|As they get bigger, your wallet will get smaller with less competition resulting in higher fares|
US Air expects the merger to be complete by the third quarter of 2013, which is a lofty goal considering that it took over a year for United and Continental to merge. AA will retain the name and logo of the new airline, and the AAdvantage program should take precedence. US Air, which is currently a Star Alliance member, will be switching over to AA's one world alliance. Many frequent flyer pundits anticipate devaluations for elite members, which has become the norm for carriers as they struggle to maintain profits. For example, AA currently has 3 elite tiers with top-tiered Executive Platinum members who receive 8 SWUs. US Air has 4 elite tiers with top-tiered Chairman Preferred members who receive 2 SWUs, so expect a balancing act there with EXPs getting shorted and AA creating a 4th mid-tier elite level. And AA elite Gold members, who currently have the best perks for a bottom tier elite on the market, should expect to see some substantial losses in the same way that Delta and most notably United dropped the bomb on their bottom tier elites.
AA has a good award redemption chart, and their miles are arguably one of the most valuable. US Air has a decent award chart, but it's coupled with the most incompetent phone agents on the planet who don't have clue who their airline partners are. Nevertheless, US Air has hidden gems such as North America to North Asia in biz class for only 90k miles and intra-North Asia biz class for 30k miles (the same itinerary would cost you 110k and 80k with AA). In other words, I don't expect much of a devaluation to their award chart as other pundits suggest since both programs have good redemption rates. Because miles will be consolidated from your AA and US Air accounts, now would be a good time to sign up for US Air's 40k miles credit card to maximize your award miles balance. AA doesn't have a good sign-up bonus credit card at the moment.
Elite benefits devaluation? Probably. Award chart devaluation? Maybe. Merger? Definitely. A merger made in hell? Possibly. Let's just keep our fingers cross in hopes that they don't pull a United, which is actually tough to beat. Stay tuned for the many updates to come at their new merger website.