Monday marked the official start of the integration process between American and US Airways, and that means limited access to benefits for both sets of elite members going forward. I think it’s important to note that we are very early in the integration process.
Earn and Redeem Miles On Both Carriers
You can now earn AAdvantage miles for your US Airways flights. And, you can redeem your AAdvantage miles for travel on US Airways and vice versa. They’ve said this can be done on their websites, but I’m certainly skeptical of the US Airways website in general. I’ll try some test bookings later today or tomorrow.
Additionally, you can early elite qualifying miles on both carriers. In theory, that means you can fly an American flight and credit it to US Airways. If it were me, I would credit as much as possible to AAdvantage since that’s the surviving program. Getting things posted correctly there early on may eliminate issues for you tracking such items down later in the year.
Some Elite Benefits Are Now Available, But Not the Biggie
If you’re entitled to free checked bags on one of the airlines, you’ll receive that benefit on the other. Priority boarding, security access and access to First and Business-class check-in is available across both airlines. What’s missing? Upgrades. I’m an Executive Platinum with American. At the moment, I can’t receive a complimentary domestic First Class upgrade.
US Airways and American Airlines have different ways that they process upgrades. US Airways gives complimentary domestic upgrades to all elite members. American uses a system of 500-mile upgrade certificates, only giving unlimited complimentary upgrades to it’s top-tier Executive Platinum members.
Reciprocal Lounge Access
American Airlines has 35 airport lounge locations that US Airways Club members will be able to use. Admirals Club members pick up new locations in places like Buffalo (okay, not exactly a metropolis and likely to close when it’s contract is up), Charlotte, Greensboro (see Buffalo), Hartford, more clubs in Philly (AA co-mingles with British Airways here), Phoenix, Pittsburgh, and Tampa.
We’re still early days of the integration. I wouldn’t expect perfection. And, if any of these specific benefits are things that are critically important to you, I’d stick with the carrier you currently have elite status with until there are more widespread reports that these benefits are working as intended. Unless you need to, an AAdvantage elite who needs to check bags for free on a flight should try and stick with American flights instead of trying to tempt fate and make sure everything works on a US Airways flight tomorrow.