Why merging American Airlines with US Airways is a terrible idea

Christopher Parypa / Shutterstock.com
Christopher Parypa / Shutterstock.com
Any day now, the U.S. Department of Justice will approve the merger between American Airlines and US Airways.

Clearing the world’s largest airline for takeoff will benefit passengers and build a new, highly competitive supercarrier, according to most of the industry’s talking heads. If there’s a consensus among them, it’s that the government ought to rubber-stamp this corporate union quickly.

But the conventional wisdom is wrong. As much as I want to like the proposed “new” American — and I really do — I just can’t.

Passengers will probably pay more and get less. Cities are likely to lose airline service. Many airline employees might end up with pink slips.

The biggest favor the Justice Department can do for air travelers is to deny this merger takeoff permission.

Both airlines have made their best case for the deal. In a Senate hearing last month, US Airways CEO Doug Parker sounded as if passengers are begging the companies to merge, even though they aren’t. He claimed that “the new American will be a stronger and better competitor. We will bring more and better service to more destinations than ever before. We will offer competitive prices and convenient travel times. We will remain committed to all communities — large and small.”

More service? A U.S. Government Accountability Office report warns that 1,665 airport-pair markets will lose one effective competitor in a merger, affecting more than 53 million passengers.

Better service? According to several customer service benchmarks, it doesn’t get much worse than this. The 2013 authoritative American Customer Service Index (ACSI) slapped American Airlines and US Airways with scores of 65 and 64 out of 100, respectively. Last year, US Airways was the second most complained-about airline, and American was number three, according to the Transportation Department.

Who was the worst-performing airline? United Airlines, which ranked dead last on the ACSI (62) and received the most complaints. Yeah, the same United that merged with Continental Airlines.

And consider Parker’s last two promises: low prices and a pledge to continue serving the same airports.

The American Antitrust Institute’s research casts doubt on both. A merger “would substantially eliminate competition on important routes, creating a dominant firm that — acting unilaterally post-merger — could raise fares, degrade service and eliminate consumer choice,” the AAI’s Diana Moss recently said in a congressional hearing.

Also, I wonder if Parker has been to the St. Louis airport recently, which lost almost half its passenger traffic after American acquired TWA in 2002, or to Cincinnati, where air traffic plunged after the Delta-Northwest merger? These former hubs are now ghost towns, despite promises made in a prenuptial delirium.

And then there’s this: At a time when regulators were considering the proposed deal, American brazenly said it would try to squeeze more seats on the McDonnell Douglas MD-80 and the Boeing 737, post-merger. Some air travelers are calling the “new” American “Cram-erican.”

The only Parker claim that may ring true is that a combined airline will be a formidable competitor but not in the sense that he wants us to believe. As the world’s largest airline, it would enjoy a commanding presence in several important markets, including Washington, D.C.

US Airways already controls more than 55% of the takeoff and landing slots at Reagan National Airport, and that number would rise to 67% after the merger. That wouldn’t benefit passengers as much as it would enrich the airline — which will all but control National’s destiny for the next generation — and its shareholders.

Even if the Justice Department forces the airline to shed these slots pre-merger, American would become a colossus of the skies. It wouldn’t necessarily be stronger, just bigger.

Maybe even too big to fail.

By blocking this wrongheaded merger, the government won’t just be saving us from higher prices and dreadful service, it will also be saving American and US Airways from themselves. That is, after all, its job — to promote competition by enforcing our antitrust laws and principles. In a rebounding economy, both airlines have an opportunity to salvage their reputations, independently, and give us the service we deserve.

They should take it.

Would a merger between American Airlines and US Airways be good for air travelers?

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Christopher Elliott

Christopher Elliott is an author, journalist and consumer advocate. You can read more about him on his personal website or contact him at . Got a question or comment? You can post it on the new forum.

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  • sirwired

    We didn’t end up where we are through malevolence. US carriers used to offer hot meals in coach on long flights, more legroom, free bags, better customer service, etc. And they have all been dropped when customers consistently showed they’d rather save a few bucks on their fare than have better service.

    We’ve had our chance to vote with our wallets for years, and this level of service is what we’ve “voted” for. A management team with their “head out of their ass” would be clearly insane to decide to go to a “high-service” model for the US market; that’d doom them to bankruptcy! (Just ask Virgin America! And look to Spirit and Allegiant for where profits lie!)

  • sirwired

    “Anti-trust” does not mean what you’d like it to mean. It is not, “anti-large-company.” Or “pro-customer-service”. The purpose of anti-trust law is two-fold:

    – To prevent nominally independent companies from colluding (ala the recent Apple/Book Publisher case)

    – To prevent monopolies from leveraging their position into “unjust” profits or shut out competitors.

    Given the rather small profit margins of even the largest airlines, it’d be difficult to argue they are milking consumers for every dollar possible. The barriers to entry for a new airline are rather low; new ones start all the time. And they fail for one of two reasons: Either they over-estimate what Americans are willing to pay for customer service (Virgin America, Frontier), or they under-estimate what they need to charge to be profitable (a very long list of startup airlines who thought the majors charged too much and tried to provide the same thing for less money.)

  • sirwired

    If American goes out of business, how is that better than a merger? I’m pretty sure that AA liquidating would result in a LOT more service reduction, job loss, and consumer harm than US buying them.

    The employees and creditors of AA are taxpayers too.

  • Grant Ritchie

    Couldn’t agree more. I don’t want to pay for airline meals; I don’t even want to pay for Southwest’s peanuts! And I’ve never understood why people can’t take a one-hour flight without having to be served a beverage. Fly me safe, fly me cheap and charge fees for everything else.

  • Michael__K

    Those 2002 domestic airfares included free checked bags, meals, assigned seats, more leg room, free telephone reservations, same-day stand by, fewer restrictions, lower change fees, more generous mileage programs, better customer service, and probably a few more things I’m forgetting.

    Ancillary fee revenue is about 17% of airline passenger revenue today vs. about 1% in 2002. Which means that $384.81 average 2012 fare is really $458.11 if you include all the new fees. That means fee-inclusive fares have actually increased by 48% from 2002 to 2012, not 21%.

    By comparison, according to CPI-inflation, the average commodity increased in price increase by just 28% from 2002 to 2012.

    To be fair, you understate the increase in jet fuel costs. Average jet fuel prices were $.69/gallon in 2002 and $3.06/gallon in 2012 — a 444%(!) increase — according to this source of commodity prices: http://www.indexmundi.com/commodities/?commodity=jet-fuel&months=180.

    35% of airline expenses today are reportedly fuel. If we assume that all other airline expenses rose by exactly CPI (28%) — which we know is a huge over-estimate (labor costs clearly haven’t kept up with CPI; lots of perks and services have been slashed) — then my back-of-the-envelope calculation says that we would have expected fares to rise by 60% since 2002.

    This isn’t intended as an argument in favor of or opposed to this merger. This is just to demonstrate the folly of promoting those oft-cited comparisons of average domestic historical airfares. Fee-inclusive passenger airfares have risen by pretty much what we would have expected them to rise by given the fuel and inflation environment.

  • Carver Clark Farrow

    That’s the ultimate problem. Certain self-appointed consumer watchdogs believe that they know better than the American public what we want. We voted with our wallets. Price was the bottom line. We got what we voted for, but some folks just don’t get that.

  • Carver Clark Farrow

    +1

  • TonyA_says

    No minimum specs required? :(

  • Michael__K

    I think we need to be clear about what we’re calling amenities.

    Most everyone will probably agree if we’re talking about meals or baggage fees, which have standalone pricing and where the sticker price is plausibly correlated with the service offered.

    If we’re talking about how passengers who miss connections or suffer long delays or fall too ill to travel are handled — I wouldn’t call those amenities, although some people might.

    And if we’re talking about schemes that involve large fees that either hit customers somewhat randomly or fees that are almost unavoidable (say, a substantial carry-on baggage fee coupled with a substantial checked baggage fee) then that really isn’t about “unbundling” as much as it is about the merchant betting that they can start with a “loss leader” base fare and then more than make up for it by outsmarting their customers.

  • Carver Clark Farrow

    That’s actually a fair point. The short blurbs that we post often lack nuance due to space limitations. To clarify, I am specifically not discussing health and safety concerns. I am directing my comments only towards those items that are nice to have, not must haves. For example, I have no problem with medical devices being exempted from fees.

    Food, checked luggage, etc., are items which have no fundamental reason to be included in the price of a ticket except for the fact that they have historically been included.

  • Carver Clark Farrow

    No, I don’t think so.

    The term amenity is a short hand expression, (and thereby by definition imprecise) way of discussing the various fare rules of a given ticket.

    But any event, the amenity, more precisely fare rules may have immediate tangible benefits such as food, better seat, checked luggage. Or it may have intangible benefits such as no change fees.

    Its ultimately the same thing.

    If I don’t need checked luggage then I am happy to purchase a fare that doesn’t include checked luggage. Maybe my plans don’t require a carry-one that doesn’t fit under my seat. I can do a deposition with my iPad today. Or maybe on one flight I need flexibility and another I am 100 percent certain of the dates and times.

    In each case, the logic remains the same. I pick and choice what I need for a particular flight and would prefer not to pay for additional “amenities”

  • TonyA_says

    Here’s a good one. http://www.ergoweb.com/news/detail.cfm?id=432
    The link to the study is here: https://dspace.lboro.ac.uk/dspace-jspui/handle/2134/701
    So Chris is not just whining when he asks for more legroom for folks like himself and you.

    One piece of Luggage for long flights is quite standard. So is food and drinks. A pillow and blanket, too, to help one get comfy and sleep. Other than access to a bathroom, I’ll end my list here.

  • cheyennecowboy

    Parker has a big head and wants to feed his ego. As far as US Airways is concerned, they cant seem to agree on anything. The pilot seniority lists of America West and US Air have NOT been combined YET, and they merged many years ago. Service on US Airways is awful to say the least. I’ve flown on them several times lately, unhappy personnel, dirty airplanes, lousy on-time service. The last flight on which I flew was 3 hours late getting into Denver coming out of it’s big hub in CLT. You would have thought at a hub station, another aircraft would have been available, but nope! Just sit and wait! As for American, I have to say, I’ve gotten good service. But, when US Airways head, Parker takes over, i’m fearful. Not unlike UAL now being run by the likes of Continental management….the employees call it Con-U. Both airlines have gotten worse in their customer service…there still seems to be a separation there too. There always seems to be anamosity toward the “other airline’s” Personnel, and there isn’t much harmony at UAL/CAL.

  • Carver Clark Farrow

    As I previously stated, I’m not talking about health or safety issues. Chris on the other hand has only discussed comfort with regards leg room.

    But you’re falling into the same trap that Chris is. Why should the price of luggage be included in the base fare of the seat other than “for long flights is quite standard” Would you feel better if we had a negative check-off instead. You could subtract money from your fare if you declined to check luggage?

    And why can’t I have the option of buying my own food and water in the airport rather than having it included in my fare?

  • MarkKelling

    I really believe the goal of most of the mergers is just so that the person who ends up being CEO can say “Mine’s bigger than yours!”

    As far as Co-UA goes, there is still a separation on the planes. UA crews are not allowed to work the former CO planes and vice versa because of their union contracts. On a recent flight from IAH to DEN, they were missing one of the flight attendants so we could not board. The flight was half filled with flight attendants on their way to DEN to work later that day but since they were all former CO crew and the plane was a former UA plane, we all had to wait. Finally got going 2 hours late. I still find I get cheerier service if I am on a former CO plane. None of the crew are as happy as they used to be, but the former CO crew at least don’t seem to hate the passengers like the old UA crews do.

  • Michael__K

    The fact that the word “amenities” is imprecise is exactly why it’s important to be specific if we’re to understand each other’s comments and have a useful dialogue.

    You can argue that giving distressed passengers any rights (like EU261 does) is an “amenity” and Big Brother shouldn’t be involved in that. Heck, why stop there? You could argue that overbooking denied boarding compensation is an “amenity.” Why shouldn’t Big Brother let passengers book cheaper fares at the risk of getting denied boarding with less compensation or no compensation?

    I think it’s useful to distinguish between amenities passengers have complete choice over (like meals) and “amenities” that affect random passengers at random times and the carrier has assymetrical knowledge about the probabilities.

    With carry-on bags, I have no problem giving the 1% (rough guess) of passengers who have the option of carrying no belongings with them a discount. I have a problem when this is used as a gimmick to trick 99% of passengers into believing that airfare A is cheaper than airfare B when it isn’t.

  • Carver Clark Farrow

    No, that’s called nitpicking or obfuscation.

    The specific hypothetical in question (Amenity A, B and C) illustrated a fairly simple point. The term amenity was chosen because the conversation had centered around items such as food and legroom. I don’t think anyone was contemplating denied boarding compensation within the conversation. To use that as an example is to muddy the water, particularly as amenity can be both tangible (food), or intangible (change fees)

    We can easily write with the level of precision that would prevent such “confusion”. But the writing would be far beyond what’s appropriate for blog entries. If you pick up a book of statutes, in each section, the first part lists pages and pages of definitions, just for this very purpose. Its boring. Perhaps you enjoy reading the dictionary. I do not.

    The nature of blog posts is that they are read within the larger context of the localized discussion. Taken out of context, anyone can have a field day, but when a simple straightforward reading occurs in content, then clarify is easily achieved; perhaps not to a legal or moral certainty, but enough for daily conversation.
    As far as the carryon question, that’s a valid point. Today, most people expect a carryon to be free. As such, airlines like Spirit should be forced to make appropriate disclosures. I have no issue with mandatory disclosures. In fact, I champion them. I believe in an informed buying public.

  • JenniferFinger

    Even though the customers of merging airlines would like to think we have a stake in the merger, the fact is that the only persons who have a stake that counts are the shareholders. If they want to merge, and they’re only going to focus on the bottom line, then the merger is going to take place regardless of what customers want.

  • bodega3

    Then fly Spirit. I am ‘traveling’ and want to check at least one piece of luggage for free. Airlines use to treat you like you were a guest in their ‘home’. Coffee, soft drink, something to eat. Now they are like carnival hawkers and walk around with credit card machines. We have bottom feeders to thank for the airlines coming down to the lowest common denominator. It doesn’t just stop there. Look at the condition of the cabins? Dirty, not well maintained. It never use to be that way, but how can to keep things up when bottom feeders want to piecemeal everything :-(

  • BMG4ME

    I am looking forward to the merger. History has shown that the dominant airline’s culture and level of service prevails. Here are examples:

    America West, a nice airline, took over dominant US Airways, and became just like US Airways
    Delta and Northwest merged (I can’t remember who bought who) and the dominant Delta is what we have today, and it’s a great airline.
    Continental and United merged, Continental was better, United was dominant, today we have United Airlines which has none of the greatness of Continental.

    I predict that US Airways, even though it’s buying American (which is the dominant airline) will became just like American and that is good because American is a great airline, US Airways is an awful airline and I look forward to not having to fly US Airways ever again.

    I realize there are some that will disagree, and these are just my opinions.

  • Michael__K

    When Chris advocates treating passengers like people, what makes you think Chris is talking about amenities like hot meals and checked bags and not the “amenities” you admit are ridiculous in this context and outside the meaning of your comment?

    Chris says that MeanMosh’s comment was a distortion of what he said. And to back him up, I don’t see too many articles on this blog with complaints about meal or baggage fees. Stranded passengers with missed connections? severe delays? cancellations? passengers too ill to fly? passengers who receive atrocious customer service and can’t reach a human being to address their reservation issue? — that’s what we see examples of week in and week out.

    And inevitably commenters (not you, but plenty of others) defend the treatment of those passengers using exactly the logic you laid out — that better treatment will raise everyone’s fares, and somehow the market has decided that that would be the greater evil.

    So in the context of this blog, it’s not nitpicking at all — it’s at the core of the debate.

  • Carver Clark Farrow

    Q: When Chris advocates treating passengers like people, what makes you think Chris is talking about amenities like hot meals and checked bags and not the “amenities” you admit are ridiculous in this context and outside the meaning of your comment?

    A: Chris said in his comment adjacent to mine, ” I really love the demand that we “subsidize extra legroom seating, checked bags, hot meals, and seat assignments together at the front of the plane for the whole family” and I’ve seen you repeat it on another airline propaganda blog.
    The comments are adjacent both in physical proximity and time. Any fair contextual reading would necessitate that those are the focus of the discussion.

    As far as MeanMosh comments, I took pains to state that while his point has merit and should be discussed, I am not commenting on his posts elsewhere. Thus, once again, bringing in other issues only serves to muddy the waters and conflate two separate issues.

    I would point out though that Meanmosh’s comments here (I can’t speak for elsewhere) are directed to “subsidizing perks…one checked bags, choice seats and/or advanced seat assignments,” etc. It Is only in reading our of context does denied boarding compensation enter this conversation.

  • Michael__K

    I think what you are quoting as Chris’ own words is actually Chris quoting MeanMosh’s words, which Chris alleges are “a funny distortion” of what he actually said.

  • Carver Clark Farrow

    Then take the following “maybe it’s time for strict new laws mandating minimum leg room and humane flying conditions”. Same thing.

  • Michael__K

    Other countries have minimums, in the UK I understand the mandated minimum seat pitch is 28″.

    I don’t know what Chris’ rationale is, but IMO, at a certain point, I think society (and therefore govt) has an interest in guaranteeing equal access to common carriers. If people of above average height (an inborn trait) don’t fit, then that’s not a discretionary amenity anymore.

  • Carver Clark Farrow

    And meals? Checked luggage?

    Besides tall people can choose to fly airlines with longer seat pitch options and pay the premium.

  • Michael__K

    Maybe I missed it, but I don’t see where Chris pushes for laws requiring meals or free checked luggage (again, I think he’s quoting what he calls MeanMosh’s “funny distortion” of what he said).

  • Tom Evansen

    Chris, you are looking at this incorrectly. If you merge two airlines with ACSI scores of 65 and 64, you get a 129, which is by far the best airline on the planet!

  • http://elliott.org Christopher Elliott

    You didn’t miss anything. The airline apologists are just busy defending the indefensible practices of an industry that hates its own customers. Twisting my words is is hardly their worst offense.

  • John Baker

    “CVG died mostly because of the Decline and Fall of regional jets. It relied hugely on RJ feeder traffic for the mainline service it had; it did not have nearly as much mainline service as a traditional hub. And yes, it’s position in the middle between ATL and DTW didn’t help.”

    Sorry CVG is my primary airport and I lived here during the hey days. Your statement is only partially correct.

    Before DL bought and destroyed COMAIR, CVG was COMAIR’s primary hub with its own dedicated terminal containing 70 plus gates. So yes some of the 750 departures a day that CVG had at its hey day were the result of COMAIR but that’s not the whole picture.
    In addition to the dedicated RJ terminal, CVG had 50+ mainline gates dedicated to DL. CVG also had 4 crew bases and multiple international flights a day. All of which (accept for a single flight to Paris that GE essentially pays to keep running through cargo) are now mostly gone. CVG has been relegated to almost exclusively RJ service (contrary to what your note insinuates) with very few mainline flights a day anymore (150 total departures a day. I’d guess 100 are RJs). Also none of the major cutbacks happened until after the merger. It had very little to do with the decline of RJs.

    So… Memphis, who have now lost their hub, and Cincinnati, who is barely hanging on, lost in the merger war.

  • TonyA_says

    How can you really say it is EXTRA legroom. We used to have more then it was drastically reduced. Chris is just asking a few inches back.

  • TonyA_says

    I really do not take short flights anymore because I hate it. Short flights are really shuttles and it is hard to expect much from them.
    Most of the flights I take are long, real long. No way to buy food and drink for my 15-16 hr. flight from JFK to HKG (plus more after that). And there is also good reason to have at least one checked luggage for those long flights.
    Come to think of it, has anyone made a study on how overloaded bins affect airline safety?

  • John Baker

    @TonyA_says:disqus but retailers do the same thing all the time. They shrink portion sizes instead of increasing costs and eventually relaunch the same size under a new name and higher costs (example… a local pizza joint now sells 14″ pizzas as larges and 16″ as XL. When I was a kid, 16″ was a large. Guess what the 16″ costs more than the 14″. A couple of cereal manufacturers do the same thing).

    Chris wants the inches back without the added cost. We know that’s not going to happen. If the market demand was there for the greater seat pitch, the econ +, or whatever marketing name the airline chooses, seats would sell out far faster than steerage and they don’t.

  • NOLA

    You are clueless. I also live in the area and do most anything, including paying higher fares, to fly roundtrip DCA and I know many others who do the exact same thing.

  • Carver Clark Farrow

    Chris,

    I have no desire to twist your words. Then let’s set the record straight once and for all.

    Do you believe that the government should mandate any the following and if so which, if any?

    Minimum seat pitches?
    One or more pieces of checked luggage?
    Water? (Routine, not during irregular opts)
    Food?
    One or more pieces of carry one luggage?

    Simple straightforward questions.

  • Carver Clark Farrow

    No one is disputing that checked baggage is a good thing, especially on long hauls. The only question is how do we pay for it. Is the price included in the base fare for all to pay, or is it a la carte so that payment may be individually? And equally importantly, is it a primarily private transaction, or does the government have an interest such that regulation is warranted.

  • TonyA_says

    Not sure about that Carver. Traditionally, we have always viewed PUBLIC TRANSPORTATION as one that accommodates the general needs of the public – and that means man and his luggage (by man I mean women, too).

    You can take a reasonable amount luggage with you when you ride the bus, taxi, train and subway (and previously airlines) without worrying to pay extra.

    For some reason, classic airlines were allowed to copy Ryanair. It is ironic that the original low cost carriers Southwest and Jet Blue are the ones left with free bags.

    As one who sells travel, I am still conflicted about this ala-carte and unbundled pricing. Common (and not so common) carriers get to use a lot of publicly owned assets without really having to pay the full cost. Best example is Carnival Cruise lines use of the US Coast Guard.

    Common carriers are a special kind of business. They are not just pizza parlors. They provide a vital role (transportation) to society.

    So taking this down to an equation of dollars and cents with baggage fees and food and water is something that is truly debatable. Someone (for me the gov’t.) should really set the minimum specs if the industry cannot police itself. By that I mean if the general public is so pissed off then it needs to be fixed.

  • Carver Clark Farrow

    Interesting. While airplanes may be public transportation, I don’t know if analogies work well. For a variety of reasons airlines have their own rules that are very different from buses, trains, etc

    But the question remains. Checked bags are not free. The customer always pays. The only question is which customer pays and how.

  • TonyA_says

    Nothing’s really free. The question is whether ONE bag should be included in the fare. My opinion is YES for simplicity, convenience, and maybe safety.

    Boeing made a study on aircraft turnaround times a while back.
    See: http://www.boeing.com/commercial/aeromagazine/aero_01/textonly/t01txt.html

    The study shows how boarding an aircraft is getting longer and longer.

    I’m sure it is worse today as passengers hunt for valuable overhead bin space (to avoid baggage fees). Also, the paid seating and boarding arrangements probably makes the problem worse.

    I think longer boarding times is a public concern, too. It is not only inconvenient but also a total waste of time. I wonder, if Southwest and Jetblue can do it, inclusive bag(s), why can’t the others?

  • Carver Clark Farrow

    Should the government be regulating simplicity, convenience, and time wasting? Safety, no question at all. But, I’m not convinced about the other three.

    Ultimately, this is about one’s political paradigm. Which do you prefer, the market or the government. For me, I prefer the market to regulate and then the government steps in for cases of legitimate public concerns, chief amongst those would be safety.

  • TonyA_says

    Probably a useless discussion anyway. The Government can’t or won’t even regulate the too-big-to-fail banks so why should they care about airline passengers? These are just my dreams :)

  • Carver Clark Farrow

    :)

  • Emily Porterfield

    I think there must be some studies on this. I fly Southwest when I can, and usually check one bag. Even though Southwest offers 2 bags free, every flight I’m on, people drag their overstuff baggage on, sometimes sneaking in a 3rd bag. The thinking behind this is (a) they don’t want to have to go to baggage claim and wait for their luggage; and/or (b) they don’t want to lose their luggage and file a claim with baggage services. Yes, it seems like such a great thing when other airlines are charging, but my guess is the flight attendants are not happy about it, when they have to tag the overflow bags which also slows turnaround.

  • TonyA_says

    Sometimes when you have multiple players or stakeholders in a position that are at odds with each other you get a real lousy situation that is deadlocked and cannot be improved.

    Customers want less mishandled bags and want to get out of the airport quicker (time is money).

    Agents and FAs don’t want to handle many gate checks and assist in loading overheard bins that make flights late (time is money).

    But it seems like the airlines are more interested in collecting fees than in increasing efficiency and saving time. So how do we get them thinking in the same direction as their own employees and passengers? If there isn’t $$$$$$$ in it for them PERSONALLY then they do not give a F$*&.

    The collection of ancillary fees has NOT led to increased quality or customer satisfaction. But management could care less since there is less and less competition, especially after mergers, and nothing is forcing them to change. Notice how many of the new stuff is cosmetic – like the new paint and logo on old AA airplanes.

    The real game changer is complete abolition of the cabotage rules. Without more competition there is no pressure to do any good.

  • Cybrsk8r

    Well, you just go right ahead, buddy. If it works for you, fine. Truth is, I hope you continue to fly out of National. One less person at my airport is just fine by me.

    I’d have to be pretty stupid to fight my way from Gaithersburg thru the hideous northern VA traffic to National. And for what? To pay more?

    Besides, Southwest is my favorite airline, now. They have a few flights out of Dulles, and none at all out of DCA (unless you count AirTran). There are literally twice as many departures for Southwest out of BWI as there are for National and Dulles combined.

  • Puck2u

    My usual departure/return airports are STL/EVV. I have lived through STL being a very busy airport to the dead zone which does mean less confusion (sort of) at TSA stations. I have watched Ozark being bought out by TWA which had lost slots at ORD so made STL the center of their hub and spoke system. For a few years I could fly packed flights to the UK thus avoiding ORD. Carl Ican started shedding TWA assets. So less flights were going long distances. American came in and slowly started moving all flights to ORD usually in “Regional Jets” which is not my preferred size of aircraft. Cramped and now always full with wait lists. Next up, many flights seemed to go to IAH in the most dismal excuse for a gate area since ORD opened as a feeder to MDW in the 1950’s. Those particular gates at IAH do NOT have jetways so now in my feeble years means throwing any carry on to the ground and then carefully hobbling down a rickety set of stairs. EVV has gone through similar transitions. USAir has been an alternative at both STL and EVV. Anyone want to bet that will change if AA and USAir merge? I have no idea of how many Boeing 7–‘s fly out of either anymore but not many. An occasional MD80 is about it.