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It’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:
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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