Should You Link Your American & US Airways Accounts?

As most of you probably know by now, US Airways Dividend Miles will be merged into the American AAdvantage program at an unspecified date in the second quarter of this year.

Combining-AAdvantage

Up until then the programs are being run separately, and while there are reciprocal benefits, the experience isn’t seamless across the two carriers.

As I posted about last night, in preparation for the merger of the two frequent flyer programs, American and US Airways are now letting you link your AAdvantage and Dividend Miles accounts.

There were quite a few questions about this, which I figured I’d answer here:

Why are American and US Airways letting you link accounts now?

Keep in mind across the two frequent flyer programs, the airlines literally have tens and tens of millions of members. Merging two programs of that size is no small task. So they want to leave plenty of time to make sure accounts are being linked correctly, before the merging of programs happens.

Presumably there will be a lot of bugs to work out, like names not quite matching between accounts, duplicate frequent flyer numbers, etc. So the sooner they can address those, the better.

What are the implications of linking your AAdvantage & Dividend Miles account?

This is the biggest misconception. The only implication of linking your account is that you’re making it easier for the two airlines to connect your AAdvantage and Dividend Miles “identities” when the programs actually merge, so that your miles, status, etc., will all be correct.

They’re not matching status between programs. They’re not letting you transfer miles between programs. And if you’re presently doing a challenge, transitioning status, etc., there are no implications to linking your accounts. Zero.

What’s the process of linking accounts like?

The process is really easy and takes less than a minute. Log into your AAdvantage or Dividend Miles account on aa.com or usairways.com (not the mobile site, but the full site), and you’ll see a pop-up prompting you to link your accounts. On the AAdvantage side, the prompt reads as follows:

Link-AAdvantage-Dividend-Miles-1

Once I put in my Dividend Miles number I was brought to a confirmation page:

Link-AAdvantage-Dividend-Miles-2

Super easy!

Bottom line

Linking accounts doesn’t have any immediate implications. Ultimately it makes the process of merging accounts for the “new AAdvantage” easier when the time comes, and more importantly, it allows you to be sure that there are no problems with linking your accounts. So that’s why I think you’re better off doing it sooner rather than later.

Comments

  1. Just as a quick note: my first name was a bit different between these two accounts so it would not let me match them. Changing the name on US Airways requires sending in passport or other identifying info, but changing the name on AA is done by the user directly. So in case of names not matching, change your AA name to your US Air name; then post-merger of accounts you can go back if you want.

  2. I suspect there has already been some form of preliminary internal matching between AA and US’ systems. I use different e-mail addresses for my AA and US accounts. Because they suggested that all info should match as closely as possible before you try to link the accounts, I logged into my US account BEFORE initiating the link, and what do you know– my e-mail address had already been changed to the one I use for my AA account!

  3. hi Ben,
    can you please do a post about what outlandish US Air awards we should consider before the programs merge? especially with their generous routing rules there are some options AA would never allow…
    thank you.

  4. So if we have USAir miles that are due to expire in March, is it correct that linking the two accounts won’t do anything to keep those from expiring?

  5. @DWT – Thanks for the name-change-on-AA tip, I did that and now it matched
    It wasn’t matching before due to a hyphen (e.g. AA has X-Y vs. USDM X Y)

    but I just tested it again, looks like I can change First Name on USDM too

  6. @ Lantean — Let me see what I can do. They’re less generous than before, though there are still some great values out there.

  7. You mentioned that the miles arent going to merge, are u sure thats the case? I opened a us airways cc because i was told that all your us airways miles will become AA and will add on to whatever miles you have with AA…

  8. @Bob: It’s been publicly announced that the two frequent flyer programs will merge by the end of March. So US Air miles should become AA miles at that point. They’re still working through the details, of course, but that’s the plan. And plans can always get delayed, of course. This “linking” thing that went live last night is just a first step — one that took me less than a minute.

  9. Thanks for clarifying, Now do i need to wait for my us airways miles to post (it might take a while, 8-10 weeks) in order to link accounts with AA or can I link already now and as it posts, it will automatically be redirected to my AA account?

  10. For someone who’s very close to booking a major award with US Airways or AA, would you recommend not linking the frequent-flier accounts just yet and waiting until after the award has been confirmed and the miles have been deducted for it? I’m trying to finalize an award using 220,000 US Airways Dividend Miles and fear that linking my accounts now could cause some sort of problem or glitch.

  11. Yes – onboard with Lantean…. please let us know what, if anything, we should be looking at trying to book before the shoe drops. (oh how I miss Star Alliance!) At this point in time, I just see my miles going to ensure coast to coast upgrades. 😉

  12. Funny, at first I attempted to link the accounts via the prompt at the US Airways site, and they couldn’t match me – twice. I then logged into AA and entered my Dividend# there, and it was done without a hitch.

  13. According to what I have read, you need to mail in documentation to change your last name on either a US Airways *or* AA account. Can you please tell me how you changed a last name without doing that?

    I just called US Airways and they want me to physically MAIL documents to prove the change…what is this, 1990? argh.

    Does anyone know an easier way to change my last name on either account?

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