Merged airline giants retain distance rewards model
World’s biggest frequent flyer scheme to snub trend for price-based schemes
American Airlines and US Airways are to combine their frequent flyer programmes from Q2 2015, following their merger.
The merger in December last year created the world’s biggest airline and the largest frequent flyer scheme with 100 million members, combining American’s AAdvantage programme with the Dividend Miles scheme of US Airways.
The most notable aspect of the combination of the two schemes is that it will stick – at least for the time being – to the existing model of linking frequent flyer status to the distance that passengers fly with the airline.
This goes against the recent trend of rewarding passengers by how much they have paid for a ticket, penalising those who fly large distances on the cheapest fares. Both Delta Airlines and United Airlines have announced that they are moving to the price-based model in early 2015.
The trend was started by another US airline, Dallas-based Southwest, which switched to a price-based system in 2011.
Retaining the distance model may be a differentiator in making American and US more attractive to companies who may not want their employees being tempted into booking more expensive flights to earn more rewards.
The new scheme will be combined under the AAdvantage banner, with three main tiers of elite status (at 25,000, 50,000, and 100,000 miles) rather than the four that US Airways offers. US Airways passengers who earn between 75,000 and 100,000 miles per year will no longer have their own tier.
The automatic, complimentary class upgrades for lower-level elite-status flyers that US Airways offers will be scrapped.
The two airlines are expected to have fully merged their operations by late-2015.