Official: AAdvantage & Dividend Miles Merging March 28, 2015

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On Sunday I wrote about the speculation that American AAdvantage and US Airways Dividend Miles would be merging on March 28, 2015.

And it’s now official.

Let me say it again — US Airways Dividend Miles will be merged into American AAdvantage on March 28, 2015. American initially announced that the programs would merge in the second quarter, so kudos to them for staying ahead of the curve.

American-US-Airways

Here’s a rundown of what you need to know:

Redeem Dividend Miles by March 25, 2015

All Dividend Miles award redemptions must be made by 11:59PM CDT on Wednesday, March 25, 2015. After that, award redemptions will be shut off for a few days, while the Dividend Miles program is merged into AAdvantage.

So this is your final opportunity to redeem Dividend Miles.

While AAdvantage and Dividend Miles have similar airline partners and award redemption rates, there are some pretty major differences between the programs. For more information as to whether you should redeem miles now or wait until they’re merged into AAdvantage, see Tiffany’s post from yesterday: “Should You Book US Airways Awards Now Or Wait For AAdvantage?”

If you do decide to ticket an award, expect hold times to be long.

Redeem Chairman’s Preferred upgrades by March 27, 2015

If you’re a Chairman’s Preferred member and have electronic upgrade certificates, you have until 11:59PM CDT on Friday, March 27, 2015 to redeem them. Note that you can redeem electronic upgrade certificates for travel on subsequent dates (though exclusively for travel on US Airways metal), but only if you can confirm the upgrade space.

If you don’t redeem the electronic upgrade certificates by that point they’ll expire, but worry not, you’ll be getting eight American systemwide upgrades, which I’m told should post this coming Sunday or Monday.

Upgrade systems will be changing

Last October, American announced the details of the 2015 AAdvantage program. As part of that they announced how upgrades will be changing. As of March 28, 2015, there will finally be upgrade neutrality between American and US Airways.

Here’s how the new upgrade system will work:

American Airlines Operated And Marketed FlightsGoldPlatinumExecutive Platinum
For flights 500 miles or lessUnlimited, auto-requested complimentary upgradesUnlimited, auto-requested complimentary upgradesUnlimited, auto-requested complimentary upgrades
For flights over 500 milesUse earned or purchased 500-mile upgradesUse earned or purchased 500-mile upgradesUnlimited, auto-requested complimentary upgrades
Upgrade windowConfirmed as early as 24 hours before departureConfirmed as early as 72 hours before departureConfirmed as early as 100 hours before departure

So what change does this represent compared to what members are used to?

  • AAdvantage elite members will now receive complimentary upgrades on flights of under 500 miles
  • Former Dividend Miles elite members will no longer receive complimentary upgrades on flights of over 500 miles
  • Instead, for flights of over 500 miles, Gold and Platinum members will have to use 500 mile upgrade stickers to upgrade

Dividend Miles elite members will be given a starting balance of upgrade stickers, based on their elite qualifying activity in 2014 & 2015. These upgrade stickers are expected to post the week of March 30, 2015.

These members should receive four 500 mile stickers for each 10,000 flown miles. This includes Dividend Miles members that also presently have elite status with American. That being said, if you’re Executive Platinum and Chairman’s Preferred you won’t get an extra eight systemwide upgrades, though you will get a starting balance of 500 mile upgrades.

Dividend Miles members should also receive communication over the weekend with account information, including AAdvantage mileage balance, elite qualifying mileage balance, million miler balance, etc.

Credit card changes

As far as the co-branded credit cards of American and US Airways go, there are a couple of things you can expect:

This is really, truly your last chance to apply for the US Airways® Premier World MasterCard®, as Barclaycard won’t be allowed to accept new applications for the card anymore.

Lots of proactive behind-the-scenes work is being done

I know it’s easy to get frustrated about not being able to redeem Dividend Miles for a couple of days or about the account downtime, but keep in mind the scale of this project. AAdvantage is merging two massive loyalty programs with tens of millions of members, and making sure all data matches and transitions properly is no small feat.

Here are a few of the other things you can expect:

  • If you’ve linked your AAdvantage and Dividend Miles accounts and your status with Dividend Miles is higher than AAdvantage, you’ll actually be “advanced” the higher status, and should receive it at some point this week, prior to the integration
  • Starting on Thursday, it will no longer be possible to make changes to your Dividend Miles account — it will be read only; then on Saturday Dividend Miles will have a hard outage
  • Starting on Saturday, American will proactively be swapping out Dividend Miles numbers with new AAdvantage numbers on existing reservations, though this is a process which will take several days
  • If you haven’t yet linked your accounts (it’s too late now), a tool will be launched over the weekend which allows you to retrieve your Dividend Miles number by entering your AAdvantage number
  • If you haven’t yet linked your AAdvantage and Dividend Miles accounts, you’ll be assigned a new AAdvantage number; at some point in April you’ll be able to link your two AAdvantage numbers, if applicable

Bottom line

While this transition will no doubt be chaotic, I’m quite excited. It will finally be possible to fly US Airways with true upgrade reciprocity, and vice versa.

And I know a few Chairman’s Preferred members that are excited about getting eight systemwide upgrades in the coming days. 😉

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Comments

  1. So starting Saturday I guess EXPS should go to their AA accounts and for already booked segments on USAIR metal be able to request upgrades?

  2. @ silver springer — Codeshares still can’t be upgraded in advance, so you’ll want to be sure your flight is operated and marketed by the same carrier.

  3. Hi Lucky, if I wanna book a roundtrip to Mainland China (or Hong Kong), which partner can I book on? I kinda remember Air China is removed from USAir partner list. Thanks.

  4. @ Kira — You could redeem miles for travel on Cathay Pacific or Japan Airlines, which are probably the two best options.

  5. I just tried to get my 3rd USAir card after having gotten my 2nd a few weeks ago and was denied because “I had applied within the last 30 days”.

  6. Any ideas if we can begin booking AA award flights on Saturday? Looking to catch a off peak flight to Europe before May 15 and only have dividends

  7. I’m traveling US Airways as a Chairman on March 30 & 31st with a companion. What rules are going to apply? Especially if we get upgraded before the 28th (when companions are technically free)? When we check-in is US going to ask for stickers for the companion?

  8. @Lucky So now I am confused on upgrades. Real example I purchased AA 1843 CLT-ATL on May 1 operated by USAIRWAYS. Are you saying I can’t request an upgrade in advance? The current process of requesting “at gate” resulted in zero upgrades.

  9. @ silver springer — That’s correct. My understanding is that codeshare flights still won’t be eligible for upgrades until day of, given that the airlines are still on separate reservations systems.

  10. @ Chase — That’s a great question. I would assume the new rules will apply, though you’ll be given a starting balance of 500 mile stickers which you can apply towards the companion’s upgrade.

  11. As an IT leader, I’m interested to see how this goes. There have been highly-publicized issues with prior FF system mergers, but I know a few people in the AA IT department. Undoubtedly they’ve run this multiple times before and know exactly what types of issues will come up and how to resolve them. They’ve done dry-run after dry-run and have good confidence things will go well. That said, I’m also experienced enough to know that no matter how many dry-runs you do, you ALWAYS encounter system problems once you hit the LIVE button. So expect a few issues for up to a month. And of course I’m sure they have a “rollback” plan, whereby if things go completely south during the upgrade window, they’ll simply put things back the way they are on the 28th, and reschedule for a later date. This is a tough, highly-visible systems integration, and I wish them all success. The IT guys are in for a long few days.

  12. Lucky, two questions – I became US Airways Chairman’s at the end of 2014 (was Platinum most of the year). Will I still get 24 500-mile certs even though I’m Chairman’s (soon to be ExPlat)? Or are those only reserved for Gold/Platinum once the programs merge?

    Also, do the US Airways Chairman’s electronic upgrades have to be used on TATL flights – or can they be used on domestic flights as well?

    Thanks!

  13. @ Andrew — The Chairman’s Preferred upgrades can be used on domestic flights as well. As far as 500 mile upgrade certs go, you will receive a starting balance as a Chairman’s Preferred member.

  14. @Marie – I applied for my first USAir card ever this January/2015. Can you please share how long you waited between your 1st and 2nd application? If I can, I’d love to pick up an extra 50K miles before the link expires.

    Anyone else’s input is appreciated 🙂

  15. Lucky,

    I followed your lead over the weekend and applied for a US Airways card to get the bonus miles. I don’t currently have a Dividend Miles account, and during the application process, they said an account would be assigned to me. It sounds like now that new Dividend accounts are not being setup. Any speculation on how this is going to play out? I hope they don’t assign it to a new AA account, because I have one of those. Thanks!

  16. Does anyone have an unused Chairman’s upgrade certificates?

    I have a flight in May from PHL – CDG on a 330.

    Would you be willing to gift one prior to the conversion?

  17. I have 2 existing J and F award bookings on QR/JL/CX/KA using USair miles. Let’s hope these bookings remain undisturbed when they replace my dividend miles number with my AAdvantage number.

    “That being said, if you’re Executive Platinum and Chairman’s Preferred you won’t get an extra eight systemwide upgrades, though you will get a starting balance of 500 mile upgrades.” As an existing AA EXP will I also get extra 500 miles upgrades? EXPs don’t earn them and I have to purchase them to use for companions.

  18. Thanks Lucky – I asked about using the e-certs for domestic flights because something in the back of my head said they were just for international travel, but I hadn’t seen that mentioned by you or Gary or anyone else…but I just checked the US Airways website, and here’s what it says:

    “As a Chairman’s Preferred member, you’ll receive 2 electronic certificates each year for one-way First/Business Class upgrades that you can use for travel to or from Hawaii, Europe, South America and the Middle East on US Airways and US Airways Express marketed and operated flights. Codeshare flights are excluded.”

    So that makes it sound like they can only be used on flights that aren’t eligible for complimentary upgrades. Just want to make sure I know for sure before I buy a domestic flight in the next day or so with the hopes of upgrading it. Thanks.

  19. Any indication whether the continued use of 500-mile upgrades is just an interim step, or are they probably here to stay? I thought when the merger was announced, people predicted that the stickers would go the way of the dinosaurs and Ashlee Simpson’s career.

  20. You’re saying “At some point this week, new applications for the US Airways Dividend Miles Card will no longer be possible”

    Gary is saying “You Still Have Until Mid-April to Apply for a US Airways MasterCard”

    Thoughts?

  21. @ Matt S. — You’ll be assigned a Dividend Miles account, which will be converted into an AAdvantage account. At that point you’ll be able to merge with whatever your existing AAdvantage account is.

  22. Was tracking a flight yesterday with Dividend miles, now I get a system error when I try to even look up that route. Is this happening for others where you can’t book online?

    Not sure if they ran out of space or if the system is just blocking us from booking awards online now?

  23. My girlfriend applied for the Barclaycard US Airways Dividend Miles Card a few days ago and was instantly approved. She did not have a US Airways FF# so she left that field blank.

    It will take a couple months I guess to receive the card, make a purchase, receive the first statement (with the purchase and annual fee), and pay it. Do you know what will happen then? Where will the bonus miles go? Presumably they *should* go to the American account, but how will this actually happen? She does have an American FF# but the application instructions specifically said not to put that number there.

    Thanks!

  24. 500 miles upgrades are useless. It is so hard to get it clears. I would rather AA convert them to miles.

  25. @ Jon — They’ll automatically be posted to an AAdvantage account. Basically whatever her US Airways account number was will be converted into a new AAdvantage account, assuming she hasn’t linked her AAdvantage and Dividend Miles number. Then in a couple of weeks she’ll be able to merge multiple AAdvantage accounts. Of course this all assumes she hasn’t linked her AAdvantage and Dividend Miles account. If she has, the points will go straight into her AAdvantage account.

  26. OOOOOOOOhhhhh I’m SOOOOOOOO Excited. Not.

    Oh no you deeedn’t …. Doooooooooo swish a rama.

  27. does anyone know if upgrade priority is based on your status at the time of booking or at the time of the flight? I booked a flight when i was AAdvantage platinum and have since lost status

  28. @ Zach — It’s based on the status at the time you fly. It should be “updated” in the system if you lost status, unfortunately.

  29. This is a different Zach. I was wondering if it makes sense to buy 140k miles to get a award ticket in first roundtrip from LAX to PVG on Cathay.

  30. @ Zach — If miles are on sale and you have fairly immediate plans to book the trip, then I’d say it absolutely could make sense.

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