US Airways to Have Oneworld and Star Alliance Partners Starting March 31, How to Take Advantage

6
712

US Airways Premier World MasterCard with 40,000 bonus miles after first purchase to book these Star Alliance and oneworld partners

  • Earn 40,000 bonus miles after your first purchase and payment of the $89 annual fee*
  • First checked bag FREE on eligible bags for you and up to four companions on domestic US Airways operated flights
  • One companion certificate good for up to 2 guests to travel with you on a US Airways operated flight at $99 each, plus taxes and fees
  • Priority boarding Zone 2 on US Airways operated flights
  • Redeem miles for award travel on US Airways and American Airlines booked through usairways.com or US Airways Reservations
  • Earn miles on every purchase with 2 miles for every $1 you spend on US Airways purchases and 1 mile for every $1 on purchases everywhere else
  • Please see terms and conditions for complete details

Application Link: US Airways Premier World MasterCard

American Airlines and US Airways have merged, and US Airways is joining the oneworld alliance on March 31, 2014 as part of the integration of the carriers into the new American Airlines.

Yesterday the Australian Business Traveler reported that when US Airways joins oneworld, it will not be ending all of its relationships with its former Star Alliance partners. US Airways miles will still be redeemable for award seats on the following Star Alliance carriers:

  • Aegean
  • Air China
  • Air New Zealand
  • Avianca
  • Ethiopian Airlines
  • EVA
  • Shenzhen Airlines
  • Singapore Airlines
  • South African Airways
  • TAM
  • TAP
  • Turkish Airways

This is fantastic news and will give people with US Airways Dividend Miles the best combination of partners of any frequent flyer program. But questions remain.

Will the current US Airways award chart still be in effect on 3/31/14? Will the current US Airways routing rules still be in effect on 3/31/14? Will you be able to book one award with US Airways miles that combines oneworld and Star Alliance partner?

Unfortunately we don’t know all the answers about this next step in the US Airways/American Airlines integration. I have some theories based on what I’ve observed, and I have some hopes based on what would make miles-junkies’ lives better.

Theories

  • US Airways award chart will remain the same on 3/31/14. The award chart’s next change will be a devaluation when the AA and US charts are combined into one chart in 2015.
  • US Airways award routing rules will remain the same on 3/31/14. As long as there is a Dividend Miles program, the rules will remain the same. When the program combines with AAdvantage next year, either the current AAdvantage rules or a new set of rules will prevail.
  • You will be able to combine oneworld flights and flights from the retained Star Alliance partners on 3/31/14. This differs from the current rule.

US Airways Chart Will Remain the Same, For Now

We know that US Airways will not change its chart March 31, 2014:

“After US Airways’ entry into oneworld, US Airways will maintain its current award chart” the spokesperson advised, with bookings for Oneworld airlines available through US Airways.

I don’t expect US Airways to change its chart after entering oneworld until Dividend Miles and AAdvantage merge. If US Airways did change its chart, that would be a lot of work now that would basically be “wasted” when a new single chart is introduced next year when Dividend Miles and AAdvantage combine.

Not only would US Airways not want to “waste” time creating a new one-year-only chart when I’m sure everyone at the airline is extremely busy with integration work, but US Airways wouldn’t want to engender the bad will caused by a no-notice devaluation during a sensitive merger.

If I’m right that US Airways will not change its chart in the coming months, our victory will be short lived. I expect a single new chart for the new, combined AAdvantage program in 2015 that is substantially worse than either the current American Airlines or US Airways award charts. Unfortunately I can’t see much reason for the new American not to copy the devaluations of Delta and United.

US Airways and American having different charts while both being in the oneworld alliance is great news for us. If you have both types of miles, you can redeem on the cheaper chart for the award you want. US Airways is generally the cheaper chart for roundtrips except to Southeast Asia and Australia. American is always the cheaper chart for one way awards. Both charts have intriguing off peak awards. See a comparison table of the US Airways and American Airlines charts here.

I have my eye on Cathay Pacific business class to Hong Kong for 90k US Airways miles roundtrip. Qantas First Class to Australia with a return in Cathay Pacific First Class for 140k also looks pretty nice.

US Airways Award Routing Rules Will Remain the Same

Anyone who’s booked a US Airways award knows that the agents have all the power because award routings are not checked for rule compliance by a computer. Award bookers also know that US Airways agents are generally a clueless and ill-trained bunch (though very friendly!)

Because of how poorly trained they are now, I really doubt that they could be effectively trained in new routing rules in the next few weeks.

To try to get the inside scoop, I’ve casually brought the matter up with US Airways agents while booking other awards:

“Wow, you guys are joining oneworld next month! Is that going to be a lot of new training headaches?”

They’ve all claimed not to have received any new training yet. That bodes well for us. We want the current US Airways award routing rules to stick around.

Those rules are:

  • 10 segments maximum on a roundtrip and 5 maximum per direction
  • One stopover OR one open jaw
  • Stopover must be at Star Alliance hub

In practice, we’ve booked a lot of awards with stopovers not at Star Alliance hubs through the MileValue Award Booking Service, and I’ve shown how to get a stopover and open jaw on the same award.

These rules allow you to get away with a lot, like backtracking, taking longer routes than necessary, and transiting more expensive zones.

Currently American Airlines would charge you for two awards if you flew from Los Angeles to Hong Kong to Sydney in Cathay Pacific First Class because it doesn’t allow you transit Asia on the way to Australia.

Screen Shot 2014-03-14 at 8.37.13 AM
Not allowed on a single AA award. Yes allowed on a single US Airways award.

US Airways current rules do allow that though, so if you want to stop in Asia on the way to Australia, that should still be possible in April 2014 on US Airways awards.

Expect a single set of award routing rules from AA and US some time in 2015, and expect them to be less generous.

Oneworld and Star Alliance Flights Will Be Combine-able

This is the prediction in which I have the least confidence. And it actually is not the current state of affairs.

In January, American Airlines flights became bookable with US Airways miles. The current rule is that you can book awards with:

  • US Airways flights and Star Alliance flights
  • US Airways flights and American Airlines flights

But you cannot combine American Airlines flights and US Airways’ Star Alliance partners on a single award.

I predict that that changes and that all US Airways partners–oneworld and Star Alliance alike–will be bookable on a single US Airways award starting March 31, 2014.

Why?

That’s the way other US-based airlines award bookings work, and that’s the way American Airlines awards work. American doesn’t bat an eye if you want to combine British Airways and Etihad on an award to the Middle East, and United is fine with combining United and Hawaiian flights on a single ticket (though you do have to pay extra for each interisland flight.)

Perhaps I’m wrong, and we’ll have to choose between US Airways’ oneworld partners and its Star Alliance partners when booking an award. Even that, though, would not be the end of the world, especially if US Airways’ chart and routing rules are maintained.

Action Item

March 30, 2014 is the last day that US Airways is a member of the Star Alliance. The next day, it enters oneworld. It will keep some Star Alliance partners, but not all. If you want to book an award with US Airways miles on a partner that is disappearing, do so by March 30, 2014.

You can book up to 11 months out (until about the end of February 2015), and your ticket will remain valid even when US Airways exits the Star Alliance.

Recap

Here are my predictions for March 31, 2014:

  • US Airways award chart will remain the same on 3/31/14. The award chart’s next change will be a devaluation when the AA and US charts are combined into one chart.
  • US Airways award routing rules will remain the same on 3/31/14. As long as there is a Dividend Miles program, the rules will remain the same. When the program combines with AAdvantage next year, either the current AAdvantage rules or a new set of rules will prevail.
  • You will be able to combine oneworld flights and flights from the retained Star Alliance partners n 3/31/14. This differs from the current rule.

I’ll surely stay on top of the transition and keep everyone posted with the latest info.

 


Editorial Disclaimer: The editorial content is not provided or commissioned by the credit card issuers. Opinions expressed here are author’s alone, not those of the credit card issuers, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the credit card issuers.

If you liked this post, sign up to receive one free daily email every morning with all of the day’s posts! You can also follow MileValue on Twitter and Facebook.

6 COMMENTS

  1. You cannot book an AA codeshare flight with US Air miles at this time. Neither airline will write the ticket ,however , both AA and USAir agents believe that this will change 3/31/14

  2. I’m trying to figure out if I should wait or book NOW my tickets to Australia for this summer. I finally got together the 110k points per person to do business class. Now with this merger, I’m wondering if I should book through oneworld or star. I know I should definitely get a better product with oneworld, but I’m also worried about availability. Any ideas on what would generally be the better approach?

  3. looking out for the 90K biz cathay pacific from US to HKG as well. i inquired about taxes because a little afraid of whether that will cost an arm and a leg?

LEAVE A REPLY