When I wrote yesterday that the process to move to a single reservation system for American would begin in July, and be completed within 90 days — meaning the end of “US Airways” flights sometime in October — several readers asked about US Airways companion certificates issued by Barclays to cardholders of the legacy US Airways Visa (now AAdvantage Aviator Red).
Note that these certificates were the ones that came each year with the US Airways card, not the new companion certificates that come with the AAdvantage Aviator Silver card after $30,000 spend in a year that are explicitly valid on American flights.
An American spokesperson told me that they’re “Working on this right now, with details to follow. Once American gets to the schedule change, all flights 90 days into the future will be American flight numbers and the reservations team will have a workaround.”
So the answer is that there isn’t actually a final determination on exactly how this will work yet. However,
- We know that there are certificates valid for booking through September 30, for travel through December 31. Those are only valid for US Airways flights, and not for American flights.
- It’s pretty unthinkable that the certificates won’t be honored under the terms on which they were issued.
- But 90 days after the start of the integration process (slated for July, meaning effective sometime in October) there won’t be any more US Airways flights.
That tells me that starting at some point in July, for travel at some point in October through the end of December, the certificates will have to be valid on American flights.
It seems to me that there would be only two alternatives to this:
- Don’t honor the certificates. Not only would that be a customer service problem, it’s potentially a regulatory problem given that it was a benefit provided through a credit card issuer.
- Program reservation systems to track ‘pre-existing US Airways flights’ in a way that would allow them to restrict certificate usage to a subset of American flights.
Dishonoring the certificates makes no sense. And the technological solution doesn’t make sense, either:
- at a time when American is trying to portray itself as a single airline
- when there are a limited number of certificates left, and a small window in which to use them
- while they have much bigger IT fish to fry
The juice, as they say, just wouldn’t be worth the squeeze.
So while an American spokesperson tells me they haven’t finalized this yet, it strikes me that the only option will be once the reservation system integration process begins to allow the US Airways credit card-issued companion certificates to be used on American flights.
That said, neither American nor Barclays are confirming it at this point. The most American would say is that there will be a workaround, not what the workaround will be.