Will US Air/American Merger Help Solve the Industry’s PR Problems?

It’s done: American Airlines and US Airways have officially announced plans to merge, thereby creating the world’s largest carrier fit to compete with Delta and United (which went through mergers of their own in recent years). The newly formed super-airline will operate under the American name, and it will keep that brand’s awesome new logo.

Of course the merger is in the financial interests of all involved parties. But will it help them overcome the fact that the public hates them? We don’t think so. The Justice Department rejected the proposed US Air/United merger in 2001 because “it would reduce choice and possibly lead to higher fares”. Now try and guess what this merger will bring:

  • Service cuts (reduced choice)!
  • Fare hikes (higher fees)!
  • More add-on fees for checking bags, re-booking reservations, choosing seats, etc…

Sounds great, right? Of course, American will now have the advertising and PR budget of the biggest name in town. How should they spend it?

We have a feeling we will be seeing plenty of announcements and generic ads about how American is stronger and better able to serve its customers after emerging from bankruptcy (by charging us $25 for a checked bag and $35 for a window seat on top of the $500 we paid for round-trip tickets to Texas–ugh). There will be lots of “brand repair” attempts and we expect American to try and woo customers with discounts and package deals just like Delta did after its disastrous 2010.

Will the public still hate American Airlines? Of course we will! Unfortunately, consolidation and collusion make our opinions irrelevant. We have no choice. Come to think of it, American should probably slash its PR budget for the next few years just to show us how little they care.

But hey, at least we’ll still have fully reclining seats.