Nice work, US Airways! A story of compassion with a happy ending

I don’t think of this as a “good news” kind of blog. There are countless corporate sites that specialize in slick posts stripped of meaning, and this isn’t one of them. But sometimes, travel companies really do right by their customers, and when that happens, they deserve recognition.

Such was the case with Dani Djamal’s mother, who was trying to change her flights on US Airways.

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She needed to change her departure date from August to October on her flight from Phoenix to Los Angeles as she had to accompany me in the hospital after an accident.

When the US Airways rep on the phone told me there was a change fee of $150, I asked her to waive it. I explained that I was admitted into a hospital in Flagstaff for two months and her presence was important for me.

Lately, carriers like US Airways have only been waiving change fees for elite-level customers, and even then, sparingly. In my experience, you have to die before a legacy carrier will waive a change fee for a garden-variety passenger.

The reason? Airlines are relying on reservation change fees to make money. Here’s US Airways’ revenues from these fees.

Whoa — $65 million in the second quarter of 2010? That’s no small amount. (Mind the gap in this chart, which is probably merger-related.)

So what did US Airways do? A representative named Ana spoke with her supervisor. Djamal furnished the airline the name of a doctor who could verify the story. And then US Airways waived the fee.

“Customer service is still around,” adds Djamal, “Especially with US Airways and Phoenix Airport.”

Being flexible on ticket changes makes sense. After all, passenger are expected to cut the airline a break when they can’t fly because of bad weather or “air traffic control” issues. Why shouldn’t it go both ways?

Nice work, US Airways.

(Photo: super ciliousness/Flickr Creative Commons)