Airline mergers don't happen overnight. In fact, they're highly regulated and
technical affairs, especially when it comes to dealing with the frequent flyer
programs. While the American Airlines/US Airways merger was announced in
December 2013, the actual frequent flyer merger will happen this coming weekend,
and there are three key things you should know about it: 1) Your miles are safe.
As of this weekend, all Dividend Miles will become AAdvantage Miles at a 1:1
ratio starting on Saturday, but the process will take several days.
are being ported over in batches, so don't be alarmed if your spouse or friends
get their email receipt before you. Do not call the airline for information—the
entire Dividend Miles database will be locked and agents will have no access to
information or even to book an award. In addition to frequent flyer miles, elite
miles and lifetime miles will all transfer over. This will elevate many to
higher elite levels and even lifetime elite status. US Airways doesn't allow you
to view your lifetime status online, so many of us will be pleasantly surprised!
2) You get to keep your status—with a hitch. US Airways elites will become
AAdvantage elites once their accounts are transferred over. This means US
Airways Silver members will become AAdvantage Gold, and US Airways Gold and
Platinum will both become AAdvantage Platinum. AAdvantage only has three elite
levels versus US Airways’ four, so the 75,000-mile US Airways Platinum members
will get lumped into the 50,000-mile AAdvantage Platinum level, something many
US Airways elites are not happy about. In the AAdvantage program, Gold and
Platinum members only get complimentary upgrades on domestic short-haul flights
and must use earned upgrade certificates to select flights they want to upgrade,
versus the US Airways model of offering complimentary upgrades to all. 3) You
should book your US Airways awards now! AAdvantage and US Airways Dividend Miles
have separate award charts and both offer unique sweet spots. For example, using
Dividend Miles for a round-trip business class ticket to/from Africa costs
110,000 miles versus 150,000 AAdvantage miles. That’s a 40,000-mile savings!
Dividend Miles award travel to the South Pacific/Australia is 110,000 miles in
business class vs 125,000 miles using AAdvantage (a 15,000-mile savings). US
Airways generally offers more flexible routing and stopovers/open jaws, whereas
American does not allow stopovers on awards.
However, Dividend Miles isn't
superior across the board. The program does not allow one-way awards at half the
price of a round-trip, and you cannot make ANY changes to an award after travel
begins. So if you need to change your return date, you forfeit the entire freight
elevator Manufacturers award and need to book a new trip. AAdvantage also
offers much more generous off-peak economy awards: Europe (October 15 - May 15):
20,000 miles each way for economy South Korea and Japan (October 1 - April 30):
25,000 miles each way for economy 4) Be your own advocate. Though I don't
anticipate any problems, coordinating such a merger is an immense and
complicated technological task. I recommend keeping a copy of your current
frequent flyer statement or taking a screenshot, just in case something goes
wrong and your miles go missing. Brian Kelly is the founder of ThePointsGuy.com.
Follow him on Twitter @thepointsguy and on Facebook.