Mark October 17, 2015 as the day that marks the final disappearance of another U.S. airline. This is the day that American Airlines retires the U.S. Airways brand for good.
Although the intention to merge the two airlines was originally announced on February 14, 2013, the actual merger didn’t occur until December of that year.
Since that time, the two carriers have continued to operate as separate entities. How will the disappearance of U.S. Airways affect your travel plans? The UNIGLOBE experts are here to explain.
Will the disappearance of U.S. Airways affect my travel plans?
American has set up a very good plan for the phase-out of the US Airways code. Rather than it occurring all on one day, there is a gradual approach – starting back in mid-July, all flights purchased for travel on or after October 17 will only be available in the AA code. Knowing the typical proportion of flights that are purchased for travel within 90 days, that will leave a very small number of outstanding US Airways tickets when they perform their system integration on October 17.
However, knowing the past challenges with airline systems integration projects, there will surely still be some bumps in the road. Our biggest recommendation is to avoid traveling on AA or US on or shortly after October 17. Until October 17, the two separate airlines continue to operate separately, and you’ll continue to check in with whichever airline is operating your flight.
Will I lose my loyalty miles when the merger becomes final?
No, the two loyalty programs have already merged, with Dividend Miles members being merged into the AAdvantage program. Until October, you will continue to earn miles when traveling with either U.S. Air or American, as well as other oneworld carriers and partners. Until October, you may find that elite upgrades may vary, depending on the carrier.
If you are a Dividend Miles member who has had access to the U.S. Airways lounges, your Dividend Miles card will allow you to have the same access to American’s Admiral’s Club lounges—many of which are being upgraded—until you receive your renewal card. Although all U.S. Airways Club lounges have been renamed Admiral’s Club, you may find differing amenities and services available until the final merge.
Will all aircraft be painted American colors by October?
No, although all flights will be operated by American, the painting of aircraft will take a couple of years to complete, so you may be on a U.S. Airways plane for a while yet.
What will the future bring for the “new” American Airlines?
While the systems integration and retiring of the one brand are technically one of the final steps of an airline merger, what we’ve seen from past experience with other airlines is that there will continue to be bumps in the road for the combined entity. Company culture and employee integration can often continue to affect passenger experiences well after the merger is complete. Additionally, as the airline settles into its newly expanded network, they will eventually begin to rationalize some of their services where the hubs provide overlapping coverage (such as between PHL, DCA, JFK and CLT).