US Airways sent out an email to Dividend Miles members yesterday, which in part reads as follows:
We plan to continue relationships with the following airlines, so you can continue to earn and redeem Dividend Miles on these select partners even after we’ve exited Star Alliance: Aegean, Air China, Air New Zealand, Avianca, Ethiopian Airlines, Eva, Shenzhen Airlines, Singapore Airlines, South African Airways, TAM, TAP and Turkish Airways.
I’m sure everyone that received this email had the same reaction — “wait a second, so we’ll be able to redeem miles for OneWorld carriers and 12 Star Alliance carriers after March?! Woohoo!”
As we all know, US Airways is leaving the Star Alliance on March 30, 2014, and becomes a OneWorld affiliate member as of March 31, 2014.
So the truth is I don’t know what the above means, I can only speculate. First of all, whatever it is, I think it’s safe to assume it’s only temporary. The above 12 Star Alliance airlines will be Dividend Miles partners (not AAdvantage partners), and once that program ceases to exist, my guess is that the partnerships will as well.
Interestingly US Airways already has some partnerships with airlines outside of their alliance. They have partnerships with Hawaiian Airlines, Qatar Airways, Royal Jordanian, and Virgin Atlantic. The partnerships with Qatar Airways and Royal Jordanian have been around for a long time, though have been “temporarily unavailable” for as long as I can remember. Hawaiian Airlines redemptions are only available for intra-Hawaii and Pacific flights, while Virgin Atlantic redemptions are only available for economy class in select markets.
So these few partnerships US Airways currently has are far from seamless, and I have a hard time imagining US Airways will carry on a dozen extra-alliance partnerships seamlessly after they transition alliances.
Ultimately I don’t know what these partnerships will look like. I hope that you’ll be able to redeem miles for both OneWorld carriers and a dozen Star Alliance carriers on the same award with access to full award inventory for all carriers. However, I think that’s highly unlikely.
I think it’s much more likely that the intent with these dozen relationships is to make the exit from Star Alliance a bit more civilized by allowing Dividend Miles members to accrue miles on those airlines, especially for travel that was previously booked. While redemptions seem like they’ll still be allowed (based on what was written in the email), my guess is that they’ll be highly restricted, either by not allowing carriers to be mixed, restricting routes on which miles can be redeemed, etc.
What do you guys think?