The big news this morning was the official announcement of the planned merger of American Airlines and US Airways. Once the merger takes place, it will create the world’s largest airline and will be worth over $11 billion, and have a combined 1,500 aircrafts operating more than 6,700 daily flights to over 336 destinations.
Though the merger still needs to be reviewed and approved by the government, analysts report that it is most likely going to happen and will move forward in the next few months. Of course, it will still take much more time for the carriers to begin joint operations and to work out the wrinkles. As the process of integrating business systems, aircrafts, and staff take shape there are sure to be some changes and kinks, but in the meantime, here’s what you need to know:
The airline name
The new merged airline will take the name of American Airlines as well as it’s new logo and airplane livery that was just released last month. This also means that it will operate out of the American Airlines headquarters in Fort Worth, Texas. Expect the new airline to take on style and design details of American Airlines, with flight attendants planned to be outfitted with the recently designed uniforms by KAUFMANFRANCO.
You will still be able to visit both aa.com and USAirways.com, and also call both carriers toll-free to talk to a representative. A new website launched to provide information about the merged airline is now live at newamericanarriving.com. Over the next few months you can expect these airlines to begin code sharing, but it may take much longer for them to fully integrate the two reservation systems and websites (just look at how long it took United and Continental).
At the airport
In the meantime, and until the reservation systems are fully integrated, you should just follow normal procedures and look for the signage and ticket desk of the carrier that is operating your flight.
Frequent flier miles
It is expected that both of the loyalty programs will come together as well, of course after some time. When they become integrated, you can also expect that the American Airlines AAdvantage will be the one used. This means that your US Airways Dividend and AAdvantage miles will be combined into one account. Look for this to happen over the next six to eight months. This means there is likely still a chance to take advantage of the US Airways Mastercard before it disappears, and have these miles added to your AAdvantage account in the future.
For US Airways flyers, this may mean that you see some lower point redemption routes raised to match the amount American Airlines requires to book award travel. It could also become harder to find award seats on the new carriers if routes are cut. Stay posted for more of these details to emerge as the programs are merged.
OneWorld or Star Alliance?
With American Airlines being the dominant airline in the merger, the new carrier is most likely to become a part of the OneWorld Alliance, which American Airline already belongs to. Although some award travelers may be disappointed to see US Airways leave the larger 27-member Star Alliance, remember that OneWorld offers some great values for international award trips. One thing that Star Alliance has above OneWorld at the moment is more route services to Asia and South America.
Higher fare prices
One potential drawback of yet another airline merger within the US is that is decreases competition, which in turn could lead to higher ticket prices. This is a major disadvantage to flyers, and we will most likely see slightly higher fares across the board as a result of the merger. One particular area of concern are the routes that US Airways and American Airlines currently compete for. Expect to see fare hikes for these routes–Charlotte and New York, Dallas, and Miami, and links between Philadelphia and Dallas and Miami. The argument is that the airline industry will be more stable after the merger, and that fare increases are just part of that deal.
No doubt there will probably be attrition among some of the routes as the consolidated carrier cuts out flights. These routes will include the ones that are currently shared by both airlines and other routes may be more efficiently redirected to another hub. This may mean an additional layover for some travelers out of smaller airports. For more information on the new carrier plans to utilize it’s hubs and how it will affect flying for your state visit skift.com.
Expect a strong move towards premium in flight experiences, as American Airlines has always made that a priority. US Airways cabins will most likely adopt more premium economy seating, in-flight entertainment, and lie-flat business-class seats as well as first class cabins. You should find most of these features standard in all of the 600 new airplanes expected to to be delivered this month.