American Airlines have been flagging that 2015 would be the year of the their frequent flyer program merge with US Airways Dividend Miles – the details were announced earlier this week, and there is no real bad news in the announcement that would concern anyone who uses Dividend Miles or AAdvantage in Australia. One possible opportunity has cropped up though, and there have been quite a few posts around this around the web which I thought I’d consolidate into an overview for us.
US Airways has historically offered the opportunity to buy a ‘status trial’ in their Dividend Miles program, which for $600 US could land you with 90 days of US Airways Platinum Preferred status, or $400 US with Gold Preferred, with the opportunity to keep it until early 2016 if you fly enough with US Airways or American Airlines in that 90 days. That Gold and Platinum status is equivalent to Qantas Gold, or oneworld Sapphire, yielding global Business Class lounge access.
He reads off the fine print as follows:
- Only travel on US Airways and American counts towards the trial status, so oneworld partner flights wouldn’t qualify
- Only Dividend Miles non-elites are eligible for a trial
- You can only do one trial in every consecutive 12 month period
- Dividend Miles could change this challenge at anytime
On the latter point, it’s then speculated that the likely end date for this would be early December, although it could go at any time.
So essentially, this could work as a quick, paid route to 3 months of Qantas Sapphire status, with the opportunity to keep it beyond the 90 days if you have plans to fly on US and American in that time – the qualification criteria and application link are here.
This could make sense if you have a lot of oneworld travel booked in the next 3 months in Economy, and feel like splashing out $430 USD (including tax) to guarantee yourself some Business Class lounge access which comes as a benefit of oneworld Sapphire.
The alternative is Qantas Club membership – which, for 12 months, costs at least $500+ and would get you access to Qantas, and some American Airlines / Emirates lounges only when flying on those airlines. It’a a different proposition really, hard to compare like-for-like.
In terms of actually achieving the requirements to keep status during the trial, it’s unlikely that the regular Australian flyer would be able to fly enough on American Airlines or US Airways operated flights to keep the status after the 90 days, but if you have plans to travel a lot with them in the next few months this is worth looking into.
By comparison, the American status challenge system is a bit different, where you don’t receive status during the trial period, and different qualification rules, including the ability to qualify with flights on American, US Airways, British Airways, Iberia, Japan Airlines and Qantas. More on this in another post!