‘Introducing the 2014 American Airlines AAdvantage Program’

With the final merger hurdle being settled today with the DOJ, American Airlines and US Airways are basically on their way to becoming the world’s largest airline. There were concessions to the government in the settlement, of course, including:

Under the deal, the airlines would get rid of airport terminal gates, take off and landing slots, and ground facilities in Boston, Chicago, Dallas, Miami, Los Angeles, LaGuardia in New York and Ronald Reagan National airport in Washington, DC.

The specifics of the above have been widely reported in the mainstream media, including here, here and here.

But what the majority of you would probably like to know is how the combined frequent flier program will roll out for the 2014 program year. And my apologies for the semi-misleading headline as I don’t know the exact specifics – I put it in quotes anyway. 😉 But that’s what we’re all waiting for, right?!

You have to know that whatever Parker’s plan was for AAdvantage has been ready for months. And I wouldn’t be surprised if it’s announced within the next two weeks (my money is on this week).

I previously speculated how the new program might look, and I’d like to add a few additional predictions here:

  • With both United and Delta increasing award redemption rates in 2014, I fully expect American to match some/all of them.
  • American will most certainly adopt a four-tier elite system – Silver, Gold, Platinum and Executive Platinum – as well as retaining the invitation-only Concierge Key level.
  • While it might be a nice postponement, I fully expect the new AAdvantage to implement a revenue requirement for elite status beginning in 2014 a la Delta and United. After all, we’re talking about Parker running the merged company.
  • What about upgrades? Maybe American will keep the “any fare” policy for international upgrades using SWUs (Systemwides), but if that’s the case, I think they’ll be highly aggressive in restricting inventory with the “new” US Airways-heavy crew at the inventory management helm. But my money is on new fare-class restrictions.
  • Complimentary upgrades for all elites domestically? Sure… they’ve gotta match the competition. Sorry EPs, your current exclusive benefit will be coming to an end.
  • On the positive side, I think there will be enough of the legacy Amercian AAdvantage folks around that in 2014, we’ll see more promotions from American than Delta or United, including double miles, double elite miles, route bonuses, fare class bonuses, etc.

Those are a few of my initial thoughts. What do you think? Will we have a full announcement soon, or am I totally off base. Or will they go through their merger pains for the next year as Delta/Northwest and United/Continental did and delay such an aggressive frequent flier program adjustment until 2015?

– Follow Darren Booth on Twitter, @FrequentlyFlyin, for more airline, hotel and travel industry news, reviews and opinions.

Related:

What the New American AAdvantage Program Might Look Like

United Adds Spend Requirement for Elite Status in 2014

Delta Adds Medallion Qualifying Dollar Requirements in 2014

Massive Changes to United MileagePlus Awards in 2014

Recap of United’s Downgrades: Award Charts, ExpertFlyer and Meals

Comments

  1. The merger hasn’t closed yet, it has just gotten approval. The United merger was agreed upon in May and didn’t close until October, so while I don’t think it will take that long, it’d bet it will be months before they align policies.

  2. I don’t think they could start tinkering with things such as the number of elite tiers until 2015, considering people basically relied on what the 2014 program was expected to look like when making qualification plans during this year. I would expect that the details of the 2015 combined program would be announced in early 2014.

  3. What do I think? I think your article was deceptively titled in order to generate page views. Unless you’re passing on actual information, this should be titled to indicate it’s your speculation.

  4. To be honest, I don’t fly AA and maybe once a year fly US Airways … That’s only because US Airways is currently in the star alliance and I get United miles/points/segments.

    I don’t see myself flying the merged AA in the future so my only real concerns are around higher airfare with all the US domestic carriers AND the slow erosion of elite benefits… at what point will all be cattle being herded onto planes

  5. I hope they keep the AA product on board. While some would say it’s not great it certainly better than US. I doubt a huge change will take place until 2015 given the limited time left this year and would hopefully allow for any teething troubles (which there will be) to be remedied. Although was not in favor of this merger for mainly selfish reasons, I hope that the new AA will offer a premium/superior product to the crumbling UA, which seems in a mess right now. I agree that the changes to the mileage program will follow DL/UA but not immediately.

  6. I sincerely doubt that they would announce a dollar additive onto elite requirements. I would say 2015 would be the very earliest that you will see a spend requirement for elite qual.

    I think a reduction (or addition if you come from US) in number of SWUs given in a calendar year would be a better bet than adding a fare restriction onto it.

    But just like the other two mergers, I fear that this will be just another US Airways with AA’s livery, much like Northwest with DL’s livery and Continental’s with UA’s livery. All subpar products with the better livery/airline name kept.

  7. @Tyler & @Bill: I’m sorry to lose you both as readers. And I’ll definitely accept the flack for my choice of headline. But I did provide my thoughts on what the new program might look like and stand by my post. Thanks, though, I’ll strongly pause with future posts before making such a declarative statement in a headline again. I appreciate the feedback.

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