American, US Airways ironing out frequent flier program

Frequent fliers on American Airlines and US Airways can now enjoy the benefits of both programs, American announced Tuesday.

The two airlines completed their merger in December and retained the American name for the larger company.

While members of American's AAdvantage and US Airways' Dividend Miles will eventually belong to one program, that won't happen right away. This is the first step in an integration process that will last months.

"We're kicking off the new year by bringing our customers the first phase of enhanced benefits, including the ability to earn and redeem miles when traveling across our stronger combined network," said Scott Kirby, president of the new American Airlines and former president of US Airways.

"Our customers are ready to reap the benefits of our merger, and we are pleased they'll get to experience these perks they value most so early in the integration process."

Members of both programs can earn and redeem miles on either airline, and eligible travel on either airline will count toward elite status on the customer's chosen program. American Admirals Club and US Airways Club members now have access to both airline clubs, and American AAdvantage Citi Executive cardholders have access to US Airways Clubs.

Elite members can enjoy elite benefits across both programs, including check-in, boarding and checked baggage benefits. And check-in timeframes and elite member boarding announcements are to become consistent across both airlines.

This is the honeymoon period for frequent fliers of both airlines, said Brian Kelly, founder of ThePointsGuy.com. "There's nothing being taken away right now," Kelly said. Fliers can pick the benefits they like from each program, like choosing one program's lower mileage redemption levels for similar flights. When airline officials finally do merge the two programs into one, the merged program is likely to retain higher redemption levels for similar flights, he said.

Other changes are expected soon. They include the first phase of a codeshare agreement to provide easy access to each airline's global network, which is expected to be implemented in the next few weeks, American said.

Upgrades and other frequent flier program policies will be made consistent across the two airlines. US Airways will exit the Star Alliance on March 30 and enter into the oneworld alliance on March 31.

American's new Find Your Way website, aa.com/findyourway , has more information on the merged airline's frequent flier programs and other travel information.

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