On Sunday I wrote about the speculation that American AAdvantage and US Airways Dividend Miles would be merging on March 28, 2015.
And it’s now official.
Let me say it again — US Airways Dividend Miles will be merged into American AAdvantage on March 28, 2015. American initially announced that the programs would merge in the second quarter, so kudos to them for staying ahead of the curve.
Here’s a rundown of what you need to know:
Redeem Dividend Miles by March 25, 2015
All Dividend Miles award redemptions must be made by 11:59PM CDT on Wednesday, March 25, 2015. After that, award redemptions will be shut off for a few days, while the Dividend Miles program is merged into AAdvantage.
So this is your final opportunity to redeem Dividend Miles.
While AAdvantage and Dividend Miles have similar airline partners and award redemption rates, there are some pretty major differences between the programs. For more information as to whether you should redeem miles now or wait until they’re merged into AAdvantage, see Tiffany’s post from yesterday: “Should You Book US Airways Awards Now Or Wait For AAdvantage?”
If you do decide to ticket an award, expect hold times to be long.
Redeem Chairman’s Preferred upgrades by March 27, 2015
If you’re a Chairman’s Preferred member and have electronic upgrade certificates, you have until 11:59PM CDT on Friday, March 27, 2015 to redeem them. Note that you can redeem electronic upgrade certificates for travel on subsequent dates (though exclusively for travel on US Airways metal), but only if you can confirm the upgrade space.
If you don’t redeem the electronic upgrade certificates by that point they’ll expire, but worry not, you’ll be getting eight American systemwide upgrades, which I’m told should post this coming Sunday or Monday.
Upgrade systems will be changing
Last October, American announced the details of the 2015 AAdvantage program. As part of that they announced how upgrades will be changing. As of March 28, 2015, there will finally be upgrade neutrality between American and US Airways.
Here’s how the new upgrade system will work:
|American Airlines Operated And Marketed Flights||Gold||Platinum||Executive Platinum|
|For flights 500 miles or less||Unlimited, auto-requested complimentary upgrades||Unlimited, auto-requested complimentary upgrades||Unlimited, auto-requested complimentary upgrades|
|For flights over 500 miles||Use earned or purchased 500-mile upgrades||Use earned or purchased 500-mile upgrades||Unlimited, auto-requested complimentary upgrades|
|Upgrade window||Confirmed as early as 24 hours before departure||Confirmed as early as 72 hours before departure||Confirmed as early as 100 hours before departure|
So what change does this represent compared to what members are used to?
- AAdvantage elite members will now receive complimentary upgrades on flights of under 500 miles
- Former Dividend Miles elite members will no longer receive complimentary upgrades on flights of over 500 miles
- Instead, for flights of over 500 miles, Gold and Platinum members will have to use 500 mile upgrade stickers to upgrade
Dividend Miles elite members will be given a starting balance of upgrade stickers, based on their elite qualifying activity in 2014 & 2015. These upgrade stickers are expected to post the week of March 30, 2015.
These members should receive four 500 mile stickers for each 10,000 flown miles. This includes Dividend Miles members that also presently have elite status with American. That being said, if you’re Executive Platinum and Chairman’s Preferred you won’t get an extra eight systemwide upgrades, though you will get a starting balance of 500 mile upgrades.
Dividend Miles members should also receive communication over the weekend with account information, including AAdvantage mileage balance, elite qualifying mileage balance, million miler balance, etc.
Credit card changes
As far as the co-branded credit cards of American and US Airways go, there are a couple of things you can expect:
- At some point this week, new applications for the US Airways Dividend Miles Card will no longer be possible, and soon these cards will be converted into an AAdvantage Aviator Card
- The cards will offer full reciprocity between airlines — this means that the free checked bag benefit of the Citi® / AAdvantage® Platinum Select® World Elite™ Mastercard® will apply on US Airways, and vice versa
This is really, truly your last chance to apply for the US Airways® Premier World Mastercard®, as Barclaycard won’t be allowed to accept new applications for the card anymore.
Lots of proactive behind-the-scenes work is being done
I know it’s easy to get frustrated about not being able to redeem Dividend Miles for a couple of days or about the account downtime, but keep in mind the scale of this project. AAdvantage is merging two massive loyalty programs with tens of millions of members, and making sure all data matches and transitions properly is no small feat.
Here are a few of the other things you can expect:
- If you’ve linked your AAdvantage and Dividend Miles accounts and your status with Dividend Miles is higher than AAdvantage, you’ll actually be “advanced” the higher status, and should receive it at some point this week, prior to the integration
- Starting on Thursday, it will no longer be possible to make changes to your Dividend Miles account — it will be read only; then on Saturday Dividend Miles will have a hard outage
- Starting on Saturday, American will proactively be swapping out Dividend Miles numbers with new AAdvantage numbers on existing reservations, though this is a process which will take several days
- If you haven’t yet linked your accounts (it’s too late now), a tool will be launched over the weekend which allows you to retrieve your Dividend Miles number by entering your AAdvantage number
- If you haven’t yet linked your AAdvantage and Dividend Miles accounts, you’ll be assigned a new AAdvantage number; at some point in April you’ll be able to link your two AAdvantage numbers, if applicable
While this transition will no doubt be chaotic, I’m quite excited. It will finally be possible to fly US Airways with true upgrade reciprocity, and vice versa.
And I know a few Chairman’s Preferred members that are excited about getting eight systemwide upgrades in the coming days. 😉