American, US Air to Merge Monday: Here’s What Frequent Flyers Should Expect

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While this seamless customer interface has yet to be seen, it won’t an integrated reservations system or frequent-flyer program.  The former is not likely to appear on the scene until 2015 and the latter could be unveiled by the end of 2014.

What it will mean is that each airline’s frequent flyers will be able to earn and redeem their miles on the other, and each loyalty program, AAdvantage and Dividend Miles, will also recognize the other’s elite members.

Another milestone date will occur approximately seven to nine weeks later, when US Airways leaves Star Alliance, an airline alliance that counts United Airlines and Lufthansa among its members, and joins oneworld alliance approximately a month thereafter, according to information provided to Frequent Business Traveler by two individuals familiar with the matter.

Travelers might also see the ability to book flights for either airline on either website if the new American is able to quickly implement code sharing between American and US Airways.  The date that’s been floated for this has been February and it means that American Airlines’ code will appear on US Airways’ flights, a move that will enable  seamless connections for flyers.

IN-FLIGHT SERVICE AND MEALS

To give passengers a more consistent experience, the two airlines will begin to align their offerings, using American’s standards as a template.  This will involve meals, in-flight entertainment, and seating.

Starting April 1, US Airways will adopt American’s meal windows.  Expect all flights over 2.5 hours to have a meal except for some redeye flights. Flights between two to 2.5 hours will have meals during mealtimes, and some shorter flights will also have meals based on what American feels it needs to do to compete in those markets.

It’s likely that the meals on US Airways will be cold ones for the first few months as it will take time for the airline to reinstall ovens on many of its planes.  This should all be accomplished by September 1, however, and at that point, the US Airways’ soft product should mirror American’s fully.

Also by that date, new aircraft being delivered by Airbus to US Airways will have the new AA interiors.  The aircraft will have American’s in-flight entertainment systems.  US Airways does not currently offer IFE on most flights.

A spokesman for US Airways would not confirm these dates.

THE LAST BIG AIRLINE MERGER?

When the dust settles Monday, the new American will be making history.  This is not due to its becoming the largest airline in the world, nor because its market value will be almost $18 billion, a figure 60% higher than the estimate of $11 billion in February.

Rather, its place in history will be assured largely because the merger of the two airlines is likely to be the last major merger of U.S. carriers.  Following the mergers of United and Continental (2010), Delta and Northwest (2008), and Southwest and AirTran (2011), almost 80% of the U.S. aviation market will be served by the four airlines.

(Photo: Accura Media Group)

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