I read today that the American Airlines and US Air merger could go through creating the worlds largest airline. Now I am not a big fan of US Air, but if these two airlines merge it will not be good for the consumer. Fares will rise and routes will be cut. It happened when Delta took over Northwest and when Continental & United merged. It will happen again when these two airlines merge. Just from my home airport (San Diego), both United and Delta have cut service. On some days United is down to two non-stops (other days three) to ORD (they used to have 5 flights/day) and Delta only has one or two daily non-stops to Detroit and Minneapolis, whereas Northwest had 4 or 5. United has reduced seats to DEN & SFO from SAN. Delta has reduced seats to SLC. I used to be able to fly one-way to Houston (IAH) on Continental for as little as $129 one-way and every time I checked last year after the merger it was over $400 (I did see that they do have one-way fares for $220 now). This is happening at most airports they serve. By merging they are taking away their competition.
Besides higher fares and fewer flights, Elite members will see their benefits diminish. It will be much harder being upgraded, getting prime seats, or redeeming awards because there will be twice the number of Elite members and not twice the number of flights or seats. Since the United/Continental merger, I only get upgraded 50% of the time on United compared with 90% of the time prior to the merger (I have been a 1K for 15 years in a row and am a 2 million miler now and wasn’t prior to the merger). Some of that is how United upgrades now (http://patstravelreviews.com/has-united-changed-their-upgrade-policy/) however, most of it is because there are twice the number of 1K’s, Gold Premier’s, Gold Medallion’s, Platinum Medallion’s, etc. I have found the same to be true on Delta.
In addition, members of US Air’s frequent flyer program will suffer as they will no longer be affiliated with the Star Alliance Network and will now be with American’s Oneworld. Star Alliance is a much better alliance than Oneworld
The other factor when airlines merge or buy another airline is that service usually diminishes. One set of employee’s are not happy with the change. Continental’s employee’s were not happy to merge with United nor was Northwest’s (although it may have saved some of them their jobs) being taken over by Delta. At least in the beginning you will see inconsistent service. In addition, glitches will occur when the two airlines merge their system’s. In 20 years of flying United, I never had my seat changed for no reason. It has happened to me 5 or 6 times the last eight months (it just happened again last week). I am always told it is because of the merge with Continental.
Now there are some good things that will happen if American and US Air merge. If you are a member of both airlines frequent flyer programs your miles will also be merged. Giving one of your accounts a boost. Also, if you have flown both airlines it may help you reach the Million Miler level. On the flip-side of US Air’s flyer’s loosing out on the Star Alliance, they will be getting a better airline, and as I wrote yesterday, American has some great new products coming down the line. http://patstravelreviews.com/?p=451
Fares will not go up in all markets, in fact, they will only go up in a few (but they will go up). As long as there is still Virgin America, Jet Blue, and Southwest (now to a lesser extent) or any discount airline, it will keep fares down to many markets, but not all. I do remember reading in the early 2000’s (after Sept 11th) that in order for the airline industry to survive, they needed to contract. So I am not surprised this will happen (and has happened). I certainly wasn’t sad to see Northwest taken over by Delta, I was however, not happy that Continental (I always thought best US airline) merged with United. I think American has a much better product than US Air and personally do not fly either that much. But by eliminating another large airline you are eliminating competition and choice, and that is never good for the consumer.
Yesterday (today is Feb. 16th), American and US Air officially merged. To find more on how this will effect your frequent flyer miles in each program, you can access one of these two sites;