Earlier today we learned more about what the 2015 AAdvantage program will look like. Dividend Miles will be integrated into AAdvantage in the second quarter of 2015, and fortunately for us, AAdvantage is more or less staying the same. That’s great news.
Heck, I’d say on balance the value proposition of AAdvantage is even improving, as American is adding complimentary same day flight changes for Executive Platinum members, and many would argue it’s good news that they’re adding complimentary upgrades on American flights of less than 500 miles.
US Airways Chairman’s Preferred are the biggest winners
The other “big” news we now know is that those qualifying for Chairman’s Preferred status will receive eight American systemwide upgrades when the programs integrate in the second quarter of next year.
In a way, Chairman’s Preferred members are getting a better deal than Executive Platinum members:
- They get the two systemwide upgrades for earning status this year (each of which can be used for a companion traveling on the same reservation as well), which can be used between now and the time the programs integrate next year
- They’ll get an additional eight systemwide upgrades when the programs integrate
So those that qualify for Chairman’s Preferred this year are really earning ten systemwide upgrades!
Redeem systemwide upgrades for travel in American’s new business class
Easy way to get Chairman’s Preferred status?
With that in mind, I think it’s worth revisiting the challenges available for earning status with both programs:
- American AAdvantage offers status challenges, which give you a fast track to Gold or Platinum status
- US Airways Dividend Miles offers status trials, which give you a fast track all the way up to their top tier Chairman’s Preferred status
- Until recently US Airways would let you outright purchase status, though that has been discontinued
While speaking to Suzanne Rubin, the President of AAdvantage yesterday, I asked about the future of status challenges, and which we should expect to see going forward. Understandably AAdvantage is still trying to work things out and didn’t have a clear answer, though my interpretation was that:
- The AAdvantage program is surviving, so for the most part we should expect the AAdvantage offerings to continue, unless otherwise noted
- AAdvantage is always reviewing their product offerings to try and optimize them, so I wouldn’t count on anything being around long term, especially if it’s “too good to be true”
US Airways Trial Preferred
And this brings us to the US Airways trial Preferred status challenge, which is hands down the best way to earn top tier status with US Airways (and now by connection, with the new American).
Through a US Airways status challenge, you can get a fast track to status based on how much flying you do in a 90 day period.
US Airways gives you the status upfront, and charges you the following amounts:
- Dividend Miles Silver Preferred status costs $200
- Dividend Miles Gold Preferred status costs $400
- Dividend Miles Platinum Preferred status costs $600
At the end of the 90 day period, your status is based on how many miles you flew, as follows:
- Silver: Fly 7,500 miles or 10 segments
- Gold: Fly 15,000 miles or 20 segments
- Platinum: Fly 22,500 miles or 30 segments
- Chairman’s: Fly 30,000 miles or 40 segments
Put another way, if you pay $200 for a Silver Preferred challenge and fly 30,000 miles within 90 days, you’ll be a Chairman’s Preferred member through February 2016. The flying requirements for earning Chairman’s Preferred during a trial are the same regardless of whether you do a Silver, Gold, or Platinum challenge.
In terms of the fine print:
- Only travel on US Airways and American counts towards the trial status, so oneworld partner flights wouldn’t qualify
- Only Dividend Miles non-elites are eligible for a trial
- You can only do one trial in every consecutive 12 month period
- Dividend Miles could change this challenge at anytime — they got rid of the ability to buy status without advance notice recently
As I said above, assuming the goal is to earn Chairman’s Preferred status, you have to fly 30,000 miles in a 90 day period regardless of which trial you select.
So why would you pay $600 for a Platinum trial when you could pay $200 for a Silver trial? Well, because those 30,000 flown miles will potentially be more pleasant and rewarding with higher status.
For example, as a Silver member you earn a 25% mileage bonus, while as a Platinum member you earn a 75% mileage bonus. So over 30,000 miles, that’s a difference of 15,000 miles. And that doesn’t factor in the much higher upgrade priority, oneworld Sapphire status, etc.
Everyone has to crunch the numbers for themselves, but I’d probably lean towards a Platinum trial if you’re serious about going for status with US Airways.
This is hands down the easiest way to earn Executive Platinum status with the “new American” from scratch, so if you’re interested I’d take advantage of this ASAP. There’s no telling how long the offering will be around.
Do you plan on doing a Dividend Miles Preferred trial in order to get Executive Platinum status?