· US Airways is gone. Although the process of repainting US Airways planes, rebranding US to AA, and printing more stationery will take far longer, from today there is only American Airlines Group. The merged airline assumes AA's name, aircraft livery, home base at Dallas-Fort Worth, and much more. US Airways does get a tiny leg up in the deal, as it's their CEO, Doug Parker, who will oversee the combined airline as the new CEO. Frequent flyer programs, reservation systems, websites and airport operations will take a little longer to merge, but expect to see much more integration as soon as next month.
· Say Sayonara to the Star Alliance. US Airways is schedule to exit Star Alliance on March 1, 2014 in order to join the merged American under Oneworld. This naturally most hurts frequent flyer mile earning and redeeming, for travelers who enjoy getting around the world on Star Alliance carriers but banking miles to US Airways' generous Dividend Miles program.
· Your frequent flyer miles are not in danger. An airline merger does not mean your miles are wiped away for a clean start. No way, Jose.
For American Airlines AAdvantage flyers, the changes are pure bonus. It may be as soon as January that AA and US flyers may earn and redeem miles when traveling on either American Airlines or US Airways, enjoy reciprocal elite recognition, and chill in both American Admirals Clubs and US Airways Clubs. For US Airways' Dividend Miles flyers, you'll be transitioned to AAdvantage at some point in the future, perhaps as late as deep in 2014. If you're keen to redeem miles for Star Alliance flights, do so ASAP to snap up availability, as US Airways is expected to completely exit the alliance and join American in Oneworld come March 2014.
· The objective is not to raise airfare prices. "In the meantime, customers should continue to do business with the airline from which travel was purchased just as they did before the merger," American said in a statement. "In short, it is 'business as usual.'" This merger, as well as other recent major mergers (United-Continental, Delta-Northwest) are moves to remain competitive in the market, not to price passengers out of travel.
· Stocks will change. The new, merged American will now trade on NASDAQ under $AAL. Previously, American Airlines was known as $AMR, and US Airways as $LCC.
· Hub cities will change...eventually. For the next three years, American will remain committed to their hubs in Charlotte, New York-JFK, Los Angeles, Miami, Chicago-O'Hare, Philadelphia, and Phoenix. Once the three-year period is up, however, expect some shifts. It's easy to predict that cities like NY, LA and Miami are pretty safe, but there could be a battle between Philly and Charlotte, and a strangling of Phoenix.
Further questions? American Airlines Group has a formal merger website which attempts to address concerns and and outline a timeline for future changes.
The pride of the new AA: their Boeing 777-300ERs
[Photos: American, Jaunted]