it... it's just the sort of move that small-town hicks full of hubris and naivete might try...
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                    Old Sep 16, 2005, 4:25 pm
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                    Originally Posted by ByrdluvsAWACO
                    That's a very myopic view, and for the sake of HP's future I hope it's not true. Any company that doesn't cater to their best and/or most frequent customers is probably not looking at a long prosperous future.

                    US has a poor image already. Taking a "We don't care about frequent flyers" attitude in only going to ensure higher load factors on competing airlines.
                    Agreed. I'm a Bay Area flyer who works for a company that's very cost-conscious. Not WN-style cost conscious, but not full-fare-Y either. I have to wrestle with my booker sometimes to book my "loyal" airline if it's a little more expensive.

                    So I'm in the process of switching my loyalty from AA (always expensive and nowhere but DFW) to HP/US - reasonable fares, *A benefits for the UA flights to anywhere from SFO and it helps that US flies to some of the little dinky places back east where we race. I also like HP's Y product better than AA's LRTC, and the PHX hub environment is a lot more comfortable to me than the always-jammed-beyond-belief DFW.

                    I'll be pursuing GP status next year... and I'd like to think that the airline I'm choosing would be appreciative of that business.

                    Last edited by FCYTravis; Sep 16, 2005 at 4:33 pm
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                    Old Sep 16, 2005, 4:55 pm
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                    Originally Posted by AZ Travels the World
                    ...My suggestion is that you let go of the US you knew and hated (or in a few cases, loved), watch this unfold, weigh the pro's & con's and then vote with your butts. Chronicling and judging every decision between here and there will most likely only leave you miserable.
                    So perhaps we should all just listen to and accept your gospel and stop using FlyerTalk?
                    TransWorldOne is offline  
                    Old Sep 16, 2005, 6:10 pm
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                    Originally Posted by TransWorldOne
                    So perhaps we should all just listen to and accept your gospel and stop using FlyerTalk?
                    Yeeps, that sounds like an extreme reaction to me. I feel like some folks here are ascribing a tone to AZ's post that I, for one, did not take away from it myself. Rather than trying to tell people to shut up or else, I got the feeling that AZ was instead trying to convey the ways in which HP management might view things differently than your typical east coast business-traveling CP, and that there may well be more of these changes to come whether we all like it or not. And if we don't, we should vote with our feet. That feels like a fair and reasonable assessment, and one that doesn't seem offensive - to me.
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                    Old Sep 16, 2005, 6:23 pm
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                    Originally Posted by TransWorldOne
                    So perhaps we should all just listen to and accept your gospel and stop using FlyerTalk?
                    Not at all. I've had more than my share of frustrations and disagreements with HP management in recent years and when I've felt strongly about something I didn't hesitate to share it -- with them directly or here on FT. I have no illusions (let alone a desire) that people won't express their views here on FT.

                    My intention was to point out that there should be no mistaking the fact that this is a new ballgame. My point is that, for many, it might well be time for a reality check. The new US is will be something very unlike the old US, agree or disagree. To the extent people keep a firm grip on what it has been (or tried to be) and not face the reality that this going to be a very different airline, they're likely to be very frustrated and very unhappy. Obsessing over every single change, given how many of them there have been and will continue to be, will only make people miserable.

                    My point was that it might be more productive to accept the reality that this is a whole new deal. One could think of it as a new airline, but you got to keep your miles. Otherwise it's going to be a long road ahead.
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