04 February 2009

US Airways Cheaps Out

Over the years, frivolous lawsuits and the mentality that a percentage of Americans are highly interested in taking corporations for all they can has created a culture that says, "Good! Don't give em anything!" whenever a company sticks it to customers who probably deserve a little more. The case in point is US Airways, and their decision to offer the bare minimum in consolation to the survivors of their unexpected Hudson River landing. Now let me say this. I roll my eyes as much as the next person when McDonald's gets sued for hot coffee or Victoria's Secret gets sued when a woman hits herself in the eye with bejeweled underwear. And, in this instance, I don't believe US Airways particularly owes the passengers of Flight 1549 much of anything. What happened was an act of geese, if not God, and did not come about through airline neglect or pilot error. In fact, as has been celebrated in the media, the pilot did a magnificent job of landing the plane safely and recovering from what could have been a disaster.

On the other hand. . .

US Airways missed out here on what could have been a good opportunity for some really nice PR. To my mind, they have been a little too quick with the self-congratulations and a little too slow on the "Oh man, we are so sorry". As way of compensation, they offered each passenger $10,000 and a golden ticket, which means they can fly for free for the rest of their lives.

Oh wait, no...

It was $7,000 and free upgrades to first class for the rest of their lives.

Er, wait...

Reading the story more closely, I see that it comes to $5,000 per passenger and free upgrades to first class for, um, one year. Cynics, well worn with stories like the McDonald's lawsuit and quick to grumble about our greedy society, say that the passengers should just be glad to be alive. And I'm sure that they are. Still, upgrades to first class for one year? I think they could have done a little better than that.