The new era of air travel—saturated with exorbitant fees for things like checked baggage or traveling with a child or pet!—will see minor relief from US Airways, which will resume free beverage service on March 1. Gee, thanks!
US Airways' announcement that it will return complimentary sodas, juices, tea, coffee, and water reverses a portion of the à la carte business model the company adopted last August, when it began charging $2 for all nonalcoholic beverages to economy-class passengers on domestic flights. While other carriers instituted this business model, charging consumers for premium seating, pillows, or curbside check-in, US Airways was the only airline to charge for nonalcoholic refreshments.
"We know customers don't buy an airline ticket based on whether or not they will get a free soda onboard, but with US Airways being the only large network carrier to charge for drinks, we are at a disadvantage," CEO Doug Parker wrote in a letter to employees. "This difference in our service has been a focal point that detracts from all of the outstanding improvements in on-time performance and baggage handling that all of us have worked so hard to achieve over the past year."
Thirsty travelers won't exactly be jumping for joy. Customers ordering beer, wine, and other cocktails will still be charged $7 for each drink.