Constructive Suggestions


Aug 20, 2002
Many topics on this Board have degenerated into management bashing, complaining about other work groups or comparisons with other airlines. As an interested observer, I would like to know what you would do if you were in Dave''s shoes and had to save this airline NOW!
Please, do not re-hash ancient history, contracts or prior management. Tell me what you are willing to give up in order to stay employed and where the company can cut costs in order to keep flying until fares can increase to an appropriate level. (Believe it or not, I don''t think I pay enough for some of my tickets)
No, I don''t work for U or any other airline. I value my employees ideas and believe the denizens of this Board can be equally as creative.
Good luck. The suggestion box is open.
Are your initials D.S.? Just kidding...

I don't have the answers but I think Dave shud be working on giving creditors and employees some kind of hope. For creditors hope that they will get paid and for employees hope that someday things will be better. Without hope many will lose their will to continue to give all they can to make this company better.
I think Dave Siegal has been giving it to us straight since he got here. We are a company ill equipped to compete in the present marketplace. Many changes must be made if we are to survive. One of the first things he did was open the books for the unions to show them in black and white just where we stand. The changes he proposes are painful in many ways. HOWEVER, there is no way I can replace the pay, benefits, and working conditions working someplace else. I voted YES on our TA. Not because I'm overjoyed at taking a paycut or paying more for insurance, but because I truly believe it is the only way to move this airline forward. Dave makes a VERY convencing argument for all of his proposals. He answers as many E-mails as he can. He visits the workers in the trenches(W & G rarely left the Crystal Palace). He asks questions and gives fairly straight forward answers. This alone gives me hope for the future. I may be an idealist, but I think we stand a better chance of surviving when the cost saving measures that he has laid out are in place. Laugh if you want, but I like having 1/3 of the ownership of this company in the hands of the employees AND B.O.D. representation. I want to go out there and compete against the companys that continue to take away our marketshare. I'M TIRED OF RUNNING! (I'm exausted now[:blackeye:])

Just my opinion...FIRE AWAY!!!
I too appreciate that "Dave" is willing to get out and face the employees. Corporate culture is a very difficult thing to change, but I think for U to survive it is something that must be done.

Everyone must start thinking outside of the box.

There are many things that need to be changed. Part of the fault is the Unions (no I am not going to bash the Unions nor am I out to bash Management) It is the thought process of "not my job" some of that has been created through the union process to protect jobs, but at the same time it also creates an inefficient system. Somehow there must be a way to protect workers rights through a union, but at the same time allow some flexability.

Another Part of the current problem is management. Or rather the past decade of mismanagement from the higher-ups.

I sit back like many of you and can't beleive all the money that was spent in the 1980's buying great companies like Piedmont and Pacific Southwest and watch that investment be completely wiped out. I do not have much to relate to who U was before these two acquisitions, but I do know that both Piedmont and PSA had some great corporate culture. Yes they had unions, but it never seemed as it was US against THEM frame of mind. So I know that Unions and Management can work together.

And now with all the changes and mistrust of prior management and it's failed business plans here we sit today. So how do we as a Company make changes in one's attitude to see if we can save U.

I know it's a west coast kind of thing, but painting a smile on a plane sure made people happy? Could it work again? (I doubt it but I do think the marketing people should actually go to work) Do we even advertise??

Do we even know who U is. What is U's mission statement. These are the very things that define any company. It seems the past the mission statement for management (Wolfe & friends) was "How much can I charge for business fairs and then pocket for myself". It seems that business model has failed.

I know our current mission statement is to reorganize and survive. But that is very short term. What is the long term mission statement. Has anyone ever gone to Southwest and read their mission statement. It is very simple. No I don't think we should become the next Southwest, but I do think U needs to define who they are. Southwest does have limitations. No one likes to make three stops to fly across the country. So I think U has something to offer that Southwest does not.

Business people will travel, but they are unwilling to be raped by any company. Why can't we build a fare structure that is reasonable and not out to screw someone. An example of lost ticket sales with the Saturday Night rule. My nephew wanted to fly from Seattle to Pit on a Monday and return on a Tuesday. The fair was around $2,000. He could not afford that. However if he stayed over on a Satuday the fair was $400. That he could afford, but since he could not come on the weekend he decided not to travel. U lost the business. I know many self-employed business people who live in Pittsburgh that drive to Cleveland to fly to Chicago for about $250 round trip, but can't afford $700 on U to fly out of Pit. If U offered even a $300 round trip they would take it for the convience of it. But it's that whole lets screw the business travler mentality that really needs to change. Perhaps that is one reason Southwest has succeded is that they price their product differently.

Another area is productivity with Pilots. At PSA, under their contract, All flight time was scheduled. All blocks were made of 85 hours and most of it all hard time with 7 to 8 hours of flying time per day. So a Pilot went on a three day trip, they spent most of their time in the air. Also you could not trip trade or drop trips as I recall (It was 1986 after all) Reserves were there for vacation time, sick calls, and mechanical/weather related reasons. They had very few reserves.

Here there is flexability with dropping trips and picking up trips, but not all of the flight time is scheduled.

There are many pilots sitting at home on reserve getting paid and not being utilizied. Also the trips that are created do have lots of fluff in them. A pilot could put in a 12 hour duty day but only have 5 hours of flight time. So a three day trip at U equals to less than 14 hours of flight pay, but at PSA that same three day trip would have 21 to 25 hours of flight pay. So it's not so much about how much a person gets paid per hour, but much more about how that individual is productive.

So to sum it up. U needs a mission statment (a business plan). U needs to think outside of the box. (how can we be more productive and reward people for it) U's employess need to start thinking they are part of a team (not the Union vs Management team, but a team as a whole who wants to win). U's management needs to communate better with it's employees. I do thnink Dave is trying hard at the last one. But it takes all to build a sucessful Company.

I hope everyday U can pull this together. What a sad day it will be if it all falls apart.
GROW the company. Shrinking the airline will only result in us going under or being whored out to another carrier.

Stop treating employee like cattle. Stop the layoffs and make rehiring the furloughed employees a priority (with mainline, not with this MidAtlantic POS). Offer recall rights to middle management, and lay off by seniority for middle and low management.

Buy as many RJs as you want; but don't replace mainline flying with them. Use the mainline jets to go farther and the RJs to feed them.

Get rid of 25 or so Vice-Presidents.

Get rid of all Wolf-era senior management. We all know which VPs especially need to leave.

Make quality of life concessions to employees. For example, offering compressed work weeks with partial weekends for every full timer. That would save money, increase productivity and give employees a life. God forbid we take actions to make employees a little happier. Included in this would be leaving vacation time alone. Taking away vacation time, especially from junior employees with only two weeks, is something straight out of a victorian-era sweatshop.

Stop messing with employees. It's no secret that throughout the company and all departments, people are being fired left and right. These aren't bad employees - often good ones with a good amount of company time. When the company wants us to play along, they are going out of their way to make life difficult.

There are my suggestions.[:(]
Av8orwife -

Very good post. I would hope that as a TEAM we can all come together and get the job done. Turn the airline around and get our friends and family that are, or will be furloughed, back to work. Now is an opportunity to knock some of these union walls down and band together and work as a team. Everyone helping everyone else.

As for the original topic my constructive suggestions are for once we have turned the corner. Employee incentive programs for things like attendance and operational performance I think should be pretty high on the list. The employees of this company need to be recharged. They need to see more appreciation for their hard work and dedication. Programs like these will also help employee morale which has been beaten like a pinata at Christmas.

Another suggestion.....ADVERTISE, ADVERTISE, ADVERTISE! Most people don't know that we are the second largest carrier to the Caribbean. Get out there and tell people who we are, where we go and what a joy it is to spend your hard earned money with us! [;)]

Lastly, go over every part of the company with a fine tooth comb. Talk to employees. Look for the waste and inefficiencies and change them. Things like the 3 hour productivity breaks for crews. Let them do what they want to do, work. Try to schedule crews and airplanes to fly together most of the day. Sort of like the did with MetroJet. 1-2 crew changes a day per line of flying.
USAirways is comprised of a great team, if only we could get management to join it.
Here is my suggestion for correcting the pricing system.
All fares are one way.
Simplify fare codes.
The following are fully refundable and changeable/ standby permitted
A-First for Coach price
Y-Full Coach
B-Coach discounted
S-Special Fares (medical/bereavement/military/govt) may not always be cheaper than a discounted fare available. Would have to command price to get fare. Can standby, but no preferred bonus counts.
Z/D- no value awards able to standby
The following would be nonrefundable and no standby. You could upgrade to the B/Y fare if available and be confirmed at any time with the change fee and price difference paid.
H3NR 3day advance purchase nonrefundable
K7NR 7day advance purchase nonrefundable
V14NR 14 day advance purchase nonrefundable
L21NR 21 day advance purchase nonrefundable
Q-Group/Tour booking nonrefunable
W-Internet bookings bulk tickets nonrefunable
G/I Upgrade bookings with certificates
You would accrue preferred mileage and status with anything K and above. This way you could still get a discount fare if you purchased in advance and wanted to get the mileage perks. If not, the V and L are there.
When its 21 days out, all the L seats are 0'd out and any changes to a ticket in L require a change fee and upgrade in fare. Same happens at each stage in the process until only S and higher are available less than 3 days out. Inventory would also control if L seats are still available more than 21 days out or if the next available is V, etc.
Change fee is $50 and there is NO WAIVING for any reason. This would still produce revenue and not seem like a ripoff. Better to get the $50 plus the fare diffence than just the $100 in many cases when changing an L fare at the end.
Nonrefundable not changed or cancelled BEFORE dept are lost. I think this would at least allow someone to cancel in advance and rebook at a later date when they arent sure of what they need. As long as the resv is canx the ticket would remain valid to use with the change fee and price difference. If the resv is canx as a noshow, you lose it.
Change the price of excess baggage to $30 and ENFORCE IT. Allow 2 checked and 1 carryon (like DL) and anything over that is charged. Sabre can be programmed to stop checkin if you check more bags than allowed and make it force a collection of funds. I would have no problem charging a REASONABLE amount for excess baggage and Sabre could enforce it.
Pets and kids stay the same price.
I'm sure there is someone out there who can point out a flaw in my theory, but it would make things simple and cut and dried. No more maybe, well, not being able to figure the fare out, feeling guilty about charging exhorbitant fares and it might just attract some people instead of chasing them away.
I'm open to all criticisms and suggestions. Please feel free to add your thoughts to this and CCY feel free to take this and run with it. I wont even ask for the credit. [:bigsmile:] [:0]
excuse me?? Recall furloughs, buy RJ's but don't downsize mainline? Grow the airline? And who would pay for all this growth? The industry is flat, airlines are fighting for what little activity there is out there. Grow in the future, maybe, but right now, there is nothing to grow to, except more debt.
1 fly in the ointment. SABRE!!!! US is hamstrung by the limitations of the SABRE system. Even TIPS II died because SABRE couldn't program it without ever escalating cost and the clampdown of 9/11. But no move to finish it even though it added many millions to US when it was running in PACER. The bottom line for SABRE is: an change to the system is going to cost big bucks and much time. US has neither of these. I hate to suggest changing horses in mid-bankrupcy but somebody has got to have something better than native SABRE. Delta seems to be developing a nice system, maybe they would sell services to US.
Tadjr said:

Here is my suggestion for correcting the pricing system.
All fares are one way.

I like this -- it has a lot of obvious benefits. Could be tough though. In any event dump the Saturday night stay.

Dump the stopover rule while we're at it. If the fares were rational it wouldn't matter.

Simplify fare codes.

You have too many fares and too many restrictions. Follow the SWA model -- there's no such thing as non-refundable. All it does is p*ss off customers. It's a dumb idea. Always has been.

Change fees are similar -- they just annoy people. They really shouldn't be necessary either. They're a band-aid for inadequate self-service systems. But of the two evils this is the lesser.

You shouldn't have more than 1 class of "advance purchase" make it either 3 day or 7 day.

Everything should be eligible for stand-by -- use this as a differentiator against SWA. It isn't much but it's something that business travelers will latch onto.

Everything except awards should accrue miles. If you'd like to differentiate the value of the ticket to your loyalty program do it like American does it with an alternate (parallel) path to elite status.

Use upgrades to F as a differentiator not a profit center. Look at what Alaska and Airtran do.

Open award travel to any available seat just like SWA does.

Use food to stand out. It's not that hard.

Use the planes to differentiate yourselves -- laptop power in every seat is a good pull (retrofit the 737s & 757s if you keep them around).

As you say, make the excess baggage charge $30 and enforce it.

Stop gouging passengers on monopoly routes.

Close the gap between the highest and lowest fares. SWA highest RT fare is $300. You should be able to justify a $400 or $450 top (domestic, coach) fare for a transcon -- less, obviously, for PHL -> BWI and the ilk. Maybe as much as $750 for F -- if it returns to pre 9/11 levels on all flights. You should be profitable with an average fare somewhat less than that top fare. You cannot expect to justify anything higher.

Charge somewhat more but following the same principles for Europe and the Carribean.
Although this is not music to seniority based employee thinking, there is too much capacity in the U.S. for the current demand. Average load factors are running in the low 70-percentile area and we are now entering the traditional slowest time of the year.

In July the industry experienced the fourth month in a row of falling revenues and for this or any other company to be successful management must match capacity to demand.

This will be the only way to create true pricing power, which is especially true in the short-haul markets.

The industry has a over capacity problem because of the economic slowdown, low cost carrier expansion that now controls 20 percent of the domestic ASM's, alternative short-haul alternatives, rising costs associated with labor, the perceived hassle factor, fuel expense, and war risk insurance.

If capacity is removed from the system there will be higher load factors, which will permit airlines to raise ticket prices.

This is just part of the equation to produce more RASM, but the other key element is to reduce CASM primarily through productivity, which is being addressed through the restructuring agreements.

Regardless of whether we like it or not, there has been a dramatic secular change in the buying habits of the consumer. How many Americans shop at Costco or Sam's Club to obtain a lower price versus shop at a major department store?

The same issue holds true for the traveling public who are price conscious and will flock to Southwest or JetBlue because these fine company's can produce a quality product at a lower price, just like Best Buy, Wal-Mart, Sam's or Costco.

I'm not going to go into detail of specific points to change the company, my post is more macro in nature, but a few points could be (that all require job protection to permit job reduction through attrition versus furlough): improved IT, internet sales, Kiosk expansion, automated scheduling, and integrate all ground employee functions to the title of Ramp Personnel versus having two work groups (Fleet Service & Utility).

Each employee can contribute to improved results by simple actions, such as flight crews using cell phones or Dialnet (company WATTS system) for company calls, all employees turning off lights when they leave the office, intense focus on fuel conservation and purchasing, and a focused effort to unused rooms to use flight crew hotel room cancellation program, etc.

Although some of these points may seem mundane, with leveraged business models, each point adds up and will cumulatively help the company regain financial strength.

However, maybe the least expensive and most important point is for us to have smiles on our face.

However, maybe the least expensive and most important point is for us to have smiles on our face.

And that, my friends, is why many U flyers are quite pissed with the current turn of events.

I pay more, in some cases, lots more than I really need to to fly U. I've always done this for two reasons: 1--I live in PIT, and sometimes you just have to go direct.

2. U's people are the best in the business. Bar none. I've had folks in Res, ATO, Gate Agents, FAs, and even flight crew bail me out of a jam, help me out, or be (and this can be rare among the majors) pretty much uniformly nice and ready to help out in any way they can.

In a lot of cases, I've had to buck company travel policy, pay a couple of bucks out of my own pocket, or drive to CLE to ride U. On all sorts of fares. Once I hit preferred plus waaaay back when, it was even better.

The economy and collective brains of U management both tank at the same time, and now the airline is shrinking. Then 9/11. If it were not for my preferred status, I don't know that I'd have flown immediately post 9/11. I am going to have more travel with U this year than in any year past--almost all of that personal, due to the tanking economy and travel policies at work.

U thanks me with what we see here.

The true problem with this stuff is that it is going to drive people away from the airline before they can a taste of the U _people_. Or alienate those (myself included) who have always preferred (no pun) the U experience.

I think you will find that's why folks like Art, Geo1004, ITRADE, Tom, etc are so pissed. That's why I've pulled all possible future travel (and hence revenue) from U right now--the message has to get across, and dollars/cents (or lack thereof) seems to be the only thing that will get thru to the cast of genius who birthed this rather ugly child-come-lately.
And has anyone on this thread emailed Dave direct to let him know your plans? I'd be interested in hearing if anyone has done anything other than post on here (contacting Consumer Affairs or anyone else at US who can do something)and what their response was.
I emailed Ben Baldanza and Mike Isom, and got a similar (and canned) response from each.

I faxed a letter, cancelled PNRs, and matching itineraries on AA for 3 trips totalling about (3k - $300 in change fees) to Consumer Affairs. I have heard nothing.

I'm thinking of scanning that fax, and attaching it to a similar letter to Dave--but I honestly don't know how much good it will do.

My coporate travel coordinator did talk to her US contact today. I suspect that conversation got the message across in a much bigger way.

I've made it a point to politely tell res agents whom I've spoken to in the past few days to note to whomever that yet another elite is angry and pulling business. You guys will probably bear the brunt of really angry responses, which is grossly unfair (in the sense that it was not your call).