US Airways and American Airlines legally merged in December 2013, but the two airlines maintain separate frequent flyer programs that will be combined at some point.

That’s all we know.

Chatter is heating up on the FlyerTalk thread for speculation about that future combined program that the combined program could be announced “probably in the next 2 weeks or so.” The predicted date for the combination of the two programs is March 1, 2015!

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We know that the US Airways® Premier World MasterCard® will no longer be offered as soon as the US Airways and American Airlines frequent flyer programs integrate. That means that the chance to earn 40,000 bonus miles after first purchase could disappear in just over four months. Check out all the places you can go with just the sign up bonus.

  • Why do I consider this most recent speculation very reliable?
  • What is the speculation for what the new program looks like?
  • What do I hope the combined program looks like?
  • What is the optimal strategy for the US Airways MasterCard?

Reliable Rumors?

The most recent speculation on the last two pages of the FlyerTalk thread (here and here) and on the Traveling Better forum feature input from JonNYC, a legendary source of inside info on American Airlines.

When he talks about what American Airlines is about to do or what its computers say a routing rule is, I believe him.

We can’t be 100% sure that we’re about to see an announcement that the US Airways and American Airlines frequent flyer programs will merge March 1, but I am going to make prudent preparations as if they will.

The Speculation

A week ago, poster “Col Ronson” suggested that an announcement would be made the following day: “From what i’ve heard there will be an announcement regarding the combined FFP tomorrow (Oct 17th). 80% positive.”

I didn’t post that speculation because I didn’t recognize the screen name as an American Airlines expert. (He/she very well may be.)

October 17 came and went with no announcement.

JonNYC first disagreed with Col Ronson, then reversed course and posted yesterday: “Allow me to retract, and apologize. While the Oct 17th date I believe was definitely an error, the underlying rumor I now believe to be true; that AA will announce the joint AA/US AAdvantage program very soon–probably in the next 2 weeks or so– maybe even a bit less.”

On Traveling Better, JonNYC added:

rumors now rampant that new program rules will take effect March 2015…

Several sources are calling this “AAdvantage stays AAdvantage” and it is being depicted as “largely good news” with some AA folks on the inside describing themselves as “very relieved.” But, no confirmed details that I can share at this juncture. AND, still could change up a bit.

This is all a bit cryptic. Does “AAdvantage stays AAdvantage” mean we can expect the same routing rules and regions without much price increase on the award chart? That would be a fantastic outcome indeed.

Realistic Hopes for the Combined Program

My dream for the combined program with my off-the-cuff probabilities for them in parentheses:

Also, I really want miles to be freely convertible from American to US Airways and vice versa for the time period between announcement of when the programs will combine and the combination date.

There was a period of free transferability between Continental and United miles during their integration. Similar combinability would be fantastic between American and US Airways because the programs have different partners, routing rules, and award charts. You could pick the better program for your next award.

Let’s put the probability of this happening at 50%.

The alternative would be no combinability now and forced combination of accounts on the integration date.

Full post on the dream combination of the programs.

US Airways Card Strategy

If you don’t have this card and you want to fly internationally in the coming years, you should get the card and its 40,000 mile bonus before it disappears. No new applicants can get the card once the programs combine. Existing cardholders will have the card converted to an American Airlines card, and their existing miles will become American Airlines miles.

If you do have the card, you may be able to get it again like the MileValue reader who got the card and its bonus three times.

From reading first-hand reports, you have a better chance of a new approval if you don’t currently have a US Airways card open, though people have been able to have two open at once.

Application Link: US Airways® Premier World MasterCard®

When we get concrete details on the integration of AAdvantage and Dividend Miles into one program, I’ll give it full coverage including the new program’s sweet spots. Until then, speculate away in the comments.

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