I'm one of the frequent flyers that got caught up in the USAir/American merger. Overall, my experience has been better than I was expecting. They took their time, they attempted to train and educate the employee base, and sent out updates on a consistent basis.
Prior to the merger my 2014 status was Gold level with AA and had achieved Platinum level status through USAir. This was the third of four levels in USAir. The merger wiped out that tier and to my detriment, tossed me back into the middle of the three level AA program. So I was almost a big fish with USAir, and a medium fish with AA. After combining the accounts for 2015, I fell 14,000 miles short of Executive Platinum (Highest AA tier).
In 2015, I experienced my highest flight travel schedule ever... The AA program was offering three options to obtain status. Segments, miles, and points. Segments and miles are exactly as you would think, but points were a bit confusing. Points were awarded based on the code of the purchased ticket. In essence, the more expensive, unrestricted tickets were given more points. The formula was confusing, but once I figured out the ticket coding, I was able to track and plan.
My increased air travel for 2015 was going to leave me just 11,000 points shy of Exec Platinum. This status is important for me because Exec Plats can move to a same day flight for no cost. That benefit was available in the old USAir program for all tiers, but only Exec Plat with AA. This is a huge deal for a traveler that leaves home on Sunday and flies back on Friday. You need to plan for a return flight after 6pm but can quite often get to the airport much earlier. Without Exec Plat, I'd be charged $75 a pop versus $0 with my old USAir program. A guesstimate would put the annual figure at $2250!!! I was hoping that one benefit that the merger would keep from USAir was the ability to "buy up" at a proportional dollar amount. That didn't happen. AA invited me to pay $2500 to make up the difference to achieve Ex Plat. It sure looked like a one size fits all price.
This really ticked me off, but lead me to look into the mileage run. Since points was my target , I could fly 22,000 miles in economy or about 6,000 in First Class. I found the cheapest First Class ticket to match my goal was PHL-DFW-SEA then SEA-PHX-PHL home. The ticket was right at $1000, so to save the $2250-2500, on to Seattle I went. My first mileage run or mattress run ever.
Mileage/mattress runs are always good and can be fun trips. My wife and I did our first mileage run in 1998 to earn (or keep?) status on Canadian Airlines. Turned it into a quick pre-Christmas vacation to Hawaii. Well worth it. Did my last mileage run earlier this year DEN-CLT-JFK-LAX-DEN - total travel time: 22 hours. I got the miles I needed for status, American Airlines made some revenue, and I got upgraded on all segments to boot!
I've done this on hotels before, but never needed to with Marriott, yet. Let's see.