Rejoice! Free drinks return to US Airways coach

Amid the slew of airline fees introduced last year, US Airway’s announcement that it would begin charging for beverages it once offered for free — soda, juice, water — struck a lot of passengers as a real desperation move.

Unlike a lot of other fees, however, charging for non-alcoholic beverages was one that many other carriers chose not to implement. That, US Airways now acknowledges, put the airline at a disadvantage.

So…free drinks are returning to US Airways flights, starting March 1.

Passengers will be offered free soda, juices, tea, water, and coffee in flight. Beer, wine, and cocktails will still be available for purchase for $7.

US Airways is holding on tightly to its overall a la carte business model, which has you paying for checked baggage, pillows and blankets, special seats and the like. The airline says this model will generate up to $500 million this year.

“We are firmly committed to the a la carte model and believe it’s the right one for our business,” said US Airways Chairman and CEO, Doug Parker. “It is also a work in progress – US Airways was the only large network carrier to charge for drinks and that put us at a disadvantage.”

“The beverage program was distracting from the outstanding improvements in on-time performance and baggage handling US Airways’ 34,000 employees worked so hard to achieve last year,” said Parker.

Thanks, Moody 75.