What Will Happen to US Airways Companion Certificates This Fall When There Are No More US Airways Flights

When I wrote yesterday that the process to move to a single reservation system for American would begin in July, and be completed within 90 days — meaning the end of “US Airways” flights sometime in October — several readers asked about US Airways companion certificates issued by Barclays to cardholders of the legacy US Airways Visa (now AAdvantage Aviator Red).

Note that these certificates were the ones that came each year with the US Airways card, not the new companion certificates that come with the AAdvantage Aviator Silver card after $30,000 spend in a year that are explicitly valid on American flights.

An American spokesperson told me that they’re “Working on this right now, with details to follow. Once American gets to the schedule change, all flights 90 days into the future will be American flight numbers and the reservations team will have a workaround.”

So the answer is that there isn’t actually a final determination on exactly how this will work yet. However,

  • We know that there are certificates valid for booking through September 30, for travel through December 31. Those are only valid for US Airways flights, and not for American flights.

  • It’s pretty unthinkable that the certificates won’t be honored under the terms on which they were issued.

  • But 90 days after the start of the integration process (slated for July, meaning effective sometime in October) there won’t be any more US Airways flights.

That tells me that starting at some point in July, for travel at some point in October through the end of December, the certificates will have to be valid on American flights.

It seems to me that there would be only two alternatives to this:

  1. Don’t honor the certificates. Not only would that be a customer service problem, it’s potentially a regulatory problem given that it was a benefit provided through a credit card issuer.
  2. Program reservation systems to track ‘pre-existing US Airways flights’ in a way that would allow them to restrict certificate usage to a subset of American flights.

Dishonoring the certificates makes no sense. And the technological solution doesn’t make sense, either:

  • at a time when American is trying to portray itself as a single airline
  • when there are a limited number of certificates left, and a small window in which to use them
  • while they have much bigger IT fish to fry

The juice, as they say, just wouldn’t be worth the squeeze.

So while an American spokesperson tells me they haven’t finalized this yet, it strikes me that the only option will be once the reservation system integration process begins to allow the US Airways credit card-issued companion certificates to be used on American flights.

That said, neither American nor Barclays are confirming it at this point. The most American would say is that there will be a workaround, not what the workaround will be.

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 InsideFlyer.com, 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. Gary, I have a companion certificate that must be booked by September 30th, and I’m currently looking to use it on flights in the middle of October. Would you recommend making that booking now, since I know what dates our travel will be and generally know which flights we would like? Or will the schedule be changed in addition to the certificate policy, such that any flights I book now will ultimately no longer exist by the time we intend to fly?

  2. Guys,

    So if I a, flying on 31sr December & returning in 2nd January, will these certifcates be valid?

  3. @Jonathan I’d go ahead and book now or sometime in the next couple of months, you’ll probably get better fares. Schedules do change all the time, but when that change is significant you can take a refund or change flights without penalty. In general the US/AA integration process won’t be about schedule changes (though there will be schedule changes between now and then).

  4. This is what I am hoping for. The only “domestic” flights I generally take are MCO to YEG and an all US Airways return ticket on this route is not an option, so the only chance I will have to use them is if I end up being able to use them on AA flights. Crossing my fingers!

  5. i just got me annual companion cert a couple of weeks ago on my card anniversary. I wanted to use it for a ski trip but it expires Dec 31. When I got the card the terms were that it expired 12 months from date of issue. I wrote to Barclaycard and that is what they thought too. I wrote to AA but haven’t heard back. I want something like Dec 30 to Jan 5.

  6. As far as I know all the US Airways Barclays-issued companion certificates expire by December 31. They’re sent out by Barclays. This was part of the wind-down. Going forward you can only EARN these with Aviator Silver and $30k annual spend.

  7. my wife and I signed up for USAIR MC in Jan and completed minimum spend but never received the certificates. Anyone know a number to call to get them issued?

  8. Called the number on the certificate last week, it seems that it now directs you to the AA phone booking system. The CSR recognized the voucher number and appeared to be willing to book me on an AA flight. NYC – PHX which is a code shared flight. So at least for now it seems to be what they are doing despite the terms of the certificate.

  9. I called in to make my reservation yesterday. They said you can only change/cancel without penalty within 24 hours. After that, it’s a $200 change/cancel fee PER passenger. o.O Think the US Airways/Barclay Aviator card trip cancellation insurance will cover it?

  10. @EY the standard fare rules apply including change fees and trip cancellation insurance won’t cover a voluntary cancel.

  11. @Michael – one blogger wrote a post about losing her US Airways companion pass kit (I remember she was a mom because she talked about how easy it was to lose it in a house with kids, so it was probably mommypoints?) and I believe she sent a secure message to Barclay and they sent her a new kit. The kit includes a US Airways club pass too!

    @Gary – if it’s involuntary (like getting sick or injured) would it cover it then? Thanks for clarifying 🙂

  12. A somewhat related question: What will happen to US Air vouchers issued to us for giving up our seats on an oversold flight last October?

  13. @Roger Stacey – anything with a ticket # gets transferred over with the res switch. Any coupons without ticket # remain valid through their expiration date. There could be some confusion along the way (not saying there will be) so could be easier to use US vouchers before the switchover.

  14. My wife and i now have our new aviator cards which came in the mail. I am reluctant to activate them, because this will then be the end of my US airways mastercard and thus my companion certificate. Is there any resolution on this yet?

  15. @Marvin: I got the Aviator card over a month ago. I still used my US Airways companion certificate after activating the Aviator card and used the Aviator card to pay the taxes. The Aviator card has exactly the same number as my old US Airways card.

  16. Hey Gary, now that the reservation system merger process is going through, any updates on how this will be handled?

  17. I’d be curious as well – and curious how they will work for flights between now and Oct 17 too.

  18. So we just call and they will honor is for American flights in the future say in December 2015??

  19. FYI ALL. I just spoke with the US Airway and AA Reservation folks and they said it works the same as before, but just book the flight on American and everything else applies.

    I’m getting my travel booked this weekend..

  20. The certificates are extremely hard to use (almost worthless). I live the CA Bay Area and I can’t find a flight to anywhere interesting in the US that the certificates can be used. They are restricted to US airways flights only. So any connecting flights with American Airlines or other partners voids the use. They advertise being able to use them to fly to Canada—if only they had flights to Canada (a bit of false advertising). I’ve tried 5 states so far— and many major cities (such as Nashville from CA). It is a no go.

  21. I call 800-428-4322 # listed on my USAIR Companion Cert. Call went directly to AA. In the past I could upgrade with miles after purchasing tixs with the USAIR Companion cert.. I was told this time that no upgrades are allowed using ANY companion certifications. AA could not tell me where I can find that change it writing. Seems to me that if they are going to honor the USAIR cert’s they should honor the same rules that applied to those certs. Anyone else have this issue?

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