Some sour about buying in-flight drinks

After vacationing in Panama City, Fla., Vaughan Dozier looked forward to a cool drink and a relaxing flight home to Columbia.

But Dozier got a jolt when the attendant told him he'd have to pay for a bottle of water, usually free.

“It's kind of disturbing,” he said. “I never had to pay before.”

US Airways on Friday began charging $1 for coffee and hot tea, and $2 for soft drinks as part of an effort to offset high fuel prices. Free drinks joined free pretzels as amenities that are now part of the past.

Passengers randomly interviewed Sunday had mixed feelings about the new charges.

Despite media coverage and airport advertisements, many said there wasn't enough notification.

“I really just found out about it today when I tried to get a coffee,” said Susan Daniel, who was traveling from Ft. Lauderdale, Fla., to Boone.

Many passengers said the new charges weren't a deal-breaker for them flying with US Airways, but they were an annoyance.

“It's a hassle to try to exchange money on the planes,” said Dave Johnson of Charlotte. “You'll start hearing more of ‘Anyone got change for a $20?' It's going to be a mess.”

But Jen Treiber, coming from college in Connecticut to visit her parents in South Carolina, said she didn't think the new prices would be a burden for many.

“If it's only an hour and a half flight, you can just wait until you land,” she said.

Treiber said she expected many people would start buying drinks before they board.

“You get more for the same price if you buy a drink in the airport as opposed to on the plane,” she said.

And most passengers said they understood the airline's motive.

“They don't have a choice,” John Bridges of Charlotte said. “If they don't start cutting costs, they're going to go bankrupt.”