US Airways joined the oneworld alliance just a short couple of weeks ago, and a lot has changed in that time with the frequent flyer programs of both American and US Airways.
Since they joined oneworld I’ve done what I can to cover many aspects of redeeming US Airways miles for travel on oneworld, and vice versa, including:
- US Airways OneWorld Award Routing Rules
- Comparing Award Charts: American And US Airways
- US Airways Award Stopover Rules And OneWorld Hubs
- Changing US Airways Star Alliance Awards To OneWorld
- US Airways Dividend Miles Earning Rates For OneWorld Carriers
- US Airways Flights Bookable Using British Airways Avios
- Is US Airways Blocking OneWorld Award Space?
- How To Use British Airways Award Search Tool
But beyond that American has made some substantial changes to both the AAdvantage and Dividend Miles programs last week:
American AAdvantage changes:
- No more oneworld distance based Explorer awards
- No more stopovers at the North America gateways on international awards
US Airways Dividend Miles changes:
- The cost of the “sweet spot” 90,000 mile business class awards between the US and North Asia has increased by 20,000 miles to 110,000 miles roundtrip
Anyway, all that leads me to the point of this post. While American and US Airways are now “one company,” they still maintain separate mileage currencies, and there’s no way to transfer miles between AAdvantage and Dividend Miles yet.
So which program’s miles are more valuable — AAdvantage or Dividend Miles?
I’m in the process of sharing my updated valuations on miles, as the last time I shared my valuation of miles was a bit over a year ago. At that time I valued the two currencies as follows:
- American AAdvantage – 1.8 cents/mile
- US Airways Dividend Miles – 1.6 cents/mile
So with all the changes the past few weeks, which miles are now more valuable — AAdvantage or Dividend Miles?
First, here’s a chart with the major policy differences between the two programs:
|American AAdvantage||US Airways Dividend Miles|
|One Way Awards||Yes! All awards are one-way.||No. All awards price at the roundtrip rate.|
|Stopovers||No.||One stopover at a OneWorld hub or US Airways transatlantic gateway city.|
|Open Jaws||Yes, because all awards are one-way.||Yes, if you don't already have a stopover.|
|Routing Rules||Can exceed MPM by 25%, but can't transit a third region outside of certain exceptions. Over the water carrier must publish a fare for the route.||No more than five segments per direction, otherwise nearly anything goes.|
|Change/Cancellation Policy||Routing can be changed for no cost provided origin and destination stay the same.||Awards cannot be changed or modified once travel has commenced. Otherwise can be changed for a fee.|
|Fees For Non-Elites||$150 to change origin/destination city|
$75 Close-In Ticketing Fee
$150 Cancellation Fee
|$50 Dividend Miles Processing Fee|
$75 Close-In Ticketing Fee
$150 Change/Cancellation Fee
Now lets look at each individual policy and which carrier “wins:”
One-way awards: American AAdvantage wins
It’s quite simple. American allows one-way awards at half the cost of a roundtrip, while US Airways doesn’t (well, they’ll let you redeem miles for a one-way, but it’ll cost you the same as a roundtrip).
Stopovers: US Airways Dividend Miles wins
Up until recently American arguably had the more generous policy, as they allowed a stopover at the North America international gateway city on a one-way award. Unfortunately between eliminating that and Explorer awards (which allowed an unlimited number of stopovers, up to the segment limit), American no longer allows stopovers of more than 24 hours on awards.
Meanwhile US Airways continues to allow one stopover either at a US Airways international gateway city or at a oneworld hub, so they do have the more generous policy.
Access to award availability: American AAdvantage wins
As I wrote about a few days ago, US Airways has issues “seeing” some oneworld award space. I don’t think it’s intentional, but rather a function of US Airways transitioning systems, so it’s a combination of some system glitches and agents that aren’t properly trained yet.
So American wins, given how long they’ve been in oneworld and that they easily have access to all partner award space.
Easily book many oneworld awards directly on aa.com
Change/cancellation policies & fees: American AAdvantage wins
There are two aspects to this. First of all, lets talk about the actual change policies, ignoring the fees. US Airways doesn’t let you make any changes to itineraries once travel commences, while American will let you still modify an itinerary after travel commences. So American AAdvantage wins there.
American AAdvantage also wins in terms of their ticketing, change, and cancellation fees. US Airways charges a “Dividend Miles processing fee” which is $50 for most regions and applies regardless of whether you book online or by phone, while American just charges a $25-35 ticketing fee if you book by phone.
In terms of changes, American lets you change routings and dates for free, as long as the origin and destination remain the space. For other changes or cancellations they charge a fee of $150 for the first passenger and $25 for each additional passenger.
US Airways, on the other hand, charges $150 per person to make any change or to cancel a reservation.
So American AAdvantage wins by a long shot.
Routing rules: US Airways Dividend Miles wins
American has ridiculous routing rules compared to most other programs. They won’t let you route from the US to Asia via Europe. They won’t let you route from the US to Africa via the Middle East. They won’t let you route from the US to Australia via Asia. For that matter, they won’t even let you route from the US to Southern South America via Peru, which is in many cases the most direct routing.
US Airways, on the other hand, has among the most generous routing rules. They’ll allow all of the above routings, and then some.
Routings allowed with US Airways but not American
I hope that when the two programs merge they either adopt US Airways’ routing rules (or lack thereof), or otherwise at least update American’s routing rules in a logical way that reflects the times and their alliance partnerships.
Redemption rates: US Airways Dividend Miles wins
I wrote a post a couple of weeks ago comparing award redemption rates between American AAdvantage and US Airways Dividend Miles. On the whole US Airways Dividend Miles has lower redemption rates than American, though it does depend on the specific region.
I value US Airways miles higher than American miles
All things considered, at the moment I do value US Airways miles higher than American miles. Between the ability to do stopovers, overall redemption rates, and much more generous routing rules, I think they’re a bit more valuable. Of course there are still benefits of booking through American, like more generous change policies/fees, the ability to book one-way awards, and easy access to all oneworld flights with award space.
My valuation of American AAdvantage and US Airways miles
What do I value American AAdvantage and US Airways Dividend Miles at for award redemptions today? I’d like to clarify that I think further devaluations are coming, so my valuation of these miles isn’t based on “hoarding” them, but based on their current value under the current award charts with the current rules.
As things stand right now, I would say I value American miles at about 1.6 cents each (compared to 1.8 cents last year) and US Airways miles at about 1.7 cents each (compared to 1.6 cents each last year). By no means scientific, but that’s my perspective.
I’d be curious to hear how you guys value American AAdvantage and US Airways Dividend Miles!