US Airways Trial Preferred Status: You Can Earn the Top Elite Tier Even if You Just Sign Up for the Cheapest Silver Challenge

US Airways doesn’t do status matches, if you want expedited elite status they will sell you a ‘challenge’ where you get temporary status for 90 days and then have an opportunity to fly to keep that status on an accelerated basis.

Trial silver costs $200, trial Gold $400, and trial Platinum $600.

Then your travel on US Airways flights determines whether or not you keep status:

  • Silver: Fly 7,500 miles or 10 segments
  • Gold: Fly 15,000 miles or 20 segments
  • Platinum: Fly 22,500 miles or 30 segments
  • Chairmans: Fly 30,000 miles or 40 segments

Here’s something that’s implied by their chart, but that I didn’t actually know — the level you pay to sign up for is just the amount of temporary status that you have during your 90 day challenge. Put another way, the status you actually receive is determined solely by the amount you fly during your challenge. If you sign up for a Silver Preferred challenge, but you fly 22,500 miles in 90 days, you actually do get to keep Platinum status! You do not need to pay $600 for a Platinum challenge in order to earn and keep Platinum. You can do a Silver challenge for $200 and then fly enough to earn Platinum (or to earn Chairmans) on an expedited basis.

Something I learned from Jeanne’s experience that I didn’t already know, and always assumed that the opposite was the case. Don’t know how many this will help, but one to file away for those interested in challenging for status on US Airways, also useful because you do not already need to have status with any airline in order to do this.

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, 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. You must be base status. At one time a customer who already had status could buy a trial up one level and prices were adjusted accordingly, i.e. a silver could pay $200 for trial Gold.

    In addition to being base status, you must have been at base level last year. It explicitly denies those who had status but failed to requalify for the current year. That rule didn’t always exist either.

  2. I’m in the midst of this now. Having completed the first month of the trial, I received an e-mail saying that I had definitely earned Silver status, and detailing that further flying would gain me higher status.

    Unfortunately, my plan to earn CP via four transcons in the next six weeks just got wrecked by a client who needs me on site for all of March! So at this point I’m just hoping to snag gold or possibly platinum.

    The helpful DM rep who explained this process to me pointed out that the only reason to pay for a gold challenge or higher was to receive gold level (or higher) status DURING the challenge. That’s the only thing the extra money buys you.

  3. It’s very useful info for mainstream readers, but this is rather clear from the Flyertalk thread about US Trial Preferred.

  4. To me, the main downside of this program is that you don’t keep the status for the following year, just the year in which you do the challenge:

    “Then, over the next 90 days, fly a minimum amount of miles on flights operated by US Airways to keep your Preferred status through February 28, 2013.”

  5. @David: I started my trial in November of last year, so I think if you time it that way, you get better use out of it. I was able to stretch it out across two program years a little. Though, I didn’t go for Gold/Platinum until the last month which allowed my EQMs from that to double qualify for next year’s elite.

  6. This may be obvious to everyone else, but note “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.” So EQMs earned on other airlines don’t count.

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