If you’re a member of the American Airlines AAdvantage program and/or US Airways Dividend Miles, you’ve no doubt been trying to keep up to date on the changes that are in store as the two airlines merge. Here’s what’s happening as of spring 2015.
One Loyalty Program
American Airlines now has one loyalty program: AAdvantage. You can no longer use US Airways Dividend Miles to book award flights using the Dividend Miles award chart. That chart and its policies are now defunct. You must book all award flights using the AAdvantage award chart and the rules associated with it. Here is the award chart for American and US Airways award flights and the chart for oneworld and partner award flights.
Merged Mileage Balances
The IT department at the new American Airlines has been busy on many fronts. In fact, it just completed the process of merging US Airways Dividend Miles accounts with American AAdvantage accounts. If you previously matched the information in your AAdvantage profile to your Dividend Miles account, American merged your miles as of April 1. You will now redeem miles and make any account updates on AA.com.
The airline sent out an emailed titled, “Your loyalty accounts are combined, in which the airline lists important information like your elite status and expiration date, your combined mileage balance, your Million Miler balance, and 2015 year-to-date elite-qualifying miles, points and segments. Review this information to make sure it’s correct.
If you hadn’t matched your account information making sure your name, address, and birth date were the same in both systems your balances were not merged. You can, however, do that now. Log in to either your AAdvantage or Dividend Miles account and click on the link that says, “Merge accounts. Make sure your profiles are the same in both systems before merging accounts. It will then take about a day for your Dividend Miles to show up in your AAdvantage account.
The company is asking that you use your American AAdvantage number for all business at either American or US Airways. However, you can use your username, AAdvantage number, or Dividend Miles number to log in to both AA.com and USAirways.com.
New Elite Upgrade Benefits on Both Airlines
Now that the loyalty systems are one, there is a policy of reciprocal upgrades for elites. For Gold, Platinum and Executive Platinum members flying on an American Airlines-operated and marketed flight of 500 miles or less, there are unlimited complimentary upgrades.
The system auto-requests these so you don’t need to do anything special. Executive Platinum upgrades are confirmed 100 hours before departure, while Platinum will get the word 72 hours out, and Golds have to wait 24 hours before departure to potentially clear the upgrade list.
For flights over 500 miles, Gold and Platinum members must use earned or purchased 500-mile upgrade “stickers. Platinums will be confirmed as early as 72 hours before department and Golds are confirmed at 24 hours out. Executive Platinums have unlimited complimentary upgrades that are auto-requested and confirmed 100 hours before departure.
Single Operating Certificate
The Federal Aviation Administration has conferred the company a single operating certificate (SOC). This document allows the company to begin merging all of its operations. However, this is a time-consuming process and American and US Airways will continue operating as two separate airlines for the time being and for quite awhile in the future.
There’s a lot of back-office administrative work that needs to be done as well as some pretty intensive technology challenges to merge systems and infrastructure. All of that is now in the works.
Two Airlines for Now
For now, operations between the airlines are still separate. From a practical standpoint, that means if you book a seat on a US Airways flight, then you need to check in at the US Airways counter.
Likewise, if American is operating your route, check in with American at the airport. Also, some policies and procedures will differ on American and US Airways.
Late 2015: One Airline
By the end of this year, American will have done the hard work of merging its loyalty program, airlines and all associated operations. At that time well say goodbye to USAirways.com and will conduct all business with American Airlines at AA.com.
All policies and procedures will also sync up so there will be one policy for elite upgrades, same-day standby and confirmed flight changes.
The merger has gone quite smoothly so far. It’s a far cry from the growing pains United experienced while merging with Continental five years ago.