American Airlines and US Airways have cleared the last major hurdle to merging, but it will be several months — if not years — before passengers see any significant impact. When the deal close, expected to be in December, here's what passengers can expect:
During the past five years, the airline industry has seen the combinations of Delta with Northwest, United with Continental and Southwest Airlines with AirTran. The price of a domestic round-trip flight has climbed more than 15 percent since 2009, when adjusted for inflation, according to the Bureau of Transportation Statistics. The merger will give a combined American and US Airways the ability to increase fares. United, Delta and Southwest would be likely to follow. It could also pave the way for further expansion by discount airlines such as Spirit Airlines and Allegiant Travel.
Your miles will be safe. The two airlines will likely combine the miles into one program and elite status from one airline will likely be honored on the other. That puts the occasional traveler closer to rewards. The merged carrier will continue American's participation in the OneWorld alliance, which was founded by American, British Airways, Cathay Pacific and Qantas. Today, it has 13 airlines. US Airways will leave the Star Alliance, which includes rival United Airlines, Lufthansa, Air Canada and 24 other airlines. Alliances allow passengers to earn and redeem miles on partner airlines.
A key reason for merging is to link both airlines' networks, creating a system on par with Delta Air Lines and United, part of United Continental Holdings Inc. There is little overlap between the two airlines' existing routes. The combined carrier will offer more than 6,700 daily flights to 336 destinations in 56 countries. US Airways passengers will gain access to American's international destinations, particularly London and Latin America. American's passengers will be able to better connect to smaller U.S. cities that US Airways serves.