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Welcome change to London Heathrow for Star Alliance Airlines Passengers

Unlike some other travel writers and air travel commentators, I’m still a big fan of airline alliances. Those are the large, multi-airline, varying degrees of cooperation, groupings of airlines, promising “seamless travel”, “earn and redeem across our network”, “global recognition”, and other buzzwordy come-ons that often fall short. But not always. Of the three big alliances, oneworld, Skyteam, and Star Alliance, the latter, Star, is my favorite. Not only nor even primarily because it is the biggest, not because it’s the oldest, but because it is by far the most integrated. They come closer to delivering more of those cloudy benefits than do the other two, in my experience as a traveler and in what I read as an analyst of the travel scene. They are definitely doing so with this move.

Artist rendition of the completed T2 LHR Star Alliance common checkin area

Artist Rendition of the completed LHR Terminal 2 Common Check-in area. Courtesy Future Travel Experience. Click the image for Ryan Ghee’s article.

Star’s “Move Under One Roof” initiative – something they all talk about, but *A (as it’s often abbreviated on sites such as Flyertalk) is doing so much more with it. This initiative in London, at London’s premier international airport, Heathrow, really outdoes everybody. Read the story from Future Travel Experience, watch the video in that link, and then read on here. Continue reading »

Day One of the new American Airlines

Congratulations to the people of US Airways, American Airlines, and all who worked to build this new company, which came into existence a few hours ago: American Airlines Group.

Whether you supported this merger, were neutral, were ambivalent, or hated the idea, it’s now a done deal. One company. Let’s hope it succeeds, because there are real men and women working at it, and at its vendors, suppliers, agents, affiliates, whose income and households depend on their employment. There are shareholders of the new American Airlines stock, including retirement funds, and of both airlines’ debt instruments, again including retirement funds. So whether it’s bigger than you wanted, whether you love’em or hate’em, there are real people’s lives at play here. Both AA and US (the airlines of the new company) have made a lot of improvements recently, so I’m hopeful for them. I also have some friends who work for them, and that’s my “skin in the game” right there – I want my friends to continue to have jobs!

Now some important questions, and what’s known of the answers, and advice. I’m going to skip most of the common stuff, because you’re better off clicking the picture above, which will take you to the American Airlines website aa.com’s special merger info page, www.aa.com/arriving. Or to the USAirways.com version of the merger info page.

That’s your first lesson, right there. US Airways and American Airlines are still two entirely separate airlines. They have two entirely separate websites. Right now, they have absolutely nothing in common, except that as of early this morning, Dec. 9, 2013, they are now both owned by the same company. You buy US Airways tickets at usairways.com. You buy American Airlines tickets at aa.com. You check in, whether online or at the airport, at the appropriate American or US Airways location. Nobody from American Airlines (the airline itself) can yet help you with anything to do with a US Airways flight, ticket, reservation, frequent flyer account, payment issue, nor anything else. Nobody from US Airways can yet help you with anything to do with American. It will be that way for months. On some issues, possibly for a few years.

In other words, as a traveler about to head out on a business trip, or for holiday season vacations and family visits, absolutely nothing has changed. Continue reading »

First thoughts on the just-approved AA-US Merger

Not sure I like this. In fact, as a relatively experienced air traveler, pretty sure I don’t.

Need some background on the approval today? Try this NBC News story on the Justice Department coming to terms with American and US Airways.

US and AA planes showing their tailfin livery

US Airways and American Airlines planes. Click the image for the official “New American is Arriving” website.

I’m torn in a few directions on it. Continue reading »

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