Marketing 50

America West Airlines

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It's hard to believe that airline travelers, already squeezed by shrinking seats and growing fares, would embrace a plan that would have them purchase-not receive as part of their fare, but purchase-better-quality food on their flights. But that was just one of several initiatives that J. Scott Kirby, exec VP-sales and marketing for America West Airlines, introduced as a way to help save the once-floundering airline.

Catered by LSG Sky Chefs, America West offers such items as egg and ham on a biscuit, yogurt and fresh fruit for $7. Lunch and dinner choices include upscale sandwiches ranging from roast beef and fontina cheese to smoked turkey and fresh peppers.

"It was just one way, not the only way, of trying to separate America West from the clutter," Mr. Kirby, 36, says.

America West also simplified its fare structure, recently selling a New York to Los Angeles ticket in first class for $798 round trip. Ads from Moses Anshell, Phoenix, tout the low-fare flights. "Leno to Letterman" reads one, pitching the direct flights from Los Angeles to New York.

A new payment option, "Bill Me Later," allows fliers to defer payment for 90 days, after the customer has passed a credit check.

"They're really trying some innovative things," says travel expert Terry Trippler.

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