In early May, I reported a two-minute warning of sorts that the most important step of the American Airlines/US Airways merger integration was on the way, with the reservation systems scheduled to be folded into one sometime in October, with a 90-day wind-down period to begin in July.
From Terry Maxon’s Airline Biz Blog, we found out yesterday that a semi-official D-Day has been formally announced. The wind-down period begins next weekend (July 17-18), with the reservation system cutover, and therefore the end of US Airways as a separate flying entity, to be completed Saturday, October 17th.
For all you avgeeks out there that are licking your lips at the possibility of being on the very last US Airways flight on Friday, October 16th, Maxon suggests two options based on today’s schedule, US 434 from San Francisco to Philadelphia, and US 496 from Phoenix to Denver, both scheduled to take off at 9:55 P.M. local time (PDT). Which one to choose?
From a purist’s point of view, I’d suggest Flight 434, primarily because it is scheduled to land the latest, at 6:18 A.M. EDT on Saturday morning (hence the title of the post), versus 12:34 A.M. MDT for the PHX-DEN flight. To me anyway, by taking the SFO-PHL flight, you’d be stepping off the very last US Airways flight once you disembark in Philadelphia.
Before you rush to make your reservations, though, I would suggest proceeding cautiously. As my previous report indicated, the 90-day wind-down period kicks off with an announced schedule change, by which all US Airways flight numbers switch to American flight numbers for flights departing on or after October 17. That hasn’t happened yet, thus the semi-official nature of the announcement. A quick check of AA.com continues to show US Airways flight numbers and “operated by US Airways” for flights beyond the 17th, and US Airways is still accepting reservations beyond the 17th.
I would at least wait until next weekend, when the 90-day cooling off period officially kicks off, and presumably, the schedule change will be loaded into the system. But on the assumption that things won’t change too terribly much, US 434 and US 496 would still be good starting points in your search. I missed out on the opportunity to fly the final AirTran flight last December, and I’ll probably at least try to make this one. Since the 17th is a Saturday, and a late evening departure out of PHX or SFO makes it possible to leave Dallas late enough to avoid missing more than an hour or two of work, it’ll actually be fairly convenient to make it.
My previous clickbait headline notwithstanding, American and US Airways appear to be handling the integration by the book, with an approach that significantly minimizes the number of reservations that will actually have to be migrated from the US Airways system to the American system (about 10 percent of all bookings according to American officials). And, an enormous thank you to Doug Parker et. al. for using American’s larger Sabre system as the single continuing reservations system, as opposed to the awful SHARES system that continues to give United fits. I’d mentioned at the end of the previous post that I’m not anticipating major issues, but if you have any American or US Airways flights booked after October 17th, it would be wise to check to make sure the impending schedule change hasn’t thrown a wrench into your connections.
Photo at top: US Airways jet sitting at the gate at DFW Airport Terminal E, November 15, 2014.