Airline consolidation is in the headlines: Continental and United; SkyWest’s announced takeover of ExpressJet. we break down the myths.
Myth: Mergers mean decreased competition among airlines and thus higher fares for passengers.
Reality: Mergers can actually open up opportunities for low-cost carriers to win new routes: in August, Continental handed over 36 gates at Newark to Southwest to quell antitrust concerns.
Myth: A merger will take the best of each carrier when forming the new consolidated company.
Reality: One airline’s customer-friendly policy (no standby fees; refundable tickets) is not likely to survive if its partner has a more profitable way of doing business—even if it’s less popular.
Myth: Passengers who have accrued miles with both airlines can combine their accounts.
Reality: Mergers can take a long time to win government approval, so don’t let your miles expire in the interim. If you have no plans to fly, keep both accounts active by using your member numbers when you, say, shop online.