- Dec 28, 2005
- Total Time
Here come the lawsuits...
We crash-landed in the Hudson River - but all we got were these lousy upgrades!
US Airways sent a raft of "frigid" letters to the 150 passengers of miracle Flight 1549 (above) saying their death-defying ordeal has earned them top customer status - but for just one year, The Post has learned.
Some who were on the plane - brought down by a flock of geese after takeoff from La Guardia Airport on Jan. 15 - said the temporary tease of first-class perks is for the birds.
"I think if you survive a plane crash, being upgraded permanently is a good gesture too," said Fred Berretta, 41, of Charlotte, NC, where the Airbus A320 was headed.
Manhattanite Tess Sosa, who escaped the sinking plane with her husband and two small children, thought the airline was too focused on self-congratulations - and "they want to exonerate themselves as much as they can."
"They are happy they had such amazing results, and they applaud themselves, and then give us a small token?" she said. "That's how I take it."
The airline announced the upgrades and other perks last week in a letter Sosa described as "frigid" at best.
CEO Doug Parker wrote that passengers would get "coveted" Chairman's Preferred status - but only until March 2010.
The membership gives each passenger and a companion first-class domestic travel when seats are available, one upgrade to Europe or Hawaii, choice seats and priority check-in.
"We would very much like to see you on a future US Airways flight soon," Parker wrote.
Berretta said he's not sure what would be the perfect solution.
"It's hard to gauge what the right thing to do is," he said.
Some said they weren't in a rush to get on another plane.
"I'm looking at how many times I'm going to use it - and if I'm going to use it at all," said George Morgado, 32, of Chicopee, Mass., calling the offer "OK."
"My husband is not going to want to get on a plane for at least a year," she said.
The airline earned some passengers' praise for quickly sending out $5,000 checks for lost luggage and other expenses. And the company said passengers will be able to make claims for more expenses in the future.
A spokesman for the US Airways said passengers did not have to waive their rights to sue in order to accept the checks or the Chairman's Preferred membership. Some have already contacted lawyers.
Barry Leonard, of Charlotte, argued that "US Airways has bent over backwards to help everyone on the flight."
At La Guardia yesterday, other US Airways travelers were shocked by the airline's lowballing.
"You're going to crash me into the water, and you're going to tell me all I get is an upgrade?" asked Antonio Sales, 20, who was traveling with the University of South Carolina's track team. "That's more of an 'OK, you're not dead, I'll give you something to hold on to.' It's not enough at all."
Teammate Gabrielle Glenn, 20, was more blunt: "That's it. They should sue."