Going Country
Wendy's Marketing Challeng

USAir May Care

I used to travel on USAir shuttle from New York to Washington, DC all the time.  I'd pay something like $600 - $800 round trip for the privilege.  Even at those fares, when a flight was canceled due to mechanical problems they would hussle us off the plane without the obvious accommodation of automatically booking us on the next flight (the shuttle leaves every hour so rebooking is obvious).    After this incident I started to avoid US Airways at all cost, even changing planes on Southwest multiple times to avoid the disappointment of USAir.

In the midst of this disappointment I received this email from USAir.  It's smart and sounds like a real person wrote it.  It doesn't attempt to gloss over bad service records or experience.  The email tells it like it is.  This a great example of a customer email.  I appreciate the candor and may just even fly USAir again because of it.  H. Travis Christ is my kind of marketer.


 

From: US Airways - Dividend Miles [mailto:dividendmiles@myusairways.com]
Sent: Thursday, November 15, 2007 3:14 AM
To: Grill, Jeff
Subject: Dividend Miles Update

 

Please add dividendmiles@myusairways.com to your personal address book to ensure delivery. Please do not reply to this email.

Welcome to the Dividend Miles Update, formerly known as the Merger Update, where we'll give you the straight story on US Airways and our Dividend Miles program. No corporate double-speak, just quick, inside-baseball facts on issues important to you, our frequent flyers.

We've changed the name because on September 26th we officially handed over the America West operating certificate to the FAA and formally merged into one airline. Yes, there really was a handover ceremony, and for a few weeks we couldn't find the original America West certificate. Turns out it was in use as part of a company heritage display. No certificate, no merger. Wouldn't that have been embarrassing?

Read on for our hot topics – I hope they're helpful to you.

Operational reliability

All airlines, and US Airways in particular, had a rough summer. Late and canceled flights wreaked havoc during peak season and we've poured on the overtime to get the operation back in shape. If you've flown lately, you probably know these efforts are paying off. Here's a quick snapshot of what we've done:

  • Hired an experienced Chief Operating Officer to oversee and implement operational changes.
  • Hired 1,000 new co-workers across the system, particularly in the hubs.
  • Installed 373 new kiosks to date, with nearly 600 targeted for year-end and a total of 782 by April 2008.
  • Spread out flights across the day, which really means we added more time between flights so there's more breathing room to catch up.

Not surprisingly, a late-running operation is the source of almost all other problems that airlines and travelers run into (like lost luggage and bad attitudes) and we know we have to run a reliable airline or risk turning away our best customers (you) who will tolerate nothing less.

Results so far? The official DOT statistics for September won't be out until later this month, but here's a sneak preview. We ran 80% on time, an excellent result, which we think will put us in the top half of carriers. And compared to July's 66%, it's a remarkable improvement. Thanks for your patience as we worked to make that better.

Product enhancements

As promised this past spring, we're beginning to launch our product improvements and I think you'll be pleased with them:

  • On October 1, we introduced an all-new In-flight Café menu with upgraded, fresh sandwiches and salads and replaced the SkyFun Box with a new, improved Snack Box. (If you considered "fun" mixing Nestle Buncha Crunch, chips and salsa and a 12-inch bread stick then you'll be disappointed.) Look for different menu options every two months.
  • Last month, we tested the sale of premium wines by the glass and non-alcoholic beverages in Coach on select flights out of Charlotte and Phoenix. We're running the numbers now to see what you liked best.
  • We're currently overhauling our First Class menus to launch before the end of the year, and we’ll refresh the menus every two months.
  • We'll begin installing new, near lie-flat Envoy seats on the 767 beginning in January.

Also, a $50 million project to renovate the interiors of most of our mainline aircraft has just begun, with the first work already underway. We'll replace many of the worn materials that you see today, in addition to giving all aircraft a common interior look. You'll see a dramatic improvement in overall aircraft appearance and cleanliness. Will it take a while? You bet your assigned seat it will, since it involves nearly 300 aircraft and will take several years to complete.

And that's not all. We have lots of additional product improvements just around the corner, like upgraded Envoy menu selections, improvements in the Clubs and new meals in transatlantic Economy Class.

Pittsburgh schedule reductions

Unfortunately we’ve had to further reduce our Pittsburgh schedule from 108 daily flights to 68. We simply haven't been able to generate enough business traffic in PIT to make it viable at $80/barrel oil ($90?). We'll keep the US Airways Club, our new and permanent Operations Control Center in PIT, and will continue to be the largest full-service airline in town. Of course everyone loves the new Steelers plane, except the Eagles fans. How about a Cowboys plane for our president, Scott Kirby? I don’t think so.

New flight crew

A bit of a milestone: For the first time in many years we’re hiring new pilots for our mainline operation. A momentous occasion after not bringing new crew members aboard for many years.

A little help, here?

You’ve probably read press reports about our antiquated gridlocked air traffic system that makes the LA freeway system look like the Autobahn. If you haven’t done so, please take a moment to help us lobby for a modernized air traffic control system. Believe it or not these emails from you really do matter.

Website

Speaking of modernizing, here’s an article that summarizes where we are on our website redesign, due for completion sometime next summer. Here are some highlights:

  • usairways.com from your mobile device is up and running, and it’s great for checking your connecting gate and time upon landing.
  • No web on your phone? Send us your flight number via text to TEXTUS (839887) and we'll text your flight and gate information to your phone within seconds.
  • Many domestic United® flights will be available for sale on usairways.com in November.
  • Additional compatibility fixes are being added for Firefox users.

Now let’s all get back to the quarry

Enough blah, blah, blah, from me, but thank you again for your support of our airline. It's a tough business out here but we enjoy it greatly and a big part of that is meeting and hearing from so many of our most important customers. I hope you're noticing the improvements so far; we're excited about the great work that's well underway.

With warm regards,
Travis Christ
H. Travis Christ
Vice President, Sales and Marketing

 

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