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American, US Airways to merge reservation systems; one airline code starts Oct. 17

Travelers check in at the American Airlines ticket counter at Terminal 3 in O'Hare International Airport in Chicago on Saturday, Dec. 21, 2013. The National Weather Service issued a hazardous weather outlook for north central Illinois, northeast Illinois and northwest Indiana on Saturday morning.
Travelers check in at the American Airlines ticket counter at Terminal 3 in O'Hare International Airport in Chicago on Saturday, Dec. 21, 2013. The National Weather Service issued a hazardous weather outlook for north central Illinois, northeast Illinois and northwest Indiana on Saturday morning. AP

Travelers, get ready: American Airlines and US Airways have set Oct. 17 as the date by which US Airways flights will go away and the airline will function on a single, unified reservation system.

After the final US Airways flights, all flights at the merged airline will be coded as American Airlines flights.

“All flights on or after midnight local time Oct. 17 will fly under the AA code using the Sabre reservation system,” said Kerry Philipovitch, senior vice president of customer experience. The airline sent emails to notify customers of the change Friday.

The two companies merged in December 2013, and have been combining operations piece by piece since then. The reservation system is among any airline’s biggest and most complex computer systems, and combining them can lead to headaches and technical glitches.

American Airlines is hoping to minimize those delays by getting an early start. Next weekend, the airline will transfer all US Airways reservations made on or after Oct. 18 to the American Airlines system. That shouldn’t impact more than 10 percent of US Airways’ existing reservations, because few people book that far ahead.

Charlotte Douglas International Airport is American Airlines’ second-busiest hub, with hundreds of daily flights from the airline. More than 90 percent of travelers at Charlotte Douglas use American Airlines or US Airways. Here’s what you need to know if you’re traveling:

▪ If you have already booked a flight with US Airways on or after Oct. 17, you’ll get an email with the subject line “An important update to your reservation.” The email will have your new confirmation code to check in.

▪ On Oct. 17, the airlines will have one website, one mobile app and one set of procedures and rules. You won’t have any more trips that are partially flown by US Airways and partially by American Airlines, as has been the case since the merger.

▪ American executives said they have hired more than 600 new airport agents, many in hubs, to assist travelers, as well as 1,300 new reservation agents. The airline is also training 8,000 agents to use new reservation software.

▪ US Airways check-in kiosks and other airport infrastructure should be converted to American Airlines equipment by Oct. 17.

The US Airways-American Airlines integration won’t be complete on Oct. 17, however. The airline will still have numerous systems to merge, but most should be out of sight for passengers, such as flight crew management and maintenance systems.

Ely Portillo: 704-358-5041, @ESPortillo

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