Last week, American Airlines and US Airways formally announced their merger. For now, nothing has changed. The airlines continue to operate separately, and the merger still has to go through a lengthy approval process.
Your airline miles are safe. Eventually, they'll probably exist in a combined program. But some of the best values may be going away.
So, here's what you need to know for now.
-- American Airlines is part of One World, which is an alliance that includes British Airways, Cathay Pacific, and lots of other international carriers. US Airways is part of Star Alliance. Singapore Airlines, Lufthansa, and Thai Airways are all part of Star Alliance.
-- The new post-merger American will be in One World. So, eventually, the ability to use US Airways miles to fly on Star Alliance carriers will go away. In other words, if you want to use your miles for travel on Star Alliance, know that your time is limited.
-- One of the best uses of US Airways miles right now is to fly from the US to Asia with a stop in Europe, all for 90,000 miles. That's a great deal, and we’d be surprised if that continues in the new American system.
-- US Airways also offers generous off-peak awards such as 35,000 points can take you from the US to South America and only 30,000 if you have the US Airways credit card. We’d be surprised if that continues.
Speaking of credit cards, you could conceivably apply for the US Airways card and the American card now, and know that, soon, those bonus miles will all be in the same program. American has one of the best frequent flier programs out there. They let you redeem miles for one-way awards - something US Air doesn’t allow, and they have some of the best perks for elite flyers.
Domestically, it's good news. If you've got US Airways miles, you'll eventually be able to redeem them for flights everywhere American flies. Internationally, you'll lose the ability to redeem for Star Alliance partners, but you'll have access to One World.
Even though some perks may disappear, neither program wants to alienate their loyal customers, so you shouldn't worry at all about your miles disappearing.