American Airlines and US Airways have officially merged, but for practical purposes, the airlines remain separate entities and will maintain separate operations for several months. Business will continue as usual, with separate check-in, gates, loyalty programs, and policies: like recent mergers, integration will be gradual. Below are some frequently asked questions about the merger.
Q: When will the merger happen?
A: Although the merger is effective today, 09 December 2013, the process to achieve a Single Operating Certificate is expected to take approximately 18 to 24 months.
Q: What will the combined carrier be called?
A: American Airlines.
Q: What happens to my miles?
A: Your miles will remain safely intact. At some future point, you will have the ability to transfer between programs and eventually your US Airways Dividend Miles and American AAdvantage miles will combine to a single account, though American will only officially confirm at this time, “Once the merger is complete, the new American will evaluate how best to structure its loyalty program.”
It is not clear whether US Airways and American miles will be valued at the same rate, but my hunch is that they will and that American will introduce a new, devalued award chart to compensate for the inflation of miles. Still, do not panic and burn your miles immediately–carefully consider your travel plans for 2014 then use your miles smartly. Consult an award consulting service if you need personal assistance or advice. Without knowing what a potential devaluation will look like, there is no need burn your miles immediately, but if you do wish to take advantages of sweet spots on the US Airways award chart but do that sooner rather than later.
American has indicated the combined loyalty program will offer one-way awards (presumably at half the round-trip price), a significant gap in the current US Airways Dividend Miles program.
Q: What happens to my status?
A: Your status remains intact. US Airways and American are planning to offer reciprocal upgrades and other shared elite benefits.
Q: Can I earn miles on US Airways by flying American Airlines and vice-versa?
A: Yes, you can earn and redeem US Airways miles for flying American, and vice-versa.
Q: What terminal do I show up to?
A: If you are booked on a US Airways flight, continue to show up at the US Airways counter or check-in online at usairways.com. If you are traveling on American, continue to check-in with American Airlines.
Q: Is US Airways Still Part of Star Alliance?
A: No, US Airways exited Star Alliance on March 30, 2014 and immediately enter oneworld on March 31, 2014.
Q: Will US Airways offer Main Cabin Extra (a premium economy section) on its planes?
A: Not at this time. It has not been decided whether US Airways current aircraft will eventually be retooled to offer Main Cabin Extra seating.
Q: What can I expect in the upcoming months as the merger progresses?
- A codeshare agreement between American and US Airways
- Nine American hub airports across the U.S.–Los Angeles, Phoenix, Dallas, Chicago, Charlotte, Washington Reagan, Philadelphia, New York Kennedy, Miami
- The continuation of joint businesses with British Airways, Iberia and Finnair across the Atlantic and with Japan Airlines and Qantas across the Pacific
- Reciprocal American Admirals Club and US Airways Club benefits and reciprocal elite recognition
- Upgrade reciprocity
- Consolidation of loyalty programs
- Full integration of policies, websites, kiosks and customer-facing technology
- Co-location of ticket counters and gates in key markets
Q: What about my US Airways credit card?
A: American Airlines has announced that CITI will become the credit card issuer of the merged carrier, meaning your time to take advantage of the 40,000 mile sign-up bonus on the US Airways MasterCard is coming to a close.
I’ve discussed the card a number of times in the past, so I will just say that I use this card personally and it is well worthwhile to take advantage of the generous sign-up offer in its final days of life.
For more questions and answers, check out www.newamericanarriving.com.