The Switchover from US Airways to American Begins Next Saturday

Back in May I explained American’s ingenious path to combine to a single reservation system with US Airways.

That process begins next Saturday, July 18.

American begins the process of moving US Airways flights and reservations over to become American Airlines flights and reservations. It’s a 90 day process, so October 17 there will no longer be US Airways flights.

Starting next weekend, US Airways flights October 17 onward will be moved over to American’s reservation system. (They ran a test last month.)

And reservations that are already booked for travel on those flights will be moved over as well. They will have only American flight numbers and they will receive new American (Sabre) reservation numbers.

Only 10% of bookings are made over 90 days in advance. That means there will be a very small number of reservations that have to be migrated over to the American system.

Over the next 90 days beginning next weekend nearly all existing US Airways reservations will be flown and don’t have to get migrated.

What you need to know:

  • Once a reservation has been migrated American will send out an email with a new confirmation number. Travel agency, including online agency, bookings will take a little bit longer to migrate (since the issuing agency needs to make updates to the booking). Those should show up online by July 20.

  • American’s seat assignment, same day change, and pre-order meals for premium cabins will apply to these former US Airways flights. If you weren’t able to get a free premium seat from US Airways as an elite, once the flight moves over to American that should change!

  • These former US Airways flights will not offer complimentary upgrades to Gold and Platinum elite frequent flyers unless they’re under 500 miles.

  • If everyone on a former US Airways itinerary is eligible for a complimentary upgrade on domestic flight segments then upgrades will be auto-requested. That means Executive Platinums and all elites for flights up to 500 miles. Any upgrades you want for companions, or where upgrades aren’t complimentary (eg requite 500 mile upgrade certificates) will need to be requested.

  • For US Airways flights October 17 onward you’ll be able to waitlist for international upgrades (currently upgrade space is available or it isn’t and there’s no waitlisting).

The day the American-US Airways merger was announced, Doug Parker said clearly that they would learn from the reservation systems migrations of other mergers — this meant the disasters of US Airways/America West and United/Continental (where the smaller carrier’s system was adopted) and the relatively more successful integration of Delta/Northwest.

They made the choice of American’s reservation system official in January of last year but at the time said the transition could take ‘up to 2 years’.

For at least a year they’ve talked about avoiding a “knife’s edge” approach. They haven’t done a cutover of everything at once. This has lengthened the cutover process, but helps minimize risks. For instance they’ve already sunsetted the US Airways Dividend Miles program and transitioned everyone into American AAdvantage, and replaced US Airways account numbers with AAdvantage numbers in reservations.

So far they’ve done a good job — relatively little customer inconvenience. This looks like a good plan, and I wish them luck that it continues smoothly!

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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  1. any idea what happens to the companion certificates we got from the former barclays us airways credit card (now aviator)?

  2. What about the $99 companion certificates from the US AIr M/C sign-up? As per the terms, they seem to be eligible for US coded & operated flights only.

  3. @Jeff I just called US Airways and they told me that you will not be able to book American flights, even the ones that expire August 31st. You have heard differently?

    Also, for the new certificates, where you have to spend $30,000, do you know much about them and how they will be different? The person on US Air I called said they will be much more restrictive, even with the new threshold.

  4. We have 1st/bus award flights on us (booked with AA) in Jan and feb of 2016.

    Is there any reason these will somehow change to different times or seats or should the existing reservations be just fine?

  5. Is this true? Once a US reservation is switched to American, we’ll have go by those rules? So if I book a September US flight for myself and companion so we both get upgraded for free, and it gets changed to American sooner than later, I need to go in and request the companion upgrades with 500 milers?

  6. @heels05: The switchover will not occur sooner than scheduled. Next Saturday, a schedule change will go into effect that changes all US-operated flights *from October 17 onward* to be AA-operated flights. Flights before October 17 will not be affected by the schedule change. The whole point is to minimize the number of reservations that have to be changed (since 90% of flights are booked >90 days out), so they will not decide to change flights less than 90 days out. Therefore, your September US-operated flights will fly as US-operated flights with US upgrade rules.

    @Carl C: The schedule change next weekend will change January flights from being US operated to AA operated. That will almost certainly be the only change at this juncture; flight times, equipment, and even number (since all US-operated flights already have an AA codeshare with the same flight number) will not change. Of course, for a flight that far out, schedules often do change anyway, so you might get a time or equipment change between now and the flight, but it won’t be related to the end of the US Airways reservation system.

  7. @Gary or others.

    Do you know what this means for the US Airway$99 companion certificates? Can you advise what I should do? I haven’t book anything yet.

    Thanks,

    Bundy

  8. I currently have an international one-way AA award ticket (SIN-HKG-LAX-CLT-OMA) booked for March 2016, with the international segments on Cathay Pacific and the domestic segments on US Air flights. Will my Cathay Pacific segments be affected by the switchover, and what (if anything), should I be checking for once I receive the new record locator?

  9. How do I book flights? I am a USAirways retired employee my User name was [redacted] and password was [redacted]. What do i use now?

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