American and US Airways to Combine Programs Within 30 Days, Plus More Answers (Million Mile Status etc)

Following yesterday’s communication from the US Airways side that Dividend Miles would be folded into American AAdvantage in April, American is out today with more information.

  • The programs will be combined ‘within 30 days’
  • Redeemable and elite qualifying miles will be combined on a 1-to-1 basis at that time. (We already knew this — and this means 2014 elite qualifying miles for 2015 status as well as 2015 elite qualifying miles towards next year’s status as well.)
  • Million mile balances will be combined 1-to-1 as well. This was always the likely scenario but many US Airways members wondered if their balances would be re-calculated based on the more generous formula (counting miles from all sources) that American used to use. That won’t happen.

In advance of the integration — and as I would expect with a complex data migration project that will involve over 100 million separate database records once complete (!) — they’re going to begin to lock down their systems.

  • They’re going to stop ‘linking’ accounts before the programs merge. This page says March 20.
  • They’ll presumably stop allowing new enrollments in Dividend Miles before the date the programs actually combine.
  • “Dividend Miles award bookings and mileage upgrade requests will be disabled a few days before we combine programs”

They have to start locking down pieces of the equation to reduce the chances of error. In fact, I would expect that at some point prior to the data migration they’ll stop posting miles to Dividend Miles as well, and wait to post them to American AAdvantage after the cutover instead.

The two airlines will continue to operate separately until they transition to a single back-end system at the end of the year.

  • US Airways will continue to offer unlimited complimentary upgrades to all elites, both from American and US Airways (really, there will just be American AAdvantage elites when the programs combine). All American elites, even Golds and Platinums, will be eligible for complimentary upgrades on US Airways flights at the standard upgrade windows.
  • American will be the surviving program and when the two airlines start operating as one theirs will be the surviving upgrade system (complete with 500 mile upgrades, that US Airways elites will be given). While operating separately the current American upgrade process applies to American flights.

If you haven’t already:

  1. Link your American and US Airways accounts to help ensure a smooth transition for your miles.
  2. Book any awards you want using the US Airways chart (which allows a stopover and more flexible routings than AAdvantage, but requires roundtrip flying)
  3. Get the US Airways credit card, that will go away for new applications once the programs merge.

About Gary Leff

Gary Leff is one of the foremost experts in the field of miles, points, and frequent business travel - a topic he has covered since 2002. Co-founder of frequent flyer community InsideFlyer.com, emcee of the Freddie Awards, and named one of the "World's Top Travel Experts" by Conde' Nast Traveler (2010-Present) Gary has been a guest on most major news media, profiled in several top print publications, and published broadly on the topic of consumer loyalty. More About Gary »

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Comments

  1. The “disabling” of US Airways award bookings “a few days” before the programs merge “within thirty days” is a bit ominous.

    Presumably this disabling will be permanent. It would be really nice if they gave a firm date for the last day to book US Airways awards.

  2. @gavinmac of course it will be permanent in that they will close down awards, then migrate the programs, and then there will be only AAdvantage awards to book.

  3. @Asked – presumably once the migration occurs and there are only AAdvantage upgrade certificates those certificates will be valid on US Airways flights

  4. Have they posted anything as far as how the mileage expiration date will be calculated once the accounts are combined? For example if an AA account currently has a mileage expiration date of 01 Aug 2015 and the US account currently has a mileage expiration date of 01 Dec 2015, what will apply after the merge?

  5. @Ryan since it’s based in both programs on 18 months since last account activity, you’ll get the longer expiry… (they claimed in the fall that each transaction would maintain its original posting date, and the data migration itself wouldn’t appear as a transaction, so accounts wouldn’t get reset with 18 months of expiration from the date of migration)

  6. Gary — What do you suggest for combining miles from a now-deceased US Airways account?

    I haven’t flown US in about 3-4 years, and the last few flights I did with them were credited to United. But, in all, I’ve had at least 50k butt-in-seat miles with them, and I’d like these credited to my lifetime million-mile status with AA. Problem: US frontline agents (when you can get them on the phone) can’t locate my Dividend Miles account.

    Suggestions? I actually have many of the old US ticket stubs, but I’m not sure they’ll be worth anything to AA.

  7. Not sure if you discussed in another post, but are you expecting any change to the AA award chart when the programs merge in the next 30 days, or do you think it will come later?

  8. Really torn on this. I have enough miles to book a US-N.Asia in F award, which is 15k more on AA than US, so clearly I want to do it pre-merge. But the dates I want to fly won’t be bookable until shortly after the merge. Do I book it now, pay the $150 change fee (or whatever) and hope AA doesn’t charge me the extra 15k for a date change? Or is that unlikely and I’m going to end up paying the extra miles either way? Thoughts from anyone?

  9. Any concerns that if you sign up for the US Airways card now, and the miles don’t post until 30+ days (after the programs are combined), you won’t get the miles because they will try to be deposited in a now nonexistent US Airways account?

  10. @Danny, you may not need to pay change fee since, at least presently, date changes are free @ AA. However, I’m pretty sure you will be charged the difference in miles.

  11. Gary do we know if the reservation system will also be combined at the same time

    If not than how will Aadvatge customer service agents have access to US issued awards to do changes or cancellations as it not yet a combined res. system

  12. Can one still use the US Air companion certificate offered with the Barclay US Air card after the merger? We’re still on the fence about booking a weekend trip for the summer with the certificate vs spending Avios.

  13. I would welcome a blog post at some point reminding us what awards we should book with dividend miles before the merger (awards that are substantially more expensive in AAdvantage miles)

  14. @C Diddy – I am certain they have a mechanism in place for forwarding miles that post to US. That said, if you are concerned, create a US DM account (if you don’t have one) and link it to your AA account before you apply. The US Airways card is still taking applications, I wouldn’t worry.

  15. What is the latest travel date that can be booked by USDM? If I call in today, I can book the flight on Feb 13 , 2016?

  16. So here’s a question: I (unexpectedly) find myself as both an AA EXP and a US CP for 2015. As such, I currently have 8 SWUs and no 500s (I was EXP last year, too). After combining, should I expect another 8 SWUs? Any 500s? Or to simply silently lose my CP status (and US certs if I have not applied them by then)?

  17. Since we are ALL about points I have an interesting question. Should you apply for the Barclays US Air card and then appy for the Citi AA card and end up with 100k of points? Can you do this or is there a disadvantage?

  18. Gary:

    Within the last 2 months, I got both the Barclay Dividend Miles card and the Citi AAdvantage card and have received the 100K total bonus miles.

    1) After my Dividend Miles are merged into my AAdvantage account, if I do not use the Barclay card again (and do not renew it next year), will Barclay claw-back their 50K mile bonus–as I will not have had any card purchases “every 6 months” as required.

    2) Will it be necessary to also keep my Citi card active to keep from forfeiting all the miles then in my AAdvantage account–both those I got with the Citi bonus, miles from purchases, and those miles that transferred in from the Barclay’s Dividend Mile bonus?

    3) How do I keep all of my AAdvantage miles from being forfeited if I do not keep either the card from Barclay or the Citi card?

    Thanks.

  19. @AJ I have never heard of any documented case of claw back for an account kept open for 6 months. Just keep some activity in your account every 18 months, be it a points.com transfer of 1 mile in or say 4 miles out (free) or a shopping purchase through their portal or crediting of a rental car, etc.

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