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Most American Airlines flyers that I talk to are nervous that the merger with US Airways will bring about almost all negative changes. I have to say that they aren’t off to a great start. With US Airways management now mostly at the helm, we’ve seen a string of negative changes, including the nixing of bereavement fares, increase in Choice fares and overnight devaluations in AAdvantage. However, I’m trying my hardest to be an optimist and I’m hoping we see some positive changes down the line and I hope they make some positive changes, some of which US Airways already offers to their consumers. So if I had my pick, here are my top three improvements to the new American based on existing US Airways policies.
1) Improve the Same Day Change Policy- no matter if you’re an Executive Platinum or lowly non-elite member, you need to pay $75 to switch to another flight on the same calendar day as long as the origin and destination remain the same and their is availability (you need to call, AA does not release same day change availability online). Changes are only good on US/Caribbean flights and only for coach reservations. Booked in first or business? You’re out of luck and need to pay a change fee and re-fare, which is never pretty.
In comparison, US Airways has the MoveUp program that has a smaller window of flexibility, but is available on all US flights both domestic and international. It costs $75 for flights within the United States, Latin America, the Caribbean and Canada and $150 to move up on flights to/from Europe, Israel and/or South America. You can only change to flights within 6 hours of your original scheduled departure, on the same day with the same number of stop and all flights have open seats (if you have connecting flights)
But get this: US Airways waives the MoveUp fee for Dividend Miles Preferred and AAdvantage elite status members.
Dream scenario: I really hope American takes the best aspects of both programs, allowing the greater time window of AA’s flight changes with the flexibility to change both domestic and international flights and waiving the fee for all elite members.
US Airways on the other hand allows some of the most incredible, flexible routings- including crossing both oceans when going to Europe or Asia- meaning you can book “round the world” trips as normal awards- or 1oo,000 miles to go to Europe, coming home with stop in North Asia and crossing both oceans. It actually used to be cheaper to go to North Asia with a stop in Europe (90,000 miles before the stealth changes) than it was to just go roundtrip to Europe (100,000 miles), but now they changed North Asia business class roundtrip awards to be 110,000 miles.
Dream scenario: American uses one system of Elite Qualifying Miles for elite status and uses US’ chart of 100% for base fares and 150% for first/business (and add full-fare economy fares at 150% as well). In addition, they keep the BarclayCard method of elite miles where you earn 10,000 Elite Qualifying Miles after only $25,000 spend on the Dividend Miles World Mastercard vs. the $40,000 required on the Citi Executive AAdvantage.
This is by no means a final list, but just some of the key areas I’d like to see changes in the AAdvantage program. What would you like to see in the new combined program?