Life Without Dividend Miles Is An Empty Shell

Filed Under: American, Awards

I have spent a (conservative) average of two hours per day on the phone with Dividend Miles. Everyday. For years.

And now that US Airways and American have combined their mileage programs, I don’t know what to do with myself.

AAdvantage is boring

Don’t get me wrong, there’s tremendous value to be had in the program, and as an airline they treat me well. But I haven’t had to explain time travel or spell out an airport code for weeks now.

Which isn’t something I’d quite realized how much I would miss, to be honest.

The phone at American is answered by competent agents who are more or less friendly, and their functional computer system prices itineraries quickly. There’s no longer any surprise/bonus pricing, and no way of talking around the actual rules to stretch an award.

Want to route to Australia via Asia? Computer says yes! It’s just two awards.

How about a stopover in Doha on your way to Zanzibar? Not a problem, and agents even know where those airports are.

But again, two awards.

I can only think of one instance ever where I’ve had to appeal the quoted mileage rate on an AAdvantage award. And the agent agreed and fixed the pricing in minutes.


So while this is certainly a better system for the average consumer, it’s really dull for me.

My house is a mess

This may not seem relevant, but with 14-20 hours a week (just with this one airline!) where I’ve needed to passively be on the phone, yet not too far from my computer, I’ve been able to accomplish a tremendous number of monotonous tasks. I can’t write coherently if there are other verbal inputs happening, so this was a great time to catch up on things like bookkeeping and scanning.

Or you know, scrubbing my bathroom.

Time on hold with Dividend Miles was particularly useful in this instance, as the replacement of anything resembling music with commercials meant it was impossible for me to do much else while learning about 1-800-Pet-Meds and Ireland: The Gathering.

And this was exacerbated by the shift from Star Alliance to oneworld last year. Suddenly everything had to go through the rates desk, which meant even more time on hold. That was great for my kitchen, as my fridge was always spotless and my pantry and spices were nicely organized, though maybe not great for normal people just trying to redeem their miles.

Winning the prize versus playing the game

I love this hobby, and the rewards it provides, but more than anything else I love the game. Staying half a step ahead of the programs, finding hidden values — that is more fun for me (on balance) than flat-bed seats and luxury suites.

But right now I don’t feel like there’s much sport involved for me. I have close to zero interest in the manufactured spend side of the game (yes, I know it’s lucrative, and yes, I’m glad y’all are having fun — it’s just not practical/interesting for me right now).

And I’m feeling a bit lost.

So I’m wondering what you guys think. Are you sad about the demise of Dividend Miles, or relieved to not have the headache anymore?

Beyond that, what is it that motivates you in this hobby? Is it the perks and benefits, or the love of the game?

And does anyone have a LifeMiles award they need to have canceled or something? My baseboards are looking a little rough.

  1. I agree. The thrill of gaming the program is greatly missed. Any reports on how changes to existing awards booked with US are going? I booked a trip to Australia via Asia and I’m probably going to try to change the date of the return.

  2. While I haven’t spent nearly as many hours as others dealing with dividend miles redemptions, I can identify with the withdrawal symptoms you feel from the few redemptions I have made. I guess the great routings we all got came at a price – dealing with the delays waiting on hold, and the agent roulette wheel. Rip Dividend Miles

  3. Why is it two awards to travel from the US to Zanzibar via Doha?
    I thought routing from the US to Africa was allowed via Qatar Airways.

  4. I thought USA to Africa via DOH on QR->QR was allowed? (Referencing the Zanzibar example)

  5. What happened to all those former Dividend Miles agents? Presumably they are still working for US/the new AA?

  6. Loved this post.

    The lovely US agents are still there.

    Called the ExPlat desk on Thursday and it took the agent 40 minutes to assemble a simple JL/CX award.

    I asked if she was from Winston-Salem.

    She said, “How did you know?”

    “Just a guess,” I answered back…

  7. No surprise you miss the wait times. Maybe people won’t need to use your pointless awards service to make bookings

  8. @ Elteetrav — I haven’t done one yet, but it seems to be going okay. You do have to make all changes before travel commences.

  9. @ Ricardo Sanchez @ Justin — You can route through Doha, yes. If you want to stopover, it will be two awards.

  10. @ Miles Down Under — As @ Matthew notes, they are certainly there. Just stealthily hiding amongst the general AAgent population.

  11. @ Bill — No disagreement here! Hence my note about this being better, on balance, for most consumers.

  12. It really is the game that is so much fun. People (mainly my wife) could not understand how I could enjoy the huge process and ridiculous amount of phone time those awards took.

    Matthew (not me) from UPGRD wrote an incredible ode to the Dividend Miles program that, IMHO, is the best blog entry I’ve read in at least a year. Everyone missing Dividend Miles should read it.

  13. Tiffany, I’ve been holding off on asking this, because I’m profoundly afraid of the answer, but here goes.

    Back in March, you were kind enough to show us a map of the US Airways world. In it, you referenced “The China.” For some reason, I really need to know: Did someone at US Airways actually say, out loud, in any context, “The China” or was that just you funning us?

    Hint: The answer needs to be “no” for I’m afraid my head will explode if it’s the other possible answer.

    Either way, it’s always a pleasure when you make an appearance, so it’s good to see you around again.

  14. @Tiffany

    So what is the hourly rate for Lifemile cancellations? And how many hours does it normally take?

  15. Call FlyingBlue and spend an hour listening to “Making Plans for Nigel” that should soothe the soul lol…

  16. I can’t multitask, so when I’m on hold, I’m usually just pacing back and forth (while praying I don’t get a bad agent) . If I do something else, I will forget why I called and need 10 seconds to recompose, which agents aren’t very fond of. So yeah, I don’t miss it one bit. I only hope all former agents have been transported to a different universe where I’ll never run into one with my beloved AA (sadly I think I just did yesterday. “2 connections? I’m not sure if that will require 2 awards.” I rolled my eyes and zapped the call for redial).

  17. I agree. I miss Dividend Miles. I got into “the game” a few years back when I got involved with the Grand Slam Promo and ended going from 0 to 110,000 miles, plus my wife doing the same. I was hooked but still have to use the points and deal with the call-hang up-call again until I got the right agent. It was great and fun. Now I just get online to book awards only to find out that most everything I want involves flying through LHR with BA and a ton of taxes or YQ. yeah.

  18. @Tiffany – ROFL!!! I needed you yesterday when I was on the phone with US for 2.5 hours for making a change on a trip to Bali with a stopover in Hong Kong I made 11 months ago. I wasted 2.5 hours of my Sunday when you could’ve been attending to your!!!

  19. @Linmarie LOL! hahahahha
    @Lisa You have no idea. the booking process, specially for skyteam partner awards is absolutely insane.
    @Tiffany Like always, great post! Still don’t know why you don’t have your own blog.
    I miss DM so baaaad!

  20. My biggest problem with the changeover is that it forced me to use my AAdvantage number (which I rarely used and only had for a few years) over my Dividend Miles number that I’ve memorized over the 30 years I’ve had it!

  21. I dunno…I had to call AA a few days ago to do something simple (redeposit miles from a canceled award ticket) and the first agent I spoke to seemed utterly confused and put me back in the queue to speak to someone else…without telling me that that’s what she was doing. I wondered if she was formerly a US Airways agent.

  22. @Linmarie

    what should i say? the post was amusing and i kinda agree with it… but my time spent on the phone with DM was nowhere near what Tiffany had.

  23. Great post. Tiffany, yours are always a riot to read. I’m of a mixed feeling on this subject. In the old days, there was always a forever wait even using my partner’s “exclusive” Chairman’s Preferred phone number. Then I would have to pre-screen them to make sure they were in Winston-Salem. Having lived there in college, I could usually sweet talk them into doing things that the Phoenix-based agents would give me pushback on – gleefully it seemed. Mentioning Krispy Kreme donuts was my go-to line. Thus, we found out that Vietnam is apparently in North Asia and that the logical way to redeem a European award is to spend time in Hong Kong and Thailand. Now, I can call the general public AA phone number and they pick up the phone right away, I feed them the flights and I’m off the phone in five minutes. Where’s the trill in that? So I feel your sense of loss – it’s a hollow victory.

  24. Fear not, Tiffany. I was on the phone just today with American (which issued and confirmed my reservation) about a routine ‘special need’ of mine, and I had the pleasure of holding another 14 minutes while AA contacted USAir, explained it, and made sure (I hope) that it was entered into the system. Pre-merger, I accomplished this in under 2 minutes, startofin.

    Some semblance of a merger may appear eventually; if it had occurred before today, my spice drawer would not be in alphabetical order. Then where would mankind be?

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