US Airways Stops Selling Status

One of the things I do appreciate about the behind-the-scenes folks at America West US Airways is that many of their decision-makers are effectively bean-counters. Intelligent bean-counters, if there is such a thing.

Operationally, the management team at US Airways has done a good job, and that’s partly because they make decisions based on what they think makes the most financial sense.


So we’ve seen them sell miles at ridiculously cheap rates (because it was profitable), replace catering on short domestic routes with a snack basket (because it was profitable), and even outright sell you elite status (because it was profitable).

Apparently they’ve decided that last option no longer makes financial sense, as US Airways has eliminated the ability to purchase elite status through their Buy Up To Preferred program.

Historically, US Airways has one of the most generous programs when it comes to outright buying status, whereby you’ve been able to outright buy top tier status without having flown a mile. In March of this year they changed the program as part of the merger with American, and added the following restrictions:

  • You could only buy up to a tier that you are within 25,000 miles or 30 flight segments of reaching
  • The fees for buying up to status increased

So not only did they restrict the number of Preferred Qualifying Miles you could buy t0 24,999, but they more or less doubled the cost of purchasing the PQMs that you could buy.


However, as of today the option appears to be gone entirely:

Screen Shot 2014-10-01 at 8.41.50 AM

This isn’t really surprising, to be honest. US Airways was one of the only programs offering the option of outright purchasing elite status, and now as they’re starting to align policies with American (somewhat), I guess they’ve decided this no longer makes sense.

As a reminder, US Airways also still offers trial Preferred status challenges, though I would guess that it won’t be till the 2016 program year that they have a single elite program with American. So challenging up to Preferred status almost certainly wouldn’t get you eight systemwide upgrades, if that’s what you’re after.


It can still be a great deal — pay $200 for a Silver Preferred challenge and fly 30,000 miles within 90 days, and you’ll be a Chairman’s Preferred member through February 2016. Of course it’s anyone’s guess how long the trial Preferred challenge continues to be offered.

Was anyone planning on taking advantage of Buy Up To Preferred? What are your plans now?

(Tip of the hat to Gary)


  1. Ben – do you have suggestions on MRs for someone trying to achieve Chairman’s Preferred, starting out of West Coast? Assuming one needs the whole 30K miles to be done…

  2. @ Apu — Your best bet would probably be a couple of tickets to Asia. American tends to have cheap fares in the winter, so that’s a great option.

  3. Glad US Airways is making this change- helps out all elites on equal footing. I spend much more than $2999 buying tickets to fly 100K miles on American.

  4. Do you say pay $200 silver preferred status and fly 30000 miles to achieve chairman status? What about if I pay $600 initially? What is the difference?

  5. @Silver — Good point. I mean AA has never been known to sell Elite status. They just give it away! Here is a current offer..

    FT is filled with stories of offers of free challenges that come along with 20 stickers just for playing whether you succeed or not.

    At least US charged to get Trial Elite status or an even higher price to buy status.

    So, tell me again how AA treats their BIS flyers with respect?

  6. @ simon — If you pay $600 initially you’d get Platinum status during the trial, as opposed to Silver status. You’d earn more miles, clear more upgrades, etc.

  7. Ben, you suggest AAdvantage and USDM will merge around the 2016 program year? Would this be the start of next year (as it was indicated by some official statements) or rather early 2016?

    Obviously I know nobody can say anything for sure, but the prospect of having USDM still around for the remainder of 2015 would certainly make my day.

  8. @ Daniel — I’d guess the programs will be completely merged by the beginning of 2016. Just a guess, and I have no clue what changes would be made next year in anticipation of that.

  9. Thank goodness they shut that down. It de-valued the most valuable (IMHO) elite status in the air — according to the EXP desk, competition for upgrades and award travel have already increased with the USAir elites on board. Not that I blame anyone who did buy up — getting AA EXP for $4K without flying is quite a deal!

  10. Oof. I was planning to. My planned travel is going to get me to about 85K miles this year so I was going to buy up to Chairman’s in advance of the combined programs. I was just looking into this last week.

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