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Travel Tip: What Mergers Mean For You

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Just a few years ago, the U.S. had six major legacy airlines: Delta, United Airlines, Northwest, American, US Airways and Continental.

Then Delta merged with Northwest, United merged with Continental, and now, the last two standalones  have announced their impending merger for a grand total of…three legacy airlines.

One of the major byproducts of a merger is the cut in capacity across the board.

The remaining airlines are operating fewer aircraft, flying fewer domestic routes and, as a result, airfares are heading skyward.

If history is any guide, small and midsized cities will be the biggest losers with  reduced or eliminated air service. Most recently, we saw this after the Southwest/Air Tran merger.

Those smaller city airports then have to scramble to attract other airlines, like Allegiant, Frontier and JetBlue. Or they close terminals and runways to save on costs.

But where you’re going to feel the most impact is in your frequent-flier mile account. Although your miles are still valid, reduced air service simply means it will get harder and harder to use those miles.

So keep watching this space, boys and girls. It’s going to be a bumpy ride.

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