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)