As had been previously announced, American Airlines announced today the extension of limited reciprocal benefits for elite members of both Dividend Miles and Aadvantage. Members will be able to earn miles when flying the other carrier and will also receive their elite mileage bonus when crediting to their home program. The announcement did specifically say that elite qualifying point and miles will not be combinable between the two programs. This means that it is wise to credit all of your flights on both carriers to one program or the other.
Additional benefits were announced today as well. Elites from both programs will have access to priority check-in and preferred seating, receive a free baggage allowance and also receive free same day standby. If you have a lounge membership or a credit card that offers lounge access, you can now use the other airline’s locations. There are several cities where one airline has a lounge and the other does not, so this is a good benefit to those who use it.
The biggest perk that is missing from today’s announcement is upgrades. At this point no one is sure exactly what the upgrade benefit will be going forward. In regards to upgrades, the American Airlines website says: “We know the ability to upgrade on US Airways is important to our elite status members, and we appreciate your patience as we work to align these systems.” My guess (hope) is that reciprocal upgrades will be coming along in the next few months.
I certainly understand the delay in offering reciprocal upgrades. US Airways Dividend Miles provides complimentary upgrades to their elites while American requires the use of 500 mile upgrade certificates for all elites except Executive Platinum members.
In order to offer upgrades reciprocally, they will need to align these policies between the two programs. I personally hope that they begin allowing unlimited upgrades for lower level Aadvantage members, although I am sure Executive Platinum members would not be happy with that.
Each program has setup a website for their members to find out more about this reciprocal policy. I recommend you take a look at each to see how this effects you and your flying.
The airlines also announced the ability to book each other’s flights with miles. As of today, you can book AA flights on the US Airways website with miles and vice versa. This is the first time US Airways has ever allowed you to book partner awards on their website. Both sites display the information in a fairly straightforward way.
The biggest benefit of the cross booking will come when flying to Europe with American miles. Previously there were only a few ways to get to Europe without fuel surcharges. Now with the addition of US Airways flights, there are a lot more options to take advantage of American’s very low redemption rate to Europe. (As low as 40,000 miles round-trip in the off-peak season.)
As a mid-tier AA elite, I had hoped to hear something today about upgrades, but I am still not disappointed. Elite members of both programs will receive priority check-in, free baggage, preferred seating and same day standby. Additionally those with lounge access or memberships will be able to access the other airlines lounges. This is a good start and judging from how quickly they allowed for the cross-booking of flights between the two websites, I can only think additional integration is coming pretty soon.