MERGER: US and AA Dec 9 2013 implications for AA flyers (new)

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USA AMEX Platinum Members Lose Access to Admirals Club/US Airways Lounges March 22, 2014 (4 Dec 2013; not genuinely merger related, but a significant change).
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Old Dec 1, 13, 8:46 pm
  #31  
 
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Wild, unfounded speculation #1

Okay, I'll play.

I predict that the percentage of times my upgrades clear out of Toronto will go down from their current level of 100%. But then, that is bound to happen now that the 319 doing the DFW route.

Last edited by yyzAAguy; Dec 1, 13 at 8:47 pm Reason: couldn't get smilie to work
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Old Dec 1, 13, 8:55 pm
  #32  
 
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Originally Posted by nall View Post
The EQM thing probably would have happened eventually, anyway.

A $10k minimum spend on airfare or $25k minimum card spend does not seem that onerous to me, although they could always raise those later. I'd hope maybe AA would at least be friendly enough to include all partner spend (presuming the partner was willing to transmit the information) and not exclude taxes.
And then there is Concierge Key..... I enjoy the benefits, although sometimes unpredictable at the airport. I can see it re-branded into another semi-tier if it survives.
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Old Dec 1, 13, 9:53 pm
  #33  
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Originally Posted by uxb View Post
You can nominate this as long as I get credit for introducing this term all those months ago when AA dropped the BK ball on us.

http://www.flyertalk.com/forum/20242440-post76.html

UPDATE: This may be the earliest mention of it - http://www.flyertalk.com/forum/20236693-post3637.html


I've been calling Parker's company UScare for years.

Updated to reflect the new reality.
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Old Dec 1, 13, 10:12 pm
  #34  
 
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Perhaps when the merger actually happens we can start yet [another] thread with posts detailing what changes are in reality occurring with the merger rather than the wild and unsupported speculation we see here?
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Old Dec 1, 13, 10:36 pm
  #35  
 
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What if the new AA continues working hard to appease its frequent flyers and becomes profitable enough to make things even better...woah. /Keanu.
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Old Dec 1, 13, 11:02 pm
  #36  
 
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I definitely share the concerns about many of the likely "endangered" EXP perks (SWU's from any fare class, frequency of domestic upgrades, EQM's, status with no minimum buy-in, etc).

But I'm wondering if those who are more familiar with US know of any service or FF program attributes of US that are *better* than the AA counterpart, that they hope will come over via the merger? Haven't seen many mentioned thus far, but curious...
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Old Dec 1, 13, 11:11 pm
  #37  
 
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Originally Posted by nak_atx View Post
I definitely share the concerns about many of the likely "endangered" EXP perks (SWU's from any fare class, frequency of domestic upgrades, EQM's, status with no minimum buy-in, etc).

But I'm wondering if those who are more familiar with US know of any service or FF program attributes of US that are *better* than the AA counterpart, that they hope will come over via the merger? Haven't seen many mentioned thus far, but curious...
The one facet that comes to mind (some will consider this a pro, some will consider it a con) is that the US system offers unlimited upgrades (space available, of course) for all elite levels. There are no 500-mile upgrades required.
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Old Dec 1, 13, 11:40 pm
  #38  
 
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Originally Posted by nak_atx View Post
I definitely share the concerns about many of the likely "endangered" EXP perks (SWU's from any fare class, frequency of domestic upgrades, EQM's, status with no minimum buy-in, etc).

But I'm wondering if those who are more familiar with US know of any service or FF program attributes of US that are *better* than the AA counterpart, that they hope will come over via the merger? Haven't seen many mentioned thus far, but curious...
Here's the things I've seen mentioned in the US Air forum and/or the Barclays card threads:

Not having to pay $450 for a credit card that earns EQM
A $99 domestic companion certificate
Waived award processing fees for high CC spenders
No co-pays for elites to upgrade with miles (domestic only)
CP upgrades actually begin clearing at T-7 days (some might consider that a con)

Oh, and some cheaper award redemptions... but I think we all know how that will go.

Last edited by nall; Dec 1, 13 at 11:51 pm
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Old Dec 2, 13, 12:18 am
  #39  
 
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I may be the only person here concerned about this particular implication. I don't think it warrants a new thread.

Am I correct that, for the time being, there will still be two separate liveries flying? I ask because I write and update travel guidebooks. The "How to Get Here" sections for several Latin American countries presently include both AA and US, at the level of detail, for example, that "American flies from Miami and Dallas; US Airways flies from Charlotte," and not beyond that. I remember having a grace period where I was still able to mention both UA and CO following that merger.

I realize there could be some eventual consolidation of hubs, and a given Latin American destination might not receive flights from MIA, DFW, and CLT. For the time being, though, things shouldn't change too drastically?

Gracias.
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Old Dec 2, 13, 12:33 am
  #40  
 
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Lots of stuff to speculate on under the "implications for AA flyers" umbrella. Here's what's on my mind...

Clubs - Probably no closures, except at airports where both have clubs. Reciprocal access should come fairly quickly. AA's complimentary F&B amenities are already quite meager so it's hard to see cutbacks in that area. It will be interesting to note whether the paid food model continues. I wonder how profitable it really is for AA. Membership fees for the US clubs are less than for the AC, and there is no $50 first year fee. It is hard to believe that this will be rationalized in any way other than to quickly raise the US fees to the AC level.

SWUs - Chairman's Preferred (CP), the US EXP equivalent, get 4 SWUs per year (2 for member and 2 for companions). EXPs get 8 and all can be used by the member or all by companions or some combination. US SWUs can be used to upgrade any fare to any destination, but will upgrade only a single segment. So any connecting segments must be upgraded via the normal complimentary upgrade process. Clearly if the combined airline moved to the US scheme EXPs would be far worse off. I certainly hope and expect that those earning EXP in 2014 will get 8 SWUs with the current T&Cs. If not, they had better make an announcement ASAP.

Mileage upgrades - US requires fewer miles for domestic upgrades (up to 10K each way versus AA's 15K) and waives copays for all elites. On its face, US appears to be far more generous than AA but capacity controls may be tighter. Mileage upgrades are almost always available on AA domestic routes if you book far enough in advance.

Elite upgrades - US provides complimentary upgrades to all elites. AA requires Golds and Plats to pay for upgrades with "stickers". This one has been, and will be, debated ad nauseum and I have no idea where it will end up. Upgrade windows open earlier on US (7 days for CP versus 100 hours for EXP, for example). In general, the ratio of F to Y seats is less favorable in the US fleet, but I would not expect them to change the ratios on the current AA planes.

Companion upgrades - Both airlines upgrade a companion on the same PNR at the same time as the elite member, except at the airport. No companion upgrades are possible from the airport list. That is unfortunate, but it may be a US system limitation that would go away when they move to the AA system.

Onboard meals - AA is the most generous of all carriers, US is probably the least generous. Meals in F only if the flight is at least 3.5 hours, otherwise just a snack basket. Moving the combined carrier closer to the US scheme is an obvious way to cut costs and I fear that is exactly what will happen in short order. Perhaps not as draconian as US, but something like the DL model (snack basket if < 900 miles, cold meal if < 1500 miles, hot meal if over 1500 miles). And say goodbye to warm nuts.

Elite levels - US has a 75K level. I suspect the combined carrier will eventually have one too. If they make an interim attempt to provide reciprocal upgrades it will be interesting to see how they rank US Plats versus AA Plats.

MCE - US has no equivalent but the combined carrier will stick with the current MCE to be competitive with DL and UA.
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Old Dec 2, 13, 12:58 am
  #41  
 
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Originally Posted by uxb View Post
I think they'll likely introduce some sort of Elite Qualifying Dollar requirement (in line with UA and DL) to further cull the herd.
I hope that since they have the opportunity to rethink the program more than UA or DL really did in introducing MQDs, they'll approach this goal (which they do presumably have) in a less kludgey, less unfriendly to partners (particularly supposedly metal neutral joint venture partners) way. The obvious approach would be a stronger fare class weighting, either AA's own EQP system (without the EQM option) or a status credit/tier point system like BA and QF, which again has multipliers for premium fares more in line with the typical fare differences.
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Old Dec 2, 13, 1:07 am
  #42  
 
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and what about AA Lifetime Platinum? If they add a 75K tier, sounds like that would be a downgrade for us.
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Old Dec 2, 13, 1:51 am
  #43  
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Originally Posted by Stripe View Post
SWUs - Chairman's Preferred (CP), the US EXP equivalent, get 4 SWUs per year (2 for member and 2 for companions). EXPs get 8 and all can be used by the member or all by companions or some combination. US SWUs can be used to upgrade any fare to any destination, but will upgrade only a single segment. So any connecting segments must be upgraded via the normal complimentary upgrade process. Clearly if the combined airline moved to the US scheme EXPs would be far worse off. I certainly hope and expect that those earning EXP in 2014 will get 8 SWUs with the current T&Cs. If not, they had better make an announcement ASAP.
Your understanding of the US CP certificates is incorrect. While it's the closest thing to a SWU US has, it's a far cry from it.
- You are correct that a CP receives 2 for member and 2 for companion and if no companion, opportunity lost. The most a CP will fly on them each year is twice. Period.

- These certs can only be used for Europe/Middle East/S. America and Hawaii. For Europe/Middle East/S. America, they can be confirmed on any fare at any time in advance of travel. BUT availability is tightly restricted. So good luck with that. For Hawaii, they can be requested only within 7 days of travel. In both cases, they cover your entire journey, if available. So PHL-PHX-HNL can be all be upgraded with a single cert, if available, but 7 days out. So could PHX-PHL-LHR, but at any time.

- These certs cannot be used for any other flights in the system. I am a CP and I rarely use them. I don't fly US to Europe because of the drastic differences across the fleet in the onboard business class product, and I'm not willing to fly in economy in US' old 757s to Hawaii, so I'll only buy if I know I can immediately upgrade to F. Such as F is on this route -- but it's still far better than economy.

- You're confusing the single segment issue with mileage upgrades. That doesn't apply to CP certs. A couple years ago US cut pretty substantially the mileage required to upgrade domestic tickets using miles. But they went to a per-segment structure that's based on mileage flown. Highest level for a single domestic segment is 10K. (You can see the chart here.) That used to be 15K for a one-way, including all available segments. It sounds as though US does a lot more restricting of seats, though. It's often very hard to get seats in advance, as they come out of the same stingiest-in-the-industry award seat fare bucket as F awards.
In response to your other points (and others here) though, I am somewhat optimistic about things based on this analyst conference call statement by Scott Kirby, who is currently President and COO of US and will have the same role in the merged company:

"We will be a global carrier and will need to reflect such. Our direct competitors will be Delta and United. To that point, our product will be equal, if not better than that of Delta or United."

Parker has consistently echoed the same theme. To be that competitor, I don't believe the new AA can adopt much of what US got away with as an also-ran competitor. "Equal, if not better than Delta and United" doesn't look like the US approach to SWUs; it doesn't look like no meals until the flight crosses 3.5 hours; it doesn't allow you to be last place in award redemption; it requires a CME product across the fleet. I think they'll do all those things more like AA (UA and DL) does them now.

In the same vein, I also think they'll add a revenue component to elite qualification, like UA and DL. And I think they're likely to move the upgrade program to unlimited domestic upgrades for all elites. And they'll make up some of the revenue shortfall with more aggressive selling of F seats at cheaper price points on routes where they don't have a prayer of selling them at the higher levels. US is doing more and more of this (they did a ton of it at the old HP) -- and they're filling up a good portion of the F cabins well before elites get a shot at an upgrade. Similar to UA. (I don't know about DL). I think it's more Parker & Kirby's style to make money on directly selling the seats rather than on stickers.

What these guys do, very consistently, is make financial decisions. They always have. And we can expect them to do the same at the new AA. I don't believe they have any interest in making the new AA look like the old US. Except in cases where there is a compelling financial argument -- all things considered -- to do so.
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Old Dec 2, 13, 2:23 am
  #44  
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Originally Posted by nall View Post
Here's the things I've seen mentioned in the US Air forum and/or the Barclays card threads:

Not having to pay $450 for a credit card that earns EQM
A $99 domestic companion certificate
Waived award processing fees for high CC spenders
No co-pays for elites to upgrade with miles (domestic only)
CP upgrades actually begin clearing at T-7 days (some might consider that a con)

Oh, and some cheaper award redemptions... but I think we all know how that will go.
RTW itineraries on Asia awards
No "must have a published through fare" rule for award routings
Can go to India via Pacific
Can go to Asia via Atlantic
Do not have to burn two awards in order to fly to any location on chart

All of these are considerable pluses to US awards over AA ones.
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Old Dec 2, 13, 4:29 am
  #45  
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Originally Posted by sonofzeus View Post
I've been calling Parker's company UScare for years.

Updated to reflect the new reality.
I've also been calling it UScAir for years. The only difference was that I was first to introduce the UScAAre/UScAAir term to the good folks of FT. Cheers!
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