Reciprocity, and a long way yet to go, for American Airlines, US Airways

Actually getting the merger between American Airlines and US Airways finalized took a while. Getting the first bits of cross-airline recognition implemented went much more quickly; it took less than a month from the closing of the merger until the initial changes were rolled out to travelers. And, sure, the changes made are the low-hanging fruit, but they are significant to the very frequent flyers, the passengers who theoretically provide the bulk of the profits to the airline.


The reciprocity announced today is pretty simple and easily summed into three categories:

  • Reciprocal lounge access for members – Now up to 54 total lounges in 45 airports; the 45 airport footprint is the largest of US carriers and possibly the most of any carrier worldwide.
  • Reciprocal earn & burn for miles – The earning includes elite status bonus miles and qualification towards elite status for all US or AA operated flights when credited to either program. Similarly, redemption across both carriers is possible using the award chart from the program where the miles are being redeemed. The site already shows US-operated flights as options and, rather surprisingly, the US site is showing AA flights as award options, too.
  • Limited reciprocal elite benefits – Some elite benefits, such as priority baggage handling, security screening, boarding and check-in services are being offered across both airlines to all elite members of both programs. Other elite benefits such as upgrades are not being offered. Not too surprising as the upgrades are run with rather different policies today and it is not yet clear which will be kept in the future.

So, yes, this was quick action on the part of the new American to get some benefits in place. That’s great news for customers. But we’re a long, long way away from everything being done. Baby steps in the right direction is certainly a good thing.

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Seth Miller

I'm Seth, also known as the Wandering Aramean. I was bit by the travel bug 30 years ago and there's no sign of a cure. I fly ~200,000 miles annually; these are my stories. You can connect with me on Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn.


      1. Was really shocked when I saw my US EWR-PHL flight (connecting to DUB) last year only earned 86 UA/MP miles even though I was a 1K and had been used to 500-mile PQM minimums! Hope this does change.

  1. Still some issues though …. Booking an award ticket on AA metal flights from a non-status US account and putting my AA Gold number into the reservation doesn’t allow me to pick MCE seats (or in fact ANY seats!) on the AA flights (“Seat map not available). If I switch to US metal flights, I can indeed pick Exit Row seats with my AA Gold number in. But I really need the AA-metal flights, but don’t want to pull the trigger unless I’m SURE that I can get MCE seats on those flights due to AA Gold status (Also, on the confirmation page, if you click on the “Baggage Policies” link, you get told that Star Alliance Gold pax are exempt from bag charges. Nothing about AA status pax bag charges)

    1. Those are similar to the problems you get booking those awards from Avios, right?

      It sucks, but that seems to be something in the AA systems which isn’t going away anytime soon.

  2. Dunno, but that sounds like it might be right. Had someone redeem Avios for me for an AA flight and indeed I was able to go into the AA site and add my elite #, pick seats, add TT #. So, I hope you’re right 🙂 Thanks.

  3. Is there any mention in regards to the US Airways companion pass that comes with the credit card? Does anyone know if we can use that on AA flights too now?


  4. How do reciprocal elite bonuses work? If I have higher status on US than on AA, am I supposed to start using my US number on my AA flights?

  5. The availability of US flights with AA miles is all to the good. I’m seeing excellent new options on future AA itineraries I’m interested in, such as Europe during off-peak this spring, which goes much further into the spring with AA.

    I do find it interesting that AA is able to get that US information into their system so quickly, while their plodding piece by piece addition of OneWorld partner airlines into their search function continues at a glacial pace over many years.

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