The rumored date is June 11th and it comes from a traditionally reliable source for American Airlines info, JonNYC of Traveling Better. This isn’t terribly surprising given recent comments by an American Airlines spokesperson in a Wall Street Journal article.
Why is this important? Even though it’s logical to think that the two large airlines will take a long time to merge their operations, customers want to benefit from the merger now. Sure, it’s nice to be able to get credit for flights on US Airways if you’re an elite with American Airlines and vice versa. But, upgrades and other status benefits are much more enjoyable and customers don’t want to hear they need to wait a year.
And they likely won’t, with this change seeming to happen in less than 2 weeks. If the tea leaves tell us the truth, it’s happening a bit differently than I thought, which likely illustrates technical difficulties in pulling off something more complicated quickly:
The rumors are that upgrades will not happen in advance according to the normal elite timeframes. That means if you’re an Executive Platinum with American Airlines, the only way you’ll likely be able to score an upgrade on a US Airways flight is if it’s nowhere near full. I’m not a fan of the system US Airways employs, where all elites get free upgrades. That generally means the front cabin is going out full and likely is full before you get to the gate.
It’s rumored that US Airways elites will pay for upgrades on American Airlines flights using some hybrid of the current “sticker” system, where it costs $30-$35 per 500-mile upgrade.
If these are truly what’s coming on June 11th, I think both sets of elite members will be underwhelmed. It beats a sharp stick in the eye, but American elites won’t score many upgrades and US Airways elites probably won’t like paying for the occasional upgrade.
For me, the information I’m really waiting to hear is whether the New American will be counting elite qualifying miles from both your American Airlines and US Airways flight activity in 2014 to determine status levels for 2015. If that’s the case I’ll likely have a shorter path to Executive Platinum. If not, more flying to do.
If you’re an American Airlines elite member, how do you feel if you’re on the upgrade list (but at the bottom) on US Airways flights in a couple weeks?
If you’re a US Airways elite member, how do you feel about paying for upgrades on American Airlines flights?