US Airways will be leaving the Star Alliance on March 30, 2014, and joining OneWorld on March 31, 2014.
This is simultaneously exciting and terrifying. American AAdvantage and US Airways Dividend Miles are two of my favorite programs on the award redemption front, though are useful in totally different ways. If I had my choice I’d keep both programs separate under their current schemes for as long as possible, though of course that’s not an option.
US Airways leaving the Star Alliance stings especially bad, given that United MileagePlus recently devalued their award chart, making Star Alliance premium cabin award redemptions rather unattainable at a reasonable cost nowadays.
So there are a few questions that come to mind regarding US Airways’ March 31 transition to OneWorld:
I think a vast majority of us hope that OneWorld awards through US Airways will continue to be bookable at US Airways award rates. After all, who wouldn’t want to fly Cathay Pacific business class to North Asia for just 90,000 miles? And my guess is that if OneWorld awards are actually bookable through US Airways (see below) they will be at the current rates.
Cathay Pacific Business Class would be an absolute bargain for 90k US Airways miles!
If it’s any indication, US Airways’ award chart for travel on American has the same redemption rates as US Airways’ current chart.
Will the routing rules of American or US Airways apply for US Airways OneWorld awards?
As it stands, American and US Airways have very different award routing rules.
At American, the computer prices awards, so there’s not much potential for human error. On top of that, issuing tickets isn’t instant, so once they’re confirmed the ticketing department can still catch any mistakes and correct them before the ticket is issued. That being said, American’s routing rules are simultaneously extremely generous (they let you exceeded the maximum permitted mileage by 25%) and extremely restrictive (they have ridiculous zone restrictions) out there.
Meanwhile at US Airways everything is done manually and tickets are issued instantly. Agents manually price award tickets, and there’s no backup to catch them if they mess up, since the tickets are issued right away. So from their perspective the issue isn’t really the incompetency of many of their agents, but rather that there aren’t many “checks” in place.
I don’t know the first thing about IT, so you guys tell me — could US Airways program their computers overnight to have the same restrictions, even though the two carriers are still using different reservations platforms?
Will US Airways allow one-way awards and distance based awards?
I dunno! My guess is that if they adopt American’s award chart they will. However, if they stick with their current chart, I doubt it.
Will OneWorld awards even be bookable using US Airways miles?
Maybe I just don’t have enough faith in US Airways’ systems, but I kind of see this as a possible outcome. I wouldn’t be surprised if as of March 31 US Airways Dividend Miles and American AAdvantage miles become fully transferable, and all OneWorld bookings have to be made through American.
In a way this would be the “easiest” solution for American, in that they’d keep their current award chart, routing rules, and could slowly transition agents to the new system.
While making some award bookings with US Airways agents over the past few days I’ve asked in passing whether they’ve received any OneWorld training yet, and they all indicated they hadn’t. I can’t imagine they’ll train agents overnight in OneWorld vs. Star Alliance, so to some degree I feel like this is the most practical option.
Then again, based on their knowledge of the Star Alliance, I can’t imagine the learning curve is that much if they’re looking for a similar level of proficiency. 😉
What do you see as the most likely outcome?