More Answers On How US Airways Award Tickets Will Work Starting March 31

US Airways departs Star Alliance on March 30th, and enters the oneworld alliance on March 31.

A communication from Dividend Miles made it sound like award travel using US Airways miles would be booked not based on its own existing award chart but would be starting to charge prices that match those charged by the American AAdvantage program.

That’s of interest because many awards are more expensive, and others less expensive, under the American program. Especially of note is the US Airways business class award to ‘North Asia’ for just 90,000 miles roundtrip compared to 110,000 under the American program.

I don’t know anyone who thinks that an award ticket to Hong Kong is going to cost 90,000 miles in the future but the hope is that the US Airways award chart pricing will stay the same until the program goes away, folded into AAdvantage, and that we’ll be able to book Cathay Pacific business class awards for that 90,000 mile price once US Airways is a member of oneworld.

So I asked asked, and was told,

AA and US Airways will maintain individual award redemption charts at this time. Although the chart being referred to on the page is the DM Award chart for redemption on American Airlines, it can also be used to redeem awards ononeworld partner airlines. For all other travel, customers will continue to use the DM award chart.

I now have a couple of additional answers to questions.

I asked about fuel surcharges on US Airways-issed award tickets

US will be adding the fuel surcharges to award tickets issued on BA and IB just like AA does.

That’s not surprising. American passes along full fuel surcharges on British Airways awards, and I don’t know of any BA partner that does not do so. It was fully expected that US Airways awards for travel on British Airways flights would do the same, although I suppose there were those with glimmers of hope. Those are dashed.

Often overlooked, American adds very modest fuel surcharges onto awards for Iberia travel — order of magnitude only about 10% of what’s charged for British Airways travel. I expect that charges for US Airways award tickets for travel on Iberia will be similar.

I asked about changes to routing rules for US Airways award tickets

As of now, US Airways will not allow AA’s hubs for routing purposes.

What I really wanted to know was whether US Airways would start ‘auto-validating’ allowable routings the way that American does. American AAdvantage will only let you travel on published routes of their partner airlines, and tracks maximum permitted mileage as well (though they’re very liberal allowing you to go 25% over the published permitted mileage for any given route).

Of course it’s highly doubtful that US Airways will start having their computers validate routings or even auto-price awards. That’s a lot of expensive programming of a computer system that’s going to go away when the two airlines merge.

All I’ve learned so far relates to the US Airways rule that any stopover on an award ticket must be at a US Airways destination or (Star Alliance) hub city. Apparently the list of allowable stopover cities won’t grow to include American’s hubs just yet.

American of course only allows stopovers on one-way partner awards at the North American gateway city. US Airways doesn’t have one-way awards, but allows stopovers internationally on their roundtrip awards.

The fact that they’ve only mentioned hub cities is also telling. While there may well be more changes, I don’t expect them to be wholesale. And this answer suggests that US Airways and American are not fully synching up their routing rules.

I asked about combining oneworld airlines and partner airlines that are not part of oneworld on the same itinerary.

American allows combining oneworld and other partners, US Airways does not currently allow combining Star Alliance and non-Star partners on the same awards.

Here’s what I was told.

Customers can currently book select codeshare flights via usairways.com for travel with TAM, Qatar Airways and Royal Jordanian. As codeshare is introduced with other oneworld partners in the future, those flights would also then become available.

So… clearly I didn’t explain my question well enough and will be following up!

But as we continue to learn more, I’ll let you know.


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. Had the same question for Lucky and his answer was the news you didn’t want to hear, and that is how do you think US will code all their 2-class (ie all) J award seats in their system? As F or as J and if Avios will subsequently price at 2x or 3x?

  2. @AdamH – I would assume they would code it as F because (1) they have coded it as F as a member of Star, and (2) American has coded theirs as F. So given it’s consistent with current practice at both airlines, I would guess that stays the same.

  3. Gary–any chance you could query your contacts at BA to see if Avios bookings will be available for US on the 31st? Those of us around DCA will gain so many 4500 options.

  4. Question on oneworld explorer awards.

    Since going to India from the US using AA miles is restrictively expensive (you have to route through LHR and pay fuel surcharges), and they do not let you fly to India via the Pacific, the only usable option is the distance-based award chart. Is there any possibility that US airways miles will be usable for oneworld explorer awards after 03/30?

    Trying to figure out if a trip to Europe from the US (and back) is worth the effort, using US airways miles (1:1 xfer bonus before 03/30), or would it be more prudent to continue all the way to India and come back via the Pacific? Assuming doing this is even possible using US dividend miles after 03/30?

  5. @Nash D – since US Airways will be a oneworld member beginning March 31 I would expect that you would be able to include US Airways flights in American’s distance-based awards. However I do NOT expect that you will be able to have a distance-based oneworld award option using US Airways miles. That said, US Airways routing rules do seem as though they will prevail. So my guess is a Pacific routing to India would be doable on a regular award, e.g. on Cathay Pacific…

  6. Hurrying to finalise and book TLV to MEL Aus on 120k in bus, with high availability on star alliance, as one world seems to be very limited.
    Notwithstanding the promises that the charts will remain and more partners will be available – there are no guarantees!
    One world traditionally esp BA routes are clogged up a year in advance, so use up your easily earned US miles today while they still carry you through Europe..

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