American Airlines’ AAdvantage frequent flyer program will supersede Dividend Miles to become the combined loyalty scheme of both AA and US Airways in 2015.
Existing members of Dividend Miles will have their points converted across into the AAdvantage program on a 1:1 basis in the second quarter of next year, while their current frequent flyer status with US Airways will be matched across to AA.
Dividend Miles Silver members will receive an AA Gold card, Dividend Gold and Platinum members will be matched across to AA Platinum, and US Chairman’s Preferred travellers will receive an AA Executive Platinum card.
AA is also tweaking its qualification requirements for Executive Platinum – the American equivalent of Qantas Platinum – from 2016, with travellers needing to notch up at least 120 ‘qualifying segments’ throughout 2015 to nab Executive Platinum for 2016 and beyond.
That’s a 20% increase on the current 100-segment threshold, although travellers can continue to reach the top tier irrespective of the number of flights taken if they’ve earned at least 100,000 qualifying miles.
To ease the transition for jetsetters that are already members of both AAdvantage and Dividend Miles, qualifying miles and segments earned in both programs in both 2014 and 2015 will be combined into single grand totals for each year, and then assessed under the relevant AAdvantage thresholds to determine a traveller’s status in 2016 and beyond.
For example, if a high flyer picks up 34 Dividend Miles Preferred-qualifying segments in 2015 and then also earns 30 AAdvantage elite-qualifying segments in the same year, the total of 64 segments would give the travellers AA Platinum status.
That’s roughly the same as Gold status in Qantas Frequent Flyer, and also gives the AA cardholder access to domestic Qantas Clubs and international business class lounges when flying with Qantas on home soil here in Australia.
Changes to earning miles and upgrades
From January 1, AA is boosting its ‘class of service’ bonus on business class tickets from 25% to 50%, allowing travellers to earn more points when flying up the front.
And when Dividend Miles members come across to AAdvantage, they’ll also received the benefits that an AA member would expect – including eight ‘system-wide’ upgrade certificates for AA Executive Platinum travellers, and now for former US Chairman’s Preferred members as well.
Those certificates can be redeemed for an upgrade to the next class of service on any American Airlines marketed and operated flight, and can be given to anyone – even if the elite member isn’t traveling with them.
On the downside, US Airways will discontinue ‘instant (confirmed) upgrades’ from economy to first class on full-fare tickets in the Y and B fare buckets, instead awarding these within one week of departure based on the number of seats still available at the pointy end.
New perks for AAdvantage, Dividend Miles members
Also from the New Year, AA Executive Platinum members and US Air Chairman’s Preferred guests will be able to make same-day changes to their American Airlines flights at no cost should they wish to move to an earlier flight, or push back their return to extend a business meeting.
That’s a similar perk to that enjoyed by Qantas Platinum One members on Australian domestic flights, who can also switch flights at the airport lounge service desk free-of-charge.
Gold and Platinum members of Dividend Miles will also be pleased to earn double points on eligible flights after moving across to AAdvantage – a boost on the current 50% and 75% respective bonus rates.
Following the amalgamation of both programs, AA will also open up complimentary upgrades on flights of 500 miles or less to Gold and Platinum members, in addition to the Executive Platinum travellers that already receive this benefit.
AA elite members will also be eligible for free upgrades on US Airways flights as early as four days before departure from the same time period, and can soon redeem their miles and system-wide upgrades on US Airways flights.
While AA hasn’t flagged the exact changeover date, the airline advised that Dividend Miles members will be contacted in early 2015 for the details of their existing AAdvantage account, or to create a new one, ahead of merger.
Members of Dividend Miles won't lose access to perks such as lounge access and priority check-in when flying with Qantas, as their new membership level in the AAdvantage scheme has the same Oneworld gemstone as their current card – such as Ruby, Sapphire or Emerald – which offers the same benefits across the alliance.
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