With the impending American Airlines/US Airways merger, travellers are right to feel wary about their upcoming summer vacations.
Marking the fourth merger among major carriers in just six years, travellers should expect feeling a bit of turbulence as fares and fees will likely go up, loyalty programs and rewards will consolidate, and major travel routes will adjust.
But don’t worry, it’s not all bad news.
Will the New Fares be Fair?
The new American Airlines will be the largest carrier in the market, and travellers should brace themselves for heftier ticket prices. With simple supply and demand theories applied, American Airlines will have much less incentive to offer cheaper airline tickets.
American, Southwest, Delta and United will make up 70 per cent of the market, so there will be less room for discount airlines to offer cheap flights. While fares won’t increase dramatically overnight, travellers looking for the best deal will need to be more flexible and purchase tickets farther in advance than they have before.
Prepare to be Re-Routed
There will be no shortage of route options under the new American Airlines, which will now offer travellers an astounding 6,700 daily flights to 336 destinations. However, there may be some shifts within itinerary options.
The two airlines have very few routes that overlap, but they do have several connection hubs within the same area, meaning flights to smaller airports or underperforming cities will likely be cut by one flight a day or cancelled altogether. travellers should be prepared to fly into major airports rather than smaller and sometimes more convenient hometown airports.
travellers hoping for a break in fees for priority seating or checked baggage will continue to be disappointed following the merger. When airlines know they are your only option for a particular route, there is little reason for them not to increase all of those fees.
Likely to increase are fees for your first and subsequent checked bags, overweight baggage, priority seating and in-flight WiF i. Additionally, American Airlines recently increased their domestic flight change fee from $150 to $200, and travellers should expect to see this same pattern of fee hikes across airlines once the merger is confirmed.
Get to Know Your neighbour
As we’ve seen in the past, consolidation of flights often results in smaller planes filled with more passengers. According to industry group Airlines for America, the average flight capacity currently stands at 83 per cent, the highest estimate in recent history. Passengers should be prepared for more awkward conversations and greater competition for armrests as this figure will likely increase in the near future once the merger goes into effect.
Join the Club
Don’t worry–your frequent flyer miles aren’t going anywhere–at least not yet. The new American Airlines plans to absorb US Airways loyalty program, Dividend Miles, which houses more than 100 million members under American’s program, AAdvantage. All frequent flyer miles under each Dividend Miles account will be transferred to AAdvantage at an equal rate.
This is a big bonus for US Airways members as they will now be able to cash in their miles for American’s expanded routes and flight offerings under the Oneworld Alliance, a much larger network than US Airways’ Star Alliance. It’s also important to note that elite flyers will likely have a harder time securing upgrades as there will be greater competition for the same first-class seats.
So You Said There’s Good News, Right?
I’m happy to share that this consolidation will also bring significant benefits to the everyday traveller. It may sound a little counterintuitive, but the remaining airlines will compete with each other to lure in lucrative business travellers by providing better customer service and more in-flight amenities.
Regardless of whether you’re sitting in business class or the main cabin, all travellers will benefit from the extra perks American Airlines will likely offer to its customers, including the newest planes, tastier in-flight food, expanded in-flight WiFi access and everyone’s favourite – more leg room.
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