Living in Phoenix means that we fly US Airways – a lot.  That means we have plenty of time to have good and bad things to say about the airline – so here go a few stories:

I started with America West Airlines. In fact, my frequent flier number indicates I was the 164th person to join their frequent flier club.  America West then merged into US AIrways.

Here is the good:

I had flown them a lot, and going back and forth to Alaska I used several airlines, Alaska, Delta, and US Airways. On all of them I had some sort of status as a frequent flier. But because I had “spread it around” I sent each airline a letter with a proposal. If they were to give me gold status I would use all of my trips for the next year on their airline. Delta said- if you do all those trips you will have status next year, Alaska Airlines didn’t respond at all – US Airways responded by sending me a Gold Status card and a small note saying “welcome aboard.”

When I met my wife, we commuted between Tampa and Phoenix weekly. In a few short (ok long) months I was up to Platinum status. Once we were married and she moved to Phoenix my miles quickly fell, and back to Silver status.  Here is the odd thing: I am upgraded as frequently on Silver as I ever was on Platinum.

Six weeks after my son was born we flew to Oregon so he could meet my parents. We took US Airways – his first trip ever. Imagine two first-time parents, nervous with their six month old, and yet – the crew made us feel comfortable and at home.

When my son turned two, we had to buy him seats – he now has Silver Status on US Airways, thanks to a promotion they had.  If anyone reads my blog about my son, you will see that he has flown over 100,000 miles since he was born. You can read his blog here.

JJ likes the window seat

Most of the time the crew is wonderful. They take good care of my son, my wife, and myself.

We have had a few that don’t represent the airline well. Like flight 334 on December 22nd from Phoenix to Cabo.  Most flights that are international the airline goes out of its way to make their first class cabin comfortable. This crew were at the front of the cabin chatting while the plane was boarding- not offering a drink or taking jackets. As the door closed I realized I didn’t get milk for my son (if kids suck on something while the plane goes up or down it keeps them comfortable), when I tried to get some milk from the overhead bin for my son the attendant said, “Stop, you can’t do that.” – not in a nice way, but rather mean. I commented that “It use to be US Airways would offer a drink before take-off, I could have used a cup of coffee,” she explained that they were running late and didn’t have time (since the crew members, flight attendants, were simply standing around chatting one would not get the impression they were assisting, but that this crew was lazy).

Contrast that with flight 333 coming back from Cabo – large, comfortable modern plane – the crew could not do enough for you, and when I wanted to get milk (decided to see how they would react) she offered to get it for me and apologized they didn’t have any on board.  Most of the time- as I said, the crew is great, although on the evil flight 334 when the captain announced, “and we hope you enjoy our outstanding service,” there were more than a few of us snickering.

On a recent trip to Portland, JJ met the famous Tim Gunn –

US Airways has a great social media – on twitter @USAirways is someone I follow, and when I have a great crew I let them know.  I let them know when my son got his first frequent flier card, and they responded. When there is bad weather, @USAirways is one of the first to tell customers that their change fee restrictions are lifted.

So where could US Airways improve? Improved attitude across the board. Flight attendants represent the airline, and like every employee at Four Seasons, some would benefit from training. You could always make the legroom more, the seats bigger.  Instead of making us pay extra for sitting in the front of the plane (not first class, but behind that curtain) you could, like United, give us some more leg room. Having a bit of milk on the flight for kids- well, that would be a welcome addition for a lot of parents. And, of course, an emergency diaper or two. There have been a number of times when, as a physician, I have been called by the crew to assist passengers in need (see here) and it would be nice to someday get a “thank you,” or even to hear how the passenger did (they crew always takes my name, have tried to give me bottles of wine, they get my name and frequent flier number but the airline never follows up).

US Airways relationship with me reminds me of the Facebook status: its complicated.