American and US Airways EQMs WON’T Be Combined for 2015 Status

I need to update comments made in a post last week, when I alerted readers that US Airways had shared information on its website stating that elite status in the 2015 program year will be based on miles earned in American Airlines’ AAdvantage program and US Airways’ Dividend Miles program.

At the time we had only vague wording (and some precedent from the United-Continental merger) that suggested the meaning of “and” was that miles from the two programs would be combined. In fact, this is not the case.

I reached out to American Airlines immediately to ask for clarification when I wrote that post and only yesterday received a reply. To their credit, an agent from American’s customer care team personally called me, left a message (because I was flying on their planes all day), and then sent a follow up email to confirm I received the message.

The answer I received to my query is that American Airlines will look at the miles earned in both programs but only in isolation from the other. So you can credit your AA and US flights to AAdvantage, or you can credit your AA and US flights to Dividend Miles. But I would not split them up and credit to two separate accounts.

I repeat: elite miles, segments, and points will not be added across the two programs.

One Mile at a Time already mentioned this yesterday when one of his readers alerted him to a change to US Airway’s FAQs. (I get that a lot of the new management is from US Airways, but why aren’t any of these clues coming from American Airline’s website, too?) Even he’s still a bit confused on which program year the FAQ update refers to and is seeking clarification. To answer him, the phone call I received specifically mentioned travel in 2014 for status in 2015.

This is similar in some ways to how United and Continental managed their merger. At that time I was encouraged to choose a primary elite program (just as the American agent recommended to me). During the integration year, flights credited to that program would determine my elite status.

However, United and Continental also said they would eventually combine credits in both programs at the end of the year. This is the part of that precedent that American and US Airways are not adopting. If you earn 50,000 EQMs with each program this year, your status in 2015 will only be as a 50,000-mile flyer — not a 100,000-mile flyer as I had hoped and originally concluded.

We’re still very early in the year, so it’s good to get this sorted out now! I only wish the airlines had been more proactive about addressing these kinds of questions before people started flying this year.

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  • ffi

    This is stupid and penalizes people

    • Scottrick

      Worth noting all I have at this time is a verbal statement from an agent. So there may be new changes. But I would certainly try at this point to credit to only one program or the other.

  • Eric

    I am not sure if the agent has all the final details at this time.

    The question is, when would American decide on the framework of the new program (# of tiers, would EQP still exist, how many segments per tier? – easier to qualify on aa by segments). Once that is decided they will likely move forward with combining accounts.

    US as an operating carrier will exist for some time, but having two separate frequent flyer plans, qualifications and redemption programs make no sense.

    I am personally guessing that the programs would be combined in the 2nd half of 2014.

    • Richard

      I tend to agree — what else would you expect them to say right now in response to your question? Requalification standards are too important — until they roll out final, public details about the integration, they would be foolish to say anything that could turn out to change. I don’t blame them.

      I also guess that at the end of the year we’ll look back and this information will turn out to have been incorrect. Here’s hoping.

    • Scottrick

      I also agree with Eric and Richard. At this point I’m just going to stop speculating until we have something written, on both airlines’ websites, about what is really, finally going to happen.

      I’m a fan of taking what information I have and updating my conclusions as new details become available, but in this case it may be causing people more stress than it saves.

    • David

      Well I think you guessed wrong. The airlines true masters, credit card banks (Both Barclays and Citi), have already said the programs will be combined mid-2015.

  • Suzi

    This makes no sense. They don’t have all flights set up as codeshares yet. And even on codeshares, status benefits don’t all apply. I have status on both. If I book a US codeshare flight through AA, I have to give up my upgrade eligibility. But if I book all my flights separately, I risk having lower status next year than someone else who flew just as much on what is (supposedly) now the same company.

    How do either of those options reward loyalty???

    • Scottrick

      I honestly don’t know. There may be new details announced. But I would certainly try at this point to credit to only one program or the other.

    • Eli Stoughton

      What matters is the frequent flyer number that you attach to a reservation. If you use the frequent flyer number you want to bank the flight to, you will get credit for it there. It doesn’t matter if it’s a codeshare or not. You should also get the equivalent status benefits of whatever status the FF# you are using gives you.

      • Suzi

        Eli, That’s a nice idea but it doesn’t happen to be currently possible with the level of integration & reciprocity that exists between US & AA.

        • Eli Stoughton

          How so?
          What statuses do you currently have, and what benefits are you trying to get?
          Obviously you won’t get benefits that the other airline doesn’t offer their own equivalent level. For example, when I flew AA on an Avios award booking, I gave them my US Air DM # with Silver status, and was able to get Main Cabin Extra seats complimentary. I wouldn’t expect to be able to get a complimentary first class upgrade because AA doesn’t even give this to their AA Golds.