Frequent Flyers Try to Save US Airways Dividend Miles From Itself

Ever since US Airways announced the end of elite bonus miles, I’ve been telling folks that they should keep earning miles in the Dividend Miles program… by every means except flying.

Sure, they’ve introduced new award redemption fees. Those are annoying, but they just make it impractical to redeem miles for domestic coach tickets. US Airways miles are still useful for redeeming Star Alliance awards, their award chart is almost as favorable as United’s (and better than most Star carriers), and unlike United they don’t generally filter out otherwise-available award seats their partners are offering. (United prevents members from redeeming seats that partners like Lufthansa and Thai are offering because they don’t want to pay for the seats, US Airways would probably do the same but my guess is their IT system is too primitive, they were too cheap to use a standard reservation system after all).

So earn those miles, but no elite should credit flown miles to the program. Every other major mileage program offers their elites bonuses for flying. US Airways will stop on August 6th. In my view, US Airways elites should add their frequent flyer number to their reservations if forced to fly US Airways… hopefully score an upgrade… and then change the account number at the airport once the upgraded boarding pass is safely in hand. Bail for another frequent flyer program. (Most will choose United, but for flights under 500 miles consider British Midland which still offers 600 miles minimum per coach segment).

My advice to give up on US Airways for crediting flight miles is not universally shared. There are some who care enough about the airline and the program to try to save it from themselves.

Enter… Save Dividend Miles.

A similar effort worked with Delta, which reversed damaging changes to its own program about 4 years ago.

The Save Dividend Miles folks want to get US Airways to reverse the changes which make it the worst program for frequent travelers in the United States. They want to keep flying US Airways and earning elite status. And they want to do other travelers a service — draw attention to the harm this change will cause before other programs follow suit in an industry that seems to mirror what other carriers are doing regardless of whether it’s beneficial for them or not.

US Airways members can sign a petition and have the number of miles in their account cumulatively represented by the project. And they offer some guerilla tactics for getting the attention of US Airways customers, such as handing out boarding cards in lounges, leaving them there, and even “leave these cards in Business/First lavatories, on tray tables, in seat pockets, and in inflight magazines.”

Delta was derided in 2003 for [D]riving [E]very [L]oyal [T]raveler [A]way. And they didn’t take away elite bonus miles…

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 must say I found US’s decision to eliminate elite bonuses a bit odd. Not as odd as the decision to charge for water, but still surprising.

    That said, passing out cards at the gate is ridiculous. Not getting elite miles is your problem — not your fellow traveller’s. It’s the equivalent of passing out protest cards at the supermarket because the store refuses to carry your favorite French brie.

    The best way to protest is, of course, with your feet. The problem the protesters have, though, is the company has obviously run the numbers and doesn’t care that certain frequent flyers are unhappy. I know it’s hard to believe, but the people who care the most about maximizing miles are not likely to be an airline’s best customers.

    I know in my own life that frequent flyer miles are much more important to the cheap tickets I buy than the expensive ones. The expensive tickets are business tickets where I want to get someplace (and then get home) ASAP. The cheap tickets are leisure travel. So perhaps “loyalty programs” are overrated, at least when it comes to identifying an airline’s best (aka most profitable) customers?

    FWIW, CO seems to have realized this a few years ago with their independent “Stars” recognition program.

  2. Hey Gary,

    I know how much email you get, so I’ll post this here, you don’t have to approve it of course.

    Just wanted to give you a heads up – the Wyndham BRG has changed significantly. Check out my blog post about it, it may be newsworthy and I’d like to hear your thoughts vis-a-vis my own.


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