TPG reader Colby is planning for the upcoming US Airways/American Airlines merger and wants to know if he should purchase Chairman’s Preferred status with US Airways:
“Does it make sense to purchase Chairman’s status on US Airways to convert to Executive Platinum on American?”
There has been a lot of chatter lately about the US Airways and American Airlines merger since the official announcement back in February. In his most recent quarterly call with shareholders, US Airways President J. Scott Kirby said he expects the airline to be fully integrated with OneWorld Alliance (which American is a part of) by early 2014 and there have even been rumors that US Airways is planning to exit Star Alliance as early as November 1, 2013. Those details are yet to be determined since the merger hasn’t been officially approved yet, but it’s time to start preparing since it will almost certainly eventually go through.
The beauty of the US Airways Buy Up program for elite status is that it’s relatively inexpensive. With newly revenue-based elite status programs, airlines usually want you to pay at least 10 cents for every elite qualifying mile – that’s the amount that United and Delta have pegged on the value of each elite mile with their new requirements in their elite programs.
As of now, however, US Airways will still let you buy up to its top tier, Chairman’s level, which usually requires 100,000 elite-qualifying miles (equivalent to Executive Platinum on American Airlines), for $3,999. However, as long as you have at least one elite-qualifying mile in your account, the cost to do this is $2,999, about 3 cents per elite qualifying mile. Airlines usually sell regular redeemable miles for that much so it’s actually a pretty reasonable price if top-tier elite status is your goal.
Why are people so concerned about AA Executive Platinum status?
I am AAdvantage Executive Platinum and it is amazing. I think it’s the best published elite status tier out there of all the major airlines. The main reason I like it is that once you get Executive Platinum status you receive 8 systemwide upgrades that are good on any fare class. With these upgrades you can buy the cheapest coach fare to Beijing, which is what I did last year, and if there’s availability you can instantly confirm into business class with no co-pay.
If you buy a business class ticket you can then confirm into first class. I did that over Thanksgiving when I bought a $2,000 fare from Miami to Paris, through London, and I was able to confirm into their Flagship first class suite. I thought that was a pretty good price for such a comfortable product.
What happens if the merger isn’t approved?
Here’s where there is a risk. I would hate to recommend something to people solely based on speculation. Even if the merger does go through the airline could say that any purchased EQMs will not count towards your status on American Airlines. In this case, spending that $3,000 would be a waste.
For now I would hold off a little bit longer until we get more details about the merger and until it’s officially approved. Once it does get approved this could be a good angle to reach Executive Platinum so I would mull it over for the next month or so until it’s safe to act on it.
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