US Airways adding more first-class seats

Posted: April 06, 2011

US Airways Group Inc. said Wednesday it will put first-class seating in 110 regional jets that fly between its hubs, including Philadelphia, to 85 cities such as Houston, Dallas and Minneapolis.

Philadelphia's dominant airline, with 430 daily departures from Philadelphia, is adding the more expensive seats as an option to earn more revenue and offer customers, particularly higher-paying business travelers and frequent fliers, larger seats, priority check-in, early boarding, and free food and drinks.

Delta Air Lines, United Airlines, and American Airlines already provide first-class seats on their smaller regional jets.

First-class cabins will be installed on US Airways jets with 70 or more seats. Smaller planes with 50 seats will not get the upgrades.

US Airways senior vice president of marketing Andrew Nocella said the seat option recognizes "the value of the first-class customer" and will drive "more revenue, and, of course, ultimately more profitability."

US Airways declined to say how much revenue is expected from the new first-class cabins.

Passengers will be able to pay between $50 and $200 one-way to upgrade from a coach ticket to first-class, depending on length of the route. The airline's frequent fliers can qualify for complimentary upgrades to first-class.

US Airways operates 340 "mainline" wide-body jets that now have first- or business- class seats. In addition, there are 301 regional aircraft that have only coach class. These jets fly under the US Airways banner, but are operated by PSA, a US Airways' wholly-owned subsidiary, Mesa Airlines, and Republic Airways.

In addition, US Airways said that first- and envoy-class passengers since April 1 are getting new snacks and heartier meals on domestic US Airways flights, and, beginning May 1, will get an expanded menu and "restaurant-style experience" on international flights to Europe, South America, and the Middle East.

The changes recognize "the value of our elite fliers," Nocella said, and "make sure that we have a competitive and strong product in the marketplace."

"It gives people the flexibility to spend a few more dollars to sit in first-class on another 640 flights every day, if they so choose."

Contact staff writer Linda Loyd at 215-854-2831 or