the cutthroat competition for credit-card travel perks,
the US Airways-American Airlines merger has dealt a blow
to American Express Platinum and Centurion cardholders.
day after the merger was approved, creating the world’s
largest airline, American announced that AmEx Platinum
and Centurion cards would no longer provide free entry
to US Airways and American’s airport lounges,
effective March 22.
Citibank’s Citi Executive AAdvantage "world
elite" MasterCard will carry complimentary access
to American Admirals and US Airways club lounges.
lounges are coveted by business travelers and frequent
fliers as quiet places to work and relax while waiting
for flights. The announcement angered elite AmEx
cardholders, who pay a $450 annual fee for the Platinum
card and $2,500 for the invitation-only Centurion black
reality is there are two very simple ways to solve this
problem: You can buy lounge access, or you can get a
different card that would provide you with access,"
CrankyFlier.com author Brett Snyder said in an
travelers think that every single change that happens
will be pro-consumer, then they are mistaken. That has
never happened in the history of mergers. It’s always
a trade-off, and the hope is that the end result makes
people happier on the whole than the previous
Kelly, founder of ThePointsGuy.com, said: "There
are a lot of unhappy cardholders. That’s just the name
of the game. They always say mergers are best for
consumers. They are best for business. These are
businesses. They are there to make money, and they think
that they can make more money going with a different
credit-card issuer and taking perks away."
for the Pennsylvania Bureau of Consumer Protection said
the matter was between the cardholder and the
companies "can change, add or diminish benefits
offered with a card at any time if the contract allows
such changes," said Joe Peters, a spokesman for
Pennsylvania Attorney General Kathleen Kane.
issues in the US Airways-American merger were about the
fares and the cities they served, Peters said.
"This issue is about the relationship between
airlines and their affinity cards, and those
relationships change all the time."
offset the loss of lounge benefits, American Express is
offering Platinum and Centurion card members a $200
credit toward incidental airline fees and has opened
lounges in Las Vegas and Dallas, with others due to open
soon at San Francisco and New York LaGuardia airports.
The company plans more but has not said where.
has been American’s AAdvantage credit-card partner for
a quarter-century. In 2009, when American was in Chapter
11 bankruptcy seeking to boost its liquidity, Citibank
advanced American $1 billion by pre-purchasing miles in
the AAdvantage frequent-flier program.
week, Delta Air Lines announced that the AmEx Platinum
card would still provide complimentary entry to Delta
Sky Clubs, but that as of May 1 it will cost $29 to
bring a guest. The annual membership fee to join Delta’s
airport lounges is going from $450 a year for an
individual to $695 if the member brings guests.
be clear: Airlines are doing this all over," said
aviation consultant Michael Boyd, who predicts 2014 will
be a year of "disruptive" realities for air
travel, including increases in miles needed for free
travel at some airlines, requirements for fare-spend
increases to redeem miles, and more common co-pays.
don’t need frequent-flier programs to keep loyal
customers as they did 30 years ago, Boyd said: With just
four comprehensive network carriers — United, Delta,
Southwest, and the new American — people will fly them
or they won’t fly. Operators such as Alaska, Frontier,
Spirit, JetBlue and Virgin America don’t fly
programs have outlived their original purpose," he
said. "Today, they are vehicles where consumers
prove their loyalty to the airline in exchange for
receiving the right to earn ‘noninconveniences’ —
boarding earlier, a free checked bag, getting on in Zone
2 instead of Zone 8. You are going to see the cost of
membership in frequent-flier programs and club rooms go
up and perks go away."