A funny thing happened during a flight I took out of Philly earlier this year. Even though I was on a USAir plane, reading a USAir magazine, enjoying a beverage served by a USAir flight attendant, I noticed my cup had an American Airlines logo on it. It took me a few seconds to realize it wasn’t a mistake—it was the first step in the eventual disappearance of the USAir brand, as it’s eaten whole by American.
As a long-time USAir customer who will miss the airline, I can report that the transition to American Airlines appears to be going smoothly. When two airlines merge, the first concern of any frequent traveler is “hey, what’s going to happen to my frequent-flyer miles?” This potential issue was called out by USA Today several months ago:
The most challenging merger milestones are ahead…the airlines plan to merge their frequent-flier programs. US Airways’ Dividend Miles program will be absorbed into American’s AAdvantage program. The airline has not revealed a date except to say it is due to occur between April and June.
And for this frequent flyer, mission accomplished, and at the earliest point on the timeline. I received an e-mail in April that my Dividend Miles had been transferred to the Aadvantage program, and that by going to the aa.com site, I could log into the program using my USAir credentials. I tried it, and voila, it worked—and happily, all my miles were intact.
Of course, not everything has gone quite as smoothly.
For me, a rougher part of the transition involves my USAir MasterCard, issued by Barclay’s bank. I got this card a few years ago, because it offered some of the best benefits in the business—not just miles for each purchase and free checked bags, but two $99 companion tickets annually with the purchase of one full-priced ticket. I’ve used this perk several times for family vacations.
But now that the card is being replaced by the “AAdvantage® Aviator™ Red MasterCard®” (with, count ‘em, three trade and register marks), it appears the companion ticket offer is going away. Not good. And additionally, another USAir card perk—25% off in-flight purchases—also appears to be disappearing, as I found out first-hand.
During an April USAir round-trip flight to Florida, my family and I racked up $58 in in-flight charges, which I dutifully put on my card so I could get the discount. Yet when my monthly bill arrived in my inbox in May, it did not reflect the promised 25% credit of $14.50.
I called the credit card company, and was told it was an American Airlines problem, nothing they could do about it. They connected me to a rep at American who knew nothing about the USAir in-flight discount or how she could rectify the situation. She pointed me to an American refund site—where it quickly became apparent I had been directed to the wrong place.
After another call to Barclays, and a lengthy time on hold as my call center rep reached out to American, I was told the $14.50 credit would appear on my next monthly statement. I checked my June statement and, you guessed it, there was no credit to be found.
This has resulted in a third-attempt to rectify the situation. Another phone call, another 8-10 minutes on hold, and a new response. I would receive the credit, but for a reason that was not revealed, it could take another 6-8 weeks.
Will I stop using my old USAir MasterCard/new AAdvantage Aviator Red MasterCard? Probably. The benefits seem diminished and I can’t seem to get a perk I was promised from the old program.
Will I stop flying USAir/American? Probably not. But this has been a time-consuming hassle for a customer who has flown countless legs on USAir over the years. And it’s testing my loyalty to American before we’ve really gotten to know each other.