Two Changes to Dividend Miles Make US Airways More Like American

As part of the announced award chart changes, US Airways has eliminated blackout dates.

Seriously — did you realize US Airways still had those? It’s so 1990’s. Or South Korean.

There were dates you simply could not redeem miles for a US Airways flight. It wasn’t that availability was scarce, or it took a whole lot of miles, you just weren’t allowed to redeem for those flights.

And now you can, although it’ll likely take quite a few points on days that used to be blacked out.

Meanwhile US Airways will start charging elite members the program’s cash co-pays for domestic upgrades.

As of April 23, 2014, the mileage upgrade fee will now apply to Preferred members on US Airways flights. The fee will continue to be waived for fares purchased in Y or B.

American charges elite members $75 to use miles for a one-way confirmed domestic upgrade ($175 for Hawaii). At US Airways the fee ranges from $25 to $150 depending on region and distance.

But now US Airways and American have taken another step to align: like American, US Airways will have no more blackout dates for award travel, and will charge elites the cash co-pay for confirmed upgrade awards.


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 InsideFlyer.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. Yup, I experienced an actual black out date for FTU Seattle’s weekend and am using my Delta points to get out there instead.

  2. Will sAAver awards still be available on the historical US blackout dates? I have a nagging suspicion AA has already played this game on some routes a few months back.

  3. So – we’ve heard a bit less about the US Air side; two questions:
    -Did they align one way award travel with AA?
    -Did they align stopovers and routing rules?

  4. @GUWonder – go to AA.com and search mainline AA flights to/from hubs around the holidays. Example DCA-ORD. Report back.

    (Spoiler alert: it involves a number of miles not currently listed in the AA award chart, but instead represented only by an asterisk).

  5. 20,000 miles + $300 for r/t transcon? That is ridiculous. They should at least grade the fee based on status. If you buy the miles at 1.1 cpm, that is $520 for a r/t upgrade. At that price, you might as well buy a first class ticket and forget the status!

  6. CW, bad news indeed. This sort of confirmed my nagging suspicion that AA played this game on some routes a few months back and got rid of sAAver space even on largely empty flights on the basis of the historical US blackout dates.

  7. Hate the addition of fees like this. I will be VERY upset if US Airways moves toward (or the new AA keeps) the awful existing AA policy of charging elites to confirm a move up to an earlier flight.

  8. @Andrew – You can almost be sure that will happen. It’s never gone away at AA. The nice thing is (compared to US) that you can use it for LATER flights as well. And of course standby is still free…

  9. Yeah, those US Airways Dividend Miles blackout days are a real throwback. A couple of years ago (perhaps when US had better award availability) I used UA miles to redeem on US to avoid US’s blackout days!

    They also have blackout days on the often-overlooked $99 companion ticket coupon they give you when you get the US Airways Barclaycard (I’m betting most of your readers have this card). The days are clustered around Holidays, but can be odd: like the Thursday before Memorial Day. Any reason to believe they’re abandoning these blackout days, too?

  10. Ouch. As a UA elite, upgrading a TCON N fare (UA’s lowest revenue bucket) is 40k miles roundtrip and $0. And from the mainland to HNL (excl. EWR/IAD/IAH), it’s 55k roundtrip and $0 – even including UA’s souped-up ORD-HNL nonstop, which uses mostly 777s with refurbished PS C seats in F that are more comfortable than anything offered in domestic F (aside from certain NYC TCON routes).

    On the other hand, if AA keeps $30 stickers for elites, that will greatly reduce the upgrade co-pay pain.

  11. Charging $150 for some routes when AA is charging a flat $75 still doesn’t seem like “alignment.”

    At least Smisek hasn’t had the decency to end the elite fee waiver?

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