The Middle Seat Terminal had a post today via the WSJ that sheds some light into the plan to progress from two separate airlines into one upon anti-trust approval from federal regulators. While the target date is still August 31st, the companies have started ramping up their merger planning process and have released a little more detail as to exactly how they plan for things to unfold.
The companies have 29 different teams working on the project and analyzing the differences in the two companies in an effort to make the transition as seamless and smooth as possible. They hope to accomplish this while avoiding some of the major mistakes of the United/Continental merger.
So what are some of the key pieces of information that we learned?
- As anticipated, the plan is to move US Airways over to the American Airlines reservation system. Due to US Airs smaller size, this will require less training and hopefully mean less issues… hopefully…
- ASAP after the merger’s closing, the plan is to allow customers to book single itineraries with flights from both of the airlines combined. This should provide more flexibility in flights and routing as both airlines flights will now be together.
- Within 6 months the plan is to start moving around planes to more efficiently meet route demands.
- Also within 6 months, while the frequent flyer programs will still be separate they plan to start allowing passengers to earn miles and redeem miles with either program on either carrier. So in other words you can earn and redeem AA miles on US Air metal or you could earn and redeem US Air miles on AA metal. This will be the first step towards the integration of the two FF plans.
– It does not appear that miles will be able to be combined between the programs for a single award ticket at this point yet. In other words, you will still need to have enough miles in one account or the other for the ticket. This will however open up a lot more options for those who currently have limited availability with one airline or the other, such as those with an airport that one or the other does not service.
– Also, I will be curious to see the US Air card benefit of redeeming flights for 5,000 fewer miles than normal will apply to flights booked on AA metal. I am really looking forward to this because US Air does not service my airport and United has limited options for me.
- By 1 year after merger closing, the airline plans to have moved to one system and one website, combine ops centers, employee procedures, and manuals in order to be awarded a combined single operating certificate from the FAA.
These updates give a little more insight into what we can expect to see down the road. But of course, they still leave plenty of questions unanswered such as:
What will the combine frequently flyer program look like in the end? Will it still look anything like the Aadvantage program so many hold in high regard?
When will US Air be removed from the Star Alliance and moved into One World?
What will the credit card benefits look like after the final combining? Will I lose my 5,000 fewer miles redemption benefit?
The list goes on and on, so I won’t ramble any more. But what are your thoughts on these updates? How do you see the future of the two loyalty programs unfolding? Let me know what your thinking!