US Airways: Use Ticket or Lose It

To shore up revenues, carrier slaps new restrictions on nonrefundables

US Airways implemented new policies last week that place many new restrictions on nonrefundable tickets, Travel Management Daily reported.

Effective immediately, nonrefundable fares for all US Airways’ domestic, Caribbean, U.S.-Canada and U.S.-Europe destinations must be used for the specifically ticketed flight and will have no value once the flight has departed.

A customer, however, still can change the ticket before the flight takes off. Under the previous policy, the value of the unused ticket could be credited toward the purchase of another US Airways ticket, minus the applicable reissue fee, for up to one year.

The airline said it would not make exceptions for extenuating circumstances, including death, illness, military service or jury duty.

In justifying the policy change, the airline noted that other industries have similar policies. For example, someone who misses a theatrical play or sporting event can’t use the ticket the next day.

Most of the new restrictions and rules are designed to widen the gap between the services and flexibility offered to customers willing to pay higher fares and those who are not.

Airline officials said the changes also are needed to allow them to offer lower fares to customers who want the cheapest tickets.

Among the other changes:

" Customers with nonrefundable tickets no longer will be allowed to stand by for alternate flights.

" Customers will continue to earn frequent flyer miles regardless of the price of the ticket. But, as of Jan. 1, the miles earned on cheaper tickets won’t count toward the attainment of elite status.

" Corporate discount programs no longer will be applicable for certain nonrefundable fare classes, generally those with advance-purchase and minimum-stay requirements.

" Tour and consolidator tickets will become nonrefundable and have no value after the ticketed travel date.

" Coach customers on trans-Atlantic flights will be charged $4 for alcoholic beverages.

The airline will reduce, but not eliminate, its offerings on Hotwire, Priceline and the Travelocity and Expedia opaque channels.