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With the US Airways – American Airlines merger back on, Frequent Business Traveler reports from sources at US Airways that the airline might exit Star Alliance March 1, 2014, as it starts aligning more closely with American and possibly joins Oneworld as soon as April. No one has officially confirmed those dates, but previously, US Airways indicated that it would leave Star Alliance by the end of the first quarter of 2014, and after the recent settlement with the DOJ, Scott Kirby, who will be the COO of the new airline, told FBT that the airlines plan to take the first steps towards becoming a single airline January 7, 2014, meaning that flyers might be able to earn and redeem miles on both American and US Airways.
So what does that mean for you?
First, the bad news. Unfortunately US Airways exiting Star Alliance will mean the end of booking awards on its 27 partner carriers including carriers like United, ANA, Air Canada and Lufthansa.
A merger also means the likely disappearance of US Airways’ famous award chart “sweet spots” that include flying to certain parts of Asia in business class for just 90,000 miles, or the South Pacific (including Australia and New Zealand) or South Africa for just 110,000 miles. Instead, flyers will likely be stuck at American’s higher levels of 100-110,000 to Asia, 125,000 miles to the South Pacific and a huge 150,000 miles to Africa (and chances are you’d have to transit through London and pay huge taxes and fuel surcharges on top of it!) – that is, if the airline doesn’t jump on the devaluation train after the merger and hike up its award pricing as Delta and United have done recently.
In terms of flexibility, US Airways is great when it comes to maximizing stopovers, open jaws and round-the-world possibilities, On each award itinerary, you can have either one stopover or one open-jaw giving you the flexibility to hit a few different places on your trip, but that’s likely going to end with the merger as well.
So the bottom line is – if you can book your Star Alliance award travel now and have the miles to do it, I would do so sooner rather than later because there’s no exact date for US Airways to exit the alliance and airlines tend to spring surprises on flyers. So plan ahead!
You should be able to book up to 330 days beyond the airline’s exit from Star Alliance, and then if you have to cancel, I think you’ll probably just get your miles back at that point and will have to use them on American and/or Oneworld partners once the airlines have merged, so at the worst, you’re giving up a Star Alliance award and having to rebook on Oneworld (though possibly at higher mileage levels and fuel surcharges).
A Window of Opportunity
One interesting facet here is if US Airways and American merge their frequent flyer opportunities (so you can earn and redeem miles on both airlines) if not their actual programs just yet as early as January while US Airways is still part of Star Alliance. Then theoretically, you could use your US Airways miles to fly an award on American but also on Star Alliance carriers. Many carriers who have merged have given a certain period where members can link their accounts and transfer back and forth. That is the case with Airtran and Southwest and was the case with Continental and United – although that was probably smoother (if you can call that transition smooth at all!) since both carriers were already in Star Alliance.
For more information on the merger, check out these posts:
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