The overnight filing for protection under US bankruptcy laws by American Airlines is unlikely to have any fast repercussions for Australian travellers.
The medium term consequences could well be another matter, and it is worth doing a search of both the US legacy and social media channels today to pick up on the pessimistic responses of some business analysts and consumers.
The contact point for most Australian travellers and American Airlines or AA is likely to be a code shared flight on a Qantas booking. American, like Qantas, is a foundation partner of the oneworld marketing alliance, and the two airlines have recently been given approval for a better joint business agreement that improves the service they can offer.
The proviso however is that such improvements depend on American growing its network rather than cutting it back, which is what most of the immediate commentary in the US anticipates.
The problem or ‘risk’ for Qantas frequent flyer members flying on American metal has always been to ensure that their reward points are earned under the terms of the Qantas program, not the American program, which without mincing words is inferior.
Qantas program, good. American program, what the …! Now some might see this as a minor problem, since Qantas.com and retailers are usually very rigorous about your points and any status credits earned, but never drop your guard, unless the price is so low that the ‘rewards’ component resides in the price, and foregone loyalty points are worth it.
This caution applies to any code shared booking, not just AA flight numbers.
As American Airlines reorganises it is highly likely it will ‘improve’ or ‘adjust’ its loyalty program, both words being marketing speak for ‘screw’. This may make future flight arrangements using American services less attractive than they are today.
There are several other things to note about American Airlines. It has a poor record of compliance with US safety regulations and has been fined tens of millions of dollars in recent years for gratuitous infringements, only a few of which have been reported by Plane Talking. And the leading US low cost carriers, Southwest and JetBlue, are widely endorsed in the US consumer media as offering superior in flight experiences, although the word ‘service’ in association with flying in America doesn’t carry the same weight as it does in this country, or much of this hemisphere.
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