American & US Airways Getting Single Operating Certificate — So What?

While it’s easy to feel like the merger between American & US Airways has been moving at a snail’s pace (even though I don’t really think it has), the process is finally gaining momentum.

As we speak, the Dividend Miles program is being merged into the AAdvantage program, meaning there will finally be fully reciprocal elite benefits between the two airlines.

The Dallas Morning News is now reporting that American and US Airways are on track to receive their single operating certificate on April 8, 2015.

American-777

What are the implications of this?

For those of you not familiar with airline operating certificates, here are the implications of that:

“Since the merger closed, we’ve been working steadily towards a Single Operating Certificate, or SOC. On April 8 we expect to receive our SOC from the Federal Aviation Administration.

“Today, both American and US Airways operate under their own certificates. With SOC, the FAA recognizes American can legally operate as a single airline.

“Achieving SOC is a major milestone, but it does not mean that our integration is complete. While some of our operating policies and procedures will remain separate at SOC, the majority of our flight, maintenance and dispatch procedures will be identical for all flights that we operate.”

In other words, as a consumer this means absolutely nothing. A single operating certificate simply means that they’re finally recognized by the FAA as a single airline, and that they’re harmonizing procedures for their flights in terms of maintenance, dispatch, etc.

As a consumer, what you should care about is when American and US Airways are operating on a single reservations system. This should happen at some point in the fourth quarter of this year. At that point the operation will feel much more like a single entity from our standpoint. Agents from both airlines will be working on the same reservations system and see the same prices, upgrade availability, seats, etc.

Bottom line

While getting a single operating certificate is important on the back end of things, it’s not something that we’ll notice as customers. This is an important milestone for the “new American,” though.

Comments

  1. So when the reservation systems merge, will US Airways flight numbers just dissappear and be replaced with AA ones?

  2. @ Abdel Rahim Abdallah — I’m not sure if that’s technically the time when the US Airways name goes away, but regardless there won’t be a need for codeshares anymore, since they’ll be using the same system with the same inventory, etc.

  3. Does this mean that the companion certificate that comes with the US Airways card must be used by April 8? As far as I know, the tickets are restricted to flights on US metal…which their won’t be after the single certificate.

  4. @ Erik — Nope. The US Airways name isn’t going away. You can continue to use it on US Airways metal.

  5. Does this have any implications for the Companion certificates from US? Will we soon be able to use those on American?

  6. No changes to the companion certificate procedures. You have to book by the date specified in your certificate, i.e., September 30 for just about everyone. Through that date, US Airways and American will still be operating as two separate airlines, which means that the certificates are still good for Continental United States travel involving tickets of $250 or more (ex taxes & fees) on US Airways metal only. You will also have to pay for it with either your Barclays US Airways Card or, if it’s been replaced by the red Aviator Card, then that card.

    That last little credit card point is the only nuance here that I’m aware of and (as I hope you can tell) I’ve been following this very closely.

  7. Hi! I just booked an award for a friend as 2 separate tickets (CLT-MIA on US Air then MIA-SAL on AA) – will I need to call to get them combined as one itinerary or will that take care of itself with the merger (trip is in May)?

  8. @ Sean — You can’t combine two itineraries (even if they’re on the same carrier), but they should be able to check your friend all the way through (including his/her bags).

  9. An experience of mine highlights one consumer benefit of the SOC. Back when UA and CO were on separate SOCs, I had a connection in IAH to United metal that incurred an 8-hour maintenance delay. Why 8 hours? They had to fly in a UA mechanic from another city, even though IAH was teeming with CO mechanics, as the carriers were still technically 2 separate given they weren’t yet operating under a single SOC. Isolated incident I know, but thought I’d mention it.

  10. @ Nai — Hah, I didn’t book anything too exciting, unfortunately. Will just wait for them to be converted into AAdvantage miles.

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