America’s Worst Airline Will Charge $25 to Lose Your Bag

There are some companies that, through no fault of their own, have a streak of bad luck and they stumble. Others prove week after week that they are led by complete idiots who shouldn’t even be in charge of their own kids. In the travel industry there’s no better illustration of the latter than US Airways, the worst airline in about every category you can measure and in many more categories that are harder to measure: things like the number of their passengers screaming, cursing, and preparing to throw things across the terminal.

Travelers reacted with annoyance and anger earlier when United announced that it was going to start charging $25 to check a second bag, but at least with United you stand a good chance of your bag actually showing up at your destination. Now USAirways is following suit. I’m not sure how any PR person could keep a straight face while writing this, which came in my e-mail this morning:

Today, US Airways announced a change to our baggage policy. Beginning May 5, 2008, we’ll charge $25 for a second checked bag. The new fee applies to travel on or after May 5 for tickets purchased on or after February 26, 2008.

We’re making these changes to offset record fuel prices and rising airline related expenses. We simply must make changes to the way we do business to provide all of you with the high level of service that you’ve come to expect from US Airways. Also, we’re doing all we can to keep fares low. With this policy change, we’re able to give you the choice to avoid the fee and pack fewer items. With fewer bags to process, we save both money and fuel and can pass that savings on to you.

The funniest part of that is “to provide all of you with the high level of service you’ve come to expect from US Airways.” That’s like McDonald’s saying they need to charge for ketchup in order to keep providing you the heart-healthy cuisine you’ve come to expect. Even their home town news stations can’t avoid pointing out that US Airways is the worst.

Dear US Airways Board of Directors, here’s some advice for you. Make all your executives spend a week flying your airline, in coach, with tight connections, checking all their bags. Then have them come back and report whether your fine service is truly worth an extra $25 per flight. My guess is they’ll start logging onto as soon as they’re back in the office (and they’ll fly a different airline to get to their interviews).

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