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The announcement is fantastic news, honestly much better than I expected.
As a reminder, the parent companies of the airlines legally merged in December 2013, but the two airlines still have separate operating certificates and loyalty programs.
Now we know that Dividend Miles and AAdvantage will integrate into one program (still called AAdvantage) between April and June 2015. American Airlines hopes to operate under one operating certificate (eliminate the US Airways brand) within six months of that.
The combination of the frequent flyer programs has ramifications for elites to do with status benefits, upgrades, and earning levels. I’ll save those for another post.
This post will deal with the ramifications for those of us who want to earn and redeem American Airlines and US Airways miles.
- What will the new award chart be?
- Will miles be freely convertible before the combination?
- When will the US Airways card disappear?
We’ll get a chance early next year to match our US Airways and American Airlines’ frequent flyer accounts. That will make transition easier.
Then in the second quarter of 2015, the accounts will be combined on a 1:1 basis.
If you have 50,000 miles in your American Airlines account and 50,000 in your US Airways account, you will have 100,000 American Airlines miles when the programs combine.
There will be no way to transfer miles between American and US Airways accounts at any point prior to the combination. That’s a small bummer, but overall today is overwhelmingly good news.
The 1:1 combination means you can rack up both American Airlines and US Airways miles now and then have a big total balance in 2015.
Citi issues the Citi® / AAdvantage® Platinum Select® MasterCard® with 50,000 bonus miles after spending $3,000 in the first 3 months, and Barclaycard issues the US Airways® Premier World MasterCard with 50,000 bonus miles after first purchase, so anyone can get both, which is a good idea if you are serious about collecting American Airlines miles.
New Award Chart
This is the big one. American and US Airways have the best two award charts in North America, since Delta and United gutted theirs in the last year. Here is a post where I compare all four charts in all three cabins.
According to Suzanne Rubin, President of AAdvantage, as relayed by One Mile at a Time and View from the Wing: there will be no change to the American Airlines award chart at the time of integration with US Airways.
That means from the second quarter of 2015, these will be the roundtrip business class award prices with the three major programs, all of which will allow one ways for half the price.
American will have the cheapest program almost everywhere in the world in almost all cabins.
I firmly expected a new chart at integration that was worse than the current American Airlines chart. I still expect we’ll get a worse chart at some point, maybe 2016, but that feels like an eternity away.
The fact that we are keeping the same chart at integration means that if you get the Citi® / AAdvantage® Platinum Select® MasterCard® and the US Airways® Premier World MasterCard® this year, you’d have almost enough miles for a roundtrip in Business Class to Europe next summer.
The roundtrip to Europe in Business Class will stay 100,000 miles versus 115,000 to 140,000 charged by competitors. The American Airlines card offers 50,000 miles after spending $3,000 (53,000 total miles after spending requirement) and the US Airways card offers 50,000 miles after first purchase. Next year, you’d have at least 93,000 American Airlines miles and more if you continued spending on the cards.
Existing routing rules for American Airlines awards will continue. Check out the basic rules here.
- One ways are permitted for half the price of roundtrip awards (which also means you can have two open jaws on roundtrips)
- No stopovers greater than 24 hours other than the destination
- Restrictions on which regions you can transit on your way to other regions
End of the US Airways Card
We know that the US Airways® Premier World MasterCard® will no longer be offered to new applicants as soon as the US Airways and American Airlines frequent flyer programs integrate, some time in the second quarter of 2015. That means that the chance to earn 50,000 bonus miles after first purchase will disappear soon. Check out all the places you can go with just the sign up bonus.
All US Airways miles not redeemed on the US Airways chart by the time of integration will become American Airlines miles. The two types of miles are roughly equal in value.
Existing cardholders will have the card turned into an American Airlines card still serviced by Barclaycard.
In the second quarter of 2015, our American Airlines and US Airways’ miles balances will be combined and can be redeemed on the current American Airlines award chart with the current American Airlines routing rules.
This is a big win for us. It means, American Airlines will have by far the cheapest award chart for 2014 and 2015 if not beyond.
- Application Link: Citi® / AAdvantage® Platinum Select® MasterCard® with 50,000 bonus miles after spending $3,000 in first three months
- Application Link: US Airways® Premier World MasterCard® with 50,000 bonus miles after first purchase