In my daily Google alert email for American Airlines, I see multiple articles about the ever-increasing possibility that US Airways will be successful in making a bid for American. And deep in my gut, I think it’s gonna happen.
I have absolutely no insight into the economics of such a merger, but if I were to believe the campaign Doug Parker is on, it sounds like investors and creditors alike would reap the benefits of it going through. But that’s not what I, an end user, care about.
I didn’t follow the Delta-Northwest merger really at all as I hadn’t flown with either carrier since the early 1990s. The United-Continental merger, however, has shown me just how painful and sticky combining two airlines can be. While I know it isn’t all “unicorns and rainbows” for the employee groups at the new United, it’s also incredibly frustrating on the passenger side.
If you haven’t experienced any pains from the merger, consider yourself lucky. From seat assignments suddenly dropping off reservations to upgrade prioritization being totally out of whack, take your pick of the many issues being reported on Flyertalk and MilePoint. A lot of it stems from the system migration to SHARES, the cheaper and oh so lackluster passenger service system. Add onto that (many) poorly trained employees who don’t know how to “GG” their way out of a problem when IRROPS hit, and you’ve got quite a mess.
The other side for travelers is getting used to the new policies, or rather combined policies management has decided to adopt. As a pre-merger United guy, the whole “tens of dollars” upgrade thing coming over from Continental is significantly affecting the amount of complimentary upgrades I used to enjoy. While the CO folks may be used to it, it’s harder for me to swallow.
So back to my worry about AA-US. American has impressed me lately with their drive to build loyalty among their newest status-matched elites. And even before that, American impressed the heck out of me when I decided to give them a go last year for the first time since 1998. Their telephone agents are probably the best in the industry, onboard service is stellar and the employees I’ve encountered (mostly) seem to enjoy their jobs.
I have to admit that I haven’t flown US Airways/US Air since 1993 (oddly, as a female, using my friend Janet’s ticket on a DTW-CLT-DAB trip… can’t believe I was successful, but that’s another story). While many laud Doug Parker as being the smartest airline CEO today in knowing how to run an airline, US Airways on the customer side doesn’t live up to anywhere near the same level of grandeur. I’m basing my opinion exclusively on what I hear from other frequent flyers, so feel free to flame me as you wish.
Combining these two airlines to me would seem way more challenging from a culture, policy and operational standpoint than the United-Continental merger. As such, I’m afraid the joyous time I’m having flying American right now will deteriorate worse than what I’ve experienced with COdbaUA. And so I wait. I wait for my bubble to be burst yet again and fear the airline I’ve grown to love will be destroyed by the financial necessity in today’s airline industry to consolidate.