Yesterday was “customer day one” for American and US Airways, and we saw them add quite a few new benefits for frequent flyers, including:
- The ability for AAdvantage and Dividend Miles members to earn and redeem miles across either airline’s network
- Select Elite member benefits, including First and Business Class check-in, priority security and priority boarding, complimentary access to Preferred Seats, priority baggage delivery, and checked bags at no charge, consistent with the current baggage policies for each carrier
- Club benefits for members of the American Admirals Club or US Airways Club, including access to airport lounges
The topic I’ve gotten the most questions about in the past 24 hours involves mileage redemptions across both carriers. So I figured I’d write a quick post clarifying what exactly is possible using American AAdvantage and US Airways Dividend Miles now:
New Options for redeeming American AAdvantage miles
- You can now redeem American AAdvantage miles for travel on US Airways.
- You can book an award either exclusively on US Airways, or on a combination of US Airways and other American partners, including all OneWorld carriers.
You can also book an off peak AAdvantage award for travel on US Airways, which can be a pretty great value.
- For example, a one-way off peak award from the US to Europe is just 20,000 miles in economy, and you can have a stopover at your transoceanic gateway.
- So for 20,000 miles you could do something like Honolulu > Phoenix > Philadelphia, stopover, and then Philadelphia > Munich.
Since US Airways isn’t yet in OneWorld, you can’t include US Airways on one of American’s Distance Based OneWorld awards.
New Options for redeeming US Airways Dividend Miles
US Airways has published a Dividend Miles award chart for travel on American Airlines. Note that this chart applies exclusively for travel on American, and you can’t redeem US Airways miles for travel on OneWorld carriers yet.
- While you can mix American and US Airways on a single Dividend Miles award, you can’t mix American with Star Alliance partners.
- This is different than American, where you can redeem AAdvantage miles for travel on a combination of US Airways and OneWorld carriers.
This award chart basically matches US Airways’ Star Alliance award chart, which is good news, since there are a few sweet spots.
One of those sweet spots, for example, is that US Airways charges the same domestically for two cabin first class as they do for three cabin first class.
So if you want to fly American’s new A321 three cabin first class between New York and Los Angeles you can book it for only 50,000 miles roundtrip, while the same award through American would cost 65,000 miles.
Similarly, one of the other sweet spots on the award chart is for travel between the US and North Asia, so you can fly American between the US and North Asia in business class for just 90,000 US Airways miles or first class for 120,000 miles now. To be honest that’s not really something I would do since there are better Star Alliance options to Asia that you can also book using US Airways miles, but it is an option, at least.
Redeeming other OneWorld miles for travel on US Airways
Aside from American AAdvantage miles you can’t redeem miles from other OneWorld carriers for travel on US Airways. This means you can’t redeem British Airways Avios or other OneWorld points currencies on US Airways. Chances are that this will be possible by March 31, 2014, at the latest, which is the date that US Airways is scheduled to join OneWorld.
Redeeming other Star Alliance miles for travel on American
Aside from US Airways Dividend Miles you can’t redeem miles from other Star Alliance carriers on American. Chances are this won’t ever be possible, as US Airways’ ties with the Star Alliance will be cut as of March 30, 2014, when they leave the Star Alliance.
Transferring miles between programs
It’s also worth noting that while you can now earn and redeem miles across the American AAdvantage and US Airways Dividend Miles programs, you cannot transfer miles between the two programs at this point. So if you have US Airways miles you will follow the Dividend Miles award chart and rules, while if you have American miles you will still use the AAdvantage program for redemptions. I would not anticipate being able to combine either redeemable or elite-qualifying miles until later this year, at the earliest.