US Airways Leaving Star Alliance March 1, 2014

Last week the Department of Justice finally approved the merger between American and US Airways, and revealed that reciprocal frequent flyer benefits should kick in as of January 7, 2014. I think it goes without saying that we all have a million questions as to what that really means, and in particular when US Airways will leave the Star Alliance and when they’ll join OneWorld.

Per a Frequent Business Traveler article, it appears as if US Airways plans to leave the Star Alliance around March 1, 2014, and will become a member of OneWorld roughly a month after that. This is unconfirmed as of now, but the first mention I’ve seen of a timeline.

There are tons of questions we don’t yet have the answers to, including:

  • When can miles be transferred between American AAdvantage and US Airways Dividend Miles?
  • When can you start redeeming US Airways miles for travel on OneWorld carriers?
  • If I book a ticket now for travel on Star Alliance after March 1, 2014, can I still credit to US Airways Dividend Miles?

We don’t have any concrete answers yet, though I suspect we’ll know more in the next couple of weeks. For a bit of historical context on how leaving alliances has been handled in the past, British Midland left the Star Alliance last year after being taken over by British Airways. While they left the Star Alliance as of April 17, 2012, customer benefits were valid through May 31, 2012. That meant for over a month past when they left the alliance members could still earn miles on partner airlines and take advantage of all Star Alliance benefits. The only thing that ceased the day they left the alliance was the ability to redeem miles on Star Alliance carriers.

So if I had to speculate, here’s what I’d guess will happen:

US Airways will leave the Star Alliance March 1, 2014, but not all benefits will disappear immediately. Much like with British Midland, I wouldn’t be surprised if some Star Alliance benefits will still apply for some pre-determined amount of time, given that many people made reservations on Star Alliance partners in advance counting on those benefits to apply. I don’t think it will necessarily be a very long period, though.

Transferring miles between AAdvantage and Dividend Miles will become possible after US Airways leaves the Star Alliance. We don’t know what exactly the reciprocal frequent flyer benefits that will kick in on January 7, 2014 are. My guess is that status matching between programs and/or reciprocal upgrades will become possible, while transferring miles between airlines won’t be possible yet. I suspect it will be possible as soon as US Airways leaves the Star Alliance and before they join OneWorld, though.

You can continue to redeem US Airways Dividend Miles on Star Alliance flights through March 1, 2014. This kind of goes without saying, but it’s a question I get all the time, so I figured I’d mention it. You should definitely still be able to redeem your US Airways miles for travel on Star Alliance carriers till they leave the Star Alliance. You can book your tickets up to 11 months in advance, so that means assuming the date they plan on leaving the Star Alliance is correct, you can redeem miles for flights through early 2015. Chances are that after they leave the Star Alliance you’ll be able to change some segments to OneWorld carriers, given that they won’t have access to Star Alliance award space anymore. Whether they devalue their award chart before then or not is anyone’s guess.

I’d be curious to hear what your predictions are!

(Tip of the hat to Mac)

Comments

  1. @ Skwok — My guess is that if nothing else, EQM totals will be combined at the end of next year. But yes expect EQM accrual across bout carriers as of Jan 7.

  2. I know you’ve talked about this in broad terms before, but what do you think are the implications for either program’s award charts? Can we assume that they will both stay the same at least for a while?

    I have my eye on a USA-Africa award in business class, which is 110K r/t through Dividend Miles (would be 150K through AA). I don’t currently have enough miles, but if I could combine my AA and US miles, I’d have enough.

  3. @ Maury — If it’s the ANA 777-300ER that’s designated as “77W” then I’d choose it. But if it’s the 777-300ER designated as “777” then I’d choose United, since it doesn’t feature fully flat business class seats.

  4. Lucky, would you still encourage folks to use the 100% bonus offer on US Airways even with no immediate travel plans in mind?

  5. @ Stefan — Nope, I generally don’t recommend buying miles with the 100% bonus with no near term use in mind. Sharing miles with the 100% bonus (essentially buying them for 1.1 cents each) is a different story, though.

  6. Lucky — are you able to guess, based on your understanding of how these things have worked in the past, that USAirways segments will be bookable as part of AA awards?

  7. @ Larry — I expect they probably will be shortly after US Airways leaves the Star Alliance. It could be earlier or later, but that’s my best guess.

  8. but Lucky, isn´t this a great opportunity to buy AA miles, since they are more expensive? I think Dividend Miles will go 1:1 into American Miles – or do you disagree?

  9. @ Stefan — Indeed, if you value them higher than 1.88 cents absolutely. I just don’t personally speculatively value American miles at 1.88 cents each, especially when we don’t even know when they’ll be transferable between programs. When they are I think it’s a given it’ll be 1:1, but the question is what the award chart will look like when that day comes.

  10. I would think the new combined AA / US Chart will increase by around 20%. Roundtrip from Europe to US will cost you 160K is my guess.
    Since I have 100K in my US Account, I think I will buy another 30 + 30 K in order to have 160K in my account. Unfortunately the new OW does not have many ways to fly from Europe to the US, since AB is not really fancy and BA charges enormous fuel surcharges. I hate to see DM go away 🙁

    Oh, I would wish us Europeans would be blessed with CC sign up bonusses such as you guys…:-)

  11. Do you know if Air China Flight CA995 777-300 from PEK-IAH business class seats are fully reclinable? Thanks

  12. Hi Lucky — one other question. Is it a safe assumption that BA will view F in legacy US planes as a First Class product (in two cabin aircraft) for purpose of avios US domestic redemptions? I’m assuming that since first on AA in two cabin planes for US domestic is priced at 3x the economy price when using Avios, it’s probably just going to continue like that, but thought it worth asking if you had any insight into that.

  13. @ Larry — Yep, unfortunately they do. Best you can do is look for business class on a three cabin plane or travel to the Caribbean or Central America, where the same cabin is marketed as business class.

  14. @Lucky,
    If this is true, I believe that is great news for me. I will have accumulated enough US Airs miles to fly roundtrip business class (110K miles) from NYC /USA to Sydney with a stopover in Auckland in Dec 2014 (depart mid Dec and return 1/1/2015). I am waiting for flight release in late Jan or early. If your news is true, then I will be able to book my Dec 2014 flight.

    Please correct me if I am wrong. I am so thrilled to read your write-up. Great news!

  15. @Lucky,
    I am also keeping my fingers crossed that US Airs would NOT raise the 110K miles award flight price before it leaves Star Alliance.

    What is your perspective?

  16. In an earlier post, you said: If you’re willing to fly there’s no doubt this can be a better value than outright buying status. Say you pay $600 for Platinum status upfront (which you don’t have to do, you can just purchase Silver status, but let’s say you want your flights to be comfortable so you’re maximizing your chances at an upgrade). You would have a really easy time flying 30,000 miles for under $2,399, which is how much you’d otherwise pay to buy up to Chairman’s Preferred status (factoring in the $600 fee you’re otherwise paying for Platinum status upfront). And that’s not even accounting for the redeemable miles you’ll earn. My question is how in the world could you have a really easy time flying 30,000 miles for under $2,399? I may be a lot older than you, but $2,399 for 30,000 miles out of SFO seems impossible. How could this be realistic?

  17. @ Old Flyer — Fares to Asia (which can accrue 15,000 miles each) are usually available for under $1,200 per ticket. You can usually even do much better than that.

  18. I am still skeptical, but knowing your posts, will start checking it out. Thanks Lucky; you are usually 100% right on!

  19. A fair review of the matter and probably close to how it will play out. I just cashed in for a 10-segment DM NAsia award, not wanting to wait too long. Will give me a let me try out LX/BR/SN/AC/TG/OZ/US on the cheap. I for one will miss the USAir DM program. OWorld offerings from NAmerica to Europe is weak unless you’re willing to pay extortionist fuel charges on BA or lucky to get on AA. Weak is the word.

  20. I have tried three times to book a *A award on dividend miles for June next year, and each time I have been told that they are no lot booking any *A awards later than January/March (depending on which rep I talk to!). Any ideas if this is firm and if not, how to get around it?!

  21. Lucky, I have tried six times on the US Air website to find any US Air flights to Asia. The closest I can find are some code share and/or connecting code share flights, but my understanding is that code share flights won’t work for flying 30,000 miles to qualify for Chairman’s Preferred status after paying the $600 fee for Platinum status upfront. Do you have even one example of a fare to Asia that can accrue 15,000 miles for under $1,200 per ticket flying US Airways, to take advantage of this special promotion? When you wrote that post and said you can usually even do much better than 15,000 miles for under $1,200 per ticket, were you thinking about US Airways and this special promotion? Sorry this is so long, but am very frustrated and I may have misunderstood your post.

  22. @ CJ — Definitely not true. Are they just not seeing award availability or what? They can absolutely still book awards for travel through the end of the schedule.

  23. @ Old Flyer — Sorry, brain fart on my part. US Airways doesn’t at all fly to Asia, and I wasn’t thinking of the fact that this challenge requires flying US Airways “metal” (usually you could just credit partner flights to US Airways, which would have done the trick, but that’s not possible here).

    With that in mind, your best option would probably be to look at off-peak fares to Europe, which should dip below $800 in the off season from the west coast to Europe, which would earn you 10K+ miles per trip.

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