With the changes American announced to its frequent flyer program last week many members are wondering what shoe is next to drop.
There are going to be many more changes for sure — for the frequent flyer program, and for the airline — simply as a matter of going down the list of differences between American and US Airways.
And there are going to be members who don’t like the changes no matter which version of a policy, American’s or US Airways’, they decide to go with in any given instance.
But here are some of the changes I expect to see as US Airways and American harmonize their programs and their airline operations.
This list is by no means exhaustive, but several readers have asked me for some of the changes I expect and while I’ve shared many of these before it seemed useful to include them as a list.
- We’re going to get a combined award chart, we can expect Asia awards to get more expensive and in general we can expect first class awards to get more expensive. I do not see huge increases to Europe and Africa because American’s chart is already effectively quite expensive due to the fuel surcharges on their primary transatlantic partner and because Africa awards are expensive to begin with.
- Not for 2015 necessarily but I don’t expect 8 confirmed international upgrades from any fare to last for top tier elite flyers, although Delta’s improved international upgrades for top elites makes it harder to cut back too far here.
- I expect the airline to go with unlimited complimentary upgrades for elites, no more stickers. If they went with American’s current system, which is unlimited complimentary upgrades for Executive Platinums only, US Airways elites would hate having to pay for upgrades beyond the 2000 miles’ worth for every 10,000 miles flown given under the current system. But with the US Airways (and United, Delta) approach American’s lower-level elites will miss the greater frequency of upgrades compared to having to go up against every elite every flight. Assuming this happens I’ll be interested to see what American does with existing outstanding unused 500 mile upgrade certificates (I have some from before I was an Executive Platinum), e.g. whether they convert them to redeemable miles or just ‘disappear’ them.
- While US Airways is beginning to match American service standards for now (although not quite — US Airways is offering meals on flights over 1000 nautical miles while American has at least plated snack service on shorter flights), I expect that a year from now there will be fewer meals in the forward cabin domestically — closer to what US Airways service standards were than American’s standards), I also can’t imagine they’ll keep the mints.
- They will almost certainly move to 4 elite tiers like US Airways has. Otherwise they would have to ‘demote’ US Airways 75,000 mile flyers. Delta and United have four tiers already. The open question would be whether top tier is earned at 100,000 miles (American, US Airways, United) or 125,000 miles (Delta).
- American Platinum members (50,000 mile flyers, mid-tier elite) currently earn 100% bonus on flown miles. I expect that will fall to 50%.
- American has an agent meeting every arriving flight at their hubs, this is in addition to the agents working the gate for the next flight. This is an easy cut for the airline to make. It amazes me how many customers take advantage of talking to the agent to find their next flight instead of looking at a flight monitor. An agent is useful, though, at the very end of the day with delayed flights when the airline should be providing a hotel night. I don’t expect this service to remain.
Which ones do you agree with? Which ones do you disagree with?
What other changes do you expect?
And which policies are you most nervous about?