Great Time To Start US Airways Challenge

I’ve written extensively about the US Airways Challenge, which is more useful than ever given that we now know the timeline of the integration between American AAdvantage and US Airways Dividend Miles.

If you’re not yet familiar with the challenge, I’d recommend reading my primer post about it, and then the frequently asked questions follow up post I wrote.

US Airways Challenge basics

Basically you can pay $200-600 to start the challenge (depending on whether you want Silver, Gold, or Platinum status upfront), and then if you fly 30,000 miles on American or US Airways within 90 days you get Chairman’s Preferred status. That will be converted into Executive Platinum status in the second quarter of 2015, at which point you’ll get eight American systemwide upgrades (in addition to the US Airways Chairman’s Preferred upgrade certificates you get upon completing the challenge).


Now is a great time to start a US Airways Challenge

I think it’s worth pointing out that now is a great time to start a US Airways Challenge.

Why? Because if you start it now, you’ll have until the end of February 2015 to complete your challenge.

The ideal situation would be to do all your flying towards the challenge in 2015. That’s because if you fly 30,000 miles and earn Chairman’s Preferred now that’s great, but those miles won’t count towards next year’s status.

On the other hand, say you do all your flying in early 2015. You’d then not only get Chairman’s Preferred status after flying 30,000 miles, but those 30,000 miles would also qualify towards your status for the following year. In other words, in order to keep your status valid for another year (through February 2017), you’d “only” need to fly another 70,000 miles, as opposed to 100,000 miles.


Then why not start the challenge January 1, 2015?

Ideally you’d wait until January 1 to start the challenge, since you’d then have three months in 2015 to fly those miles, and all those miles would count towards the challenge and towards your requalification.

But the issue is that there’s no guarantee the challenge will stick around. It could disappear any day without notice. And I certainly wouldn’t be surprised if it disappeared in the next month.

Bottom line

If you’re thinking of doing the challenge, I’d probably hedge my bets and start it sooner rather than later. If you do start it now, I think you’re best off doing all your flying in the first two months of 2015 if possible, and then you’d already have an awesome jumpstart towards 2016 elite status.

Are you doing a US Airways Challenge, and if so, what’s your strategy?


  1. do you know if there are any American or US Air credit cards that are still available that offer the 10,000 mile EQM’s after spending a certain amount per year?

  2. I am currently doing the challenge and according to the rules and in response to my questions to USAirways, reward miles do not count toward challenge miles, only miles actually flown on AA/US metal qualify for challenge miles and once the status requirement is satisfied, you’ll qualify for that status through 2/29/2016.

  3. @ Matt — It’s not clear that you’d get any additional upgrades, aside from the two Chairman’s Preferred upgrades. So I wouldn’t count on getting anything extra out of it.

  4. @ danray — Yes, the Citi Executive AAdvantage Card and the US Airways Card both offer EQMs after putting a substantial amount of spend on the card. That doesn’t count towards the challenge, though, which is based on BIS miles.

  5. I started the challenge yesterday, also afraid of it being pulled last night. Basically, I’m doing a weekend same-day transcon in mid-January, a big (~18,000) run at the end of January, and two of the cheapo PHL-LAS runs in February. I actually started with the Gold challenge, rather than Silver for the increased chance of upgrade on the US transcon run, MCE (at time of booking) for the long run, and the OW sapphire benefits during the long run. I also wanted to make sure that I hit the 22,500 platinum threshold before the PHL-LAS runs as these were so popular they might be a tough upgrade.

  6. If I pay for one of the challenges, and have 6 people on my PNR, do I get main cabin extra seats for all of us? I have tried to figure this out from their website, but haven’t been able to.

  7. @ Farnorthtrader — You receive complimentary Main Cabin Extra under the following conditions:

    *AAdvantage Executive Platinum, AAdvantage Platinum, oneworld Sapphire and Emerald members. Dividend Miles Chairman’s Preferred, Gold Preferred and Platinum Preferred members, Alaska Airlines MVP® Gold and MVP® Gold 75K customers and up to 8 traveling companions on the same reservation.

  8. Are you sure about that? Thought that status earned before June 30 was valid till Feb 28 of the following year, and status earned after that was valid till Feb 28 of current year + 2 years. Has this changed?

  9. I’m currently Gold on US Airways. I’m sure I know the answer to this, but just to confirm: that means I can’t do a challenge to hit Chairman’s, correct? So, could I do a challenge for ExPlat on American? Do the flights have to be specifically on AA/US metal, or would booking the AA flight number on a Qantas-operated flight count?

  10. Farnorthtrader’s comment reminded me to ask: does anyone have any insight on including more than two people on my US Airways reservation and still getting complimentary upgrades? My current understanding is that you have to choose which perk is more valuable to you: the free baggage allowance for everyone in a group or being eligible for an upgrade.

  11. @ Curt — Correct, you couldn’t do a US Airways Challenge if you have status with them. The highest challenge American offers is for Platinum status.

  12. Is this worth doing for me? and at which level?

    I’m currently AA Plat (70k mi this yr), would I start the challenge under US or AA? And I’m actually in the middle of a trip right now, would any miles count retroactively towards this?

  13. @ Wayne — The challenge is with US Airways. I’d suggest checking out the previous two posts for more info on whether it makes sense or not. If you already credited flights to AAdvantage then you can’t credit them to Dividend Miles, though you can credit any miles going forward to Dividend Miles.

  14. You can fly on US or AA – but the flight have to credit to US, correct? in other words, I booked most of my flights on AA with my AA number – but I am thinking that I have to change the ff# to my US # when I check in . . .

  15. Hi, I am currently an EP of AA until 2016/02 and looking for doing some MR during Jan Feb 2015. Please correct me if there’s any misunderstanding. If I do the US challenge and fly 30K miles JAN 2015, then I will get US chairmen preferred until Feb 2016. After merger, according to my US status, I would get 8 SWUs and my EP will remain unitl Feb 2016. However, if I fly 70K miles more after completion of US challenge on 2015, I will requalify my EP status until Feb 2017 and get 8 more SWUs. In short, flying 100K next years including 30K crediting to US before Feb and 70K crediting to AA will get me 16 SWUs and EP status to Feb 2017. Am I right? Thanks!.


  16. @ Brian Roth — The US Airways certificates are good until the airlines merge, and then the American ones you get in the second quarter of next year should be valid through Feb. 2017, I think.

  17. Hi Lucky,

    To sumamrize:

    – Do challenge now, and get 2 CP SWUs on completion of 30,000 miles, which will become 8 AA SWUs in Q2 2015 (losing any unused CP ones), which are valid until Feb 2017, but your EXP status only lasts until Feb 2016
    – Do 100,000 miles in total (which can include in BIS challenge miles done from Jan 1st onwards) in 2015 and get another 8 AA SWUs, upon completing the 100k miles, as part of EXP status.

    Meaning it would be possible to have 16 SWUs all expiring in Feb 2017?

  18. @ David — I don’t know for sure how long the original SWUs would be valid for. It could be through Feb 2016, or maybe through Feb 2017. But if you requalify for status again, then you’d get another eight SWUs, assuming rules don’t change regarding how they issue them.

  19. Hi, Lucky,

    My hubby will fly to China in Jan and March, and wants to use these trips for US Airways status challenge. Can he book the flights before he signs up for the challenge? He has booked the Jan trip, but not yet for March. My understanding is he can start the challenge before the flight, it does not matter when he books the flight. Am I correct? Thanks.

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