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Transcript of September 23rd FlyerTalk Live! Chat

With special guests Ben Baldanza, Barry Biffle and John Reistrup from US Airways



Randy
Thanks everyone for stopping by and spending some time with FlyerTalk Live! and our special guests - US Airways Dividend Miles. We have had the good fortune of a recent chat with them that will be in the October issue of InsideFlyer magazine and they are one of those rare programs that really does want to keep the line of communications open with members of the Dividend Miles program.

Randy
There's been a few questions lately on their plans with the program and frankly some members are seeking advice about how safe are their miles. We're very honored to see all three executives involved in the leadership of Dividend Miles tonight. So without further ado …

US Airways
Hola Everyone! We are really excited to be here. Ben, Barry and John

Mikel at WebFlyer
This question was submitted earlier by ClueByFour: Why were the revenue/route/model strategies in the current transformation plan not implemented after the first Chapter 11 filing, and why should the public/VFFs/creditors have any confidence that the same management team (save Dave S and Neil C) can pull it off this time (or, not run out and liquidate miles _right now_)?

US Airways
We exceeded the cost targets put forth in our first plan of reorganization. We also joined the Star Alliance and added many RJ's to our fleet just as we had planned. The revenue outlook in the plan -- which was approved by the court, ATSB and our creditors -- did not properly anticipate the explosive growth of low cost carriers. Our new transformation plan addresses this structural industry change. Good first question. Ben

Mikel at WebFlyer
This question was submitted earlier by Joey: Are there any plans for further integration between UA/US benefits such as mileage upgrades?

US Airways
Today, we offer upgrades on United flights for purchase only. We'll continue to work with United to make the programs more seamless, but this one requires systems development at both companies that may take some time. John

ldsant
when are you going to open up more seats to be able to use our miles?

Randy
Again, we are very honored that these guys took time out to chat with their Dividend Miles members. This transcript will be posted for many other to see later on.

US Airways
US Airways has plenty of award seats available now, for example, we have approximately 30% of seats to the Caribbean region available for travel in October. We have award travel suggestions linked off the homepage at usairways.com right now and almost 10% of our customers every day are flying on awards! John

Mikel at WebFlyer
This question was submitted earlier by pitflyer: many of us are dissappointed that U abandoned PIT. What do you say to all the DM members in PIT who have been so loyal to U over the year?

US Airways
We have NOT abandoned Pittsburgh. We have a long history in Pittsburgh, and will remain the largest carrier, with nonstop service to 28 of the top 30 destinations for local travelers, and further roll out GoFares as we go forward. The service reductions in PIT were a difficult, but necessary, decision. Pittsburgh will carry fewer connecting customers, but if you live in Pittsburgh we will continue to have the best service to the most places. Barry

gleff
UA and AA offer discounted awards for short-haul flights. Delta used to have a discounted award for Shuttle flights. All are/were 15k miles. But to get an award on the US Shuttle without a Sat. stay runs 50k miles. Any chance of a discounted Shuttle award in the near future?

US Airways
We already have a 20% discount award (20K miles) versus our competitors when redeeming on usairways.com. At this point, we are not considering a lower award on the Shuttle. John///

ews
When will awards be available for booking on Singapore Air again?

US Airways
There are technical issues with Singapore right now. The Dividend Miles and Kris Flyer teams have been working 24/7 to fix this. If you have to go quickly, you can take our other Star partners, ANA, LH, Thai and UA. John

Mikel at WebFlyer
This question was submitted earlier by longing4piedmont: Obviously SW's entry into PHL has been difficult for US Airways. But isn't it true that PHL flyers, including those who have stayed loyal to US Airways are much better off now that SW is in the market given how much fares have dropped?

US Airways
Customers are better off and our transformation plan is built to allow us to survive and grow in this price environment. We hope that you will agree if Southwest were the only airline in PHL, customers would not be better off -- they would not have international service, First Class, assigned seating, 750 destinations to earn and redeem miles, etc... By the way, when is their chat? Ben

JayBrian
Gentlemen, thank you for taking the time to chat with us. Do you or any of your associates read the USAirways forum on Flyertalk or USAviation and discuss the issues posted there?

US Airways
We look at these sources as part of an overall view of the marketplace, but generally don't post. Barry

johnep1
What kind of airline will US be in 3 years?

US Airways
One with low simple fares, great service, worldwide network with partners, and with usairways.com enhanced to handle a majority of bookings and service requests. Barry

US Airways Fan
I understand that you all are charging a 5 dollar fee to call reservations. However, I am a military memeber and the only way you can get military fares is to call reservations. You can't book them on the website. Since that is the case why can't that type of fare be waved since you must call reservations?

US Airways
We hope to have this service available soon on usairways.com. Ben

jcooke
The addition of unlimited e-upgrades for Preferred members in 2004 was a definite positive, however, the loss of Transatlantic Upgrades were sadly missed by some as well. Any changes in the DM program coming up for 2005?

US Airways
Envoy Class demand has increased dramatically over the last few years. Additionally, we have invested several million dollars in the Envoy Class product and launched our code-share partnership with Lufthansa and as a result more people are purchasing the product. We offer mileage upgrade awards to members as an alternative. John

Mikel at WebFlyer
This question was submitted earlier by AtlanticBeach: Hi Barry, Thanks for your time tonight. A part of marketing has included the use of E170s to differentiate from the competition. How is the company moving towards the resumption of those deliveries?

US Airways
Embraer has been an excellent business partner, and will continue to work with them. We need to get our costs – including labor deals – in line to assure our creditors that they can confidently continue doing business with us. We are working diligently on costs, including ongoing negotiations with our unions. Barry

ews
I've enjoyed some of the mile-earning opportunities that have been available this summer (3x GoFares, for example) -- will the same kinds of exciting opportunities be available this fall, even with the bankruptcy filing?

US Airways
Sign up for E-Statements and News and Offers e-mail and you will increase chances to get these great deals. Go to usairways.com/estatements and you get 1,000 bonus miles if you sign up today. John

MileKing
We are all pulling for US Air. Even so, many of us are concerned about our Dividend Miles account balances and award tickets booked for future travel on Star Alliance partners using those Dividend Miles. Should the worst come to pass (i.e, liquidation of US Air), will those award tickets for travel on Star partners be honored?

US Airways
We have no intention of liquidating and we intend to remain a member of Star. If you are ticketed on a partner airline, that airline utimately decides whether to honor the ticket, but why would the Star Alliance want to lose a customer? Barry

ryan
I have recently tried booking three trips for the coming months using my dividend miles and all three were "sold out" even as far as 9 months in advance. I have never had a problem using my miles in the past, but this has forced me to look elswhere for a miles program. When are we going to be able to use the miles when we want?

Randy
Nice bunch of questions tonight. I've got one. US Airways: Give us an update on the benefits of the Signature card. I noticed that it includes most of the Preferred benefits - a rarity among the other cards

US Airways
Ryan, where are you trying to fly? Please see the answer that we gave on award availability earlier in this chat. John

US Airways
Signature benefits include 15,000 bonus miles upon activation, Preferred Check-In, Preferred Boarding privileges, can purchase E-Upgrades and book on full Coach fares (Y, B, N or U fare classes) and then standby on any fare to upgrade. We believe that this is the best co-branded credit card . But, we continue to reserve our best benefits distinctly for Preferred members including Preferred Seating and unlimited upgrades for example. John

N674UW
Related to Randy's question, why was the decision made to drop Silver Preferred boarding benefits down to Zone 2, along with the Signature cards....some SP's find this slightly demeaning...

US Airways
Thank you for having the US Airways A330 as your sign. Zone 2 is part of the Preferred Boarding process, but we will continue to reserve the first wave of Preferred Boarding to our First Class, Chairman's and Gold Preferred members. John

US Airways
Next question?

Guest
I have tried four times in the last few days to call USAIR to make a Star Alliance reservation and have not been able to get through. What are you doing to handle the increased call load? Is there a way to book a Star Alliance ticket online on your website?

Randy
Question for US Airways. I noticed that Delta, despite the SkyTeam alliance has entered into further relationships with other airlines (Alaska) for feed and other things. Would US Airways look down this road for frequent flyer alliances?

US Airways
Yes and we already do. The GoCaribbean Network includes non-Star partners like Caribbean Sun, Caribbean Star and Bahamasair. We are in talks with several other airlines about partnerships in the few areas that the Star network doesn't blanket. Barry

Randy
US Airwaus question: As well, there seems to be an unusal restriction for Dividend Members to participate in exchanging miles on the points.com exchange. No other airline has a 'frequent flyer credit card holder' restriction. Just wondering why as well if any indication that restriction might change. Hey, wonderful for Bank of America, but...

Randy
Barry, thanks for pointing that out. I missed it.

US Airways
We are looking at this, but when someone signs up for US Airways Visa Signature cards, we want to reserve this privilege for them. Randy, we have some pull at Bank of America if you need a card approved. :-)

gleff
I'm curious how USAirways' membership in the Star Alliance has changed the way that Dividend Miles members redeem awards. What % of awards would you say are redeemed on Star carriers?

Randy
I'm a fan of the card and know BofA...... Maybe just a credit limit increase HA!

US Airways
Right now, about 20% of the awards are on partners. John

bowdenj
It is possible to upgrade US flights that aren't purchased on usairways.com through the website?

US Airways
Not now, but we are actively developing this functionality for usairways.com. Good news, we are about to launch

US Airways
Mileage Upgrade Awards via usairways.com with ticketing or you can come back and upgrade from a ticket you had purchased earlier. John

cedric
speaking of the Visa, any future plans to have a Dividend Miles card made available for those outside of the US (specifically Canada)

US Airways
We continue to explore opportunities in Europe, Latin America and Canada and hope to have something for you soon. Barry

WearyBizTrvlr
To take the inverse of gleff's question, what percentage of US awards are booked by partner airlines' FFP members?

Randy
Good question....

US Airways
It is very similar to what we are seeing the other way around. Barry

Randy
Well, we could not have asked for a better set of guests tonight. I think the interest by both these excutives as well as their members will spread far and wide. As well, I'd like to thank DM for taking the time to meet with many of our other members recently in person. That was admirable.

Randy
The hour of Q/A has come and slips away. Again, thanks to DM for taking time to help us all along with their plans. Everyone here supoorts their future and we'll all glad to be a part of their future success.

Randy
Thanks everyone for coming out tonight. A full transcript will be available in the morning for distribution and for those missing because of the timing and drive time.

Randy
Barry, Ben and John - best of luck from all of us here at FlyerTalk.

Randy
Let's open this up for free chat and anyone can stay and play with the topic of miles and points.

US Airways
We really enjoyed this chat. Thank you for all the great questions. We are happy to do this again if everyone wants to. Thank you for continuing to fly us while we transform the airline. Ben, Barry and John

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