Scuttlebutt on the AA/US merger – Thoughts?

So it should be no secret to those that follow me on here or on Twitter that I primarily fly Alaska Airlines.  I’ve been curious about the announced American/US Airways merger since day one – mostly because American is a partner with Alaska Airlines.  Not as strong a partner as Delta, but still – a partner.

As I was traveling on the new AS route PDX->ATL yesterday, I was talking to some folks on my flight, and the merger came up.  Specifically, there was scuttlebutt that, if the AA/US merger goes through, the new AA would drop the partnership with Alaska.  I’m wondering if this is true or not.

I couldn’t see Alaska dropping the newly merged AA, because it opens so many doors for them.  Hell, if they did, there’d be virtually no reason to fly from SEA or PDX to DFW, because there wouldn’t be any more continuing tickets (AS to DFW, AA or AE DFW to final destination).

This has me thinking…  So what do you think?  Think the merger will go through, and if so, do you think they’ll stay partners with AS?  Or do you think new AA management will force AS to drop the contract?

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Who’s Buying Who And Merging And What Now?

So what in the hell is exactly going on these days?

First, AMR, the parent company of American Airlines (but then again if you’re an airline junkie like I am, you already knew that!), filed for bankruptcy.  And almost immediately, there were rumors swirling around about Delta possibly putting together a bid for AMR.  And then there were rumors about another group (TPG Capital), a private equity firm, also looking into buying AMR with the help of British Airways.  Finally, there was a rumor of US Airways buying American Airlines.

Now there’s a rumor that Delta is thinking about buying US Airways.

What the hell?

Honestly, now that Delta is tied up with Northwest, SkyTeam Alliance (474M pax/year) is very well positioned in the United States.  American, now the third largest airline in the United States (and probably going to shrink considerably based on their bankruptcy) is oneworld (303M pax/year), which is having all sorts of problems.  I mean JAL, long-time OneWorld partner almost bailing?  Wow…  And on the other hand is United/Continental and US Airways as part of the Star Alliance (604M pax/year).  And with United/Continental being as gargantuan as they are, is it really doing US Airways any good being part of Star Alliance?

What should probably happen (in my personal airline-geekdom opinion) is that any bid by Delta be tossed out.  Delta is already huge; should the be allowed to get even bigger?  But US Airways?  If they want to stay viable with the big boys, I think they need to do two things.  First, they need to bail on Star Alliance and join up with oneworld.  This would make the playing field a little more equal with Star Alliance (minus US Airways) at 543M pax/year, SkyTeam Alliance still at 474M pax/year, and oneworld upped to 365M pax/year alliance-wise.  That would be a first good step.  And then, just like Continental bailing on SkyTeam and then United buying them (keeping the United name but the Continental brand, thereby shedding a bad image since Continental was more well liked than United), US Airways needs to buy American Airlines, and shed their US Airways image (though take over the company, again a la Continental CEO Smisek taking over United post merger).

Just my personal opinions about what needs to happen with the big guys.  We’ll see how it plays out.  And in the meantime, maybe I should put together some ideas for the smaller carriers.

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Just fitting for AirSnark – Survey of the 11 worst airlines

Oh, what a snarky way to start the morning.  Huffington Post has put together a survey of “America’s 11 Worst Airlines” based on the 2010 Airline Quality Ratings.  The authors of the study do state that airline service has gotten better over the last year.  Here’s my take on the listings:

#11, US Airways: I avoid them like the plague, mostly because I don’t fly Star Alliance.  Last time I flew them, I did manage to wrangle a first class upgrade – but no drinks.  Seems a US Airways flight went “dry” because someone got a PAX drunk and they got a DUI.  Who the hell can fly US Airways and NOT drink?

#10, American Airlines:  Wow. They’re only #10 on the list? I have so many horror stories from AA.  Like being trapped next to a 600 pound passenger on an MD80 in the exit row. If that plane had gone down, we wouldn’t have been able to push his fat ass out the window exit – he literally would not have fit! I had to spend my time standing in the back of the plane, because he took up too much of my seat.  American’s response? NOTHING. Literally – they refused to respond.  Their customer service has to be the absolute WORST of any airline.

#9, ExpressJet: Nothing really to say about them. A regional carrier, so they have that against them. They tried to grow to do regional and stand-alone, but it was the wrong time.

#8: Alaska Airlines: Now I TOTALLY disagree with this one.  Of all airlines I have EVER flown, Alaska has to be my favorite.  Their dedication to passengers is second to none.  Something is up with this study – oh well!

#7: Mesa: Wow. Cutthroat yes (they were the ones that basically put Aloha out of business). But with sleepy, overworked pilots.  Besides – who wants to travel Hawaii (their subsidiary “go!” is all-Hawaiian) in tiny regional jets?

#6: United Airlines: I started avoiding them a while ago because of customer service.  Due to equipment malfunction once, Alaska Airlines put me on a UAL flight back home.  Standing near the gate, I was probably five feet from a gate agent, talking to flight crew.  No small talk between these people – it was “These customers make me crazy”, “I hate these people”, blah blah blah. They literally bad-mouthed the people they were flying for about 20 minutes, then put on fake smiles and boarded us.  And this wasn’t in a small, rinkydink airport – this was SFO.  Yeah, UAL deserves to be on this list – but WAY higher up in the listings.

#5, Sky West: “I don’t care how we do it on other airlines. This is how we do it on MINE.”  Yeah, that cheery, chipper attitude was just the tip of the iceberg when I flew them last, as a Delta Connection customer.  The flight attendants actually went through each and every seatback pocket and if they found ANYTHING of yours in it, they made you move it.  Didn’t matter – magazine, iPod, iron lung.  “This doesn’t go here. Move it to your own luggage or put it away elsewhere!” was the nasty decree.  Yeah, never again.

#4, Delta Airlines: I have mixed feelings about Delta.  The old Northwest is now gone, forever integrated into Delta.  And when that was gone, so was a lot of the reason to fly them.  I remember one flight leaving PDX.  As we were taxiing and the video was going, some woman got up, got her bag down, and started unpacking and repacking it.  The flight attendants just walked past her, not saying a thing.  At least the woman sat down before we took off.  On another flight, HALF of the airplane electrical just went out (lights, individual reading lights, television displays).  The flight attendants said it was “normal”.  WTF? Plus, with Delta’s call center outsourced to India (which it was the two times I called about four years ago), screw that!  The last Delta flight I took, their systems were so screwed up that they gave us free WiFi. Not because they were nice, but because they somehow couldn’t charge for it due to a glitch.

#3, Comair: Flew them just recently.  Eeh.  Cabin crews could use an attitude adjustment.  I need to fly them more to make more of an opinion.

#2, Atlantic SouthEast Airlines: Never flown them, so no opinion.

#1, American Eagle:  Let’s just sum this up with one experience I had a few weeks ago.  Gate agent: “You’re going to have to move row 4 to the back for weight and balance”.  Flight attendant, “Uh, yeah”.  Gate agent: “Do you need me to help?”.  Flight attendant: “Don’t worry about it”.  Gate agent left.  Flight attendant read her magazine some more.  When given word, she shut the cabin door.  Being in row 3, I heard the whole thing, and saw row 4 was ready to move.  Flight attendant did not even react; she played the audio of the safety briefing, did her walk through, and sat down. Row 4 stayed where they were and were never moved.  Thank goodness we had no issues on the flight.  But being THAT nonchalant about people’s safety? Yeah, that’s a load of crap!

So head on over to Huffington Post, and rank these airlines yourself!

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