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US Airways: Free drinks in coach

The airline has announced that it will no longer charge coach customers for non-alcoholic drinks.

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Atlanta (CNN) -- While major airlines have been finding new ways to charge passengers additional fees, at least one effort has apparently failed. U.S. Airways announced Monday it will no longer charge travelers for non-alcoholic beverages.

"U.S. Airways was the only large network carrier to charge for drinks and that put us at a disadvantage," Chairman and CEO Doug Parker said in a news release.

Under what it called its "beverage purchase program" introduced last year, U.S. Airways (LCC, Fortune 500) charged coach passengers $1 for tea or coffee and $2 for bottled water or soft drinks.

The change drew criticism. Ultimately, the company determined that it didn't pay off.

"The beverage program was distracting from the outstanding improvements in on-time performance and baggage handling U.S. Airways' 34,000 employees worked so hard to achieve last year," Parker said.

But the company remains "firmly committed to the a la carte model" in which "customers pay for what they choose to use," Parker said, calling the model "a work in progress."

Other changes the company made as part of that new model include checked baggage fees, additional costs for certain seats, "and our new blanket and pillow offering - the U.S. Airways Power-Nap Sack," the news release said. The company expects to generate from $400 to $500 million in 2009 from those and other "a la carte items."

The free drinks in coach return March 1. To top of page

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