My birthday may have just come early, as according to Australian Business Traveler, US Airways will be maintaining their current award chart after they leave Star Alliance on March 30th!
I love US Airways miles for a variety of reasons. Dividend Miles can consistently be purchased for less than 2 cents each, they have generous routing rules for award tickets, and the most entertaining reservations agents in the airline industry.
Just last week I speculated as to the future of US Airways awards once they join OneWorld, noting:
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.
However, I didn’t think that keeping both programs separate under their current schemes for as long as possible was even going to be an option.
According to a spokesperson for the new combined carrier, I was (fortunately) wrong:
US Airways will continue to run Dividend Miles as an independent program to American Airlines’ AAdvantage, with its current award chart used to determine redemption rates instead of adopting the American Airlines’ table.
“After US Airways’ entry into oneworld, US Airways will maintain its current award chart” the spokesperson advised, with bookings for Oneworld airlines available through US Airways.
This means that the “sweet spots” in the US Airways Dividend Mile chart will be preserved, such as 110,000 mile awards to Australia, or my favorite 90,000 mile award to North Asia.
Cathay Pacific here I come!
US Airways will also continue its partnerships with certain Star Alliance carriers for the time being, including Aegean, Air China, Air New Zealand, Avianca, Ethiopian Airlines, EVA, Shenzhen Airlines, Singapore Airlines, South African Airways, TAM, TAP and Turkish Airlines.
Of those, Air China, Ethiopian Airlines, EVA, TAP and Turkish Airlines are the only carriers that release a significant amount of partner award space, but it’s still far better than I was anticipating.
US Airways doesn’t actually publish routing rules on awards, and their computer doesn’t have to validate routings, so what’s legal is entirely dependent on the agent you get. The only “strict” rules, in theory, are as follows:
- You’re allowed no more than five segments (four transfers) in each direction of travel
- You’re allowed a single stopover OR open jaw on an award ticket between regions
- If you have a stopover, it has to be at a Star Alliance hub or US Airways transatlantic gateway city
But even those aren’t strict rules, because there’s nothing in their computer system that prevents any of the other rules from being broken. I’m not sure if additional constraints will be added to the system prior to their entry to OneWorld, but as the agents I’ve spoken to recently haven’t yet had any supplemental training in preparation, my guess is that it will be business as usual at US Airways, at least for the time being.
Given that US Airways presently has a separate award chart for redemptions on American Airlines, my guess is that you will not be able to mix OneWorld and Star Alliance carriers on a single award. Of course, that assumes that US Airways agents know the rules of the Dividend Miles program to begin with…
However, this certainly won’t last.
Neither US Airways nor American have made significant changes to their award charts in several years, and given the changes at Delta and United the new combined carrier could certainly raise the costs of award redemptions while remaining competitive with other US-based carriers.
In the meantime though, how do I feel about being able to redeem US Airways Dividend Miles on carriers like Cathay Pacific, Qatar, Japan Airlines and Qantas at the current award rates?
How about you?