US Airways Merger Update

Mergers/Finance, US Airways

US Airways sent me an update this week on the latest and greatest happenings with the merger, primarily focused on the website. For those who don’t get US Airways’ mailings but do use the website, I thought this was a very well written and helpful email.

The main point to focus on is the merger of reservations systems in the second quarter of next year. Many of the technological issues and customer service issues stem from the use of two different systems. Once these merge, there will be a significantly better experience for everyone.

I didn’t know this existed until getting this email, but if you go to this page, you can see all the website updates as they happen. Here is the letter in its entirety:

Dear Cranky,

It’s been several months since we launched the new usairways.com, and I want to give you an update on the status of enhancements to the new site and how they affect you.

As a quick review, here are some of the new features on the site, with a special emphasis on features that are important to our Preferred members:

  • Auto-upgrades and upgrade e-mail notification. We upgrade you automatically and e-mail you as soon as you’ve been upgraded. No more calling in for upgrades. This is new for “East” US Airways members.
  • A single login. Manage your Dividend Miles account online with a single
    login so you can book travel and manage your reservations without logging in twice.
  • Flexible mixed awards. It used to be that if a “Saver” seat was only available on one segment that the entire trip had to be purchased using the higher mileage “Premium” level. Now you can mix and match high and low mileage,
    so you can use the fewest possible miles for a trip.
  • Download reservations to Outlook. After booking, the “Download reservation to Outlook” feature will automatically apply your reservation to your Outlook calendar. That’s pretty handy.

Here are some other recent enhancements we’ve made.

We continue to upgrade usairways.com, so here’s the status of some of
our top projects:

  • One reservation system. One of the great challenges of an airline merger is
    that for a period of time we have two reservations systems, Sabre (from US
    Airways) and Shares (from America West). We must continue to use both systems until approximately 2nd quarter 2007 at which time they will both converge onto the Shares platform. Having these two systems has presented challenges with booking, checking in (both online and at kiosks) and we are working hard to overcome these as we move to one system.
  • Star Allianceâ„¢ and partner travel. Soon you’ll be able to book flights
    online on United, Lufthansa, Spanair, Air One, TAP Portugal and on our Caribbean partners. The delay in this functionality has been, you guessed it, two reservations systems.
  • Site Speed. It’s important to get the site up and moving quickly, and we’re
    working hard to improve response times, starting with the homepage.

Finally, just some of the important items to be addressed either when we
merge reservations systems or later in 2007:

  • Receive immediate upgrades. In 2007, we’ll be able to process upgrades in
    real time and notify you immediately when an upgrade clears. So if someone
    cancels a reservation for a First Class seat that you’re next in line for, you’ll get it immediately, and there will never be a need to call to confirm.
  • Utilize our streamlined Web Check-in. Navigating two reservations systems is tricky, and there are also too many steps involved in the Web Check-In process today, so we’re going to make it quicker and more intuitive.
  • Additional Star Alliance partners. As we improve connections to Star Alliance member airlines, we’ll add booking, upgrade, and other functionality to airlines in addition to those listed above.
  • Use miles to upgrade to First Class online. The way to guarantee an upgrade
    outside of your window is to use miles, and we need to let you do it online.
    We’re working diligently to build this for you.
  • Redeposit unused mileage awards. No need to call, just do it yourself.
  • View and manage all of your reservations online. Whether booked on our site or somewhere else, you’ll be able to see them all.
  • More options to make changes. We know that you want the ability to make most changes yourself online, particularly if you booked online. That’s one of the more complex capabilities that we’re building. Air itineraries and rules are extremely complicated and it takes a lot of programming to make that happen.
  • There’s a lot more than this. As of today our usairways.com “roadmap” contains 164 items and we add to it every day.
  • What are your ideas? Please tell us what you think we should add to the
    roadmap at
    ideas@usairways.com — we’ll review them all.

We have made great strides in improving the ease of booking and we appreciate
your patience. Airline websites present a particularly daunting challenge due to
the complex nature of our business, and we know what an important tool our site
is to you, our most important travelers.

Thanks again for your support and continued patience throughout the merger.
We hear over and over from our Preferred members that the benefits are far
outweighing the occasional difficulties. We wanted you to know that we are aware of the difficulties and we are working hard to get to one reservation system as quickly as possible. We’ll continue to communicate with you and provide updates on our progress. Thanks again for your business.

With Warm Regards,

Travis Christ

Vice President, Sales and Marketing

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