US Airways MoveUp Policy Explained

US Airways Miles allow you to upgrade with milesUS Airways has a policy where you can move up into a seat on an earlier flight on the same day if its available.  They’ll confirm you into this seat rather than make you wait on standby.

Here’s the criteria:

You can move up for $75 (US, Caribbean, Latin America, Canada)/$150 (rest) if the flight is:

You can only do 6 hours earlier, so if you have an 8pm flight, the earliest you can do is 2pm.

Now, when you ask to move your flight (which must be done at the airport according to the rules), you get a confirmed seat on an earlier flight.  Similar rules apply for going standby.

Technically though, once you move your flight up, you have a confirmed seat so it may be possible to go on standby for an even earlier flight even though it is more than six hours earlier than your original ticket.  Huge YMMV here.

People with any US Airways elite status can get the fee waved for this, so I tend to abuse the system often.

Today I broke the rules in a few ways.

First, I called to try to move up my flight rather than head the the airport.  The agent on the phone was able to help me move up my flight.

Second, I wanted to get on the noon flight.  I was planning on asking for as early as I could get (2pm) and go on standby for noon.  I admitted to the agent I wanted the noon flight but knew I could only get on the 2pm based on the rules.  My plan was to call back after I got my two PM flight, and failing that, hit standby.  The agent was able to move me up to the noon flight with no problem.

So why was I able to break the rules?

Programs like MoveUp are good for airlines.  If there’s a series of delays from flights flying into an airport, it is great to have more room in the later routes to accommodate people who may have missed their original flights.

The flight I wanted to switch to was really empty.  My original flight was the last flight of the night.  It was good for the airline to move someone off the last flight to an earlier, mostly empty one flying the same route.  Now, if someone missed an earlier connection, my seat is still there and available.

There’s probably an unofficial policy that encourages agents to “break the rules” in these situations.  Again, YMMV and you never know what is going on behind the scenes, but since this policy benefits the flier and the airlines, I’m willing to bet they will be more flexible in most cases than their rules suggest.


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. Boy do I have some thoughts on US Airways pitiful 6 hour move-up/standby policy.

    • I’m preferred on USAirways, and I just don’t understand the 6 hour rule. I have a 7pm flight this coming Friday, and I’m planning to standby on the 7am. Why do they care, especially if the 7am is wide open? What does 6 hours have to do with anything, as long as it’s same day? The other airlines don’t have that rule. I have had agents disregard the rule, and I sure hope it happens on Friday. Check this out, if I can’t get on the 7am, the next flight from YYZ to CLT is at noon, also more than 6 hours from my 7pm flight. If I’m not allowed on the noon, the next flight is at 5pm, and I will have been in the airport for more than 11 hours by then.

      • Jeanne Marie Hoffman

        Yes. I don’t understand it either. It benefits them to move people to earlier flights so if disruptions happen, they have room on later flights. Seriously makes no sense to me.

  2. Emphasis on the 6-hour part.

  3. I have a flight this coming Friday and am looking to MoveUp my flight to an earlier one. I know it can only be requested on the day of the flight and only if there are available seats. There are only a few seats left and I am worried that it might fill up between now and then. Would it make sense for myself (or a friend) to book a refundable one way ticket for the flight that I want, and then cancel it the day of the flight to make sure I can have a seat to MoveUp into?

    • Jeanne Marie Hoffman

      Since flights get overbooked, there’s a huge chance that with all that effort, there still wouldn’t be seats left on the flight, unfortunately.

  4. I usually fly United, which has a pretty generous 24 hour change option for elite members. I have a flight this weekend on US Airways, and until the merger is completed at the end of this month, United members can still get credit for US Airways mileage/segments, and benefit from some perks (preferred seating, boarding, etc.) My question is this: have you ever used the move up rule to go from the first flight in the morning, to the last flight the previous day? I frequently do this on United flights, but not sure if this might be possible on US Airways, particularly if their rule applies to only same day flights. Just curious.

  5. I had another US Airways MoveUp fail this past weekend.

    My wife and I (booked under the same reservation) wanted to move up to an earlier flight with seats available. I could do it for free (as US Gold) but they wanted to charge my wife. I politely protested a bit, but ended up saying no thank you as it wasn’t worth the $75. It turns out our later flight was oversold by 6 seats. I feel like US got their just deserts because they could have had two extra seats if they had allowed us to MoveUp…karma’s a bitch.

  6. As a chairman, how often do you usually get upgraded? If you moved up to an earlier flight, what’s chance you get to upgraded on the same day?

    • Jeanne Marie Hoffman

      I usually get upgraded more times than not. I only missed out on two upgrades and they were DC-Phoenix this year, which is a heavy chairman trafficed route.

      If I move up on short flights, I usually get upgraded because the gate agent will just stick me in F rather than make me wait for the gate to process things. I have literally showed up at the end of boarding and asked to move up to a shuttle flight and gotten in F. Any connection between hubs or later flights–I’ve never gotten upgraded. But I’ve sat in the middle seat at the back rather than wait longer to get home.

  7. Any updates on this process? Whether calling 24 hours in advance is still successful? If in person is required, can I show up to the airport 24 hours in advance and then come back? I live close to DCA and am trying to move-up myself and a 4yo.

    • Jeanne Marie Hoffman

      I’ve found calling is successful on frequent routes, like the shuttle ones. Other times, I haven’t been successful. I’ve gone to DCA early in the morning to switch flights, but I haven’t tried the day before yet.

  8. I have usually travelled Delta and never had to pay a penny to catch an earlier flight ( I do not have any status with Delta). Today was the first and last time I am traveling US Airways / American Airlines as they wanted $75 for a flight that had 6+ seats open.
    The flight that I was booked in was oversold and guess what, they had to give incentives for passengers willing to wait for next flight. Way to go US Airways.. You suck!

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