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What US Airways fliers should know now that Dividend Miles is gone – 6 good and 3 bad

by on Mon March 30, 2015 • 26 Comments


American and US Airways combined frequent flier programs over the weekend. And if your miles from your US Airways accounts aren’t yet showing up in an American AAdvantage account, be patient. They’re still working through all of the conversions, and you’ll get emails from American updating you on the progress.

While they’ve done a good job of communicating about what’s going on with your account, they’ve been less clear about the changes you’ll see as a US Airways Dividend Miles member now that it’s all part of American AAdvantage.

If you’re just a regular flier saving up for an award, here’s what you should know about your new American AAdvantage account:

Good. No more award ‘processing’ fees. 

US Airways had horrible fees just for the right to book any award ticket, even online. They cost $25 – $50 per reservation, but they are now gone. The only time you’ll get charged for booking an award ticket now is if you try booking your ticket 21 days or less before your flight. That’s a $75 fee.

Good. You can change dates for free.

US Airways socked you with a $150 fee if you made any change to an award ticket. American AAdvantage is more generous.

You can now change the date of any award ticket for free up to 21 days before departure, no matter whether you booked it with American or US Airways miles. It’s a great feature that United and Delta don’t offer.

Good. You get free bags on both airlines.

If you hold a Citi AAdvantage Platinum Select MasterCard, Citi Executive AAdvantage MasterCard, or former US Airways Premier MasterCard, your free bag benefit now works on both American and US Airways flights. Just make sure you have the American AAdvantage number associated with your card in your reservation.

Good. You can book other airlines online. 

US Airways’ website was sneaky about not showing you other airlines you could book with your miles.

American’s website is much better about that.

Partners like British Airways, Finnair, Air Berlin, Qantas, and more show up automatically when you search on But be aware there are still some big missing airlines, like Cathay Pacific, Qatar Airways, Etihad, TAM, and Japan Airlines. If you’re trying to get to Asia, India, South America, or the Middle East, give American a call to search those other airlines for you.

Or if you’re into doing things yourself, the British Airways website lists most of them, but you’ll have to go through the hassle of setting up a free login for their site to search.

Good. One way awards are okay.

US Airways charged you double if you wanted to book a one way award. American lets you book one way trips with your miles for half the price of a roundtrip, which is fair. That’s useful if you want to use other miles to book the other direction of your trip, in case American doesn’t have award space on the day you want to return.

Good. You can upgrade both American and US Airways flights

It’s the same price to upgrade with your miles or certificates on either American or US Airways now that the programs are combined. You can see the prices here. Just be careful to avoid booking ‘code share’ flights, which we talk about below.

And if you’re an elite member of AAdvantage or the former Dividend Miles, your elite upgrades are now more useful. Every AAdvantage elite member can now get upgraded at the usual US Airways upgrade windows on US Airways flights. And if you want to upgrade on American flights you can do so via American’s rules, which involve special upgrade credits that are being deposited to your accounts. It’s all laid out step by step here.

Bad. Want to go to Asia, Africa, or Australia? The rules are harder.

US Airways used to let you fly just about any way to get to your destination when booking with miles. But American is more strict. Here’s a brief rundown of its rules for routing you on an award ticket.

  • Africa: You must go via Europe or Doha with Qatar Airways. No flying via Asia or South America.
  • India / Middle East: You must go via Europe, or directly to the Middle East / India. No traveling via Asia. But if you want to go to India, you can pass through hubs like Doha or Amman, as they are all part of the same territory as far as American Airlines is concerned.
  • Asia: You must go over the Pacific, and can’t go via Europe, which can often times be the same distance when you’re flying from the East Coast. That’s a bummer.
  • Australia: You can only go straight from the U.S. to Australia. No flying via Asia, which US Airways allowed and opened up a lot of options.

Bad. The US Airways companion ticket is ending.

If you had a US Airways MasterCard, you were probably enticed by the annual certificate that let you bring up to 2 companions along on a trip for $99 plus tax. That’s going away. Everyone is being given new ‘AAdvantage Aviator‘ cards, and this is the last year those certificates are being given out. The last of them expire on October 31, for travel through the end of the year. And the travel must only be on US Airways flights.

Going forward, there is a more expensive Aviator card, the Aviator Silver, which lets you earn a companion certificate each year, but you have to spend a big $30,000 a year on your card to earn it. Which is a lot harder than the old system.

Bad. Code share flights are still a mess.

If you see ‘Operated by American Airlines’ or ‘Operated by US Airways’ when you’re booking your flight, it’s probably a code share.

Instead, go to the website of the airline that’s running it to book your flight and get a native flights. So if you see ‘Operated by American Airlines’ when searching, head over to to book that flight. And if you see ‘Operated by US Airways’ when you’re trying to book a flight on, try heading over to to pull up that flight.

The reservation systems of the two airlines are different, so you’ll experience fewer headaches if you buy your ticket with the airline that’s actually flying your plane. American has some examples here, and we’ve included two below.

If you see this on, try booking via


If you see this on, try booking via


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26 thoughts on What US Airways fliers should know now that Dividend Miles is gone – 6 good and 3 bad

  1. Kyle

    Insider tip: The suggestion to book “true” flights with the respective carrier will not be useful for much longer. Reservations created on the US Airways system for future flights occurring this fall or later will gradually be migrated into the American reservation system. So, if you plan on booking a flight that occurs this fall or later, book the reservation through the American site and you shouldn’t have to worry about any reservation migration issues, and you’ll keep the same reservation confirmation.

  2. Jeff

    Thoughts on ditching the Barclays US Air card and getting the Citi AA card and the 50k mile opportunity with it?


      @Jeff – Benefits are almost identical to the Red. Annual fee is $6 higher. And no fee the first year, so for 50k miles worth opening one.

      Though if you had interest in the Silver Aviator and its elite qualifying miles you may want to keep the Red until your fee is due as it’s possible only people with Barclay AA cards will be able to get that.

    2. Fred English

      You have to spend $3000 within the first 3 months to get the 50k miles and the 2 1 day club passes

  3. Jerry Ivy

    You can go anywhere on AA miles through Asia or Europe or around the world or to Sydney via HKG. it just may take more than one award. The beauty of the program is everything is a one way award point to point. Fly to Toko in first class swing over to Singapore take Qantas to Sydney and return from Capetown in coach it doesn’t matter. Stop in Fiji on your way to Auckland no problem.


      @Jerry – Yes indeed, though US Airways members had the option to do many creative routes with just one award thanks to the stopover and more less restrictive single award routing.

  4. ADFalcon

    It seems to me that the off-peak flights to Europe for 17,500 Dividend Miles each way have vanished. Am I correct?


      @ADFalcon – Off-peak awards still exist for 20,000 miles each way to Europe from October 15 – May 15.

  5. ARH

    I just noticed that my US Airways miles that never expired, now have an expiration date as a result of the merger. Is there anything I can do about that?


      @ARH – A lot of people are confused about that. Actually the expiration policies are the similar to US Airways. Both had 18 month expiration.

      But, any time you earn or use miles, the clock resets another 18 months. So for example, if you hold the credit card and charge something each month, the miles will get extended every time.

      It’s just that with the account merger notices American has been labeling the expiration date without noting you can extend that date any time.

      Safe way to make sure miles never expire is to have some activity just once a year. If you hold the credit card the annual fee you pay each year automatically extends it.

    2. Benni

      Dividend Miles accounts expired 18 months from last activity. Unless you had the credit card which reset that date with every usage.

  6. The Epicure

    I’m ticked off that the “lifetime miles” on USAir were much less generously calculated than AA’s.

    90% of the miles I’ve earned lifetime on AA were “lifetime” (from the days they gave you credit for everything-credit cards, hotels, cars, partner flights, etc.).

    But only 40% of the miles I earned (most at the same time AA was giving credit for everything) from USAir transferred to my lifetime.

    When UA and CO merged, the lifetime miles from UA (the more stringent of the two) were “trued up” so that UA flyers had a level playing field in terms of historical mileage. This gave most UA flyers a boost, since CO’s rules included partner flights. It helped catapult me into striking distance of 4 million miles and lifetime Global Services status, so I am currently rather loyal to UA.

    But now I have the indignity of my US partner activity being treated like a second-class citizen. And I thought it was US who bought the bankrupt AA, not vice-versa? Seems like AA is wearing the pants in this relationship.

    Just as well. Had they “trued up” my mileage, I would be flying AA more, as I’d be fixated on hitting 2 million miles and lifetime Platinum. Though not much more. They have effed up an opportunity by not introducing meaningful 3MM or 4MM status.

    Which means I am Platinum-for-Life on AF/KL, have lifetime 1K status (and on track to get lifetime GS) on UA, but the most I can achieve on AA is the prosaic non-executive Platinum. Ho-hum.


      @The Epicure – AA was unusually generous in giving credit toward lifetime status until they stopped counting credit card miles a few years ago. US Airways never did for its lifetime status program.

      With all the turbulence ahead for AA/US as they get to the stickier parts of the merger, lifetime United 1K is a good thing to have – you’re lucky to have it. Lifetime EXP would be nice, but as you note wasn’t really an option.

  7. Thomas

    Award reservations made over the phone still have booking fees when booking more than 21 days out. Within 21 days its the $75 so you don’t get charged an additional booking fee.


      @Thomas – Yes, though no fee if the award over the phone can’t be booked online. US Airways had a phone fee on top of the booking fee. Absurd!

  8. TravelBloggerBuzz

    Another right on blog post. The world famous Ebert of miles/points blog is impressed. I just wanted you to know that. Hope my traffic leads to some conversions 🙂
    Keep up the good content.
    And who are you?


      @TravelBloggerBuzz – Appreciate the support demystifying the corporate speak. No entertainment here, but hoping to inform.

  9. Torsten

    Are you sure you can go via DOH to Africa in one award? I tried with AUH last week and the computer priced it as two awards. Only Europe is allowed as transit zone IMHO.

  10. Karen

    We tried to reserve 4 US airways flights within the US using our British Airways frequent flyer miles….when we went to the AA website, dozens of flights popped up, when we visited the USAirways site there were fewer flights available but still enough to select a decent one for the times we want….we couldn’t book our flights on either website…we had to go to the BA website to book our flights…..the HORROR….the British Airways site offers one outbound flight (first class only) and one return flight (first class only)….they insult our intelligence!


      @Karen – There appears to be some lag in between when seats show up on AA or US Airways, and when they show up on the BA website. May be worth calling BA directly or checking again.

    2. Richard

      Find the exact flights on AA sight, then call BA. No call fee if you can’t book online. I just did this for flights to , and within Alaska, on Alaska Airlines using Avios points. Had to give agent flight #’s and such. Also call Executive club assistance #. They are much more knowledgeable about finding appropriate flights. AA seems to be the best place to search reward flights in North America anyway.


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