Huge Downgrade for US Airways Elites

One of the huge benefits of being a US Airways elites was having the mileage upgrade fee waived for upgrading with miles.  This was one I invoked often.   Now US Airways is taking away this benefit.

As of April 23, 2014, the mileage upgrade fee will now apply to Preferred members on US Airways flights. The fee will continue to be waived for fares purchased in Y or B.

US Airways and American Airlines post-merger loyalty points, elite status, and alliance.I travel a lot for work, rack up the US Airways miles, and don’t get as much time for leisure travel–so it’s been wonderful getting to secretly upgrade my friends going to the West Coast to first for only 20,000 a pop.

I even wrote a post explaining why it is worth it to buy a silver-preferred trial in order to upgrade your flights with miles.

To put this in context, if Keri and I are flying together to San Francisco as Chairmen, but want to ensure we are in first (rather than wait out the upgrade period), it has been 40,000 miles.  Sometimes this is worth it, especially when our flights are short, to make sure we are fresh and ready to go (and conquer wine country).

Now the decision to spend miles would include a cash portion.  A couple of hundred?  No, $600 to be exact.

This is a huge downgrade for elites because it makes our miles less flexible.  Business travelers spend so much time on the road, they may rack up miles without the time to take dream vacations.  This has been a great way to use those miles for little perks for yourself and family & friends as you go.

I’m currently trying to upgrade someone on a flight but upgrades are not avaliable yet.  I am going to obsessively call every day now.  If upgrades don’t become available by April 23rd, the price increases by $600, making it impossible for me to eat the cost of the upgrade.  My currency has been miles, and I’ve been able to spread the wealth in the past.  Now, I have to be a bit miserly.

About Jeanne Marie Hoffman

Former bartender, still a geek. One equal part each cookies, liberty, football, music, travel, libations. Stir vigorously. +Jeanne Marie Hoffman Jeanne on Twitter

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  1. I need friends like you! I am sorry that you are losing this ability, it was a nice benefit and the type I’d think you’d want to attract road warriors.

  2. How did it work in the past? Could you upgrade well in advance or only once the 7 day window opens? I have an upcoming flight to Maui and want to do this before 23 Apr to avoid the $150 p/p per segment fee, but the trip isn’t until August.

    • Jeanne Marie Hoffman

      Scott, sometimes you can upgrade well in advance and sometimes you can’t at all. It depends on whether or not they think people will buy upgrades for that route. I was able to use miles to go to Maui waaaay out in advance, where as miles to Honolulu on another trip never became available. I recommend calling them up and asking.

    • Scott, as per conversation with US res agent yesterday, the fees will be charged for any flights FLOWN from April 23 on. So there’s no rush — you will be charged for your August trip even if you secure an upgrade before Apr 23. Don’t know if passengers who already booked mileage upgrades for flights after 22nd will be retroactively charged.

      • Jeanne Marie Hoffman

        Two US res agents told me it has to be upgrades by April 23rd. The next phone call, I’ll try to get clarification.

  3. At $600, it would be cheaper to just buy the FC seat, as that is typically the price difference that I see on transcon. routes between F and Y (even less close-in). The value proposition is even higher when you factor in the additional RDM and PQM earned.

    • Jeanne Marie Hoffman

      Yeah, Keri and I were talking this morning about how I once outright paid for first for my parents in one direction for $200 extra a piece once. Not a huge difference cash wise (the upgrade was miles + $150 a piece), but huge when you consider miles burned vs. class of service bonuses.

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