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American / US Merger update: 2 years before your AA and US miles combine?

by on Mon March 31, 2014 • No Comment

American US Airways

US Airways is now officially part of OneWorld, meaning you can use your Dividend Miles to travel on OneWorld airlines like British Airways, Cathay Pacific, Qantas and more. And you can do it at the same prices you’re used to with US Airways old partners from the Star Alliance.

But what about combining with your American AAdvantage miles? When will you be able to pool your miles with both American and US Airways?

According to new information it could be a while, maybe even 2 years away.

New American management is hosting a series of town halls across the system to answer employees’ questions about the merger.

And according to this post on FlyerTalk American CEO Doug Parker noted it could be 18 – 24 months from now before the American AAdvantage and US Airways Dividend Miles programs are fully integrated.

That would be mid-2015 to early 2016.

In part he feels there were some mistakes made during the US Airways / America West merger he handled (which resulted in rolling back some policy changes) and that United and Continental made some hasty decisions about frequent flyer programs during their merger, so there’s no reason to create artificial deadlines.

Overall that’s good news for American and US Airways flyers.

On the one hand it would be nice to be able to immediately use US Airways and American miles interchangeably and get reciprocal upgrades on all of their flights as a member of either program.

On the other, some compromises have to be made before those benefits can be offered across both airlines.

AAdvantage is more generous than Dividend Miles in some areas like international upgrades, while Dividend Miles is more generous in others like international award prices. AAdvantage requires ‘stickers’ for upgrades on domestic flights for all but its top tier Executive Platinum members, while Dividend Miles offers ‘unlimited’ upgrades for all of its elite tier members.

And as a frequent flyer you know changes to these policies can have a huge impact on your travel plans.

Sources close to the matter tell us that the US Airways side of the house is not a fan of American’s generous international upgrades, believing that the industry is weaning off of them as a hook, while the legacy American side of the house feels they are imperative for keeping profitable global travelers loyal.

Parker’ statements indicate they are taking a very measured view of this, waiting to see how competitors act and better getting to know the respective American and US Airways’ loyalty drivers.

There’s no reason to rush.

Both airlines are operating profitably on their own right now and rushing merger integration on issues with very unclear consequences doesn’t make much sense right now as the risk is mostly to the downside.

This also means the US Airways MasterCard could be issued for a little while longer than planned. It was thought to stop accepting new applications in early 2015, but if the Dividend Miles program remains separate for 6-12 months longer it could stick around for that extra period.

And it means you can expect the current award prices to stay the same for a while as well. That means it’s a good time to be adding to your balances of American AAdvantage and US Airways miles. You can use our tool to see which AAdvantage credit cards will earn you the most miles.

There’s still a 100,000 mile offer for the Citi Executive AAdvantage card available for now (it might disappear April 1st) and some people have had luck earning it twice.

In addition, if you want cheap travel on US Airways or American Airlines flights consider collecting British Airways Avios. They’re really easy to earn with Chase Ultimate Rewards and American Express Membership Rewards points and they let you travel on US Airways and American Airlines flights for as little as 9,000 points roundtrip.


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