Reporting Jim Donovan
By Jim Donovan
PHILADELPHIA (CBS) – Are you taking a plane trip anytime soon? Well if you’re looking to cash-in some frequent flier miles, you may want to do that sooner than later, especially if it involves US Airways miles.
Last week the proposed merger of US Airways and American Airlines stalled after the Department of Justice and several states sued saying that airline passengers would pay higher fares and fees if the carriers were combined. But frequent fliers should also be concerned about what happens to the miles they’ve racked up as well.
Most travel experts agree, that when the US Airways – American merger goes through, and it probably will, passengers will pay the price. “With less seats and less options I definitely see prices going up and consumers you know really getting hit here,” says Brian Kelly, an expert in maximizing frequent flyer miles, he’s known as The Points Guy. Kelly believes there will also be a negative effect on US Airways frequent fliers who’ve been banking their miles. He says, “US Airways miles are actually extremely valuable.”
After the merger, the American Airlines name and frequent flyer program would survive. While US Airways miles would transfer over, customers would have to fork out more miles for rewards than they do now. Kelly says, “I just used 110,000 to go business class from the U.S. to South Africa.” But under the American frequent flyer program that trip would eat up 40,000 more miles, a total of 150,000.
Right now passengers can use US Airways miles to travel on 28 other airlines. The group is known as the Star Alliance. American is part of a different group called One World. According to Kelly, “One World only has 12 so there are going to a lot fewer options of airlines that you can fly and bank miles.”
And then there are the fees. According to Kelly, American’s frequent fliers often pay fees, especially when other airlines are involved in the reward travel. He says, “Right now there are no big surcharges on US Airways rewards.”
The Points Guy tells 3 On Your Side that he thinks the merger will go through, but hopefully with some consumer protections put in place. He says the longer the merger takes the better. So if you’ve been hoarding your miles on US Airways, you’ll likely get more bang for them if you book a trip before any merger is finalized than afterwards.
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