The Break Up is Final: United Airlines and US Airways are No Longer

Dec 10, 2013 by

The Break Up is Final: United Airlines and US Airways are No Longer

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The split between United Airlines’s Star Alliance and US Airways was announced by United in a press release today, Dec. 9. As of March 30, 2014 the end of a rocky relationship will be final and US Airways will be able to know, “Why you fly” starting March 31, 2014.

As of March 31, 2014, United will not honor US Airways MileagePlus points or codeshare, where two or more airlines list certain flights in a reservation system under each other’s names, the airline announced in the release.

The break up also immediately affects codesharing with Brussels Airlines, Lufthansa and SWISS, as of today.

I can’t help but hear Taylor Swift in the background singing, “We will never, ever getting back together,” and Kelly Clarkson screaming out, “What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger, stand a little taller …” and any other angry chick break up song that we girls all love.

Dogged by United for a more than a decade, US Airways has found a new partner in American Airlines. The airlines finalized the merger deal with alliance founding member of Oneworld, American, today.

Always in want of a relationship with United, US Airways finally gave up and decided to take flight elsewhere. On December 7, 2012, the airline that ranks 5th in the U.S. and is one of 30 largest in the world, announced a merger proposal with American, pending a bankruptcy judge’s approval. The judge gave his stamp of approval in February and US Airways and American announced plans to merge.

American’s welcoming of US Airways into the family represents a landmark in Oneworld’s biggest expansion yet.

“The addition of US Airways to Oneworld represents a significant milestone in our journey to establish Oneworld as the first choice airline alliance for frequent international travelers the world over,” says Bruce Ashby, CEO of Oneworld, welcoming US Airways customers and employees on board.

That’s quite a coup for the airline that recently pulled itself out of years of getting a bad rap for poor customer service.

onworld-map“The Oneworld alliance was formed with one goal in mind: to create the finest customer experience for frequent international travelers. That remains our focus today, as the alliance welcomes another great airline into the fold,” says Tom Horton, chairman of American Airlines, who also serves as chairman of Oneworld. “The addition of US Airways will significantly strengthen the alliance’s presence in the U.S. and provide U.S. Airways customers access to a truly global network.”

US Airways will take the American name and move from its Tempe, Ariz. headquarters to Fort Worth, Tex. to move in with American to create the largest airline in the world.

All of US Airways affiliates operating under the US Airways Express brand will also transition to Oneworld on the same date.

US Airways and American will being offering reciprocal frequent flyer benefits starting January 7, 2014 and during the transition airline and its regional carriers will operate as Oneworld affiliate members under the American umbrella.

The full range of services and benefits will be available by Oneworld, but some services might be phased in soon after US Airways officially joins the alliance. Both airlines and its partners are accelerating the timeline to offer the most popular benefits and services.

During the transition, the airlines plan to communicate the benefits, services and privileges they will receive through the new alliance in detail as they become available. Until all of the new benefits, programs and services are in place current loyalty programs will continue to be honored.

Being friendly in the skys

All of the airlines are making every effort to ensure a smooth transition for its customers.

United leaders outlined that the airline will honor current tickets for travel on US Airways.

  • Travelers can book flights on US Airways using MileagePlus miles through March 30, 2014.
  • As long as customers earn award miles they will also earn Premier qualifying miles and Premier qualifying segments. Between Jan. 1 and March 30, 2014, customers will be able to also earn Premier qualifying dollars on eligible US Airways flights.
  • Star Alliance status benefits will apply on US Airways through March 30, 2014.
  • Customers with a United Club membership or traveling on a United international premium cabin ticket can access US Airways Clubs through March 30, 2014.

US Airways also outlined what they will honor to their customers during the transition.

  • The airline’s Dividend Miles cardholders will maintain all miles earned and their tier status. New membership cards with the Oneworld logo will be sent to Dividend Miles Preferred members to use starting March 31.
  • Emerals status in the Oneworld program will be given to Dividend Miles Chairman cardholders. Dividend Miles Platinum and Gold will be become Oneworld’s Sapphire and Dividend Miles Silver will change to Oneworld Ruby.
  • Starting March 31, Dividend Miles Chairman, Platinum and Gold members will be able to access an estimated 600 airport lounges worldwide offered by Oneworld member airlines when they fly with one of the alliance’s carriers. As Oneworld Emeralds, Dividened Miles Chairman cardholders will be able to use First Class lounges, where available, and receive an additional baggage allowance and access fast tracks through departure security at select airports.
  • All Dividend Miles members will be able to earn mileage and status points when flying on any Oneworld member airline starting March 31. The catch is that the ability to redeem mileage rewards for flights on other Oneworld airlines might be phased in soon after the new relationship begins.

Starting March 31, all 140 million members of established Oneworld airlines’ frequent flyer programs will also receive alliance services and benefits when flying on US Airways.

  • This will include the ability to earn mileage and tier status points, and for Emerald and Sapphire cardholders, to access US Airways’ lounges when flying on Oneworld departures, although, the ability to redeem rewards for flights on US Airways, may be phased in shortly afterwards.
  • US Airways’ network will be covered by Oneworld’s alliance fares, which offers the most extensive by any of the global alliances, as US Airways becomes a part of the group.

Marrying up

US Airways, marriage up, brings a dowry of serving more than 200 destinations and 30 countries with a fleet of more than 625 aircrafts. It has hubs in Charlotte, Philadelphia, Phoenix and Washington DC’s Reagan National. In 2012, the airline flew 82.5 million passengers and currently operates 3,200 departures a day connecting travelers in North America, Central America, the Caribbean and Europe.

When it takes its new name, US Airways will add 60 destinations to the Oneworld map – a majority in the U.S., three in Canada and one in Mexico – strengthening the alliance’s presence across the U.S., but particularly throughout the East Coast and across the North Atlantic.

The merger will take Oneworld to the top position as the leading alliance in the U.S., the world’s largest air travel market. The new American will offer service to more than 330 destinations in more than 50 countries, carrying 190 million passengers a year on a fleet of 1,500 aircraft.

“As we work toward creating the new American, network strength and breadth are essential components in building what will be world’s greatest airline. We look forward to providing our customers with access to key points all around the world via Oneworld,” says Doug Parker, CEO of American Airlines. “Adding US Airways to the roster of Oneworld member airlines is a significant step we will take as we combine the two carriers to create the new American.”

Master of the skys

Courting and wedding US Airways is only a part of Oneworld’s plan for the U.S.’s new world domination in the skys.

Oneworld strengthened its position in Southeast Asia, one of the fastest growing regions for air travel demand, with the addition of award-winning Malaysia Airlines Feb. 1. It has since followed up these sweetheart deals by adding LAN Colombia, the second largest airline in South America’s second biggest economy, Oct. 1. It was also the final piece of the LAN group to join Oneworld. On Oct. 30, Qatar Airways, one of the fastest growing and mostly highly rated airlines in the world (except for how it treats its stewardesses) joined Oneworld. It was quite a feat for the alliance though as Qatar is the only one of the big Gulf carriers to join any global alliance. That partnership is still a nice notch in Oneworld’s belt making it the leading alliance in the Middle East.

Oneworld isn’t done yet. TAM, Brazil’s leading airline in its red hot economy, and its Paraguayan affiliate will soon join the family. The merger will complete the consolidation of the Latin American airlines in Oneworld into LATAM Airlines Group creating the region’s leading airline group and it will place Oneworld in the position of being the leading global airline alliance serving Latin America.

SriLanka_Airlines_All-Girl-CrewEarly in 2014, Oneworld will introduce SriLankan Airlines. It will be the first airline from the Indian subcontinent to join the global alliance. With Qatar and SriLankan (which are worlds apart when it comes to women, the airline womaned an all-girl flight in 2010) at the table it will make Oneworld the leading alliance in the region.

Combined the airlines in the Oneworld family will expand American’s flight to thousands of destinations in more than 150 countries with 14,250 daily departures. The partnerships are guaranteed to increase the estimated 475 million passengers Oneworld carried in 2012 with an estimated flight taking off or landing every three seconds around the clock, 365 days a year. Last year Oneworld generated an estimated $140 billion, that staggering amount is now on track to potentially double if not quadruple in the coming years.

To get onboard American, visit AA.com.

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