The only frequent flyer program merger I really remember is that of the Piedmont program (my first) into the then US Air program. They added a 7 in front of my Piedmont number, and everything kind of magically rolled together. Later, I got a new US Airways Dividend Miles number, no doubt related to that airline’s adaption of the Sabre computer system. Then came the US – HP merger, and somehow I managed to keep my US number. And that is the account that will soon be merged into my AAdvantage account.

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As has been widely reported, American has made it official that March 28 will be a big day. To their credit, American is taking a very methodical approach. Here’s how they put it in their email to US members today.

On March 28, we’ll begin moving Dividend Miles® accounts into the AAdvantage® program. This transition to a single loyalty program will take several days.

As you requested, we’ll transfer your Dividend Miles award mileage balance, Preferred-qualifying activity and million mile balance into your AAdvantage account on a one-to-one ratio. We’ll determine your elite status level by looking at your combined elite-qualifying activity for 2014, and separately, your combined 2015 year-to-date elite-qualifying activity.

We’ll email you when we start moving your Dividend Miles balances and later when everything is combined. During this transition, and will only show your AAdvantage account balance. Until everything is combined, you can continue using your primary loyalty account.

Here’s what you can expect in the coming days:

Redeeming Dividend Miles for travel

Please complete any pending or immediate Dividend Miles redemptions before March 25 at 11:59 p.m. CDT. After that, we’ll disable Dividend Miles redemptions. Once we’ve merged your accounts, which will take several days, you’ll be able to redeem on and with AAdvantage reservations.

Using your credit card

US Airways Dividend Miles® MasterCard® credit cards will soon be replaced with new AAdvantage® AviatorTM MasterCard® credit cards. Until your new credit card arrives, continue to use your current US Airways Dividend Miles MasterCard.

Traveling with us

If you’ve already booked travel on American or US Airways using your Dividend Miles number, we’ll update your reservation with your AAdvantage number.

Why We Will Remember This

As a program with a combined 100 million members, this is a big deal. The work going on behind the scenes to merge program data is a larger data migration project than I can imagine. It’s reasonable to expect a few glitches, and I would take the steps I recommended here as soon as possible. I think most of us get that this is not a small undertaking, but the real reason we will remember this is the way American has communicated with us. I can’t count the number of emails I’ve had from American and US Airways spelling out exactly what was going to happen and how, especially in recent days as we’ve move ever closer to the merger date for the loyalty program. So far, this has been a model of how to manage things, and a model of how to communicate with program members. So far, so good.

-MJ, March 24, 2015