US Airways Pulls Its Elite Challenge (“Trial Preferred”) Offer

US Airways has long offered a paid status challenge program where you get temporary status for 90 days and then have an opportunity to fly to keep that status on an accelerated basis.

Three months ago US Airways eliminated the ability to buy miles towards status, which used to be a great alternative to mileage running for those last few flights you’d need to qualify.

In contrast, the US Airways program that you pay for, that gives you temporary status, and where the flying you do during the status period determines the status you keep going forward, you haven’t had to have any status with another airline to qualify at all.

The End of US Airways Trial Preferred

About seven weeks ago I said that if I were running the program I would end it come December.

And indeed the program has now been pulled. (HT: Dan R.) Per the website:

As we move toward a single frequent flyer program, Trial Preferred is no longer accepting new enrollments. If you’re currently enrolled in Trial Preferred, you’ll continue to receive Preferred benefits and accrue toward status through the remainder of your Trial period. Your 2015 Preferred status earned through Trial will transfer to AAdvantage once we combine the programs in the second quarter of 2015.

I assumed that had to happen months before American and US Airways actually combine their frequent flyer programs because it would be really complicated to register folks for the US Airways promotion, give them 90 days to fly, and move Dividend Miles into AAdvantage during that 90 day period. They’d have to build whole new IT process just to accommodate these trial preferreds whose qualifying period includes time in both the US Airways Dividend Miles program and the American AAdvantage program.

So What’s Left?

American AAdvantage makes a variety of status challenge offers and it seems that they vary them at different times, sometimes based on news of what their competitors are doing.

  • They have charged to sign up, and they’ve offered it free.
  • They’ve fronted the status during the challenge period, and they have required flying before granting status.
  • They have offered a challenge up to their top tier Executive Platinum, and they’ve also capped it at Platinum (mid-tier) status.

So while American has had their own program, you never know what you’re going to get. For the version that’s free, and that has come with status during the challenge period, you’ve been required to demonstrate status with a competitor airline — most often United, but sometimes Delta.

We’ll have to wait and see what the standard offering is going forward, but I’d guess that it will not be a simple pay to sign up without having had status somewhere else, get instant status, and an expedited path to top tier elite. Those days are likely over.

Congrats to everyone who put a challenge underway already!

About Gary Leff

Gary Leff is one of the foremost experts in the field of miles, points, and frequent business travel - a topic he has covered since 2002. Co-founder of frequent flyer community, emcee of the Freddie Awards, and named one of the "World's Top Travel Experts" by Conde' Nast Traveler (2010-Present) Gary has been a guest on most major news media, profiled in several top print publications, and published broadly on the topic of consumer loyalty. More About Gary »

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  1. I wonder if they are still going to honor it for those who have earned it as a special dividend by flying US.

  2. When I log in it still shows I can nominate some one till Feb 28 2015. I don’t think they can just pull an existing benefit that is already earned. Prob will just give silver status for the year instead.

  3. Bummer. Spouse starts regular weekly commuting on US Air in January and was going to sign him up at the end of the month to make the commutes less painful . . . in retrospect I should have pulled the trigger sooner, but that would have decreased odds of actually completing the challenge without MR’ing.

    Is there a forum on milepoint or flyertalk where status gifts can be purchased or traded? Would be a great x-mas present.

  4. Thanks for keeping folks informed of the impending end of this US Airways challenge. I held out until just before my holiday flight on American last week. Phew! Got in under the wire.

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