American and Pan Am to Link Flyer Programs

Times Staff Writer

American Airlines and Pan American World Airways will combine their frequent flyer programs and Pan Am will join American’s Sabre computerized reservations system, the chairmen of the two carriers announced Monday.

The consolidation of American’s AAdvantage and Pan Am’s WorldPass frequent flyer programs on June 1 will allow club members of either airline to accrue and redeem miles on the other carrier. The programs, however, will retain their individual marketing identities.

The 1 million WorldPass participants each pay Pan Am $25 for membership. American does not charge its 3 million customers a fee and does not plan to change that policy, according to Robert L. Crandall, American’s chairman and president.

The integration of the programs effectively means the “expansion of the route network where our passengers can accrue mileage,” C. Edward Acker, Pan Am’s chairman and chief executive, said at a news conference with Crandall.


Sophisticated System

Frequent flyer programs--in which passengers earn free flights or class upgrades by adding up airline mileage--have become ubiquitous in the airline industry since American and United Airlines started their programs in 1981.

Sabre is one of the two largest and most sophisticated computer reservations systems used by travel agents and airlines around the world to gather flight and fare information from many different air carriers.

The other program, known as Apollo, is owned by United Airlines.

As a result of its proposed purchase of data-processing services from American, Pan Am will also use Sabre for marketing and administrative functions. Sabre will replace Pan Am’s own reservations system, Panamac.

Industry observers said the proposed joint computer services venture between Pan Am and American will greatly benefit both carriers. American will gain a major client for its computer services. And Pan Am, which has been considering various options for improving its reservations system, will save the time and money necessary to develop a system similar to Sabre.