US Airways changes international upgrade policy….

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On August 15, 2009, Dividend Miles members will no longer be required to purchase a minimum value fare (currently $1,400 roundtrip or $700 one way). Instead, you can use 30,000 miles and pay $300 to upgrade to Envoy on trips to Europe and South America. Trips to the Middle East can be upgraded for 40,000 miles and $300. All upgrades are subject to availability.

I’m not quite sure what this means. In the past you needed a minimum fare of $1,400 to upgrade, which seemed rather arbitrary to me given that there can be a substantial difference in base fares throughout the year, meaning that the premium to upgrade varies substantially.

Anyway, in general this is probably a positive change for the leisure traveler. Assuming your ticket to Europe is less than $800 you’re coming out ahead. At the same time, it’s not clear to me whether someone with a $1,400 ticket has to pay the $300/$400 as well, or whether that only applies to those with cheaper fares. I’m leaning towards the former, which would probably be a negative change for most business travelers that could otherwise upgrade with miles and will now have to pay the cash portion out of pocket.

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