One Airline’s Club Access is Now Exclusive to Citi

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Last December American Express Platinum card members were told they would be losing complimentary access to American Airlines Admirals Club lounges and US Airways Club locations starting March 22. That’s good news for Citi, who now exclusively offers American Airlines and US Airways lounge access to some of their card members. This is huge because Citi no longer has to compete with American Express members that fly on American Airlines and US Airways, which will be merging to make the “new American.”

Let’s take a look at what benefits this merger will bring to Citi and some of their cardmembers.

Details of the Merger

The changes have been slow in order to make the merger as seamless as possible for their cardholders. The two airlines are maintaining separate websites and reservation systems, but as of January 23, the two airlines started selling codeshare tickets, which just means both airlines can sell tickets for either airline. A press release by the President of American Airlines stated the merger will keep the American Airlines brand name, but most references about the merger state “New American,” so I’m thinking the name will just be “American.”

Additional details include:

  • Both AAdvantage and Dividend Miles program members can earn and redeem miles for travel on either airline
  • No miles balances will be lost or de-valued
  • All eligible travel will count as elite status qualification on both airlines (*Miles currently can’t be combined between the programs to qualify for elite status)
  • US Airways Club members will no longer have access to United Clubs starting March 31
  • Monthly traveler and daily Wi-Fi passes are now valid on both airlines
  • US Airways will leave the Star Alliance network on March 30
  • Current policies on baggage fees, standby travel, pets, preferred seating, and other ticketing policies will remain unchanged by each airline.

According to US Airways, starting March 31, 2014, the next step in the airline merger is an alliance with oneworld ®, a frequent flier program that travels to almost 1,000 destinations around the world.

With oneworld, cardholders can expect:

  • Service to over 150 countries
  • One-stop locations to earn and redeem miles for travel on any oneworld member airline
  • Access to almost 600 airport lounges worldwide when you fly First or Business Class on any oneworld member airline, or if you’re a oneworld Emerald or Sapphire member.
  • Elite benefits like priority check-in, pre-reserved seats, waitlist priority, and more, depending on your status tier.

In the future, members can expect frequent flier programs to merge in 2015.

Which Citi Cardmembers Benefit?

Unfortunately not all Citi rewards card members will have access to this benefit. Only Citi Executive/AAdvantage World Elite MasterCard cardmembers, one of Citi’s premium credit cards, will have access to this exclusive benefit, and with a $450 annual fee, they better! The frequent traveler will love having access to 35 Admiral Club locations, plus  access to all 18 domestic US Airways Clubs, including Airways Clubs in airports where Admirals Club lounges aren’t currently offered.

The Citi® / AAdvantage® Executive World Elite™ MasterCard® is an excellent rewards card for a number of reasons:

  • Earn 50,000 American Airlines AAdvantage® bonus miles after spending $5,000 in purchases within the first 3 months of account opening* 
  • Admirals Club® membership for you with guest privileges* 
  • Complimentary Admirals Club® lounge access for authorized users
  • 10,000 Elite Qualifying Miles from American Airlines after $40,000 spent on purchases every year (January through December billing statement)*
  • No Foreign Transaction Fees on purchases*
  • Earn 2 AAdvantage® miles for every $1 spent on eligible American Airlines purchases and 1 AAdvantage® mile for every $1 spent on other purchases* 
  • First checked bag is free on domestic American Airlines itineraries for you and up to eight companions traveling with you on the same reservation*In addition to the above benefits, cardholders also get all the benefits that come with being an Elite MasterCard cardholder. You must have excellent credit to qualify for this offer.

*Editorial Note: This content is not provided by Citibank. Any opinions, analyses, reviews or recommendations expressed in this article are those of the author’s alone, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by Citibank.

*The content in this article is accurate at the publishing date, and may be subject to changes per the card issuer.

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