US Airways lets you straight-up buy elite quaifying miles or segments. With the Dividend Miles program there’s frequently no need to ‘mileage run’ or take extra flights just for the miles in order to reach status, it’s usually cheaper just to have them charge your credit card.
In fact, you can go from 1 mile flown to top tier Chairmans Preferred (100,000 mile flyer) for a flat $2999. Compare that to Delta where they want you to fly 125,000 miles with minimum ticket revenue of $12,500.
US Airways has a history of unconventional means of qualifying for elite status. At the end of 2006 they offered an ‘everything counts’ promo where even miles from sending flowers and renting cars counted towards elite status. That way they wouldn’t have mileage runners taking all the first class upgrades. Hah.
But now that they’ve merged with American Airlines, the philosophy is changing (which is interesting for American flyers who may have been worried about the future based on how US Airways has historically monetized elite status and loyalty).
One consequence of that is that effective March 1, US Airways is
- raising the price to buy qualifying miles and segments
- restricting you to only be able to buy enough miles or segments to reach a tier that you are within 25,000 miles or 30 segments of
If you were going to buy status for the current year (i.e. through February 2015) then it would be best to do it by the end of the month.
Unfortunately the timing of the change means you will not be able to use this technique, with current rules and pricing, for next year’s status.
- You have to wait until May 1 for the purchased qualifying miles or segments to count towards 2015 status.
- And the way it works is that the miles and segments don’t actually increment in your account balance. US Airways effectively discounts the miles or segments you need to fly to earn the status you’re buying up to.
I had hoped this tool would be an arbitrage play for American AAdvantage elites, where American elites could buy up their status for next year on the cheap through US Airways.
But it doesn’t look like it will work out that way in any real sense. In fact, my guess is that even purchased qualifying miles after May 1 won’t add along with American qualifying miles towards 2015 status when the programs combine. When you buy them, your total qualifying miles in your US Airways account doesn’t increase, only your status does. So there’s not a number of status miles to get added to whatever balance you’ve earned in your American AAdvantage account.