American Airlines & US Airways Merge Their Mileage Programs: Here's How It Works

by  Alex Schechter | Jan 9, 2014
American Airlines plane
American Airlines plane / Santiago Rodriguez Fonto/iStock

Earlier this week, while you were busy checking your mileage balance for the coming year, US Airways and American Airlines – now known jointly as American Airlines – quietly merged their loyalty programs, the first of many necessary steps toward becoming the world's largest airline. While code-sharing between the two airlines won't officially begin for another two weeks, three important changes have been implemented that bring good news for AAdvantage and US Dividend Miles folk...

Same Miles, More Flights
Up until recently, it was AAdvantage members earning miles on American Airlines flights, and US Dividend Miles members earning flights on US Airways flights. Makes sense, right? Now, the walls are coming down. Whether you find yourself on board a plane marked American Airlines or US Airways, you will be eligible to earn miles on either program. Note: this doesn't mean you'll earn miles on both programs, but the airline is allowing you to choose the program in which you'd like to accrue and redeem your miles. This is great if you happen to have spent the last year accruing US Dividend miles in order to fund a future trip. With these new changes put in place, you can continue fattening that mileage balance without having to restrict yourself only to US Airways flights.

More Lounge Access
Want to be a member of two club lounges for the price of one? Well, who wouldn't? Loyal AAdvantage members who have hitherto been denied the pleasure of lounging in such airport locales as Charlotte, NC; Phoenix, AZ; or Buffalo, NY now have access to, oh, about half a dozen more lounges. And for free, too, since membership to one automatically grants you access to the other airline's lounges.

And a Word About Those Global Programs...
What about each airline's global alliance network? Well, that's where things get tricky. Initially, many had hoped that a merger between US Airways and American Airlines would translate into a potential treasure trove of shared benefits between their respective airline alliances, Star Alliance (US Airways) and Oneworld (American Airlines). Sadly, that's not the case, as American Airlines recently announced that the newly-merged airlines will become part of the Oneworld alliance only.

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