Almost one year after Delta Air Lines discontinued its Meeting Network, US Airways, newly merged with America West, is scaling back its meeting product.
According to a letter sent to US Airways clients in September, the airline “recently completed an evaluation of our meeting product and concluded that we will no longer offer this product for meetings held within the contiguous United States and Canada.” The letter goes on to explain that the airline will continue to offer the meeting product — including percentage discounts and zone fares; a dedicated toll-free number to make or change meeting reservations; and free tickets based on the number of travelers booked — for international destinations, excluding Canada.
Philip Gee, a spokesman for US Airways, said that America West had discontinued its meeting product earlier in the year, and that with the recent merger, which officially took place September 26, “US Airways was merely bringing their policy in line with America West.”
Gee also explained that US Airways continues to offer a group travel product, with special pricing for 10 or more passengers on the same flight.
The decision means that within the past year, two of the nation's five biggest airlines have either dropped their meeting departments or scaled them back.
Yvonne Long, senior vice president of Air Fulfillment Services in Des Moines, Iowa, calls US Airways' decision to drop domestic meetings“crazy.”
It means, Long said, that it will be harder for companies such as hers — which is dedicated to the group and meeting air travel market and counts Fortune 100 companies among its customers — to book with airlines such as Delta and US Airways. “If they are less organized internally, it makes it hard to work with them,” Long says. “I just don't understand the philosophy — you take some of your most valued supporters and you make yourself difficult to deal with.”
Alynne Hanford, national sales manager, groups and company meetings, American Airlines, says that her company remains committed to keeping its meeting product in place.
“We've been able to show management how valuable it is to have this [meeting product] in place,” Hanford says. “With the revenue we produce, we've been successful in demonstrating how critical this market is. We really believe in it and stand behind it.”