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If you read this blog very much you know that due to where I live, I don’t spend most of my flight time on either US Airways or American Airlines except when I am using miles or points. I love US Airways points for other Star Alliance airlines (and their Envoy Suite I flew a few days ago wasn’t bad either), and I like American Airlines because British Airways Avios can be used very effectively for some short hops from hub to hub in the US. Read this post for some of the perks of booking flights on American using Avios.
Now no one knows what a combined US Airways and American Airlines frequent flyer program will look like (though we know the great US Airways Star Alliance awards will be gone), but we do pretty much know that there will be more good Avios domestic redemptions as a result since those awards are priced and booked via British Airways, and are only tied to American Airlines saver award availability, and not any specific American Airlines award chart. For example, with the US Airways network joining the American Airlines and OneWorld family, I would now have access to direct flights from Houston to Phoenix, Charlotte, and Philadelphia using Avios (at least based on the current US Airways route map, which I am sure will be tweaked some).
Based on the current BA Avios distance based system for OneWorld partners, flights from Houston to Phoenix or Charlotte would be 7,500 Avios each way, and Houston to Philadelphia would be 10,000 Avios each way. This is less than the typical 12,500 each-way/25,000 miles round trip it would have previously cost on these routes via US Airways or American Airlines miles. Those destinations combined with other direct flights to current AA hubs like Dallas, Chicago, Miami, LA, and NYC give a fair number of destinations that my family can get to for a relatively few number of Avios – especially if transfer bonuses from Membership Rewards happen again in the future.
There will be many changes coming from this merger, and not all of them will be good, but as always, there will be some small victories along the way. This is likely to be one of those for those who like to travel to some domestic destinations via miles and points. Fingers crossed that the two airlines take some of the strengths from each others frequent flyer programs instead of creating a new one that is less than the sum of its two parts…