Hey Brother, Can You Spare a Bag of Pretzels?

USAir joins Northwest in cancelling free pretzels on flights

Unbelievable. In a widely-reported story that is more heaps of bad publicity for USAir, they announced that passengers will need to fork over a dollar if they want a little bag of pretzels on their flight. This will reportedly save them a million dollars a year. Are you kidding me? In an industry where the average player loses billions a quarter without blinking, what’s a million dollars? A penny move in the price of jet fuel costs them more than that. Why make yourself the butt of TV jokes and have your name splashed all over the news in a negative fashion just to save such a tiny percentage of your operating costs?

The stupidity of this floors me, especially considering it just sends more and more passengers into the hands of rivals like Southwest, Frontier, and JetBlue–airlines that are cheaper, offer better service, and still serve you snacks with a smile.

A recent J.D. Power and Associates survey found that no US Airlines ranked among the ten best in the world. No surprise there–I wouldn’t have expected any of them to even make the top-20. My recent domestic Lan Peru flights reminded me what domestic flights in the US used to be like, with things like real service and real food. On top of that, they were cheaper.

Meanwhile, I am flying Southwest home from a business trip today. I can print out my boarding pass ahead of time, ensuring that I’ll be in the first batch to board. On the way here, I did that and even got a roomy exit row seat, which I wouldn’t be able to do on USAir unless I was an elite member of their frequent flyer program. The people will be friendly and I’ll get a packet of pretzels–without having to open my wallet. Oh, and did I mention that the flight was almost $100 cheaper than if I had flown on USAir–and gets there twice as fast because it’s direct?