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Additional information was released today related to progress in the merger of American Airlines and US Airways, especially as it relates to the AAdvantage and Dividend miles programs. You can view the information directly from the airlines here, or View From the Wing offers some good additional analysis here. Much of the information released and analyzed is related to the combination of the of the elite status levels and upgrade procedures from US Airways and American Airlines. On the whole they will be going with an American Airlines elite program methodology as the two programs combine, with the notable addition of unlimited complimentary space-available upgrades at all elite levels on flights 500 miles or less and an increase in the segments required for the highest Executive Platinum level from 100 to 120 (the same as what US Airways currently requires), though the flown mileage requirement stays the same at 100,000 miles.
Obviously all of the details surrounding the elite programs are very important if you are an elite with either of those two airlines (and you should read both links above if you fall into that category), but for those of you who only care about the miles you have in your AAdvantage and Dividend Miles account, I’ll cut to the chase on that piece. I don’t have, and don’t forsee having, elite status with American, so I’m very happy they have made very reasonable decisions when it comes to the combinations of the AAdvantage and Dividend Miles elites, but I don’t’ have a personal stake or interest in the minutia of those decisions. I care about what happens to my miles!
Here are thing important things for those that just have miles with US Airways and American Airlines:
They will launch functionality to enable you to match your Dividend Miles account with your AAdvantage account (if you have both). If you only have an AAdvantage account, nothing changes (other than you need to do something about that and earn some US Airways miles pronto!). If you only have a Dividend Miles account they will assign a new AAdvantage number and transfer your miles to it when they combine programs.
Second Quarter of 2015:
At some point in the second quarter of 2015 (April – June) Dividend Miles accounts will be transitioned into the AAdvantage program. This is when the mileage balances you have from both US Airways and American will combine into one (big) balance. Prior to this point, they will remain separate and you cannot transfer miles between the two programs, and must redeem them on each programs’ respective award charts. Once the two accounts combine into one AAdvantage account, AAntytime (pricy but always available when seats are for sell) awards will be available for travel on US Airways.
Separate Airlines, but One Frequent Flyer Program for Much of 2015:
The two airlines will remain separate airlines for much of 2015, but beginning in the second quarter they will have a combined frequent flyer program.
What This Means for the Award Charts:
These announcements are heavy on details for how elite processes are impacted, but light on what all of this means for award chart prices, though I know that is what lots of us have the most interest in. The good news is that they did not announce an award chart change today, and by default they did announce they are not going revenue based, at least for 2015. That makes them actually somewhat unique in the US frequent flyer program landscape in terms of how miles are earned beginning next year, and I very much hope that strategy pays off for them.
The big date for those of us who have some redemptions we like on the US Airways chart will be when the programs combine in the second quarter of 2015, as that chart will go away as Dividend Miles is absorbed by AAdvantage. It is always possible that US Airways could make changes to their award chart before the two programs are combined, but I have no clue why they would bother given that it is already mid-October 2014, and this will happen as early as six months from now. So, I optimistically like to think that the US Airways chart will stay virtually the same until it goes away at some point between April and June in 2015, though that was not explicitly stated. Remember though that you will not be able to move your American miles to US Airways in order to take advantage of any favorably priced redemptions on that chart. You can however redeem US Airways miles on the US Airways chart for American operated flights, and vice versa.
American did not announce any changes to their current award chart with today’s announcement, and one would think this would have been a good time to do it if a major change was coming in the near-term. They don’t go so far as to say there won’t be any changes to the award chart for 2015, but the head of AAdvantage, Suzanne Rubin, reportedly did tell Gary Leff as recently as yesterday that there are no AAdvantage award chart changes coming as the two programs combine. That would be consistent with the lack of an announcement about changes in this round of updates, and is great news since the AAdvantage award chart is more reasonable with pricing for many awards (especially in premium cabins) than say, United or Delta.
What You Should Do Now:
If you are an elite with either program you should really read up on what all of this means for you, as well as decide if you want to push for Executive Platinum, especially if you were previously a Platinum with US Airways since that 75k level will go away. If you are like me and just care about the redeemable miles in both programs, then you need to just keep earning in each program through the end of 2014 and during the first quarter of 2015. For me this would include certainly getting the US Airways card before it goes away. If there are any awards you want to book using the US Airways award chart, I would prioritize those, and note that the deadline to book via that chart will come by some point before the programs combine in the second quarter of 2015.
Personally, I very much have my eye on 110,000 miles round trip to the South Pacific in business class, and I hope to get that trip booked that trip before the US Airways award chart goes “poof”.
What do you think about today’s announcements?