Summary of Recent Changes from US Airways and American Airlines

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As you may know, US Airways and American Airlines quietly made many changes yesterday that resulted in some rather loud (and unhappy) chatter in the miles and points world yesterday.  Since I was crossing the Atlantic sans internet for much of the day, I’m still playing catch-up on all that went down.  Not all of the changes made were bad, and most (or all) were made at least in part to bring more harmony to US Airways and American Airlines different charts and policies.  The charts and policies are still far from identical (which is good for us in some ways), but they did inch toward more similarities in part by eliminating some sweet spots from each of the respective charts.

Here are some of the major changes from both American Airlines and US Airways.

  • US Airways raised the price of round trip business class awards from North America to North Asia from 90,000 to 110,000 miles.  We all knew this award was on death row given the very low price relative to other charts, and indeed the 90k price has expired.  110k still isn’t a terrible price at all…and first class awards for the same route remained unchanged for now at 120,000 miles round trip, so still good value there.
  • American Airlines eliminated OneWorld Explorer Awards.  For those that used these awards, this is a big blow as there was some great value if you knew how to use those awards.
  • American Airlines eliminated the free stopover at the North American Gateway City.  Again, big blow to those who made use of this stopover.
  • US Airways has eliminated blackout dates on awards.
  • American Airlines has introduced Award Levels (sort of a new way to define off-peak awards) for travel starting starting June 1, 2014.  You can see the new chart here.
  • American Airlines increased rates pretty dramatically for AAnytime Awards for travel starting June 1, 2014.
  • AAdvantage Gold members, US Airways Dividend Miles Platinum and Gold members will receive one fewer free checked bag than they previously did.
  • US Airways MasterCard card holders will get a free checked bag on US Airways beginning April 30th for those cards that have at least a $79 annual membership fee starting April 30th.
  • Beginning April 23rd US Airways Preferred members will no longer be eligible for a waiver of the mileage upgrade co-pay fee unless they are on a (very high) Y or B fare.

Many of these changes kicked in immediately with no advance notice that the changes were coming, and that is unacceptable for a major loyalty program in my book.  I know people were saving up miles for certain types of awards that may no longer exist, and that is extremely unfortunate.  There will be more changes to come from both programs as the merger progresses, and I very much hope that advance notice for any change that could have negative implications for members will be given going forward.

Which of these changes has the biggest impact on your family?

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  1. US has actually spread the blackouts to AA already and done so by blacking out sAAver awards of the historical US blackout dates on at least some flights. I startled noticing this a few months ago and now this AAnytime 3 pricing announcement explains what I had noticed.

  2. “Not all of the changes were bad”

    Seriously?! Take a look at your list. The one positive change is a free checked bag if you have the credit card. And this is how you frame it?!

  3. I’m particularly miffed about the loss of the “oneworld explorer” award that I (admittedly) just discovered. Closing that off nuked a trip I was putting together for Easter Island next year.

    Oh well… there’ll be another way to get there!

  4. Being in DFW the stop-over rule change is pretty huge, though we only had the opportunity to book a couple of those recently. The biggest blow is the elimination of One World – that SUCKS. That was by far the best way to spend a good amount of time seeing the world, many places at a time. It was in our plans for our next month long sabbatical as well as for a trip to India next year to be able to stop in Kathmandu and Doha on the way. Now this will be significantly more miles to do, overnight with NO advanced notice. UNACCEPTABLE! Wish that you were grilling AA more like Ben (Lucky) is – I think out of all of you major bloggers he is the only one that seems as upset about these changes overnight like all of your readers.

  5. The biggest change for me was the lack of respect and trustworthiness they have showed by not giving any notice. I had started to fly AA a bit but I will reconsider that now.

  6. Dave, you can only use AA miles to book on the AA chart at this time.
    Curtis, agree that is a huge loss and I do say in the post “Many of these changes kicked in immediately with no advance notice that the changes were coming, and that is unacceptable for a major loyalty program in my book.” I’m not sure how much stronger I can phrase it, but I totally agree with you that it is unacceptable or UNACCEPTABLE as you say. That said, I think most of my readers had never booked an Explorer Award, however for the maybe 5% that have or would, it is indeed a great loss. Either way, count me on the list that believe and say it is an unacceptable way for a major program to introduce changes.

  7. @dave; RT biz? to Asia is only 110k using AA miles, via AA website or call center, with access to the same OneWorld partners. (TPAC only to Asia w/ AA)

  8. The changes gave us one more reminder to stop hoarding points and instead to spend and enjoy them while we can. And, for Pete’s sake, people need to stop whining about having some of their free privileges taken away.

  9. So what is the best way to complain about no notice?
    where to complain?
    This year I was FINALLY planning to actually use and book an explorer ticket AND two free one ways!!

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