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With the merger of American and US Airways we’re hearing fears from American flyers that the AAdvantage program will look more like the US Airways Dividend Miles program.
Why are they afraid?
US Airways is notorious about having relatively few seats available for using miles at the ‘low’ or ‘saver’ levels. This is documented in a rudimentary annual study of award availability that was updated last week. US Airways tied with Delta for having the lowest percentage of seats available at the ‘saver’ level, just under 40% of the time.
But American has a reputation for having very generous award availability at saver levels.
The data suggest that’s a legacy of the past, and less consistent with today’s reality. While US Airways availability is worse, it has improved over the last few years. At the same time, American’s has become significantly less generous.
The result- American and US Airways aren’t as far off in availability as you might think. It’s not a good thing for American flyers, as the program has deteriorated. And US Airways flyers will be in for a surprise when the merger takes place – fuel surcharges. Partner award flights on British Airways, American’s biggest partner, carry heavy fuel surcharges of $500+ roundtrip. US Airways’ current partners don’t levy those charges.
But the question that remains unanswered is whether the new American will have a three level award system, with ‘low’, ‘middle’, and ‘high’ like US Airways. That’s versus the ‘low’ and ‘high’ today with American.
We hope not – that could mean even less availability at the favorable ‘low’ levels.
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