Those of you familiar with the reputation US Airways may think you misread that title. I assure you, it is correct. In our recent trip to a friends wedding in Grand Cayman we had a truly great experience flying US Airways. I had always heard mixed (at best) word-of-mouth reviews and had generally avoided them. In addition, my wife and I are both gold elite on Continental, so we’d fly Continental or one of their affiliates.
Recently, however, Continental switched to become a member of the star alliance, making US Airways an affiliate partner (shared benefits for elites and mileage credits for flights). In addition, our flight window was tight due to our schedules and the wedding. US Airways had by far the best connecting service through Charlotte that put us there in the least amount of time from Austin. Continental had a non-stop from Houston, but it only went on certain days. Here are some things I encountered that, looking back, made me very pleased w/ US Airways:
- Initially we were going to leave our 9-month old daughter with her grandparents for the weekend (a first and big step), but after re-considering and finding out the wedding would be fairly baby/kid friendly we decided to bring her along. We had assigned ourselves in exit row seating w/ extra leg room. The flight from Charlotte to Grand Cayman was completely full except for the exit row. In other words, there was no place else to seat us given children aren’t allowed in exit rows. I explained to the agent at check-in and again to the gate agent that there were several other friends going to the wedding on the same flight and that they’d be happy to switch with us. They said that was fine, but they needed the computer to issue a boarding pass for our daughter which it wouldn’t do because we were in the exit row. So, it was a bit of a computer catch-22. Instead of blindly following the computer like many agents due, the gate agent actually used her head and issued a hand written boarding pass. It was easy, we got on board, switched seats, everyone was in compliance and happy.
- When we deplaned in Grand Cayman my wife accidentally left her iPhone in the front pocket of the seat she was sitting in. She discovered this the next day. After reading horror stories about US Airways lost and found, I was sure it was gone forever. Low and behold a day later I received a voice mail from the Grand Cayman airport letting me know they had her phone. This is pretty incredible for two reasons. One, the phone was completely out of batteries and they went out of their way to charge it. Two, they looked through her contacts to find her “In Case of Emergency” contact listing to get in touch with me. I called them back to let them know we’d pick it up upon our departure. They kept it locked away and when we went to leave, we received the phone back.
- When we booked our ticket there was no valid connecting flight returning to Austin. Instead we booked to Houston and were planning to catch a late night one-way continental flight back to Austin. A couple of days before our departure I checked the Charlotte – Austin flights. Sure enough they’d added a later flight that would be an easy connection. I called the US Airways customer service team and explained our situation. At first they asked for a $150 / person change fee, but after re-iterating that the flight literally was not available when we booked our ticket they did a one-time courtesy change at no charge.
- On the way out, seeing we were star alliance gold members and traveling with an infant, the check-in agent went out of her way to put us in the bulk head row and block out the middle seat so we could have the entire row to ourselves.
- Upon arrival in Charlotte we were all able to access a very well appointed US Airways lounge and enjoy a delicious glass of wine together before heading our separate ways.
So, thanks US Airways, for making our trip an enjoyable part of our wedding vacation; as opposed to something we had to grin and bear. I will gladly fly your airline again.