A couple of weeks ago I wrote that reciprocal upgrades would be coming in a few weeks to American and US Airways.
I’ve seen a lot of speculation from different quarters this week about June 11th announcements about the next phase of integrating American AAdvantage and US Airways Dividend Miles.
Now JonNYC points to a knowledgeable account that June 11th will be the first day for reciprocal upgrades of American elite members on US Airways flights, and US Airways elite members on American flights.
June 11th is the date for reciprocal LFBUs. All AA elites on USAir won’t be charged sticker equivalent (per Dividend Miles program rules) while USAir elites (outside of Chairman’s Preferred – EXP equivalent) will be charged $35 per 500 mile segments (per AAdvantage rules).
There’s a lot of information packed into that one sentence.
- Upgrades will be offered at the airport only for now, not at the respective elite upgrade windows. An American Executive Platinum 100,000 mile flyer will get access to first class seats that remain available day of departure, but won’t have their upgrades cleared when US Airways Chairmans Preferred 100,000 mile flyers do.. or even when US Airways Silver Preferred members do.
- American elites will not be charged for their upgrades on US Airways, because US Airways does not charge for domestic upgrades.
- US Airways elites will follow American’s domestic upgrade program for now — Chairmans Preferred 100,000 mile flyers will get complimentary upgrades just like American’s top tier elites do, but other US Airways elites will have to buy upgrade certificates just like American Gold and Platinum members do (even though they get free upgrades in their home program).
This is still technically a rumor, but from someone knowledgeable about the situation. It’s possible they’ve misunderstood, or things could change between now and June 11th, but it’s a fairly specific and concrete statement from a generally reliable source.
There’s still plenty to come, of course, and long before the two programs are actually merged as one.
- Will the combined airline charge elites for domestic upgrades the way American does now? It gives lower tier elite members, who earn 2000 miles worth of free upgrades for every 10,000 miles flown, a better shot at an upgrade since they aren’t competing against every elite every time. And it means the front cabin generates more revenue for American which supports a better product. But it will be viewed very negatively by US Airways elites used to getting a lesser product free (and neither United nor Delta charge).
- When will status be truly reciprocal, with equal elites at each airline being treated the same for upgrade? Will they accomplish it by offering to link accounts and match status, and combining elite qualifying miles?
- When will miles be able to get moved back and forth between the two programs?
- What will happen to elite upgrades next year?
- What will the combined award chart look like?
- Will there be four elite tiers as US Airways currently has (and Delta and United)? Will the top tier require more miles now that they’re a larger airline (as Delta does)?
- Will we see any revenue requirements for elite status like at Delta and United? (This is an IT nightmare that isn’t managed well.)
These questions—and many others—will be answered in the next episode of…Soap.