What could the American/US Airways merger mean for travelers?

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By Andrew Michalscheck By Andrew Michalscheck

PHOENIX -- When traveling by air, change is constant. It could be your departure time, or your gate.

In the coming week, it could be your airline, with announcement of the merger of American Airlines and US Airways.

"It's going to come down to there's going to be a few major carriers and that's it," said Linda Wolkoff, who flew American out of Sky Harbor Thursday afternoon.

Understandably, there's concern on a couple of fronts. First, local jobs will likely be lost as heaquarters for the new largest airline in the world moves to Dallas.

Second, passengers are weighing their own pros and cons. When it comes to the aircraft, money and miles, we asked FareCompare.com CEO Rick Seany.

"Bottom line is you're going to be flying on newer aircraft with this new merger, because they're more healthy, and you're going to be paying more for your airfare tickets; your loyalty miles will be worth more in the short term, and less in the long run," said Seaney.

But others see big perks for us here in the Valley, as US Air is absorbed into American's many flight paths.

"To the average passenger it will mean that you'll probably have more options than you've had in the past with an airline with less hassle in terms of having to go to Dallas and change to go somewhere else," said Dean Robert Mittelstaedt of Arizona State University's WP Carey School of Business.

As for what this does for business? Experts say American lucked out. US Airways' track record here in the Valley is what made it such a catch.

"They have proven that they can change the culture of an airline for the better and to operate it profitably," said Mittelstaedt. 

Sources say if the merger goes through, an official announcement could happen early next week.