The US Airways Definitions of Domestic and International May Not Match Yours

Back in October, I decided I was ready to settle down with an airline. I didn’t really care which airline it was overall. I just wanted convenience, great status benefits, and an easy way of getting it. I originally had my eye on American Airlines for status. I flew them a few times already and they have many flights out of Washington-Reagan (DCA). But I began to waver when I saw US Airways Trial Preferred Program. For just $200, I could start with Silver Preferred Status and earn it with just 7,500 miles. I was already planning on flying more than that amount, so I had that in the bag.A few weeks ago, I wrote about real and fake EQMs on US Airways, how to spot the difference and the implications for either set.

Another strange quirk on US Airways are its international and domestic rules pertain to a different definition of international and domestic.


What I mean is, sometimes international flights will follow domestic rules for purposes of upgrades and some domestic (but not mainland) flights follow international rules.

US Airways offers unlimited complimentary upgrades for domestic routes for its elites.

For more information on upgrades for elites and other US Airways tips and tricks, click here.

But how does US Airways define these routes?

  • The Contiguous U.S.
  • Alaska
  • Canada
  • Central America
  • Mexico
  • the Caribbean

I like this broad definition.  While not necessarily geographically correct, it is very generous.

For “international routes,” there are no complimentary upgrades.  This includes routes to Hawaii.  If you are hoping to get a complimentary upgrade on a Hawaii route, sorry!  There’s a chance of upgrade at gate, but we’ve never seen it actually happen with anyone (and in fact, have only seen first class oversold at the gate).  This is because Hawaii has a lot of revenue first thanks to honeymooners and the like.

For international routes, if you are a Chairman, you can apply your upgrade certificate to international routes OR to Hawaii.  For the Hawaii route, the rules are more restrictive than transatlantic (strange, right?)

You can only apply your upgrade to Hawaii 7 days out from your flight date–again, probably so they can make as much revenue off those tickets as possible.

Otherwise, you need to use your miles to upgrade but call before April 23rd.  After April 23rd, co-pays will be required for all US Airways upgrades using miles.  If upgrades aren’t available today, keep calling.  Every day. Seriously.

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. They seem to use the same definition for checked baggage as well. We would have had to pay to check luggage to the Caribbean even though we were traveling internationally. Usually I don’t mind carrying on, but it’s nice to bring your own sunscreen the beach and not having to deal with a bunch of tiny bottles.

  2. Sounds like US Air is less generous than Delta. Complimentary upgrades on Delta include Hawaii and South America too, in addition to all of the “domestic” routes listed for US Air. Do award tickets receive complimentary upgrades on US Air? They do on Delta.

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