Announces Latest Missteps In Never-Ending Race To Bottom Of CSI
US Airways: it appears you have some serious
competition for the title of Stingiest Major US Carrier. Starting
next month, United Airlines will stop handing out free pretzels and
cookies to coach fliers across North America... and will even drop
free meal service in business class on most flights.
"In the wake of high fuel prices and a challenging economic
environment, we must continue to examine every aspect of our
business and find new ways to improve our day-to-day operations
through efficiencies that still meet our customers' expectations,"
reads a memo to United employees, obtained Monday by The San
That memo, incidentally, is titled "Catering Changes Provide
Value and Options." Still more examples of "value and options" on
United flights include higher prices for buy-on-board meals,
although passengers will have more choices on what to spend their
hard-earned $7 on.
The airline will also stop offering complimentary meals to
coach-class passengers on international flights, and will do away
with snacks given to passengers on longer trans-continental
flights. The airline notes that doing away with free meal service
in business class will also allow United to use fewer flight
United spokeswoman Robin Urbanski called the changes "difficult
but necessary," adding "we are looking at everything we need to do
to offset fuel prices, which are still skyrocketing."
(In a related note... after falling to as low as $112
Monday, oil prices rebounded to around $115 per barrel in trading
Tuesday. That's a healthy increase, but still far off the $147 high
seen earlier this year -- Ed.)
At least one analyst questioned United's latest attempt to,
presumably, lose business. "These moves are flat-out stupid," said
Forrester Research's Henry Harteveldt to the Chronicle. "The
savings they will get doing away with lunch in business class --
they will lose more than that when corporations yank business.
"The challenging thing about business is that whether things are
good or bad, you have to invest in your product for the sake of
keeping customers and to make it harder for competitors to catch up
with you," Harteveldt added. "This does nothing to encourage people
to pay more because you give more. They really make me question
whether the inmates have taken control of the asylum."
Insert Glenn Tilton joke here.