The new American Airlines has announced new Elite benefits today as American Airlines and US Airways begin to merge their two frequent flyer program and merge elite flying benefits across their two programs. In January, we saw the two airlines announce a slew of basic elite benefits which included priority boarding, baggage, check in, and security check along with free checked luggage on both airlines for elite travelers. However, the grand slam benefit of being an elite traveler, complimentary upgrades, have not been processed for travelers of partner airlines. Meaning AA Elites did not get upgraded on US Airways metal and vice versa. Yet, per the email to Elite travelers that was released this morning, Elite benefits are coming to US Airway flights for American Airline Elite travelers, but only Chairmen Preferred US Airways Dividend members are receiving reciprocal love on AA flights.
Upgrade on US Airways
Until we integrate our programs, we will introduce the ability for AAdvantage elite status members to upgrade to First Class on US Airways within 24 hours of departure, beginning June 11, 2014. If available, an opportunity to upgrade will be presented at check-in for US Airways-operated flights within and between the U.S. (excluding Hawaii) and Canada, Mexico, the Bahamas, the Caribbean, Bermuda and Central America and will be provided on a first come, first served basis. If a seat is not available, you can also choose to add yourself to the upgrade standby list.
These upgrades are complimentary for elite status members and one companion traveling in the same reservation – just as they are on US Airways today for Dividend Miles elite members.
This enhancement is great news for AA travelers who will be flying US Metal over the next 6 months, but bad news for top elite travelers, as status will not determine who receives the upgrade, but instead check in time will. This means a Gold Elite who flies only 25,000 miles a year on AA and their partners may nab an upgrade before an Executive Platinum who flies 100,000 miles or more a year if the Gold Elite checks in for the US Airways flight first. Great for the low level elite flier, but bad for the higher level flier.
From my understanding, ONLY US Airways Dividend Chairmen Preferred members will receive complimentary upgrades on AA flights. I can see why US Airways elite fliers would be upset by this, but at the same time, even AA fliers do not get free upgrades on AA metal. Instead they must earn upgrade certificate or buy 500 mile upgrade coupons—with the exception of Executive Platinum. US Airways Silver, Gold, and Platinum members will be able to upgrade on American for $30 per 500 miles of travel per flight.
The email also announced that the two programs will be rolled into one in 2015.
Loyalty program integration
We plan to bring current Dividend Miles accounts into the AAdvantage program in 2015. That means we will combine your award mileage balances, your Million MilerTM balances and your elite-qualifying activity from both programs. In the meantime, continue to book travel and earn miles as you normally would. We will follow up with you when we begin the process of integrating accounts, but rest assured your miles and elite status are safe as we work to combine the two programs.
This means, the days are numbered for earning miles into your US Airways account. The US Airways award chart is still more generous than the AA chart in many ways and these opportunities will disappear when AA and US Airways integrate their programs into one.