Management of the post-merger AAdvantage program was announced last week, and news that Suzanne Rubin would remain as president of the combined loyalty program was met with widespread applause….and relief. From my not so lofty perch, AAdvantage does a better job of rewarding elites (and every other category of mileage earner) than any other domestic airline program overall. MileagePlus is a close second for me. As a certified Atlantan I rarely fly American anymore, but I have a nice cache of miles between AAdvantage and Dividend Miles, and look forward to a combined balance in the future.

I take this news as another good sign in my faith that senior leadership at the new American realizes that a combined airline will be very different from the US Airways that they’ve managed quite well over the last few years. A key contributor to a good airline is an equally good loyalty program. Notably, I do not think this means AAdvantage won’t join the move towards a more revenue based program. I do, however, have high hopes that this may be a positive step towards a balanced approach to loyalty vs profit vs reward for American and its customers, and maybe even the entire industry. YMMV.

-MJ, July 24, 2013