US Airways will allow its frequent flyers to earn and redeem Dividend Miles on a many Star Alliance airlines in addition to all Oneworld members when the airline joins Oneworld on March 31 this year.
The surprising move, which a media spokesperson for American Airlines confirmed to Australian Business Traveller, could turn US Airways into one of the most flexible airlines for award bookings, especially when it comes to bulk-buying Dividend Miles to pad out your account.
US Airways will leave the Star Alliance network on March 30 to take its place at the Oneworld table alongside American Airlines as part of the merger between the two US carriers.
However, the American Airlines spokesperson revealed to Australian Business Traveller that US Airways "will continue its Frequent Flyer partnership... with Aegean, Air China, Air New Zealand, Avianca, Ethiopian Airlines, EVA Air, Shenzhen Airlines, Singapore Airlines, South African Airways, TAP and Turkish Airways."
"Customers will continue to be able to earn and redeem miles when traveling on (those) carriers" the spokesperson said.
Tickets booked with Dividend Miles on all other Star Alliance airline booked up to March 30 will remain valid for travel up to one year, but from March 31 you won't be able to earn or redeem miles on those airlines.
Update: Taiwan's EVA Air says its frequent flyer and codeshare partnership with US Airways "will be terminated effective from May 15, 2014" – click here for more details.
Dividend Miles to remain separate from AAdvantage
There's also an unexpected twist on the Oneworld front: US Airways will continue to run Dividend Miles as an independent program to American Airlines' AAdvantage, with its current award chart used to determine redemption rates instead of adopting the American Airlines' table.
"After US Airways’ entry into oneworld, US Airways will maintain its current award chart" the spokesperson advised, with bookings for Oneworld airlines available through US Airways.
As a result, travellers will be able to 'comparison shop' between AAdvantage Miles and Dividend Miles for Oneworld redemptions and choose the carrier which offers the best deal.
It also means that frequent flyers can buy miles from both airlines to circumvent airline-imposed ceilings on how many miles you can purchase, such as American Airlines' annual 80,000 mile cap.
And while it's inevitable that the two schemes will merge, just as their parent airlines have done, that's still a while away.
"American and US Airways will each maintain separate loyalty programs for some time" the spokesperson advised Australian Business Traveller, although the schemes are likely to merge sometime in 2015.
"We do expect that they will combine before the two airlines fully integrate under a Single Operating Certificate, which we anticipate to happen as long as 18 to 24 months after merger close date of December 9, 2013."
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