What an American-US Airways combo may mean for you

Associated Press Modified: August 31, 2012 at 3:31 pm •  Published: August 31, 2012
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NEW YORK (AP) — While American Airlines and US Airways have started merger discussions, it would be several months — if not years — before passengers see any real impact.

Passengers with existing tickets on American or US Airways — and members of both frequent flier programs — shouldn't fret. No changes will come anytime soon.

Assuming quick merger negotiations, American's parent company, AMR Corp., would still have to work its way through the bankruptcy process. Then the Department of Transportation and the Justice Department would have to sign off on it. Finally, once a deal closes, the new company could operate two separate airlines for a number of years.

If the airlines finally merge, here's what passengers can expect:

— AIRFARE

In the past decade, the airline industry has seen the combinations of Delta with Northwest, United with Continental and Southwest Airlines Co. with AirTran. Further consolidation is likely to raise airfares. The price of a domestic round-trip flight has climbed nearly 20 percent, when adjusted for inflation, over the last 10 years, according to the Bureau of Transportation Statistics.

The merger would give a combined American and US Airways Group Inc. the ability to increase fares. United, Delta and Southwest would be likely to follow.

— FREQUENT FLIER MILES

Your miles would be safe. Eventually, the two airlines would merge the miles into one program. Before then, elite status from one airline would likely be honored on the other and passengers would be able to transfer miles from one program to another. That puts the occasional traveler closer to rewards.

The merged carrier would continue American's participation in the OneWorld alliance, which was founded by American, British Airways, Cathay Pacific and Qantas. Today, it has 12 airlines including Finnair, Mexicana and Japan Airlines. US Airways would leave the Star Alliance, which includes rival United Airlines, Lufthansa, Air Canada and 24 other airlines. Alliances allow passengers to earn and redeem miles on partner airlines.



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