AZ Republic on AWA''s food service


Aug 20, 2002
AmWest viewed as an innovator with meals, fares
By Hal Mattern
The Arizona Republic
Jan. 15, 2003
A little more than a year ago, America West Airlines was considered the carrier most likely to wind up in federal Bankruptcy Court.
Today, the Tempe-based airline is considered somewhat of a trendsetter.
That was bolstered this week when Northwest Airlines, echoing a similar program launched by America West recently, confirmed it will start a one-month experiment today to sell in-flight meals on a dozen flights. The flights include those from Detroit to Phoenix and Las Vegas.
Other airlines reportedly are considering such moves or watching the programs closely. And so far, America West said it is happy with the results: upward of 30 percent of passengers on test flights last week bought snack boxes, while others are paying for patty melts this week.
Moreover, airlines have taken a page from America West''s systemwide fare structure, begun in March, which resulted in lower ticket sales for last-minute business travelers.
American and Northwest recently began testing their own fare restructuring on selected routes. United Airlines, which filed for bankruptcy protection last year, weighed in with its deeper business fare cuts last week, and other airlines quickly matched them.
We suddenly have an innovator in the airline industry, and it is America West, said Terry Trippler, a Minneapolis airline consultant and president of
America West garnered a lot of media attention recently by selling food on selected flights that haven''t offered meal service since the 2001 attacks.
Halfway through the experiment, America West said 20 to 30 percent of passengers bought the $3 and $5 snack boxes. So far this week, a $5 half-pound patty melt has been the most popular item. On next week''s menu on select cross-country flights: $10 dinners chicken Kiev and beef tenderloin.
Joette Schmidt, America West''s vice president for customer and in-flight services, said nearly 80 percent of the passengers who didn''t buy food said they definitely would in the future. Most of them said they were unaware that food was available and already had eaten before the flight.
Michael Boyd, a Colorado airline consultant, is skeptical of in-flight meal sales, saying it could be a nightmare for flight attendants and insulting to passengers used to getting free meals, even if they complained that the food was bad.
But you''ve got to give America West credit for trying something new, Boyd said. They are trying to do things differently, and in this business you have to keep doing that every day.
In devising its new fare structure, America West eliminated Saturday night stay requirements and relaxed advance-purchase rules, effectively lowering business travelers'' fares. The rest of the industry responded by slashing fares on competing routes in an effort to force the airline to give up its new prices.
But America West refused to back down, and it claims to have significantly increased its passenger traffic among business travelers.
They were punished, Trippler said. The other airlines came after them with everything they had, and they stood fast. As a person who was somewhat critical of their decision, I have to say now that they made a very wise move.
America West says that its business fares still are an average of 50 percent lower than the new ticket prices charged by other carriers, which has rarely been mentioned in reports praising other fare cuts.
America West spokeswoman Janice Monahan said more new initiatives are possible, but that it was too early to discuss details. We''re looking at some things, she said.
On 1/17/2003 9:55:23 AM A320Fan wrote:

AmWest viewed as an innovator with meals, fares

By Hal Mattern
The Arizona Republic
Jan. 15, 2003

America West garnered a lot of media attention recently by selling food on selected flights that haven't offered meal service since the 2001 attacks.


Got to give props to this "AZ Repugnant" reporter for finally reporting this correctly. Until now, most of the media reports I've seen, at least on TV, have incorrectly made it sound as though a cheap, chiseling airline has yet again screwed the consumer by replacing free meals with extra-cost ones. This article makes it clear that HP is offering a meal option on flights that previously had none.
This is great news for America West. But most importantly, it is REFRESHING to see the press have nice things to say about Cactus.