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United, Delta Plan to Share Miles

United Airlines and Delta Airlines plan to ally their frequent-flier programs so that passengers can deposit miles in either account, regardless of which of the two airlines they take. The alliance, scheduled to begin Sept. 1, affects a total of about 50 million customers.

Earlier this year, American Airlines and US Airways announced a similar alliance, but as of last week, no start date was set. These two airlines also have a total of about 50 million customers holding frequent-flier cards.

The American-US Airways program would allow customers to pool miles from both accounts to claim a single award; a Delta spokeswoman said redemption policies haven’t been set for the alliance with United.

A possible hitch: The U.S. Department of Transportation is reviewing both alliances. Although such programs don’t require advance DOT approval, the department can block them if they’re found to be “harmful to competitiveness or consumers,” said DOT spokesman Bill Mosley. And a bill pending in Congress would change the law to require advance DOT approval.

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