Airline Changes Can Bring Changes to Frequent Flier Programs

December 1, 2011, Written By Lynn Oldshue

A merger or bankruptcy in the airline industry can sometimes result in changes in the frequent flier programs.

American Airlines has declared bankruptcy this week in an attempt to regain financial stability, but the company says the 69 million worldwide members of its AAdvantage Travel Awards program will not be affected by the bankruptcy. American Airlines’ petition for bankruptcy repeatedly claims that the airline must maintain its reward programs and fulfill its obligations so it can retain current customers and attract new customers.

Started thirty years ago, the AAdvantage Travel Awards Program now has 69 million worldwide members. The airline’s bankruptcy petition says that approximately 7,100 new members have enrolled in the AAdvantage Travel Awards Program, on a daily basis, over the last eight months.

American Airlines is the last major airlines to go through a bankruptcy or a merger. Delta and Northwest airlines both filed bankruptcy in 2005 and exited in 2007. US Airways filed for bankruptcy in 2002 and 2004.

United filed for bankruptcy in 2002 and exited in 2006. After bankruptcy, these airlines cut billions of dollars in costs, renegotiated labor contracts and some merged with other airlines.

Continental Airlines’ OnePass program ends Dec. 31, 2011. In 2010, Continental Airlines merged with United Airlines. On December 31, 2011, the Continental Airlines’ OnePass loyalty program will merge
into the United Airlines’ Mileage Plus program. Continental Airlines’ OnePass loyalty program will end and those frequent flyers will automatically be enrolled in the Mileage Plus program. United will
deposit award miles equal to OnePass award miles balance. Chase OnePass credit cards will still earn miles and benefits in the Mileage Plus program. Mileage Plus will recognize the OnePass members’ 2011
elite qualifying activity. OnePass members’ 2011 OnePass elite qualifying activity will be fully recognized in the Mileage Plus 2012 elite status and can even be combined with 2011 activity for Mileage Plus.

There will be changes for OnePass members. Continental OnePass miles did not have an expiration date, but beginning next year, miles will expire if there is no account activity for 18 months. The OnePass fine
print also says that “Many OnePass Upgrade Reward and Star Alliance Upgrade Award amounts will increase,” and “Some United and Star Alliance Award amounts will go up; however many popular reward routes, including North America to Mexico and the Caribbean, will remain the same.”


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The information contained within this article was accurate as of December 1, 2011. For up-to-date
information on any of the terms, cards or offers mentioned above, visit the issuer's website.


About Lynn Oldshue

Lynn Oldshue has written personal finance stories for LowCards.com for twelve years. She majored in public relations at Mississippi State University.
View all posts by Lynn Oldshue