ACT NOW If You Want to Take Advantage of a US Airways Trial Preferred Challenge

US Airways offers a paid status challenge program where you get temporary status for 90 days and then have an opportunity to fly to keep that status on an accelerated basis.

At the beginning of the month US Airways eliminated the ability to buy miles towards status, which used to be a great alternative to mileage running for those last few flights you’d need to qualify.

But how long will these paid challenges still be around?

Reader Mike P. asks,

Any thoughts or predictions on how long US Trial Preferred will be around?

I would like to start a trial as late as possible so that much of the
trial activity can be in earning year 2015. But then again, I’m
nervous they will pull the program.

Mike would like to fly his challenge in 2015 so the flying also counts towards qualifying for 2016 status.

To do that he needs his 90 day period to extend into 2015, and wants as much of the period as possible to, so he would like to wait to register. But he’s nervous the program will be eliminated before he signs up.

I think he’s right to be concerned.

Now, American AAdvantage makes a variety of status challenge offers and it seems that they vary them at different times, sometimes based on news of what their competitors are doing.

  • They have charged to sign up, and they’ve offered it free.
  • They’ve fronted the status during the challenge period, and they have required flying before granting status.
  • They have offered a challenge up to their top tier Executive Platinum, and they’ve also capped it at Platinum (mid-tier) status.

So while American has had their own program, you never know what you’re going to get. For the version that’s free, and that has come with status during the challenge period, you’ve been required to demonstrate status with a competitor airline — most often United, but sometimes Delta.

In contrast, the US Airways program that you pay for, that gives you temporary status, and where the flying you do during the status period determines the status you keep going forward, you haven’t had to have any status with another airline to qualify at all.

Here’s why I would guess that the US Airways status challenge offer will be pulled and months before American and US Airways actually combine their frequent flyer programs.

I would guess that they will need to pull the program because it could be really complicated to register folks for the US Airways promotion, give them 90 days to fly, and move Dividend Miles into AAdvantage during that 90 day period. They’d have to build whole new IT process just to accommodate these trial preferreds whose qualifying period includes time in both the US Airways Dividend Miles program and the American AAdvantage program.

So if it were me running the show I would end the program December 1. Then I’d be in the clear if I transitioned the programs even a bit earlier than the start of the second quarter (‘just in case’).

That’s a guess but since I was being asked for my guess the advice I would give is not to wait if interested in signing up for the US Airways Trial Preferred program.


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. Gary, can you call up today and say I’d like to do the challenge Nov 8-feb 8 or does it start the day you call?

  2. @Michael, Your trial starts the minute you click submit on that credit card transaction. Your trial status should be reflected in next day or so. If you have previously booked flights with your Dividend Miles attached, then they should all pickup the new status. Also, your status gets updated as you fly the miles. So for example if you sign up for the silver (makes the most sense to me) and end up flying 15K miles or 20 segments in 15 challenge days, you will get Gold right away, you don’t have to wait.

    Unless you really have some major flights from Feb 1-8 2015, I would signup for the challenge as early as possible. Gary is speculating December 1st, but what if it is November 1st?

  3. So if you complete the trial in Jan or Feb of 2015 would your status continue until Jan 2016 or beyond?

  4. As much as I would like my trial miles to post to 2015, I am going to sign up Nov 1. To get 30k miles in to get to Chairman Preferred WAY before the merger of two programs, so that there is no problem getting transferred to AA EXP.

  5. @Kevin
    If you complete the Trial Preferred offer at any time, it doesn’t matter if its done in late 2014 or early 2015, your promotional earned status will be valid until Feb, 2016.

    Starting on 1/1/2015 you will begin quallifying under the regular calendar year quallification requirements. If you start a Trial Preferred now, you will have some window of time in 2015 when the activity will count both towards:
    1. Your Trial Preferred offer giving status until Feb, 2016; and
    2. Regular quallification during calendar year 2015, which will give status until, Feb, 2017. This regular calendar year quallification has nothing to do with Trial Preferred.

    Thus if you sign up now and fly in early to mid January your flights would count towards the accellerated trial preferred status requirements, as well as your upcoming quallifying activity during calendar year 2015.

    Said another way, even if you earn Executive Platinum through the accellerated Trial Preferred program in 2015, you would still need to requallify using the standard criteria during calendar year 2015 in order to keep the status until Feb, 2017.. If you did not requallify, “the hard way,” you would lose the status at the end of Feb, 2016.

  6. Alas, I DO have a Hong Kong flight on February 7 so I will have to chance it and wait til Nov 9 before I can click that credit card purchase

  7. If I pay for the Silver challenge and then only fly enough miles to qualify for Gold or Platinum, will I receive that status, or is it all the way to CP or nothing (Silver)?

  8. @Michael yeah roll the dice in that case.

    @Tom, yeah you can signup for the lowest level and then get highest level based on your final score in the trial 90 days. So if you end up with 22500 butt in the seat miles or 30 segments, you will get platinum as your final status (oh and you will get platinum as soon as you hit the milestone, you don’t have to wait till after the challenge is complete). I have read that you may want to hand track (in excel, google docs, piece of toilet paper..) the butt in seat miles to keep US Airways honest, some have had issues in the counting and don’t trust the counter on the website or the email updates they send you to tell you how you are doing with the challenge.

    IMHO, getting platinum is not worth it anymore because both USA Gold and USA Plat will map to AA Plat, if you have no need to fly then no need to force the miles to get up to Plat (may be some benefits for few months till the programs are combined).

  9. @Tom what you pay for only determines the status you have during the trial period. Whatever number of miles you fly, regardless of which trial you sign up for, determines your status going forward. If you sign up for a silver trial you can qualify for chairmans preferred. if you sign up for a chairmans trial you can qualify for silver.

  10. Alright..who wants to do Mileage Runs with me to get to the Chairmans Preferred!!! come on.. anyone? bueller? lol

  11. I’m hoping someone can clarify this:

    If I sign up for Trial Preferred and then book American Airlines tickets in First or Business, do those count at 100% or 150% toward meeting the mileage threshold?

    The Trial Preferred page says…

    “Only elite-qualifying miles earned on flights operated by US Airways, US Airways Express, American Airlines and American Eagle can be applied toward the Trial Preferred program.”

    …but I can’t find anywhere that confirms what EQMs/PQMs are valued at in Dividend Miles for AA flights.

    Thanks.

  12. @Juno
    Likely mileage runs as I would be trying to get Chairman’s and then Exec Plat in the merge in 2015. Traveling out of NYC, BOS, or WAS.

    @Anyone
    What do you think is the easiest and least painful way to get to either the 40,000 PQM or 40 PQS? I’ve typically focused on segments but it seems like it would be less expensive in $ and time to go the PQM route? I’ve hesitated with long PQM flights as they may be in coach especially international routes.

    I’ve read about the suggestion of HKG….coach though? Or the suggestion to do about 8 transcon trips, seems feasible and if buying Plat would likely upgrade to US first, although time consuming!

    Anyone have ideas on how to actually get most of these 40,000 PQM or 40 PQS?

    Out of habbit I’d be most used to just flying the shuttle to get segments, but again, this could get expensive? Lets say an average of $85 x 40 = $3,400. Also if you fly 4 to 5 segments a day it would take 8 to 10 days of time. You can also route to Florida sometimes from the east coast with 3-4 segments each way.

    An earlier blog post talked about getting the status for under $2,000 with SFO or SJC transcon fares out of NYC or WAS, but it assumed a roundtrip fare of $250 and 8 necessary roundtrips, but that would map out to 16 days plus hotels unless you did overnight flights!

  13. @Tim,
    Butt in the seat miles on US Airways/American/AmEagle metal, no bonuses. You will earn the bonuses but for the trial only miles flown will count towards the goals.

  14. Are you all sure they will merge existing status in 2015 vs actual eqms for both years? Because trial people will have up to 30k eqms from trial. CP but they won’t have 100k EQM to include in merge process. Hope that makes sense?

  15. @Gary will people who earn CP via the trial in 2015 (if the trial period ends then and you meet milestone then) receive EXP through 2/2017, and 8 SWUs?

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