A month after the successful merger of the American (AAL) - Get Report and US Airways reservations systems, American said that next year it will remodel its frequent-flyer program.

The announcement came Tuesday, just days before the start of the heavy Thanksgiving Day travel period, one more indication that American is happy with the reservations cutover and has no worries that Thanksgiving travel will be impacted by it.

American executives had been saying for months that they were giving their full attention to the cutover, precluding changes in other areas where they also seek improvements. The change in the frequent flyer program means passengers will earn miles on the basis of dollars spent not miles flown, mimicking similar changes at other carriers.

American shares closed Wednesday at $41.75, down 55 cents. Year to date, shares are down 22%. Since Jan. 1, United shares have fallen 14%, Delta shares have fallen 3%, and Southwest shares have gained 9%.

American, Delta and United have lagged due to the strong dollar, overcapacity in some international markets and weak economies in others, and American has had added burdens, while other carriers led by Southwest have benefited from a domestic focus.

"AAL feels the most out of favor among the big four U.S. airlines due to management's resolve on price matching and a perceived cavalier approach to leverage," wrote Wolfe Research analyst Hunter Keay in a note issued Friday. "But we think AAL has opportunities that others don't."

Among the opportunities, Keay said American can better match aircraft with routes, and it can also ratchet down the impact of its efforts to match fares offered by Spirit (SAVE) - Get Report and other low-cost carriers.

In matching Spirit, "AAL is killing mice with hand grenades and, in the process, also competing with itself," Keay wrote. Next year, Keay expects, American will unveil a version of Delta's "Basic Economy" fares, which offer limited seat selection and last-in-line boarding.

Additionally, "Watch for AAL to unlock revenue synergies through gauge optimization by putting the right planes in the right markets after the {reservations} cutover," he said, adding that analyst expectations are low for American and "2016 consensus looks beatable."

On American's third-quarter earnings call, President Scott Kirby said that work on the reservations cutover imposed "a lot of constraints -- even just resource constraints of people spending eight hours a day working on the res system integration and then trying to do their day job after they finished all their work on res system integration.

"I can't put specific numbers on it, but I feel pretty optimistic that we've been held back a little bit," Kirby said. "And now being able to turn our full attention in those groups to optimizing revenue, I believe, will lead to relative outperformance."

One area where American can add value, he said, is through another credit card deal. "All three of our big major competitors have credit card deals on a year-over-year basis that have {revenue per available seat mile} flowing through to the bottom line," he said.

In September, on the day after United announced an extension of its credit card deal with JPMorgan Chase and Visa, United shares gained nearly 6%.

This article is commentary by an independent contributor. At the time of publication, the author held no positions in the stocks mentioned.