American Airlines and US Airways on Monday embarked on the daunting multiyear process of shedding their former skins and forging the identity of the "new" American Airlines (Business Travel News). Day-one communications from executives repeated the phrase "business as usual" to describe the early weeks. But after a deliberate start to integration, deeper coordination and customer-facing benefits should begin to appear in the new year. In a memo to employees, new American Airlines CEO (and head of pre-existing US Airways) Doug Parker set his initial sights on getting past this month's peak travel period. "With the closing delay behind us, and the busy travel season right around the corner, we have made the decision to focus our attention on ensuring both airlines run a superior operation during the holiday travel season," he wrote. Parker anticipated that come January, "changes to the customer experience will start to accelerate." First up would be the establishment of a reciprocal code share between the carriers, which he called the first steps to "align the combined network schedule." The carriers next month also expect to enable passengers "to earn and redeem miles when traveling on either American Airlines or US Airways," and make available "reciprocal American Admirals Club and US Airways Club benefits and reciprocal elite recognition," according to the company, now called American Airlines Group. Full BTN story.
United Airlines and US Airways partnership to end March 30, 2014
US Airways announced that it has legally combined with American Airlines and will exit Star Alliance. Effective Monday, March 31, 2014, US Airways will no longer be a MileagePlus or codeshare partner with United Airlines. United customers with Star Alliance travel on US Airways flights will continue to receive Star Alliance benefits through March 30, 2014. The airlines are working together to ensure a smooth transition for MileagePlus members. According to UA:
* All current tickets for travel on US Airways will be honored.
* Award travel can be booked on US Airways using MileagePlus miles through March 30, 2014.
* As long as customers earn award miles they will also earn Premier qualifying miles and Premier qualifying segments. On eligible US Airways flights between January 1 and March 30, 2014, customers can earn also Premier qualifying dollars.
* Star Alliance status benefits will apply on US Airways through March 30, 2014.
Customers with a United Club membership or traveling on a United international premium cabin ticket can access US Airways Clubs through March 30, 2014.
The United States and South Africa have negotiated a new aviation agreement, marking the first time the two countries have had a formal pact since the U.S. terminated an accord with South Africa in 1986 over that country's apartheid policy. While service resumed informally between the two countries in 1991, it has been at modest levels. The new accord will allow American Airlines and South African Airways to expand their code-sharing agreement.
According to the Department of Transportation, the agreement will gradually expand service over a five-year period. The carriers of each country may operate 11 weekly passenger flights during the first year, increasing to 21 by the fifth year. Cargo operations are set at four weekly flights the first year, increasing to nine over the phase-in period. Currently, U.S. carriers may operate only seven weekly flights.
Airlines from each country may operate code-sharing arrangements with a third-country airline. No later than 18 months from now, the U.S. will be allowed to have two such alliances, increasing to four in the fourth year of the agreement.
Other provisions of the new bilateral include access for U.S. airlines to Johannesburg, Cape Town and Durban plus code-sharing services to five other South African cities; access for South African carriers to New York, Miami and four other U.S. cities yet to be selected; and code-share services to 10 other cities, increasing to 25 cities on Nov. 1, 1998.
United's new policy for same flight cabin buy ups- In response to customer feedback, United has made a policy adjustment for travel agencies with customers who want to buy up to a higher cabin on the same flight for the same day of travel. Effective immediately, the change penalty associated with buying up to a higher fare and cabin will be waived for agency issued tickets if there is no change to the flight and date.
United's changes to unaccompanied minor policy Effective for tickets issued on or after December 5, 2013, United will only accept unaccompanied minors for travel on nonstop United or United Express operated flights.
Ages 5-11: Unaccompanied minor service is required and must be booked on nonstop itineraries. This change is similar to the policies of several U.S. airlines.
Ages 12-17: Unaccompanied minor service remains optional, but must be booked on nonstop flights if requested. Children younger than 5 are not accepted as unaccompanied minors on United or United Express flights. United will honor unaccompanied minor requests for tickets purchased prior to December 5, 2013, where connecting United or United Express flights were included in the original itinerary, including ticket exchanges. For complete information on United's unaccompanied minor travel service, eligibility and fees, please visit united.com.
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