How Will the American Airlines and US Airways New AAdvantage Program Affect You?

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American Airlines explained how they’ll combine their AAdvantage frequent flyer program with US Airways Dividend Miles today, as part of their merger with US Airways.  And it’s generally good news, because not a lot is changing.

Some folks were worried there would be major negative changes, like award tickets costing more miles, or transitioning to a revenue-based program (where you earn miles based on the cost of your ticket and not the distance flown) like Delta and United Airlines have done.

I’m happy to report that American Airlines is not changing their award chart or making any major changes to how you earn miles!  Most of the changes will impact folks with elite status.

How Will The American Airlines And US Airways New AAdvantage Program Affect You

The New AAdvantage Program: Good News for Most Folks!

Let’s look at what’s changing and what it means for you.

The New American Airlines AAdvantage Frequent Flyer Program

Link:   American Airlines’ Announcement

1.   Your US Airways Miles Will Become American Airlines Miles

If you have both US Airways and American Airlines frequent flyer accounts, your US Airways miles will be moved to your American Airlines account in the 2nd quarter of 2015.  They’ll be transferred at a 1:1 ratio.

Folks who only have a US Airways account will have a new American Airlines account number created for them, and their miles will automatically be transferred to the new account.

If you’re trying to earn elite status in early 2015, your 2014 activity from both programs will be combined, and your elite status will be based on the total elite qualifying miles and segments from both programs.

How Will The American Airlines And US Airways New AAdvantage Program Affect You

American Airlines Will Combine Your Elite-Qualifying Activity From Both Programs to Determine Your Elite Status

I’ve written that the Barclays US Airways card will be phased out soon because of the merger.  You’ll get 40,000 US Airways miles after your 1st purchase and payment of the $89 annual fee, plus 10,000 miles on the anniversary of your account opening.

Now we know for sure that US Airways miles will become American Airlines miles at a 1:1 ratio.  So if you don’t have the card already, and want more American Airlines miles, this could be a good opportunity before the card is retired for good!

Other American Airlines cards, like the Citi® / AAdvantage® Executive World Elite™ Mastercard® or Citi® / AAdvantage® Platinum Select® World Elite™ Mastercard® should still be available after the merger.  That’s because Citi has an agreement with American Airlines to issue their credit cards.

2.   The AAdvantage Award Chart Stays the Same

Link:   American Airlines Award Chart

Link:   American Airlines oneworld / Partner Award Chart

American Airlines is not changing its award chart!  So it will still cost the same number of miles for an award ticket.

How Will The American Airlines And US Airways New AAdvantage Program Affect You

It Will Cost the Same Number of Miles to Book Award Tickets Through the New AAdvantage Program, Like 17,500 Miles 1-Way for an Off-Peak Coach Ticket to Hawaii

You’ll still be able to book award flights using US Airways miles and the US Airways award chart until the 2 programs are combined in the 2nd quarter of 2015.  There’s not an exact date for retiring the US Airways award chart, so if there are tickets you want to book using the old chart, you shouldn’t leave it for too late.

3.   Changes to Elite Status, Upgrades

The US Airways Dividend Miles program has 4 elite status tiers:

Under the new American Airlines AAdvantage program, there will only be 3 elite status tiers:

  • Gold
  • Platinum
  • Executive Platinum
How Will The American Airlines And US Airways New AAdvantage Program Affect You

The New AAdvantage Program Will Have 3 Elite Tiers, Compared to US Airways’ 4 Tiers

One main change in qualifying for elite status is that you’ll now need 120 segments (or 100,000 miles or points) to qualify for Executive Platinum status.

That’s the same number of segments needed for US Airways top-tier elite qualification.  Previously, American Airlines Executive Platinum members only needed 100 segments.

Another major change for frequent flyers is that all elites will get unlimited complimentary upgrades on American Airlines marketed and operated flights 500 miles or less when there are seats available.  This will occur after the programs are combined in the 2nd quarter of 2015.

One Mile at a Time has a good overview of all the changes to elite upgrades under the new American Airlines AAdvantage program.

4.   Other New Features

Starting January 1, 2015, you’ll earn 50% bonus miles on paid Business Class tickets on both American Airlines and US Airways.  Previously, the mileage bonus was 25% on American Airlines.

And if you’re an Executive Platinum elite customer, you won’t have to pay for confirmed same-day flight changes anymore.  Previously, it cost $75.

Bottom Line

American Airlines has released the details of how they will combine their frequent flyer program with US Airways after their merger is complete.  And the good news is, not a lot has changed for most folks!

Your US Airways miles will be transferred to the new American Airlines AAdvantage program in the 2nd quarter of 2015 at a 1:1 ratio.  The American Airlines award charts are NOT changing, and they’re NOT switching to a revenue-based elite qualification system like Delta and United Airlines have done.

There are a few changes to how folks qualify for elite status, and how you get upgraded.  But for most folks without elite status, there’ll be very little noticeable change.

That said, I do expect there to eventually be increases in the award chart and American Airlines will likely move to a revenue frequent flyer program (but only for earning miles, and not for redeeming miles)

I’m happy with today’s announcement.  What do you think of the changes to American Airlines AAdvantage?

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10 responses to “How Will the American Airlines and US Airways New AAdvantage Program Affect You?

  1. Is US airways card churnable? I closed my card couple of months ago. Can I apply for the same again and receive bonus miles? Please let me know

  2. Hi, I just started learning this CC churning game and I’m a bit confused. Please help me to understand the following:
    1. You mentioned Barclays US Airways CC. I understand the $89 fee for 40k miles, but won’t you be charged $89 for the anniversary 10k. Is then $178 for 50k a good deal or can you avoid the 2nd year AF somehow? And these miles are deposited directly into my USair Div.Miles account after the 1st purchase & $89, correct?

    2. Now, this CC “Barclaycard Arrival Plus Word Elite MC” is good only for people who’re sure to travel within 1 year and take the travel credit, but those bonus miles are not transferable out to any FF program. Did I get this right? I just want to make sure I don’t apply for not flexible CC that don’t allow to move earned miles/points to a FF program of my chosen airlines.

    3. Where could I read a clear explanation between revenue based FF programs (like Delta and United) vs. other programs and how they affect us, frugal folks? E.g. I got approved for the AmEx Premier Gold Card with 50k bonus points and will probably need to transfer them out before the AF $175. The only FF program that might be suitable for me is Delta (no AA or USair programs offered for transfers out). Maybe I could hoard those miles on Delta until I accumulate more because Delta miles never expire (right?), but not sure it’s a good deal. What’s your advice? Maybe just get $500 in gift cards at AmEx and run instead of hoarding miles at Delta for who knows long.

    4. What’s the difference between Elite and offer statuses on FF programs? Since I travel once a year or maybe once every two years, it’s probably not applicable to me, right?


  3. Hey RK,
    In my experience, the Barclay’s US Airways card is hard to churn. I tried to reopen another account six months later and was denied. I called to ask why and they told me I had one within the last year that I cancelled. I then told them that my company eased up their travel requirements and that I could fly on my preferred airline, so I would be able to book US Airways more often. They approved the card, but I don’t believe I will get away with churning this card again in less than a year (but it shouldn’t matter with them combining the programs next year).

  4. I think you got your first point wrong.

    AA’s timeline says “On March 1, 2015, your elite status will be determined based on your elite-qualifying activity in each program individually.”

    That seems to imply that if you say have 22k EQM on US Air, and 80 on AA in 2014, you still will only have Plat status in 2015 🙁

  5. I wonder why they don’t mention the MileSAAver chart?…

    “When we combine our programs in second quarter of 2015, you’ll be able to redeem miles for AAnytime® awards and upgrades on American and US Airways.”

    • @RK – Potentially, but US Bank has tightened up on multiple approvals.

      @Dummy – You will be charged the fee in year 2, but $89 for 10K miles is a good deal. Or cpu can close the card sooner. You can’t transfer US Air miles to other airlines, but can redeem them on certain airline partners (such as Cathay Pacific etc.) I’d pick an airline to transfer the points based on your travel goals. Elite status likely doesn’t make sense if you travel once a year – it is more beneficial for frequent travelers.

      @Joly – See the examples in this section –>

  6. Not too happy as a platinum on US with removing the tier. I will be over 100 segments but not to 120 this year for chairman. Rather than receiving EP as AA members will who hit 100 segments in 2014, I will get grouped with the 50k / 60 segment US golds (AA platinum).

  7. Got it – that makes more sense, I wonder why they have the individually language. Looks like I’ll keep my exec plat for another year! 🙂

  8. I don’t see if american will begin charging $25 fee for award tickets – as US airways does.

  9. Why, in addition to using 60,000 miles, for a round trip saver award to London in late June, is one also charged over $700? When did this start to happen? I remember always paying a fee in addition to using miles, but $700? Is there a way around this? It’s still better than paying $1200-$1500 for roundtrip with no miles, but that seems odd to me.