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It’s official: Start using American miles on US Airways flights in January, status partially reciprocal

by on Sun December 8, 2013 • 3 Comments

American US Airways milesCorrected 1/9/14 – US Airways elite policy clarified – elite status will not be fully reciprocal in January as the merged status benefits have not yet been decided.

Around January 7, 2014 American and US Airways elite fliers will enjoy *some* (not all) reciprocal benefits on American and US Airways flights. That means similar level elite fliers will enjoy similar level benefits on each airline – though our guess is upgrade benefits are not part of them. Here is the word from US Airways’ transition website:

  • “Currently, we won’t match elite status levels between the two programs. Beginning in early January 2014, Dividend Miles Preferred members will receive select benefits when traveling on American and vice versa. Decisions about elite status under a combined program have yet to be made, but we’ll keep you updated and will provide plenty of notice for any decisions that impact our members.”

That means things like which elite tiers will exist in the new American haven’t been decided. Nor has how upgrades will work for elite members. Our guess is the new airline will move to the US Airways model of offering domestic upgrades that don’t require certificates for all status levels. But there are other areas that aren’t aligned, like the number of System-Wide upgrades given to 100,000 mile level fliers. American gives 8, US Airways currently gives only 2. Our guess is they will meet somewhere in the middle once the programs merge.

Other changes coming…

  • You can earn American miles on US Airways flights starting January and you can earn US Airways miles on American flights starting in January
  • You will be able to use American miles to book US Airways flights and US Airways miles to book American flights starting in January as well
  • Reciprocal US Airways Club and American Admirals Club lounge benefits will apply starting in January
  • US Airways will remain in Star Alliance until March 31, which means for that brief period you’ll be able to use US Airways miles for both United and American flights, a great opportunity
  • US Airways will join OneWorld on March 31 and you’ll be able to use your US Airways miles on all OneWorld partners. Reciprocal status benefits will be phased in
  • The frequent flier programs will be combined by late 2014 or early 2015 – then your mileage accounts will merge.
    • There is no plan yet to be able to transfer miles from US Airways to American or back. It could come in January, but the language is not clear, and that means it could be pushed back to a later date. Here is what the US Airways transition site says: “Will I be able to merge or move my miles from one program to the other? Not at this time. We will maintain separate loyalty programs – AAdvantage and Dividend Miles – and you can continue to earn and redeem miles through each program separately.”
  • The new brand / paint scheme has not been finalized – it’s possible the old scheme could be retained
  • The new airline will operate as one by the end of 2015 – with a single ‘operating certificate’ and all benefits equalized

Basically, American and US Airways will still operate under each others’ ‘house rules’ from January onward but you’ll be recognized with some benefits in the interim.

What’s not answered yet:

  • When will a new award chart be released? It could come in January, but most likely will happen when US Airways joins OneWorld in the Spring.
  • Will your Citi AAdvantage MasterCard free baggage and priority boarding work on American flights in January? Maybe – they said free baggage benefits for elites would be reciprocal in January. So if this is coded properly you’ll be able to use a Citi AAdvantage MasterCard to get the first bag checked free on US Airways flights soon.
  • Will you be able to use US Airways MasterCard companion certificates on American Airlines flights? Probably not – our guess is they keep those limited to just US Airways operated flights, and the benefit may phase away once the two mileage program are merged. But they could surprise us and allow using them across both American and US Airways flights sometime next year.

But it’s a decent time to consider a US Airways MasterCard – with the first purchase you’ll get bonus miles which you can quickly use to take advantage of both American and United / Star Alliance flights starting in early January.



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3 thoughts on It’s official: Start using American miles on US Airways flights in January, status partially reciprocal

  1. DavidB

    Normally STAR partners don’t recognize elite status matches from other STAR programs, so buying Chairman’s Preferred (or other status tier) would not normally be recognized. However, I would expect UA to become rather aggressive after April in poaching US elites who want to stay in STAR — and make up for many of its own elites it lost to AA’s status match from last year. Of course, remember that UA now also has a spend requirement for requalification in 2015.

  2. Aaron

    Hmmm…and if I buy US Airways status I can probably get it matched to United after US Airways leaves Star Alliance.

  3. Steve P

    Hoping the new award chart will be later rather than sooner, but figure it will happen when US Airways enters One World.


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