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When can you combine US Airways and American miles?

by on Tue May 7, 2013 • 7 Comments

American US Airways mergerIt’s a question we’re getting a lot lately with the merger process moving along. While every case is different, we have three mergers from recent history to give a sense of when you can start using your US Airways miles on American and vice versa.

We think you’ll be able to transfer US Airways miles to and from American accounts by mid 2014 – and both airlines should be in the same ‘OneWorld’ alliance at that point. That means by then you won’t be able to use US Airways miles for United, Lufthansa, and other Star Alliance partner flights. OneWorld includes American, British Airways, Cathay Pacific, LAN, and more. After the ability to transfer miles, the programs themselves will probably be fully consolidated at the end of 2014 into 2015 with a new award chart.

Here’s the recent history that supports this:

  1. United / Continental. This merger was announced in the Spring of 2010, and approved by the government in late August of 2010. By March of 2011, functionality was set up to allow moving miles between United and Continental frequent flyer accounts. By March of 2012, the accounts were fully consolidated into one program. Continental had joined United’s Star Alliance in late 2009, a process that took about 18 months.
  2. Delta / Northwest. The merger was announced in the Spring of 2008, and approved by the government in late October 2008. By March of 2009, you could transfer miles between Delta and Northwest accounts online. And by October 2009 the programs were fully consolidated. The airlines themselves fully consolidated by early 2010.
  3. Southwest / AirTran. The merger was announced in the Fall of 2010, and approved by the government in April of 2011. By April of 2012, Southwest and AirTran frequent flyer credits could be transferred between each other. The programs have still not been fully consolidated.

6 months after approval for mile transfers. The two big traditional carriers’ mergers each allowed the basic transfer of miles back and forth about 6 months after their mergers were approved and closed. Full consolidation of the programs with brand new award charts didn’t happen until another 9 months to a year later. US Airways and American are expected to close their merger early this fall.

Southwest and AirTran are an unusual situation. They had very different approaches to earning and redeeming miles, and very different air operations, so their process is moving much more slowly than the Delta and United mergers. While American and US Airways’ merger seems a lot more like the Delta / Northwest and United / Continental mergers on the surface, there is one key difference.

Alliance partners. In both the Delta and United cases, the airlines they merged with were already in the same alliance and allowed redeeming and earning miles on each other before the merger. In the American and US Airways merger they are not. American is part of ‘OneWorld’ that includes British Airways, Cathay Pacific, Japan Airlines, and others, while US Airways is part of ‘Star Alliance’ that includes United, Lufthansa, ANA, Singapore Airlines, Avianca / TACA, and more.

Joining OneWorld before allowing mile transfer. It’s likely US Airways will exit Star Alliance and join One World before the programs allow transferability. Or that may happen simultaneously. What it means is it’s probably unlikely you will get a chance to use American miles on Star Alliance flights like United via transferring to US Airways. But you will get to use US Airways miles eventually on American and OneWorld flights as that will be the ultimate alliance they join. US Airways began its exit from Star Alliance early this year, and that process could end when the merger is approved this fall or take as long as 18 months, which was the case for Continental leaving SkyTeam for Star Alliance.

Get US Airways mile bonuses now.  Those miles will let you redeem on Star Alliance flights through most of this year, and then have the option to combine and redeem on American and partner flights by sometime next year. So you’ll have a rare chance to use one mileage pool in two alliances over the course of a year or so. But if you only want Star Alliance partner flights with those miles be aware that could end abruptly as soon as this fall, in which case you’re best to avoid collecting US Airways miles beyond what you plan to redeem this year.

You should be applying for the Barclays US Airways MasterCard offers now. Then in 2014 it’s likely there will be fresh signup bonuses for US Airways members to get cards in the new American from either Citi or Barclays, whomever handles the combined American’s credit cards at that point.

These are the two most lucrative current US Airways MasterCard offers:

> 40,000 US Airways miles after your first purchase. With an $89 annual fee.

> 35,000 US Airways miles after your first purchase. With no annual fee the first year, 15,000 mile anniversary bonus after each year you pay the annual fee.



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7 thoughts on When can you combine US Airways and American miles?

  1. Randy

    So now that the dust has settled on the merger: I thought points would be combined, but instead US air transferred over my points there to a NEW AA account. Can I merge the points into one account?

  2. Harold Kosakoff

    I got my US Airways Premier World Card and used it about a month ago and paid the bill. When will the miles transfer to American?


      @Harold – Give them a call on the number on the back of your card – you’ll want to check to see what AAdvantage frequent flier number they’ve assigned you.


    I have the us air mastercard for about a year and got the 40,000 mile bonus and just applied for the american air citi bank to get the 50,000 miles.
    When it becomes possible to transfer my us air miles to my american miles, will I still need the us air mastercard, or can I cancel it.?


      @Bruce – You can cancel the US Air card at any time and still keep the miles and they will still combine with American. But you will be given a new ‘American Aviator’ card to replace your US Airways card when the programs merge. You might find the benefits on that card more appealing than those on your Citi AA card.


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