With the final merger hurdle being settled today with the DOJ, American Airlines and US Airways are basically on their way to becoming the world’s largest airline. There were concessions to the government in the settlement, of course, including:
Under the deal, the airlines would get rid of airport terminal gates, take off and landing slots, and ground facilities in Boston, Chicago, Dallas, Miami, Los Angeles, LaGuardia in New York and Ronald Reagan National airport in Washington, DC.
But what the majority of you would probably like to know is how the combined frequent flier program will roll out for the 2014 program year. And my apologies for the semi-misleading headline as I don’t know the exact specifics – I put it in quotes anyway. But that’s what we’re all waiting for, right?!
You have to know that whatever Parker’s plan was for AAdvantage has been ready for months. And I wouldn’t be surprised if it’s announced within the next two weeks (my money is on this week).
I previously speculated how the new program might look, and I’d like to add a few additional predictions here:
- With both United and Delta increasing award redemption rates in 2014, I fully expect American to match some/all of them.
- American will most certainly adopt a four-tier elite system – Silver, Gold, Platinum and Executive Platinum – as well as retaining the invitation-only Concierge Key level.
- While it might be a nice postponement, I fully expect the new AAdvantage to implement a revenue requirement for elite status beginning in 2014 a la Delta and United. After all, we’re talking about Parker running the merged company.
- What about upgrades? Maybe American will keep the “any fare” policy for international upgrades using SWUs (Systemwides), but if that’s the case, I think they’ll be highly aggressive in restricting inventory with the “new” US Airways-heavy crew at the inventory management helm. But my money is on new fare-class restrictions.
- Complimentary upgrades for all elites domestically? Sure… they’ve gotta match the competition. Sorry EPs, your current exclusive benefit will be coming to an end.
- On the positive side, I think there will be enough of the legacy Amercian AAdvantage folks around that in 2014, we’ll see more promotions from American than Delta or United, including double miles, double elite miles, route bonuses, fare class bonuses, etc.
Those are a few of my initial thoughts. What do you think? Will we have a full announcement soon, or am I totally off base. Or will they go through their merger pains for the next year as Delta/Northwest and United/Continental did and delay such an aggressive frequent flier program adjustment until 2015?
– Follow Darren Booth on Twitter, @FrequentlyFlyin, for more airline, hotel and travel industry news, reviews and opinions.