First Look at American-US Airways Combined Operations Today

I’m flying to Phoenix and back today to see how well the American Airlines-US Airways integration is going. Today is the first day of the combined operation where there’s no longer US Airways flights, only American flights and American reservations.

I decided to start the day early to see how things looked at the very beginning. And my goal was to fly on a legacy US Airways route, to a US Airways hub city, to get a real feel for how the US Airways side of things (the stuff that’s actually changing) was operating.

My upgrades cleared for both US Airways Express American Eagle regional jet flights at the same time, about 40 hours before the outbound and 48 hours from the return (despite both being wide open up front for days):

I fired up the mobile app yesterday afternoon. I wanted to wait until I was within the check-in period for not just my outbound but also my return flight. There was no problem checking in.

I woke up at 4:30 am this morning for my 6:05am departure. Left home at 5, at the airport less than 15 minutes later. At the airport American’s counters were the busiest, but not that much more so than normal for an early Saturday morning filled with leisure travelers — in fact, totally in sync with the slightly longer than usual security lines.

There was even a vacant kiosk spot, had I needed to use it.

All flights at the airport, American’s and otherwise, were showing on time.

I walked up to the club to chat with the agents there. They were happy the first (legacy American) flight had gone off on time. With nothing delayed, the lounge was fairly empty.

I don’t walk all the way down the terminal to the US Airways (and United) gates often in Austin. I got there just as boarding was scheduled to commmence. About 5 minutes later the agents started boarding passengers, which is perfectly fine for a regional jet.

The gate agent running the boarding process announced, “we just switched to a new computer system this morning and I’m still learning, so please be patient.” But everything went just fine, boarding passes (both paper and electronic) scanned just fine.

And an empty aircraft was steadily filled up with a stream of passengers.

In Austin at least — an outstation for legacy US Airways — everything proceeded smoothly on the first day of operations as American with a new computer system and some new processes employees had to use.

I’m not ready to declare the transition an unadulterated success — next stop is legacy US Airways hub Phoenix to see if a large scale transition causes any problem. The good news is that the departure getting there has proceeded so far smooth as silk.

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. Just flew LGA-ATL. LGA check in counters were pretty empty. We had a bunch of standbys which were processed in a timely manner. Boarding, taxiing and take off were on time. So far so good at LGA.

  2. I left LAX to ORD on an American flight and everything was normal today too. Flight was on time and no unusual abnormalities. So far so good!

  3. AA503 @7:35AM on legacy US route CMH-PHX off without a hitch. Standbys and upgrades processed smoothly. Boarding/departure on time. All CMH signage switched to AA when I arrived this morning.

  4. The problem will probably be the sandstorm. Apparently nature is against the merger! 🙂 Hope you don’t get stuck in PHX. Cheers!

  5. I understand trying to hide personal information and don’t want anything to be stolen, but what’s the point of hiding the AA flight number when you’ve included the gate number, the routing, and the date/time of the flight? It would take about ten seconds to find the flight number given that information…

  6. Boarding AA137 DFW-HKG now. Everything normal so far. I was a bit irritated this morning before my SFO-DFW flight tho. I was standing in the Priority line for my BP (OLCI not available). I was just about to be called up by a legacy AA agent who was processing check-ins quickly when someone who appeared to be directing things told me to go to the very last counter of the Main check-in area. A surly US agent there said she was not open yet. I inquired with the person in charge and was told “Just a minute; she needs to practice.” Umm Hmm. OK. I was early so decided to play along. 15 torturous minutes later I had my boarding passes, but not before the US agent told me I couldn’t travel because I did not have a visa for Hong Kong. I was oh-so-happy to deal with US employees in the past when any frustration with their lack of knowledge was far outweighed by being able to hoodwink them into a trip to the moon and back for 123 miles. Now without that upside I’m not looking forward to dealing with them as much. 🙂

  7. Flew DFW-CLT with a departure time of 5:15am from the E terminal. Everything appeared to process smoothly. It was kind of strange seeing the American brand all over the E Terminal where US Airways used to be.

  8. US Airways crews will still be wearing their same uniforms, as will the AA crews. Everyone will get new uniforms in the near future. ID badges will also continue to show US Airways for some time.

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