Two big additions to oneworld yesterday, both of them telegraphed for some time. There’s plenty of information out there, here’s my small Bible’s worth:
First, US Airways dropped out of Star Alliance and became part of oneworld. This is part of the merger between American Airlines and US Airways. US Airways won’t ever become an “official” member, just “affiliate members”. But, that’s just inside baseball. The important thing to know is that you can now book US Airways flights using other currencies.
Amol from Hack My Trip has the scoop on how to book US Airways flights with Avios. Just my two cents, but this is a great value for Avios. Just like with American Airlines, you can book Avios distance-based awards without fuel surcharges.
Personally, I think folks who live on the East coast will see even more value from the use of Avios with US Airways than with American Airlines. The East coast network is tight enough that you’ll see lots of redemptions falling in the 4,500 or 7,500 mile one-way category.
View From The Wing notes that you can now get a “discount” on the 110,000 miles AAdvantage charges to get to Asia in business class. US Airways is downright affordable at 90,000 miles and no fuel surcharges.
Members of most other oneworld member airlines’ frequent flyer programmes will receive double their regular mileage awards when flying on US Airways between 1 April 2014 and 30 June 2014.
But, I can’t find any OW carriers that are offering this yet. I’ll keep an eye out, as that’s a pretty generous promo. I doubt American will take part in it since they did some promos earlier in the year already for flying on US and have their current Facebook game which also gives some benefits for flying US.
US Airways is a reasonably big plus for OW carriers outside the US as it gives a lot more options to get up and down the eastern seaboard.
The addition of TAM is another big plus for OW. American already has pretty good service TO South America, and TAM bolsters that for other OW carriers while adding more flights to other destinations once you get there (American already had a partnership with TAM). They’ve got a dozen or so connections to Europe for OW customers to take advantage of as well.
And, as View From The Wing notes here, the availability of first class space on TAM from the US to South America is pretty darn awesome right now.
As part of the transition, TAM members can receive double miles for traveling on other OW carriers through the end of May as well.
As an aside, Star Alliance is offering folks who have status with TAM a chance to match that status elsewhere in Star Alliance. Essentially, you pick the partner you’d like to have the status with, though at this time the link they provide in the press release isn’t live.
Bottom Line It For Me, Ed
These are both pluses for American Airlines and all of oneworld. US Airways isn’t “new news”, per se, but the ability to use British Airways Avios is. And, since you can use Ultimate Rewards points earned with the Chase Sapphire and Ink credit cards, that means an easy way to get cheap flight redemptions up and down the East coast and other short hops that US Airways offers.
TAM has a strong network in Brazil and South America and provides a bunch of new ways to get from European gateway cities like London, Paris and Madrid.
Asia is still a weaker area for OW, no doubt. But, the network is really rounding out for US-based travelers. I wouldn’t expect the “cheap” prices that US Airways has on a few international routes to last, which is all the more reason to get out and fly now. Cross Sao Paolo, Easter Island or Santiago off your bucket list.