TWA Aviators

TWA Aviators

Forgive the Aviators members if they are feeling a little unwanted in the wake of American Airlines buyout of TWA.

American Airlines AAdvantage members can use their miles on TWA, but TWA customers will have to wait before receiving reciprocal treatment. American won’t allow TWA miles to be used on American until a court approves a merger of the two frequent-flyer programs.

Six months after approval is granted, TWA’s frequent-flyer members — along with their accumulated miles –will be switched automatically to American’s AAdvantage program, says American spokesman Marty Heires.

In January, shortly after the TWA purchase was announced, Fort-Worth-based American assured members of TWA’s Aviators program that their mileage balances would be protected. The airline also said it would allow reciprocal use of the two carriers’ airport-lounge clubs.

Something is funny here. Why? Well, as far as we know, there is nothing that requires a merger of these programs. After all, TWA has been part of the AAdvantage program before and that previous partnership did, by-the-way, include redemption on American, and did not require anything to do with the courts. We think two factors are responsible for the current approach by American: 1) By not allowing TWA members to redeem on American, it affords American no additional award redemption pressure, given that there is a severance date for US Airways members. As the proposed US Airways merger with United lingers on, it gives cause to suspect that many more US Airways members are redeeming on American, as there is no sign yet that United wants those frequent flyers. Having both TWA and US Airways members redeeming at the same time on a network as summer closes in, isn’t the best position for AAdvantage. The main difference? American at least gets paid for redemption from US Airways, but with TWA, since they now own it, they aren’t going to get a penny. 2) It also gives American more time to shed conflicting partnerships before the TWA liability kicks in. Stay tuned.

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