When the American and US Airways frequent flyer programs combine soon, we’re going to basically get the American program — which means that upgrades will no longer be ‘complimentary’ to all US Airways elite members.
- Executive Platinums (100,000 mile flyers) will get complimentary upgrades on all flights, as they do now.
- All elites get complimentary upgrades on flights of 500 miles or less
- Golds (25,000 mile flyers) and Platinums (50,000 mile flyers) will use 500 mile e-upgrade certificates. This is the American model, and US Airways elites will transition to it.
The two frequent flyer programs will combine long before the airlines themselves combine. I expect that US Airways flights will still offer complimentary upgrades until the reservation systems are merged late in the year.
So the 500 mile upgrade system will apply to American flights only for the first several months.
When the 2015 program was announced, American AAdvantage President Suzanne Rubin told me that US Airways elites would be given 500 mile upgrades to start off when the two frequent flyer programs become one, as a way of easing them into the program.
We haven’t heard much about that over the past few months. However, it’s suggested over at TravelingBetter.com that,
Legacy US members will be given a starting balance of 500-mile upgrades when the programs are merged– up to 24– based on their activity through Feb 2015.
I think what this means is that flying during the previous elite year (March 2014 through February 2015) will determine the number of 500 mile e-certificates that each member starts with. It’s not clear what ‘ratio’ will determine the number of certificates given to start, however.
These certificates will only be needed for American flights of over 500 miles (and there will be no ‘grace’ amount over that).
I’ve written that I’m a fan of the 500 mile upgrade system. You earn (4) 500 mile upgrades for every 10,000 miles flown. You can then pick and choose which flights you want to list for an upgrade on. If you want to upgrade more than 2000 out of every 10,000 miles of flying you pay for extra certificates. What happens is that not every elite lists for an upgrade on every flight, and lower level elites have a better shot at an upgrade.