Yesterday the Department of Justice finally approved the American and US Airways merger, which is supposed to close in December. While I can’t say I’m surprised, I wasn’t thrilled with the merger to begin with, and am even less thrilled at the prospect of less competition after the absolute devaluation bloodbath we’ve seen the past couple of weeks, first with United, then with Delta (again, after they made a devaluation a couple of months prior), and now with Hyatt (which is the most reasonable of the three changes in my opinion).
So in our minds I’m sure this raises many questions, including:
- When will US Airways leave the Star Alliance?
- What will the new combined American and US Airways frequent flyer program look like?
- When will the airlines offer reciprocal elite benefits?
- Does it make sense to buy US Airways status now?
We don’t have answers to most of those questions, though per USA Today, it appears as if American and US Airways will begin offering reciprocal frequent flyer benefits as of January 7, 2014.
That’s all the information we have as of now, and “reciprocal frequent flyer benefits” could be interpreted to mean one of several things:
- Elite status matching between programs
- Being able to transfer miles between programs
- Some level of elite recognition without actually being able to transfer miles or match elite status
Regardless, January 7 is less than two months away, so my guess is that we’ll know a lot more in the next week or so.
The question that raises is whether it makes sense to outright purchase US Airways status. I answered this question back in February, and obviously a lot of circumstances have changed, so I’ll recap.
US Airways is the only airline out there I know that will sell you top tier status for a “reasonable” price. Here’s their chart for “buying up” to Preferred status:
As you can see, you can outright purchase 100,000 PQMs for $3,999, or it’s a better deal if you have any qualifying activity to purchase up to 99,999 PQMs for $2,999.
With that in mind, does it make sense to buy Chairman’s Preferred status in hopes of this turning into Executive Platinum status with American, and getting eight of their systemwide upgrades?
Well, for one, status purchased now would be valid through February 28, 2015, so it would be valid for over a year. I expect some amount of elite reciprocity to be offered between airlines as of early next year (possibly January 7), so you’d definitely benefit from American status in terms of domestic upgrades, fee waivers, bonus miles, etc.
That being said, I don’t think the two airlines will have a single systemwide upgrade policy until the 2015 program year, so I would guess that if you purchase US Airways status now you wouldn’t get the eight American systemwide upgrades anytime in the near year that American Executive Platinum members usually get.
So if you plan on doing a good amount of domestic flying on American or US Airways in the next year and don’t mind dropping the cash then I would say it could be a pretty good value. However, I wouldn’t count on getting the eight systemwide upgrades.