No more mileage minimums for short USAirways flights, and a new fee!

USAirways is sending out emails to all of its Dividend Miles members letting them know about changes in the program:

  • No more 500 mile minimums for short flights. Fly Allentown to Philadelphia and get 55 miles, not 500. Fly Reagan-National to LaGuardia and earn 214 miles, not 500. (The email doesn’t make this explicit, but I’m assuming this applies both to redeemable miles and also to elite qualifying miles.)
  • Online redemptions made within 14 days of travel no longer avoid a fee. In a world of instant issue e-tickets, I’m not sure what a “quick ticketing” fee of $50 is for exactly, except that folks who have accumulated miles in the past can’t just take those miles to another airline to spend. And about 16 months ago even United started charging these sorts of fees, which have been a staple with some programs like American’s for years.

Nothing to say really about the new redemption fees, except I’ve predicted in the past more nickel and diming from frequent flyer programs.

When the email notice began

As part of our continuing efforts to provide valuable benefits to our frequent flyers, US Airways is making a change to our Dividend Miles program. We’re making these changes to offset record fuel prices and rising airline related expenses while maintaining the benefits you’ve come to expect.

(emphasis mine)

A sinking feeling began in the pit of my stomach, I thought they were going to begin applying fuel surcharges to award bookings. Dodged that bullet for today, anyway.

But the elimination of minimum miles accrual on short flights would seem to make the Delta Shuttle and Amtrak’s Acela more attractive than the USAirways Shuttle for travel between DC and LaGuardia and between LaGuardia and Boston (and the Delta Shuttle more attractive between DC and Boston).

And it would seem to make crediting short USAirways flights to other programs besides Dividend Miles more attractive — unless they somehow convince their partners to carve out an exception in their own programs for mileage earning on these flights (which I wouldn’t expect).

So sorry to start the mileage day off with bad news!

Update: Reader Bryan emails a correction:

DL doesn’t fly BOS-DCA with the shuttle service. They fly CRJs which DL/Comair loves to cancel.

Fair point, Boston to DC isn’t operated as shuttle service. Weekdays there are 7 regional jet frequencies. And I should probably add that weekdays American also serves the route with 6 regional jet frequencies.

About Gary Leff

Gary Leff is one of the foremost experts in the field of miles, points, and frequent business travel a topic he has covered since 2002. Co-founder of frequent flyer community Milepoint.com, emcee of the Freddie Awards, and named one of the "World's Top Travel Experts" by Conde' Nast Traveler (2010-Present) Gary has been a guest on most major news media, profiled in several top print publications, and published broadly on the topic of consumer loyalty. More About Gary »

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  1. “And it would seem to make crediting short USAirways flights to other programs besides Dividend Miles more attractive — unless they somehow convince their partners to carve out an exception in their own programs for mileage earning on these flights (which I wouldn’t expect).” — Asiana already does this with US Airways.

  2. At least I can understand a fuel surcharge on reward tickets — however painful — but the fuel surchages on regular flights is just unacceptable.

    I think there is a bill to reduce the jet fuel tax out there — and I wish they would throw in a provision that says “no tax, but no fuel surcharge”.

  3. We were talking to the re-booking agents in PHL last week after yet another late flight from Madrid to Philadelphia caused us to miss our direct connection to Seattle. They were of the option that the airline is looking to cut most of its domestic routes and concentrate on international routes. They expect to be completely out of Pittsburgh any day now and have cut the number of direct flights between Seattle and Philadelphia to one a day.

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