The online blogosphere has been weighing in on the recent decision by the US Justice Department to block the merger of AA and US. While this affects mostly people who travel in the US only, I think I’ll provide my thoughts here, on a perspective from Asia’s travelers.
Overall I do believe this consolidation of airlines is bad for the consumer, so I am happy that the Justice Department finally put a stop to the consolidation of all of these airlines. I wish United and Delta weren’t as big neither, but those mergers went through. So on a general comment, I think this block is a positive note for all travelers, especially those in the US to maintain some competition.
From a perspective of traveling in Asia this really doesn’t have any affect on consumers since US Airways doesn’t fly to Asia at all. The only drawback I can really see if you’re flying from Asia on a oneworld carrier such as Cathay Pacific or Japan Airlines and connecting to a city in the US which only US serves, and AA doesn’t. However, I’m sure this is such a small fraction of the travelling public that I doubt there would’ve been much benefit to a consolidated airline.
On a mileage redemption point of view, I think this is a great benefit to keep US Airways separate. As I have mentioned in the past about the US Airways 100% bonus on purchased miles, you can purchase US Airways often at a massive discount, and redeem them for flights on Star Alliance carriers who serve Asia and fly around the world on very creative routings. In fact, US Airways is also offering this bonus this month.
By purchasing US Airways miles, you can fly roundtrip in business for 90K miles from North Asia, which includes Hong Kong, to North America and back. You can route yourself using a myriad of routes and carriers. In fact, last week I flew HKG – BKK – ZRH – FRA – JFK – DCA – LAX – SFO – YVR – HKG all in business and for only 90K miles or $1575 if you buy the miles. If you want to travel in economy it’s only 60K miles or $1050 if you buy the miles. A cheap way to get a round the world trip if you ask me.
In summary I’m glad the American Airlines and US Airways merger was blocked, not really for the sake of cheaper fares, but for the sake of keeping the awesome redemptions on US Airways available! Keep in mind the merger still might go through, but this is certainly a massive judgement to overcome and will create delays.