What would a merger mean for me… because after all, it is all about me. A friend (@edoksa – food critic for the Charleston City Paper – follow him on Twitter) asked me why I haven’t been talking about the rumored merger. It’s true, until now, I haven’t been talking about it – for a few reasons a) it’s giving me a headache, b) it’s giving me a headache and c) did I mention it was giving me a headache?
Where I stand
I am a US Airways Chairman. Earlier this year, I considered making the switch over to United – but after 1 terrible trip on United to London, I realized that the grass isn’t always greener. After that trip – I’m still so traumatized that I haven’t blogged about it – I pretty much decided to stick with US Air where I have top-tier status and know what I’m getting.
So US Airways and American might merge. What does that really mean for me?
Airline Alliances – it seems likely that US Air would leave the Star Alliance. That thought gave me my first headache. It would be disappointing because I love using miles to fly Singapore, Lufthansa, Thai and other great Star Alliance airlines. American is the only US based airline in the OneWorld Alliance – and there are some good international partner carriers like Japan Airlines, Cathay Pacific, British Airways – and if US Airways joined, it would add more flexibility for flights from the US through Philly and Charlotte and Phoenix to connecting OneWorld routes.
Routing – After a lot of thought – and initial shock – headache #2 – it actually seems like it really wouldn’t mean much to me in terms of routing. It is, and always will be, a pain in the ass to get anywhere internationally from Charleston, South Carolina, my home base. Although it’s called Charleston International Airport – there are no commercial international flights. You could try to hop a C-17 to Afghanistan or a Boeing Dreamliner 787 being built for Air India (it’s set to roll out of the plant on April 27). Other than that, if you’re flying out of CHS there’s a connection in your future! A merger would open up direct flights for me from CHS to MIA and DFW.
I fly to Europe on US Air – that wouldn’t change.
I fly to SE Asia on Thai, usually, and that would have to change. However, since Thai cancelled its direct flights to/from LAX, OneWorld routing wouldn’t be much more complex than Star Alliance routing has become. Today on Thai my routes are CHS – CLT – LAX – ICN – BKK or CHS – CLT – FRA – BKK. Believe it or not, it now takes less time to fly from CHS through Europe to BKK. On OneWold my route would likely be CHS – CLT – LHR – BKK or something similar.
I fly to Australia and that would likely become a bit easier w/Qantas and Cathay Pacific options. Still a lot of time and connections from CHS.
Frequent Flyer Benefits – now, this is one area US Air could benefit from in a merger. AA offers its top-tier flyers 8 system wide upgrades – US Air gives out 4. AA offers the ability to purchase 500 mile upgrades – a nice benefit if you have friend traveling w/you but not on the same itinerary. Other than the fact that I’d hate to give up the Star Alliance benefits, it might work out better for US Airways members if an AA merger did happen.
So in the end, after I took and Advil, I realized that it wouldn’t really have much of a direct impact on me.
Have you thought about what the merger would mean to you? How would your travel change?