So suppose US Airways does manage to take over American, what will happen? The two big questions I'm asked over and over again are these:
Q. Will ticket prices go up?
A. Absolutely. Less competition, remember? Ongoing jet fuel expenses are more likely the near-term catalyst for higher airfares, with lack of competition being a long-term driver of rising ticket prices. In March of this year, the average price of jet fuel was about $3.26 per gallon, compared with $2.87 in December. Since a Boeing 737-700 holds nearly 6,900 gallons of fuel…Well, I'll leave the math to you.
Q. What will a merger mean for frequent flyer miles?
A. If history is any guide, not much. Airlines have been very, very careful about not messing with their awards programs no matter what else they might do during consolidation.
The bread-and-butter customers of legacy airlines are high-paying business travelers who accumulate virtual currency in the form of miles (or points) on the boss's dime, providing free travel perks on their next vacation hot spot.
By the way, should American and US Airways merge, it would be a powerhouse - ranking number one among U.S. carriers in terms of seat-miles-flown – putting it neck-and-neck with the relatively newly-minted Delta Air Lines.
Again, that's a big 'if' for now. However, if a merger does come off, perhaps the marketing team at Baskin-Robbins could take a shot at a celebratory flavor (Lunar Cheesecake honored the 1969 moon landing). Double-Airline Almond, anyone? Or maybe they should just stick with the obvious: Rocky Road.