Being a US Citizen I’ve flown domestically in the US many times. Recently Cathay Pacific’s oneworld alliance partners, US Air and American Airlines decided to merge. I recently took a trip from New York LGA to Long Beach, California LGB and here’s a few things I noticed when I flew both AA and US on the same ticket.
The airlines are still officially separate. I bought a ticket via US Airways. It was a US codeshare flight operated by AA connecting to a US operated flight. I am entitled to a free bag on AA because I have the Citibank American Airlines credit card. I am also entitled to a free bag on US because I have the Barclays US Airways credit card. However, when I used the computer to check-in it didn’t recognize I get a free bag on the first AA operated flight because I had my US frequent flyer number in the computer. I had to go to the agent to get them to add my AA number in, and then I was eligible for the free bag. It’s very quirky so keep in mind you need the operating flight’s FF # to get the free bag and you can’t change the FF # in the computer yourself.
I also couldn’t get the boarding pass for my US flight until I reached my connection city, are you kidding me? Not a big deal but I found it unusual. I like to get my boarding pass earlier because usually you can snag a better seat that way in most instances before everyone else checks in.
American Airlines doesn’t mention anything about the merger on the plane. Basically it’s business as usual. Even when announcing connecting gate information, they only provide connection information for AA operated flights, not US flights. So I needed to check the monitors at the airport as usual. I would think since the airlines were merging they would announce both AA and US connections.
Product wise I find the AA seats better. There’s more recline and the headrest is moveable and has to flaps so you don’t end up on your neighbors shoulder. Luckily I scored a Main Cabin ExtrAA seat. They give you the can when you order drinks from the flight attendants, but the cups are smaller than US.
AA agents were at the gate boarding the US flight. US Air operationally on-board does mention the merger with AA. Drinks they don’t give you the can, but pour it out into a larger cup for you which is still different than AA. You know my thoughts on the seat from above. Plus I was stuck in a regular seat so the legroom was much tighter but still acceptable for me at 5’8”. Recline sucked on US though.
Upon arriving at Long Beach, my checked baggage didn’t come out on the belt. This was somewhat expected since I had some tight connections due to delays. I filed a delayed baggage claim and put in a request for reimbursement of delayed baggage expenses of about $150 USD. We’ll see if I ever get that covered and I’ll post about it if and when that happens, probably a few weeks. The baggage experience was poor, I had to go back to the airport 24 hours later and pick it up myself.
I found it a bit weird that the operations are still different between the two airlines. I understand the merger isn’t yet complete and the systems take time to migrate. However, it’s not very clear which airline’s frequent flyer benefits you should be following. Since they’re cross selling tickets now you’d expect everything to be basically the same whether you’re flying AA or US.
I also feel bad that AA ignores US while US mentions AA. It’s supposed to be a merger but it feels as though AA is basically gobbling up US and ignoring it during the merger.