The Flying Critic reports about US’s new “Choice Seats,” and provides an excellent analysis. I recommend checking that out instead of me rehashing what he says, since there’s a lot of other exciting news. The only thing that I think is a bit ridiculous about this policy (beyond what we currently view as ridiculous; remember, $25 for the second checked bag is now the norm around here) is that it includes some standard coach rows, as far as I can tell. Bulkheads and exit rows is one thing, but just standard seats a little bit further up front seems ridiculous, but good luck US!
In more exciting news (or is depressing the right word?), apparently talks have taken place between UA/US regarding a possible merger. Of course it’s just talk and as they say talk is cheap, so take it with a grain of salt. I think US is in a very sticky situation, not having a future, at least in the long run if they’re independent. They’re simply a crappy airline with a crappy route structure and a crappy product. Of course that caters well to certain passengers, which I can understand, but even most of US’s frequent flyers acknowledge how much US sucks. Obviously they’re desperate, so I guess they’re open to anything at the moment, while CO and UA are on the prowl to see what they can get their hands on.
I’m betting at this point that UA and CO are starting to realize how incompatible they are. As I blogged about just two days ago, they have so many differences, and I’m sure they’re getting feedback left, right, and center, about what a disaster it would be. Some love Continental, some love United, but VERY few love Coned.
So assuming mergers had to take place, what would work best in my book? As crazy as it might sound, AA/UA would work pretty well, in my book. Of course the government might not like it, but let’s think about this. Retire all the MD80’s, which AA wants to do faster than anticipated anyway due to fuel prices, and we’re looking at an airline that’s not much bigger than DL/NW, not to mention a lot more compatible. AA has a strong presence in South America and to a certain extent Europe (at least compared to UA). They could easily justify retiring half of their fleet because of the incredible overlap UA and AA have at ORD and to a large part LAX, leaning out operations by quite a bit, and their frequent flyer programs are also quite compatible. While DL/NW will have an incredible route network if they kept all their routes, they have a lot of different customers with a lot of expectations to please, since the route network of the two airlines basically fits together like a jigsaw puzzle. One possible issue with this is the unions of both AA and UA. They both have very tough unions and AA is having some real labor issues right now, so if they were to retire 400 MD80’s I think the new airline would have hell to pay.
So that leaves CO and US. I would say US would liquidate in this scenario unless they have some radical plan and CO would continue to operate as is, considering that they already have a quality product and are all around pretty steady for the market they serve, and hope that the leaning out of operations by other airlines would help them out.
Of course this is all mindless speculation, but what the heck, right? We’ve all heard crazier things, I’m sure.