With the announcement yesterday that American Airlines and US Airways elites can earn a 50% bonus by booking eligible codeshare flights on the other carrier, it’s certainly appealing to move a flight to earn that bonus. But, there are a couple things you should know before you pull the trigger.
I only flew US Airways once last year for two segments, so I certainly can’t call myself an expert. But, I did learn a few things when I booked a US Air flight a couple days ago right before they announced the bonus. Some of these tips are things I’ve already covered but I figured it was worth a refresher.
1. You Can’t Get An Upgrade. If you’re an elite on either airline and expect to get an upgrade flying the other one right now, you are wrong. It’s something they’re working on, but there is no path to get an upgrade right now.
2. You. Can’t. Get. An. Upgrade. What can I say? I really like upgrades, it seemed worth saying twice.
3. More Legroom In Coach Is Not A US Airways Philosophy. Intuitively, I knew this, especially given how close to my legs the first class seat was on a recent US Airways Airbus plane I was on (see below, and no the seat in front of me is not reclined).
Those of you that have met me know I’m not the biggest guy in the world. If my knees are almost touching the seat in front of me, you can imagine what a tall person might have to cope with. Coach isn’t going to be much better, but you may have to pay for a coach seat anyways if you don’t want to be stuck in a middle seat.
US Airways has two different types of “upgraded” coach seats they offer. Preferred seats are the front row (s) of coach and the exit rows. These are reserved for Preferred members, and are not to be confused with “ChoiceSeats”. ChoiceSeats are seats seats near the front of the plane but don’t actually have any extra legroom. However, they do charge for these seats and that fee is not waived for elite members at this time as it is for some elites (Platinum and Executive Platinum) on American.
On the recent flight I booked, my only choice for an aisle seat was to pay $68. If I wanted a window I could take the last row of the plane.
Is it worth 50% more redeemable miles to have less legroom in coach? It certainly could be for some. But, if you have to pay to get the seat of your choice then the extra miles certainly aren’t worth it. If you’re not sure what type of seat you might be getting, check out Seat Guru before you book.
4. Codeshare Flights Can Be Confusing. As operations get consolidated, it will be easier to transfer from an American Airlines flight to a US Airways one and vice versa. For example, at IAD US Airways departs from the Z gates right past security, whereas American departs from the B concourse. At DEN, American is in the A concourse as are some US Airways departures, but the bulk of US Airways flights still depart out of the B concourse. None of this is life-altering, but if you’re short on time it pays to know where you’re going. Take a close look at who actually operates the flight you’re booked on and make sure you know where it departs from. Leave extra time if you have to change terminals.
5. US Airways’ Website Can Be Confusing, Too. I don’t find myself on the US Airways site frequently, but when I do it’s notable that their IT infrastructure is not as robust as American’s when it comes to the booking engine. When booking my recent flight I was presented with a blank seat map and told there were no seats for assignment. That seemed a bit odd to me, so I checked Expert Flyer and saw plenty of seats available. I exited out of the seat maps and attempted to select a seat again and the map popped up. No biggie if you know how to navigate, but certainly a pain in the butt if you didn’t know how to check that there really were seats available for you to select. In my specific case, there were slim pickings for complimentary seats anyways.
50% more redeemable miles is certainly tempting. Just make sure you’re aware of the potential travel pitfalls while we’re in the middle of the integration. It’s also worth noting that these miles may not post automatically given the lack of robustness on the US Airways website. So, keep an eye on your account afterwards to make sure things post correctly.