Airline Review: US Airways

By Nomadic Matt | Published October 13th, 2010

US Airways logo on a sign on the interior of the airplaneNorth American airline carriers are among the worst in the world. They are the worst for service, quality, comfort, food — you name it. They simply suck. On a recent trip to Canada, I had the chance to fly US Airways, which is usually named the worst of the worst. No one likes US Airways, and after flying with them, I can see why. Typically, I fly American Airlines, but this flight was part of a press trip and they flew me on US Airways. I had four flights — Boston to Philadelphia to Toronto and then Montréal to Charlotte to Tampa.

After taking four flights with US Airways, I can tell you that I won’t be switching from American any time soon. I didn’t enjoy any of my US Airways flights.

The airplanes themselves weren’t that bad. They were pretty standard in their design, comfort, and configuration. I never felt that the seats were too small or that I was missing anything I could get on another carrier. However, I did notice that most of the planes I flew on were old. They had definitely seen better days and could have used an overhaul on the interior. Then again, so could many of the planes I fly on.

What really annoyed me about US Airways was the service. Right from check-in, it was all downhill. For starters, they are the only major carrier I know of that charges a baggage fee on international flights. Usually, if you’re flying international, you can avoid it. On US Airways, you still have to pay a $25 per bag fee. When I asked the check-in clerk where I dropped my bag (it was self check-in in Boston), she just said, “Over there,” moving her head towards an area to the left. She barely looked up from her computer screen. When I followed up with asking her where the gate was, she looked even more annoyed as though I was an inconvenience to her day. While connecting in Charlotte to Tampa, my flight was delayed. Arriving at the gate, I asked the gate agent if she knew how long the delay might be, as I was hoping to eat quickly. Scowling at me, she said, “I don’t know. It could be any minute. I’ll post it when I know.” Woah! Overall, I felt like I, as a passenger, was an annoyance to the ground staff.

An interior view of the coach section of a US Airways airplane, showing a lot of seats

That attitude transferred into the air, where the flight attendants also seemed to have a chip on their shoulders. They were never polite in their radio addresses or in their interactions with passengers. Their announcements on safety procedures always seemed condescending, as if everyone on the plane should have already known this stuff. I saw an attendant threaten to take away a passenger’s phone if he didn’t put it away. There never seemed to be any kindness from the staff on these flights. I know they have a hard job and are probably grossly underpaid, but like the saying goes, “You can catch more flies with honey than you can with vinegar.” When I fly American Airlines, they flight attendants are much nicer and, I’m sure, equally mistreated in their job!

After flying with US Airways, I can tell you I’ll never fly with them again. I always give an airline the benefit of the doubt. After all, everyone can have one bad flight. I can have a bad experience at Best Buy, but that doesn’t mean Best Buy is always bad. But after four flights on two different routes and two different days, I realized there’s no reason to switch from American Airlines. In fact, if you’re traveling to the States or traveling around the States, my advice to you is to avoid US Airways. Even United is better.

comments 43 Comments

I recently flew US Airways to Italy. The flights were ok except for one. The flight crew had such a bad attitude to the point of one fellow being quite belligerent. A young passenger neglected to put his carry on in the overhead bin. They practically screamed at him. It wouldn’t fit and they demanded he take out some items, he had no idea where to out them, so stuffed them under the aisle seat (his seat was at the window). Long story short, they later came by with a plastic bag, threw it at him and told him to put his belongings inside. Excuse me? He was 2 seats in, how was he supposed to do this? I was on the opposite aisle seat and asked for the bag, put his belongings inside (leaving my seat to reach everything) and handed him the bag of his belongings to put under his own seat. The flight crew stood by and watched all this. It is was grossly rude on their part. I’m not surprised by your experience.

NomadicMatt

Wow! That is an awful story. Wow. I’m semi-speechless.

Sara Crouch

I was completely disappointed with US air in all aspects. I will never fly US Air again and I will highly recommend to everyone I know to never use US Air. The plane broke down going to my destination and on the flight back we made multiple round trips to my destination without landing in San Diego. I understand not being able to land due to weather, but it was completely inappropriate to resend the flight in the exact same conditions. The pilot specifically stated on the overhead that the weather conditions have not changed and they do not anticipate landing but we will fly out and circle for a while. On top of that the crew, while courteous, stated in front of passengers that the issue had to do with the pilot not being experienced enough to land in fog, but we were sent back with the same pilot. Rather than landing at an airport anywhere near our final destination we were again sent back to Phoenix, I’m assuming because it is your hub, not because of the convenience for passengers. We were stranded at the airport and told that US Air would not pay for food/accommodations or car rental because the issue was weather, but the soonest flight for a single person was 8pm the next night and the soonest flight for a couple was not for 2 days. ABSOLUTELY RIDICULOUS! I fly monthly and stopped flying US Air for poor service in the past. This experience reconfirms that US Air continues to care about its bottom line and at no time considers the needs of its passengers. You may think you’re saving a few dollars going with this airline, but you pay way more in food/accomodations/car rental and lost wages in the end.

Yeah. This is why I avoid USAir like the plague. They’re my least favorite airline. In addition to the customer service issues you’ve mentioned, they also used to (and maybe still do, I don’t know since I never fly them) have a reputation of flights always being delayed. AND they’re usually one of the most expensive airlines on any given route I fly to. So you actually pay more for less customer service. They’re the worst.

NomadicMatt

Three out of my four flights were delayed.

I feel the exact same way with Delta airlines, I dont care if i have to pay an extra $100. I never fly Delta, their flights are usually late, i know more than 3 ppl that have lost their bags with them. I haven’t had such a bad experience with US Airways though, when I fly in the states I generally expect a bad attitude unless you are flying Southwest or Jetblue. they usually are always in a good mood

Well, we are stuck with US Airways here in Pittsburgh. Overpriced is the key word for them. Little service for the cost and almost makes you want to avoid flying! But, I will never fly Delta, even though they offer lower prices than US Airways, normally. Flying into and through Atlanta is almost as bad as the Newark airport debacle!

NomadicMatt

I too would never fly Delta.

Ralph Hardwick

I don’t mind Delta, have had a few flights with them (transatlantic). Atlanta airport is just a complete PITA though.

I’ve had similar experiences with US Airways. The baggage fee annoys me (especially considering how much I pay for a flight in the first place) and I’ve witnessed a lot of bad attitudes. They cancelled two of my flights returning from Ireland and I was at the Philadelphia airport for 10 hours waiting to get home. I have to fly them on occasion but usually avoid it.

@WanderingTrader As someone based in Atlanta, I have to fly Delta a lot. I usually pick AirTran first, but Delta is like a running joke. If your flight goes through without a single problem, it’s a good day in travel.

Bryan

I flew into Toronto from Chicago a couple weeks ago, they also charged $25 for to check a bag on an international flight.

Bryan

I should add, I was talking about United in the above comment.

Pat

Why would you not fly Delta? My experience flying Delta has been fine for the most part. It is true that the Atlanta airport is huge, but the layout is pretty straight forward and the subway gets you from A to B pretty quick. I did have an incident concerning a kosher breakfast I had ordered departing from Costa Rica. It consisted of a plate with seven unripe fruits … I kid you not! Even the flight attendant was dismayed: “Honey, it looks like they do don’t do kosher in Costa Rica!”

When I lived in the US, I had a choice of US Airways or United flying out of Ithaca, usually the United tickets were unavailable as everyone knew how bad US Airways was.

This meant that I managed to get enough air-miles on US airways for a free flight; did I use it? Nope. I’ve used AA, United and US Airways; I actually think that the budget airlines such as Airasia and Easyjet (not Ryanair) offer a friendlier service and have less delays!

On the flip side, I recently flew Etihad to South Africa, new aircraft, great service.

I can’t say that I am surprised. My wife and I vowed to never fly a US carrier after we watched United baggage attendants literally throw heavy regular baggage on top of all the fragile items.

I don’t understand where all this belligerence and hostility comes from. It is not only the US of course, I am starting to see it in other countries as well. Workers act like it is an inconvenience to deal with customers.

NomadicMatt

United is just as bad as US Airways….and they break guitars!!

Sofia

That’s really bad, it reminds me of some of the European budget airlines like Ryan Air and Wizzair. Their service is s**t and everytime I vow never to fly with them again, but then I fly with them anyway because they’re so cheap :P

Ralph Hardwick

I’m flying to the USA in a few weeks on US Airways. I’m a Ryanair survivor though so I’m not overly worried.

That was Air Canada at one point. I called to book a flight based on bereavement (my bf’s dad had just died), the nasty woman on the other end said I was outta luck and the next available flight was to winnipeg. I needed to get to Saskatchewan. All of this said with little sympathy or understanding. And AC at one time charged a lot for crap service. Ooh, makes me mad all over again.

IndieNomad

I completely agree with your review. After the most recent customer service nightmare that involved US Airways losing my reservation, and instead of helping me at the ticket counter, making me step out of line to call the 1-800 number I could not be more frustrated. The supervisor on staff actually laughed in my face when I tried to show him my confirmation email on my blackberry, stating that he could not look at anything that has not been printed out. I had to speak with no less than 5 different people over the phone before I found someone who understood my situation. After getting off the phone with reservations, I was forced to finish my transaction (including paying a $150 change fee and price difference of the flight at the time to re-instate a reservation that was mine to begin with) at the ticket counter with the same supervisor who laughed in my face. I can tell you, I will not be flying US Airways anytime soon. They didn’t lose me on anything flight related, 100% of the issues stemmed from terrible customer service, and the fact that they can’t even acknowledge that is the reason I will no longer be giving them my business. As someone who takes over 20 domestic flights in a year and at least 2+ international flights, I would think they would try to keep me on as a customer, but that didn’t make any difference to them. Your loss US Airways.

Matt, I am still amazed about the contrast between US flights and those in other countries: after 10 months of steady world traveling, we didn’t have a lost bag or even a delay! Not one delay!! Not in South America, or Australia, or Japan, India, you name it—somehow everything ran efficiently and without the rudeness that your flight to Canada typifies here. Craig’s first flight back in the states for work (to Boston) sat on the runway for over an hour. We’ve had awful experiences since coming home. What is the problem? The rude manner is infuriating. Is there no more customer service standard? I HATE flying because of this. (Although, generally, I find Southwest aircrew members to have great attitudes.)

Isn’t it strange that some of the low-budget airlines (I’m thinking SW and Frontier) have some of the better customer service? I have never, EVER had a problem with them. I’ve never been impressed with AA, but perhaps that’s b/c I have to fly out of Dallas, one of my least favorite airports. Glad you’ve had better experience with them!

It’s nice to get bad reviews as well as good one’s, unfortunately if they are the cheapest then people will still carry on using them. I don’t see why they don’t take a page from AirAsia’s book, they manage to do cheapest and treat customers with respect in doing so. I hope they don’t look towards the western budget airlines for inspiration in these respects.

I’ve found that almost all the airlines charge the baggage fee on flights to/from Canada. The fine print usually says the fee is charged for flights within or between the U.S., Canada, Puerto Rico, and the U.S. Virgin Islands. Three of the four make sense (well, as much sense as baggage fees make), but it’s news to me that Canada is now part of the U.S.

NomadicMatt

American didn’t charge me when I went in August. When did you read about the fee?

Meredith

Hmmm, starting in Boston is never a good start. We do not harbor the kindest of people around here… I’m a Southwest gal out of Manchester – fly there instead of Boston next time – you’ll like it so much more!! Boston’s a horrible hassle… I know, I used to be a flight attendant with United. Yes, that is why I’m a SWer now :)

NomadicMatt

I don’t blame my city, I blame US Airways!

I find all US-based airline companies as the worst in service worldwide. Having traveled worldwide I suspect it’s a cultural thing

Heidi

DENIED us access to our final destination!!!! The WORST airline ever!!!!! Flew from New orleans to charlotte and was then supposed to continue to cancun. Upon checking into our international flight they were asking for volunteers to give up their seats because they OVER BOOKED the flight. Us having the worst timing ever walked up so they could check our passports at which point US airways employee Debie Novak told us that one of our passports was in unacceptable condition for travel (bent in the bottom left hand corner… not torn, faded, or suspicious looking) and it was her call whether or not to allow us to board the flight and she “would say no”. We’ve been traveling internationally frequently for the last four years, our last trip was in april 2010, and had never previously had ANY problems. She scanned the passport (which was perfectly legible) and said that because one number was coming up as a “z” instead of a 2, she could not allow us to board our flight. We were told that we would have to be re routed back to new orleans and would be issued a full refund (not that our hotel would give us one since we were cancelling with less than 24 notice) and told we would be put on standby. we waited 3 hours for the first flight to n.o. and approached the desk to be told we weren’t put on standby… waited another 2 hours for the next flight to find out they split up our names and only one of us could board that flight… waited another 3 hours to finally board. Tim, the international supervisor at charlotte wrote up an absolutely USELESS report for us to give the hotel saying that the passport was in “unacceptable travel condition and would not scan…. WHICH IT WOULD. The report suggested that the passport was in horrible condition and that we shouldve known better. There is NO ONE to speak with about getting a refund… you have to submit an e-mail and wait for the airway to get back to you at their leisure. They must be the only company in the world that doesn’t have a PERSON TO TALK TO in customer relations which might explain why it’s such a horrible airline. They didn’t offer us any resoultion, not a voucher, not airline miles, couldn’t even put us on standby! Spending the day at the airport I heard complaint after complaint to the special services desk where sat a man who could only offer unhappy travelers shoulder shrugs and unsimpathetic apologies. Over the course of they day I heard four other travelers being denied the flight they purchased tickets for, for one reason or another. I will NEVER fly US airways again and I strongly advise others to avoid their airline at ALL costs.

Matt Temple

Fly US Airways at your own risk. On Jan. 13, 2012, US Airways cancelled two flights from Washington National Airport (DCA): one to Phoenix and one to Rochester, NY US Airways gate attendants correctly directed displaced passengers for rebooking to the airline’s special services desk for near Gate 45. However, US Airways totally failed to staff that desk between 1:30 and 3:15pm: at least 60 passengers stood in lilne nearly motionless for well over an hour, Why? Because, as a US Airways employee told me, the supervisor for the US Airways special services desk “could not be raised by radio” and they “did not know where the supervisor was”. Fly this airline at your own risk.

Man, I wish I had done more research on US Airways, as I’m EXCITED to avoid there service from now on!
As a elite status flier on 3 separate airlines, and traveling to over 15 countries through the Americas, Africa, and Asia annually, I have experienced just about every kind of hiccup, or complication one could imagine while traveling.
However, US Airways upon every opportunity, has failed miserably on every attempt to give me adequate customer service.
When I’m traveling, I am willing to put up with a significant amount of headache, but when I paid for my girlfriend to visit me (she is a very nervous and inexperienced traveler), I will NOT accept rude treatment.
While I cannot blame any airline company for bad weather, I can blame them for NOT helping to find a re-direct. Sending a small, scared, female traveler to a strange city, expecting her to circumnavigate taxis, and hotel reservations alone, to me, is not what customer service experts do.
I wouldn’t expect financial compensation due to weather, but the treatment we received is not much different than a taxi-cab pushing his client from his moving car, as opposed to pulling over and stopping.
I only wish there was more I could do to alert other travelers!

bluejeanbaby

I love US AIRWAYS! <3

John Sullivan

Okay, here’s my US Airways Nightmare Story:
We were flying back from St. Martin with a stopover at Charlotte. We were supposed to get into Charlotte at 6:30, giving us an hour and a half to get through Immigration, Customs, baggage transfer, and back through security (Ah, flying into America! So much fun.). Well, the flight was 25 minutes late and by the time we got off the plane, it was after 7:00. Several flights were funnelled through Immigration, so that wait alone cost us a half hour. And then came one of the most amazing spectacles I have ever seen in an airport–people frantically grabbing their bags from the conveyor belt, family members screaming at each other (“do you have the bag?! Where’s the other one?!”). Charlotte is not a great airport to begin with, and since no one was in attendance at the conveyor belt, someone swiped my girlfriend’s suitcase by accident. While we were at the desk trying to ascertain its location, we were informed that it was 7:49 and the plane’s doors were closed. They were leaving without us. Bye-Bye! Yes, they had no compunction about getting us in 25 minutes late to Charlotte but God forbid they leave five minutes late. Anyway we had to pay for a hotel room for the night (the airline wouldn’t pay since it was “Immigration’s fault.” Uh . . . bullsh*t.) My girlfriend and I were flown out on separate flights the next day (both suitcases made it back, too–on separate flights, of course). Oh, and US Airways apparently likes to overbook.

We also found out from another stranded passenger that if you book tickets on US Airways via Priceline, but neglect to “confirm” afterwards, the airline will simply sell your seats to someone else. Corporate America. In their eyes, we are all cattle.

Best flights I’ve ever had were foreign airlines. British Airways was the best. IcelandAir is great, too, although they now charge for meals (always tacky). AirFrance had great food. In the States, I guess we’re down to Southwest and American as the only tolerable ones.

j aldana

i agree with the first paragragh, why is it that most US airlines are pretty bad compared to other airlines , even airlines consider from 3third world countries , im a Flight Attendant and i love my job alot … and i treat passengers with respect and dedicate my time to them because i love what i do. but why Us Airlines in general are bad? i love my job and i love taking care of passengers and i do work for Us so sorry you had to go thu that , my sincere apoligy

John R.

I have had several poor experiences with US Airways, today was the worst. After a gate change on a layover I ended up running through the airport and getting to the new gate a few minutes before final boarding. The extremely rude employee told me I was too late and they had shut the doors. When I pointed out that I had just seen passengers boarding as I walked up (a heavyset woman in a pink t-shirt pulling a rolling suitcase) she said “that was the gate crew going in to close the door”. An obvious lie.
I took out my phone and pointed out that I was actually there 2 minutes before when she had said the cutoff was, her reply? “No you weren’t” very rudely. At that point I realized it was pointless and stopped talking to her. She said she would get me on a flight 3 hours later and handed me my boarding pass.
When I went to board it turned out she neglected to mention that I was only on standby. That flight was overbooked and there were several angry customers. Now I am waiting for a flight to another airport where my wife will drive 4 hours in the middle of the night to get me. They were rude and inconsiderate, and offered no compensation, would not pay for a hotel for the night…

susy

Parents, if you plan to fly with US Airways beware!!! US airways kicked my family off a flight at the LB airport because my son was crying out of fear (it was his first time on an airplane). The worse part was the unsympathetic and humiliating manner in which is was done. The flight attendant didn’t bother to ask what the problem was. Instead she yelled, “this can’t happen, you have to get off!!!” Then as I exited the airplane in tears, she asked can you calm him down? Worse experience ever! To top it off, they initially refused to refund my money. After emailing the chief officers, i got a call from the quality dept telling me would be refunded.

crys

This is by far the worst airline I have ever had the displeasure to deal with and if you take any of their flights you are in for the worst experience in your life. I chose to purchase tickets for my trips to Phoenix and the ride home was a fricking joke. We get on the plan and the engine wont start they force us to sit on the plane while they do maintenance in hopes the engine will start for 3 hours we did this. eventually they gave up and put us on a plane that i swear could have crashed at any moment. im not talking turbulance the plane was shaky the entire time like you were sitting on a fricking washing machine and on take off the plan kept dipping down every 2 minutes like it just didnt want to get in the air.

My father chose to purchase tickets from florida to tenessee and they not only booked his flight from the wrong airport they also cancelled his back to home flight with no notification and wanted to charge him $500 + to rectify the situation. I would never ride this plane again if it was the end of the world.

I have never had a problem with U.S. Airways, however I understand the complaints I hear. No matter which airline you fly domestically you will always have those days where the service is not where it should be.

FLS

We left Roch NY on time and made Philly. When we arrived the plane looked strange but I thought nothing of it because we were an hour early.

Around our departure time, 12:20, they announced a delay of unknown time. Every half hour they updated the unknown time but assured us the lazy asses around our plane were working hard to fix the problem. Around three many people had changed to the next flight at 4:40 and it was full so we couldn’t change. I asked when they would provide another plane and she smiled with a non-answer answer. I reminder her, in a stern voice, that nothing about this was funny.

Finally, a replacement plane was made available and we left Philly around 4:10. Our original plane was still broken and we were four hours late. Five hours in the terminal.

This is the second time in one round trip. The other time we were were two hours late.

The crew was rude.

Never fly USAir.

Now I am afraid to fly with them. I just booked a flight roundtrip from Louisville to Fort Lauderdale and back… Whew… I wish I did a research first…

Denise Levesque

Flight to DFW cancelled due to weather. I get that. Not US Airlines fault.
But to tell be that since the cancellation was at the point of my connecting flight I had to either wait in the PHX airport for 3 days or void my ticket to return to the flight origin (home) is ridiculous. Furthermore, the abuse I received by the self annointed “supervisor” in PHX ensures that I will never again give my weekly travel business to this airline.

cynthia

USAir has been by far the worst airline for us. As a military family, we have the needs of being flexible with dates and schedules. When we fly Delta, they change the tickets when needed without added fees. My husband is coming home for the holidays for 2 weeks, the dates we booked the flights are no linger going to work for his schedule. We needed to change the dates USAir did not work with us at all unless we paid a difference of $456.00 for each tickets (myself and my son). I sent the corporate office an email, and they told me they were not going to do anything about it.
An airline that does not accommodate to military families when they are separated due to deployment should be out of business! Shame on USAir! Never again we will fly this airline, neither will we recommend it to our fellow soldiers and family members.

Ethan from CA

I travel 2 to 3 times a year. Every-time, I booked a flight, they with always connect me with US airway. My flights will alway be delayed or will be re-routed to another airport. They have crappy services and their employees think that we owe them something. They don’t realize that we keep them in business. I will not fly with them again!