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Should I Buy Up to US Airways Chairman Status to Convert to AA Executive Platinum After the Merger?

by on August 4, 2013 · 28 comments

in American, Sunday Reader Questions, US Airways, Video Blog Post

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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.

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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.

Screen Shot 2013-08-02 at 2.14.22 PM

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.

My lie-flat Business seat on the way to Beijing.

My lie-flat Business seat on the way to Beijing.

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.

For more information, see these posts:

Rumor: US Airways Joining Oneworld – Book Awards Sooner Than Later

Official American Airlines US Airways Merger Announcement and What It Means For Consumers

Top 10 Potential Positive and Negative Changes of the US Airways American Merger

Maximizing A Potential US Airways American Airlines Merger

How To Prepare for a US Airways AA Merger

American and US Airways Board Approve Merger – The Potential Winners and Losers

Disclaimer: The responses below are not provided or commissioned by the bank advertiser. Responses have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the bank advertiser. It is not the bank advertiser's responsibility to ensure all posts and/or questions are answered.

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  • traderprofit

    I purchased Chairman’s last year just for the bennies since going from Vegas through Phoenix , while requiring a change, isn’t a big deal. The only n/s’s out of Vegas are CLT,PHX, PH, and DCA. The benefits are worth the price even if the don’t merge or convert to AMR. For a full year you get space available upgrades (supposedly staring 7 days out but it’ more like 4 days), are the first in line to be upgraded—it’s automated several times daily. PLUS, you get a companion upgraded….and this includes trips to the Caribbean.
    In addition, you get two guaranteed system-wide upgrades in J (J isn’t what you are thinking on US Air–it’s only published availability on KVS is PHL-TLV). Sure , it’s an upgrade to envoy sleeper on the right routes…..and you can buy the CHEAPEST coach ticket. You do have to call to play around with dates depending where you want to go, and they tell you its a system wide upgrade for one person roundtrip, but in reality it includes a companion.
    I’m a big guy so being up front even on domestic is a big deal, and I have only missed an upgrade once, from LAS-PHX when I booked close in. I think it would be 100% otherwise. I am about to find out on my US Air to phlx

  • Greg

    What is considered a qualifying mile? Are there options other than flight miles?

  • Dov

    when u buy up to Charmain’s (or lower level) do u get 100k redeemable miles in you DM account

  • Poley King

    You are buying the status only

  • Chet

    Additionally, if I were to buy Chairman’s level, would I retain this status or equivalent when the merger is completed?
    Also, what happens to the miles I would have bought, would they come over?

  • traderprofit

    nope, its worth it for me cause I refuse to fly coach under any circumstances over 1:30

  • traderprofit

    just got my Philly upgrade notice. Like I said, it’s not 7 days in advance, it’s 4. So, they really are lying

  • sfomsp

    Only 2 system wide upgrades. That’s the scary part.

    If new AA ‘harmonizes’ with US and offers only say 4 systemwides for 100k status, then the value decreases significantly.

  • Chet

    You don’t get the 100K miles, only the status?

  • zach

    Without straying too far off topic, if they decide to maintain 4 tiers of elite levels would they differentiate those who truly qualified for CP vs those who just bought the status? As an EXP who worked the hard way to achieve and requal, that would kind of irritate me.

    In some aspects, I wish that this wouldn’t translate over to the combined FF program. But if it has to, I hope they are smart enough to recognize those who bought the status vs those who truly qualified for it and take those, in a four tier program down a level.

  • Archon1995

    @Chet: I can’t see where your status wouldn’t convert to the equivalent in the merged program. Of course, the equivalent in the merged program may not be top tier depending on the new requirements…

    As for purchased miles, we need to wait for how they implement the program merger. You won’t lose them. But if US joins OW before the programs are merged you’d need to use them separately from any AA miles until the programs are merged; just like with any other OW alliance partner. I expect that we will have the option to transfer/consolidate miles to the new program at some point, but it’s not guaranteed.

    Personally, I am buying Trial Platinum and doing ~31k US BIS miles to secure CP and also earn ~54k RDMs towards a family trip in the spring.

  • Drock

    Purchased status is only through Feb 2014

  • jack

    This may be slightly off topic, but if I have flights booked for US in late 2013/early 2014, but I have them crediting miles to my UA account, will those flights still be credited after I fly? Or do I need to actually fly before US leaves star alliance?

  • thepointsguy

    You need to fly before US leaves Star. They will post dates when the last eligible flights can be flown- doesn’t matter when the ticket was purchased

  • thepointsguy

    You generally get elite qualifying miles from flying.. but also from some credit cards http://thepointsguy.com/2012/11/travel-tuesday-top-10-ways-to-boost-your-elite-status-miles/

  • thepointsguy

    I doubt they would differentiate a “real” vs “fake” elite.

  • thepointsguy

    If the merger happens, they will consolidate US and AA’s frequent flyer programs so you will (most likely) transfer both into one account- including purchased/redeemable miles.

  • thepointsguy

    Nope..they are just elite miles, not redeemable

  • zach

    I know. I was just hoping for some good news out of this merger. I didn’t actually mind when AA allowed some DMs and 1K/GS folks to match to EXP, because you still have to work for it. I have a bi-weekly chiropractor appt for all of the BIS miles I have accrued over the last few years. 627,000+ miles in the last 3 years vs someone who has a few thousand dollars to spare is a little disheartening.

  • mczapata

    That doesn’t make much sense. Besides, as somebody else pointed out, the preferred level lasts only until end of February 2014. The actual merger is expected to be not earlier than summer next year, and at that point you are no longer Chairman. The fact that US Airways may join Oneworld early 2014, does not mean the actual airlines or the programs will be merged then. Pointless unless at least I get 100k miles, IMHO.

  • toomanybooks

    You made Instapundit!

  • Andrew

    Yes.. U can’t redeem those 100K miles for award travel.

  • matt

    I am lifetime American Airlines platinum after many years of travel. How do I get to Executive Platinum? Will my miles convert over and will they maintain their value?

  • alohasteve

    Video: Has a piece of Jesus Cross been found in Turkey?

    http://www.commoncts.blogspot.com/2013/08/video-piece-of-jesus-cross-found.html

  • Poley King

    Exactly, most of the time its a waste of money

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  • arun21

    Just in… AMR-US Airways deal to be subject of US Antitrust suit

  • rj

    “With these upgrades you can buy the cheapest coach fare to Beijing, which iswhat I did last year, and if there’s availability you can instantly confirm into business class with no co-pay.

    I think you should clarify this as “if there is award availability”. I don’t know if the rules are different for ExPlatinums but as a mere AA Platinum I received 4 EVIP certificates (when I reached 2 million miles) and tried to use these to upgrade an early December trip to Paris (pretty much off-peak) and could not get an upgrade even though I booked 2 months in advance.

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