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By Michael Banko

I’m sure many of you are wondering what will happen with airline tickets you’ve already purchased should a merger occur within the airline industry. A possible merger between Delta and Northwest has been talked about for weeks. Though there are no hard rules, and airlines can’t comment directly, I’ve experienced past mergers and here’s how they affected my travel:

  • Atthe very outset, I never noticed an immediate change in front-line operations. It takes time to coordinate such efforts. All of my previously purchased airline tickets were honored.
  • I have never heard of a carrier not honoring already purchased airline tickets. Sometimes the actual carrier providing the flights may change, but this is rare, particularly in the near term. The one time I had tickets purchased 6 months prior to travel, I did experience some minor changes to my travel itinerary.
  • I have experienced actual flight and time changes even for more recent travel, but they were generally very minor. Once when a time change did cause a problem for me, the carrier promptly resolved the issue.
  • On one trip, the merged airline no longer provided flights to the city I was flying to. The airline provided tickets on another carrier at no cost to me.
  • Frequent-flier points in accounts I’ve held in other mergers have always been transferred into the "surviving" or "revised" program.
  • My "Elite" status in the frequent-flier program has always been transferred along with the points.
  • Fare rules for changes and/or cancellations have remained the same as for the originally purchased airline tickets. Actually, I was allowed a little leniency in terms of making a change to one of my tickets.
  • The biggest negative: Some routes I travel regularly saw substantial increases in everyday airfares. But, competition eventually caught up, and the fares leveled out.

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Michael Banko merchandises all Orbitz airline offers. It coincides well with his never-ending quest for that ONE BEST FARE!  Be on the lookout …

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