In late October of last year we found out the future of American AAdvantage and US Airways Dividend Miles. The news was overwhelmingly positive, given all the negative changes we’ve seen from other airlines lately.
Perhaps the most interesting detail to members is that US Airways Dividend Miles will be merged into American AAdvantage sometime in the second quarter of 2015. While we don’t have an exact date yet, this is when status between the two airlines will be fully reciprocal, when mileage totals will be combined, etc.
With that in mind, I’ve received a ton of questions as to what happens to US Airways Dividend Miles awards when the program ceases to exist.
It was just last year when US Airways transitioned from Star Alliance to oneworld, and that presented a challenge for award tickets. Basically, previously issued Star Alliance award tickets couldn’t be changed to include oneworld segments. Instead you had to redeposit them entirely and rebook if you wanted any segments on oneworld.
So I think we’re all hoping that the transition from Dividend Miles to AAdvantage will be a bit “cleaner” in terms of award tickets.
With that in mind, I reached out to American to ask a few questions regarding what happens to Dividend Miles awards once the program is merged into AAdvantage. Here’s what I learned:
Can changes be made to Dividend Miles awards after integration?
For the most part, yes. The exception are awards that involve travel on airlines which Dividend Miles exclusively partners with. Specifically, US Airways still has relationships with a few Star Alliance partners. So changes can’t be made to awards including travel on Aegean Airlines, Air China, South African Airways, and TAP Portugal.
Redeem Dividend Miles for travel in Air China business class now… or don’t!
Which change fees will apply — American’s or US Airways’?
Once the integration happens, American AAdvantage award fees will kick in across the board, even for tickets originally issued through US Airways. This is great news across the board:
- AAdvantage allows date, time, and routing changes for free; redepositing miles costs $150 for the first passenger and $25 for each additional passenger
- Dividend Miles charges $150 fee for any change, no matter how minor
So if you can, it would be advantageous to wait until after the AAdvantage program takes over to make changes or redeposit an award for multiple passengers on the same record locator.
Will awards be repriced at AAdvantage award levels?
In many cases, AAdvantage and Dividend Miles already have aligned award costs, in which case prices are the same regardless.
For those cases where they don’t:
- Date and time changes (while keeping the origin and destination the same) don’t require a ticket to be reissued, and therefore don’t cause it to be repriced
- All other changes will require a ticket to be reissued, and therefore be repriced at AAdvantage award levels
Summing it all up
There are a million different scenarios I could have presented, though I think I got a good general understanding of how things will work. Whenever the two programs integrate, all tickets will basically be viewed as AAdvantage awards and not Dividend Miles awards, so AAdvantage rules will apply.
I would also expect that AAdvantage routing rules will apply as well. In other words, if you book an award that couldn’t “legally” be priced through AAdvantage (like US to Asia via Europe, US to Australia via Asia, etc.), I wouldn’t expect to be able to make changes without paying whatever American AAdvantage would charge for that award.
But all things considered I think this is good news. Dividend Miles does in many ways have more generous routing rules, though AAdvantage has lower change fees and a “functional” system that auto-prices awards.
As a general rule of thumb, though, unless you’re looking to book one-way awards, I would be redeeming Dividend Miles before the integration.
Book those 120,000 mile roundtrip Cathay Pacific first class awards before the programs merge!
If you have any other questions let me know and I’ll try to chase down some answers!