US Air to Acquire American Airlines & What it Means For You

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I was wrong, and The Department of Justice approved the “merger” between US Air and American Airlines yesterday.  Even though this is referred to as a “merger,” it is really US Air and their management team taking over American Airlines and keeping the American Airlines name.

Us Air Acquire American Airlines

US Air Gets the Okay to Take Over American Airlines.

This is very similar to when Continental took over United Air and kept the United name.

I’m personally not a fan of the merger.  It almost certainly means higher prices for air tickets and reduces the incentive for the merged company (as well as other airlines) to have a good frequent flyer program.

The settlement also says that the airline will maintain their current hubs for 3 years in Charlotte, New York (JFK), Los Angeles, Miami, Chicago (O’Hare), Philadelphia, and Phoenix.  After 3 years, all bets are off and you can certainly expect some of the East Coast hubs to lose flights.  That’s because the combined airline can make more money by closing some of those hubs and forcing folks to connect in other cities.

So what does this mean for our miles and points?

US Air Credit Card

Barclays currently issues the US Air credit card.  The best current offer is for 35,000 US Air miles after your 1st purchase and which waives the 1st year annual fee.

This is a better offer than the link which pays me a commission (click the link to compare offers, but do NOT apply for this version), but which offers you only 30,000 miles and does NOT waive the $89 annual fee.

This card is unlikely to be around in the next 12 months so you may as well get 35,000 US Air miles now, which will eventually become American Airlines miles.

US Air Will Leave Star Alliance and Join OneWorld

US Air is currently a member of the Star Alliance (the same alliance as United).

Us Air Acquire American Airlines

US Air Will LEAVE The Star Alliance

But US Air will leave the Star Alliance very shortly and joint the Oneworld alliance which includes American Airlines, British Airways, Cathay Pacific, etc.

Us Air Acquire American Airlines

US Air Will Soon Join American Airlines in the Onewold Alliance

Combine US Air and American Airlines Miles

During previous mergers, for example between Continental & United or Southwest & Air Tran, you were able to transfer points or credits between the merging airlines.

Similarly, for a limited period, you may be able to transfer your US Air miles to American Airlines miles or your American Airlines miles to US Air miles.  I’ll keep you posted if this happens!

Award Booking Strategy

If you want to book awards to Europe or Asia, book them now while US Air is still part of the Star Alliance.  That’s because the Star Alliance usually has more award seats to Europe (and no fuel surcharges) and to Asia.

If you want to book award seats to South America, wait until you can transfer your US Air miles to American Airlines miles or until US Air is part of the Oneworld alliance.  That’s because American Airlines has better award availability to South America.

You also have a short period of time to take advantage of some of the great redemption options with US Air miles, such as being able to fly to Asia with a stopover in Europe for only 60,000 miles in coach, 90,000 miles in Business Class, and 120,000 miles in First Class.

Use British Airways Avios on More Flights

You can use British Airways Avios for short-distance flights within the US.  This is a great deal on some flights, because you pay less when you use British Airways miles than when you use other airlines’ miles.

For example, it is only 4,500 British Airways miles for a 1-way award from Kansas City to Chicago on American Airlines.

But that same flight would cost 12,500 miles if I had used American Airlines miles.

Once US Air and American Airlines combine, you will be able to use your British Airways Avios points on additional flights which are currently operated by US Air.

Bottom Line

Expect higher prices and a less generous frequent flyer program in the long-run because of US Air acquiring American Airlines.

But in the short-term, you can stock up on 35,000 US Air miles, which will eventually become American Airlines miles.

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40 responses to “US Air to Acquire American Airlines & What it Means For You

  1. give arrival bonus is going away in jan, should i get us airways or arrival?

  2. I may do a google search, but can you transfer American Airlines miles into British Airways Avios to make those short domestic flights, or do you have to already have the miles as Avios?

    If you can transfer, how do you do it, and where do you check availability?

  3. Do you think there will be an increase in miles needed for reward flights? Will the saver flights be going away in favor of the (very high) amounts needed for US Airways rewards?

  4. Hmmm, now that I know US Airways is taking over American I’m a bit concerned, I’d thought it would be the other way around. Living in the Northeast I cannot stand US Airways, I’ve had far too many bad experiences, like not loading an entire PLANE of luggage because it was raining. And then leaving all the luggage on the tarmac to get soaked (no joke, once I finally got my bag 3 days later it and everything inside was soaked).

    I’m also concerned about miles because US Airways requires far more miles than American.

    Also having seen what the TWA/ American takeover did to hubs years ago this doesn’t bode well for small hubs and the employees who work there.

  5. Daraius, do you know when these changes will begin to be implemented? Also, remind me, is the US airways card churnable. I really hope everything pans out okay with this merger; AA is pretty much my only option out where I live!

  6. Do you have a link to the US Air credit card 35K point offer?

    • @kris – Where did you hear that the Arrival bonus is going away? I’d pick the card which offers the most value to you. If you travel within the US on coach tickets, you’re likely better off with the Arrival. If you travel in first or business class international, the US Air miles could be better.

      @taylor – You have to have British Airways Avios to book those flights and can’t transfer American Airlines miles to Avios. You can check availability for those flights on the American Airlines website.

      @Bob – Not in the short term, but I’m sure we’ll see increases in the long-term.

      @karen P – I agree. The US Air management team will aggressively cut costs which doesn’t bode well for travelers and employees.

      @Toni – These changes will happen over the next 12 to 18 months.

      @Nancy – There is a link to it in the post!

  7. Does this mean that US Air will disappear, United will leave Star Alliance – leaving NO domestic Star Alliance carrier for the USA?

  8. Daraius,

    There is also the business version of the card (25,000 bonus Miles with your first purchase for $79 annual fee).

    Is it worth it get both? And, how long do you recommend waiting to apply for the business card after having the personal version (is Barclay like Citi)?

  9. Neither AA or US air have said the FF programs will be merged with all miles eventually becoming AA miles. Based on recent history with the airlines and major hotel chains, it is also possible US Air miles will be valid on US Air flights only + *A until the merger is complete and the US Air brand ceases to exist. At that time, peoples US Air accounts would be zeroed out and deleted. Whether this happens or not is unknown, but based on the current environment , it is a possibility. I think you should recommend they use their miles now and consider it a bonus if they transfer later to AAvantage miles. My 2 cents

  10. The link below is for $35,000 miles after first purchase, fees waived first year.

  11. Calm down, folks. Good grief. Jan 7 2014 is the date that has been announced for reciprocal benefits. It is ridiculous in the extreme to suggest that consumers should worry about having their US accounts “zeroed out.” There should be NO DOUBT that consumers will be able to combine their US and AA miles — and, based on the strong wording from the leadership team, they’d want to make this happen in early 2014.

  12. The merger is really bad for all of us.
    So do you have any idea until when I’d need to use my m&m miles on U.S., meaning when will they leave *A?

  13. Pingback: best ways to redeem M&M miles on *A with low YQ/YR & worth buying points? - FlyerTalk Forums

  14. @Andrew The US Airways business card seems to be 35,000 (not 25,000) but with an up front fee

    Combined it seems reasonable, as you’re getting 70,000 for $79, add this to American’s sign up amounts you could be sitting on 100,000 AAdvantage miles in 12 months for $79 if you cancelled respective cards before the 1 year (assuming you can merge in that time too!)

  15. @Anthony It is 25,000 for most people because you have to do $10,000 balance transfer in order to get the other 10,000 and not too many people willing to do that and pay the fee.

  16. Just a quick question here. I have booked a flight (outbound United, inbound US AIR) that will put me over 25,000 miles and get me United elite status for 2014. My question is, if I have already booked this ticket on US AIR, will I still earn the medallion qualifying miles for United if the merger goes through before then? I was told by the United representative that that would still count, but to be honest, I didn’t trust her very much. Any thoughts?

  17. Daraius, I’m wondering if you could give me some advice. Do you think AA miles will be transferrable to Dividend Miles? (Most people ask about the other way around.) I assume so, but once that’s possible, do you think it would still be possible to book a US/*A ticket?

    I’m looking at Mexico-S Asia RT in business for 90K for my family of five, but am a bit short. I’m still churning CCs but think I might be near the end of my ability to do so with Barclays. But of course, I’ve got plenty of AA miles that can help. 🙂

    Just wondering if that’s a possibility. Curious what you think—thanks!

  18. Hello Darius,

    long time reader. Great post. Do you happen to have the link to the card? The link with the anchor text “35,000 US Air miles after your 1st purchase” goes to a flyertalk forum page but no credit card link.



  19. I would like to book round trip ticket using my dividend miles in next year for my parents trip from south asia. I called US Airways office but they dont see any availability for entire months.. Is there better tool to check when seats will be released and how to find seat availabiltiy in partner star alliance airlines. I used United and i see availability of seats but as per US Airways its not released to them. What does that mean?

  20. 1. I assume using USAIR miles to book United flights domestically is next to impossible now. Am I correct? If I still can, how far in advance do you think I can do it? As you told me in an email I sent you, I will not be able to be re-deposit those miles once the merger takes place, correct?

    2. When you say we will be able to transfer AA miles to USAIR miles and vice versa, what would be the benefit of doing that?

    3. The only thing I liked about AA ff program is that outside of United, they allowed one-way award travel. There’s no way in the world this merger will allow one-way award travel. What do you think?

    4. How long before the merger becomes official and we will start receiving communication from USAIR czar regarding their timetables for the merger judging from past mergers?

    5. I have both a USAIR personal and business credit cards but I don’t have an AA credit card. Should I apply for one now or wait until the merger takes place.

    If you think DL and UA devalued their award chart, wait until this merger(ed) award chart comes out in a year or so.

  21. Hi, I have many credit cards, and now I would like my wife to sign up for either an AA or US Air credit card on her own. She does not work. Can she just list my salary on her application? Thanks

  22. looking forward to using avios on shuttle flights!

  23. I don’t think it is US Airway acquires American Airline. According to released future share holder steak: US airway shareholder will own New AA 28%, and AMR shareholder will own remaining 72%. I don’t see any evidence US airway acquires American Airline, US Airway management step in is one part of the deal.

  24. Has anyone mentioned that the merger is likely going to delay any plan for award mileage devaluation?

  25. @Anthony Thomas and @Newman

    I am not going to do a $10,000 balance transfer in order to get the other 10,000 points. However, $79 for an extra 25,000 points, 60,000 total with both cards, is a great deal. Only two first purchases required. I am just a novice with Barclay. Will Barclay accept two applications in a short timeframe?

    Recently accepted for the personal version. Wondering when I can acquire the business version.

    • @The Mean Farmer – United won’t leave Star Alliance.

      @Andrew – Barclays is tightening on applications, so I’d only apply for cards which you really want from Barclays.

      @Joe – There is virtually no chance that US Air would wipe out everyone’s mile account and not let you transfer them to American Airlines miles.

      @aqua – I’d guess they would leave at the latest by the end of March 2014.

      @Aneel – Good question. If you fly after the merger and the US Air segment earns AA miles it is unlikely that it will count towards United’s qualifications.

      @pcg – It is a possibility based on history with previous mergers. But I can’t say for sure if that will happen here.

      @Andy – Check the wiki in that FlyerTalk page for the link!

      @ Mehul – Wait for my series on award routes to India and then piece it together yourself on the United website. And then call US Air to book and feed them the flights segment-by-segment. Or hire an award booking service.

      @Billy D – Search on the united website for low-level awards and then call US Air to book those same flights. The benefit of transferring is to take advantage of the different routes and increases/decrease in the amount of miles required for certain flights. I don’t suspect that the merger will eliminate 1-way awards. You could apply for the AA card now if you need their miles.

      @Todd – She can list it if you’re in a community property state or enters it in the “other” field.

  26. I guess you could also launch a contest a and they will find you the best route for your miles. Much better and cheaper service than the other award booking services.

  27. Rumor has it that US airways mastercard may be converted to the arrival card. If that was the case, should we apply for the arrival card before the conversion (otherwise we would not get the bonus for the arrival card?)? Thanks.

  28. new: I suspect Barclays would inform you in advance of such a conversion. You would be given a choice of converting the card or closing it. If you then choose to convert your US Airways card or close it that will eliminate your concern.

  29. Trying to get award flights from Dulles to JNB in July on SA airlines via my US Air dividend miles.
    July 11th and return on the 23rd, any suggestions to get biz class award seats? Not seeing any availability on the website and talked to an agent last night. Help?

  30. Daraius,

    Since the annual fee is waived for the first year, and this card will likely not be around in the next 12 months, does this mean that there will be no annual fee to pay? What will happen to cardholders? Will it be transferred to an AA card? Thanks.

    • @j pile – Search on the United website, write down flight information and then call US Air to book.

      @David – It means that Barclays could transition you to a Barclays Arrival card which will have a fee after the 1st year.

  31. You recommend getting the Barclays US Air card now, but what about the Citi Platinum Select AAdvantage card? Didn’t United introduce a new card (Explorer) with a new signup bonus after the merger with Continental? Do you expect the same to happen here, or do you expect Citi to continue offering the same AAdvantage card (and therefore no new signup bonus)?

  32. Question-if I have mid tier status in both AA and USAIR, should I pick one and use that number exclusively??

    • @Ann – There are reports that seat selection etc. privileges aren’t possible to make online if you use, say, US AIR number on an American Airlines flight. So I’d use both numbers as the miles will eventually get pooled.

  33. at present when booking us airways flights you can use American frequent flyer number and also get pre boarding according to your status with American , also preferred seating is offered, I just call us airways and have them change my frequent flyer number and then they give me my seats according to my status

  34. Pingback: Why You Should Choose Your Barclays Cards Wisely | Million Mile Secrets