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 / Updated  / Source: TODAY
By Harriet Baskas

Hold onto your miles!

Another major step in the merging of American Airlines and US Airways takes places Saturday, March 28 when the U.S. Airways’ Dividend Mileage frequent flyer program gets folded into the AAdvantage program in a process the airline predicts will take a few days.

In a “What to expect” during the transition message on its website, American says there’s nothing program members need to do.

“If we’re combining your Dividend Miles and AAdvantage accounts or creating a new AAdvantage account for you, we’ll email you when your Dividend Miles balance has been moved over.”

Travelers who are part of U.S. Airways’ Dividend Miles program only may get an email with their new AAdvantage account balance and account number as early as Saturday. The airline said it may take a few days longer to update and merge profiles for those with accounts in both programs.

If you don’t get a confirming email from American Airlines right away, don’t worry, said Brian Kelly, founder of ThePointsGuy.com, “I'd wait until the end of next week.” If you didn't get an email from American Airlines about your new account at all, Kelly suggests contacting customer service by phone, but also checking your email spam box in case the automated message from the airline gets caught in the trash.

And don’t fret if you missed the March 25 deadline for using U.S. Airways Dividend Miles to book travel.

“You missed redeeming less miles for certain first and business class awards,” said Kelly, “although in general AA miles are about as valuable as US Airways miles and they have more generous rules, such as one-way awards at half the price of roundtrip and free date changes.”

The combination of the U.S. Airways Dividend Miles program, with 30 million members, and the American Airlines AAdvantage program, with 70 million members, has pros and cons for travelers, said Kelly, especially for those with lots of miles in one or both programs.

One benefit is that all members with elite status, including AAdvantage Gold, Platinum or Executive Platinum, will get complimentary upgrades for trips of 500 miles or less. But that means it will likely get harder for those who previously had US Airways Silver, Gold and Platinum status to get upgraded.

“They go from a complimentary upgrade program to AAdvantage, where you need to use E500 upgrade certificates,” said Kelly. “Additionally, American Executive Platinum members will now also have to compete with US Airways Chairman’s Preferred members for upgrades, though the upgrade policy on US Airways-operated flights will improve.”