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The day is upon us. Sort of.
No, it’s not my birthday that I try so hard to ignore every year. It’s the day that US Airways and American might have settled on a merger. The Dallas Morning News, Slate, and Bloomberg are reporting that the merger is in the final stages of development and ultimate approval, with the official announcement expected around Valentine’s Day, due to a deadline set by the non-disclosure agreement (two airlines marrying on Valentine’s Day? How romantic!).
Personally, I welcome this news like I welcome a tetanus shot: it’s necessary for your health, but painful nonetheless. The truth is, this merger is probably the best method of survival for both airlines, and will open up many new ways to get places. But more than likely, the merger is going to hurt (in price hikes, trip delay, and trip cancellation, etc.), and it’s also going to be very irritating for the end traveler like you and me.
If the United-Continental agreement taught us anything, we’ve learned that merging is a very difficult process that takes a lot of focus to complete. It’s also taught us that the consumer ultimately pays more than the buying company, in the form of trip delays, trip cancellations, missed tickets, and mis-communicated ticketing policies. Not to mention the fact that many frequent flyers and points collectors (like myself) will be left to figure out what to do with the points that will be transferred into one system or another. Or what to do when a decision to choose which alliance to become a member of is called into question.
At this point, it is prudent to stop and take a deep breath about the entire situation. Just because newspapers are reporting the deal is close doesn’t mean we’re looking at a merger until the official announcement is made. I’m not going to worry about what to do with all 30 of my Dividend Miles because of speculation. Besides, this is not the first time that US Airways has gone through a merger. Does anyone remember the last time this happened with America West Airlines?
But I am going to start preparing myself for more delays when riding with either of the two carriers. And I am going to start considering my options for status when it comes to airline alliances. Planning ahead now could save me a lot of headache in the future.
So what do we do now? Do we burn our miles today? Do we worry about getting places on time whily flying US Airways or American for the next 18-24 months? What will happen to my friend from my last mileage run, who has elite status on US Airways? The questions are endless! But today, I’m not going to worry about it. I will continue to plan my travel as it best suits my needs and mileage goals. I'll continue to be mindful of the increased chance of trip delay if this merger begins…but until an official announcement is made, I won’t let it govern my decisions. As that great American scholar Yogi Berra once said: “It ain’t over until it’s over.”
Will this potential merger change your travel habits? Will you reconsider who you will travel with? Let me know your thoughts in the comments below!