Tuesday, October 20, 2009

U.S. Airways Club expanding its privileges?

For most of the time that they've been supposed partners in the Star Alliance, United and U.S. Airways have had rather chilly relations.

Two years ago, U.S. Airways decided that its Club members should pay $120 more if they wanted reciprocal access to United's Red Carpet Club network.

CEO Doug Parker was particularly fee-happy at that time, also trying an abortive plan to charge passengers for beverages (which failed) and requiring an outrageous $240 membership upgrade for Club members to get reciprocity with non-domestic Star Alliance airlines' clubs.

Throughout this chapter, Red Carpet Club members continued to enjoy complimentary reciprocity to U.S. Airways Clubs when traveling of U.S. Airways flights.

Well, that's changing.

Effective October 30, U.S. Airways Club memberships will be converted to a single style that allows reciprocal access to lounges operated by United, Continental, and other Star Alliance airlines. No additional fees will be needed.

Starting that same day, members will also have complimentary selections of wine and beer available in addition to the soft drinks that have always been complimentary.

Why the change? My guess is that someone must finally have crunched the numbers and realized that, with the upcoming switch of Continental Airlines from SkyTeam to Star Alliance, and with United and Continental already establishing tight associations, U.S. Airways was almost sure to lose out.

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