There have been whispers since January that US Airways may take over bankrupt American Airlines, after US Airways admitted that they`ve retained legal counsel to “help us explore our options as they relate to [American Airline’s] bankruptcy.” That`s how US Airways CEO Doug Parker put it, seemingly trying to downplay the news. However, the business world continues to buzz with the possibility that the two will become one, and frequent flyers of both airlines are left to wonder what might happen to their rewards miles if the merger does take place.
Both airlines offer rewards programs, with American Airlines program, theAAdvantage program, participating in the oneworld Alliance, which shares benefits between a network of 11 airlines, including British Airways, Japan Airlines, Finnair, and Qantas.
Get With the Program
US Airways, the smaller of the two airlines, has a program known as Dividend Miles, which participates with the Star Alliance network to offer upgrades and free miles on 26 Star Alliance member airlines, including Air Canada, United, and Lufthansa.
Here are some highlights of the two programs, as they stand pre-merger:
- AA.com offers a low-airfare guarantee and charges no online booking fees. If you purchase a ticket and find the same flight later the same day, just email then before midnight and they`ll not only refund the difference in price, they`ll give you a $50 promotion code to use on your next purchase.
- In order to redeem rewards, you have to travel during off-season, but there`s pretty good availability for most destinations in the fall, anyway, when you’ll avoid crowds.
- The oneworld Alliance gives you access to a global network of partners that cover over 700 destinations in almost 150 countries, allowing you the freedom to use your rewards wherever you wish to travel.
- Use your miles on any carrier that participate in the Star Alliance, as well as Hawaiian Airlines, Virgin Atlantic, and Bahamasair.
- US Airways offers the Dividend Miles MasterCard through Barclays, and if you use it to purchase US Airways tickets you’ll earn double the miles, as well as 15,000 bonus miles on your first purchase and another 15,000 miles if you make $750 in purchases during the first 90 days you have the card.
Lather, Rinse, Repeat – We`ve Done This Before
Of course, this deal wouldn`t be the first time that airlines merged – we`ve recently seen the merging of Northwest with Delta, and United and Continental. In both these cases, the airlines had to decide what to do with their frequent flyer programs and how to accommodate customers from the airline being acquired.
Usually, airlines strive to make this process easy for customers. When Delta and Northwest merged, they folded Northwest`s WorldPerks program into their SkyMiles program, replaced members` cards, and added their Northwest miles to their new Delta accounts. However, Northwest`s WorldPerks members did have to initiate the changeover by first creating an account with Delta and then asking to link their WorldPerks account to their new SkyMiles account.
In other words, if this merger does happen, members of the AAdvantage program as well as Dividend miles customers should keep an eagle eye out to see what, if anything, they will have to do to safeguard their miles and make sure they hold on to their rewards in the case of a shake-up. Make sure to go to your preferred airline`s website to stay abreast of the latest news from your frequent flyer program.