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A lot of people on the US Airways Dividend Miles Flyertalk thread reported major issues yesterdays when they were unable to use US Airways miles to book awards on Star Alliance partners. Panic set in that US Airways had pushed up its exit date from Star Alliance to this week and that you would no longer be able to book Star Alliance Awards with Dividend miles at all, let alone next year.
With reader emails pouring in and panic rising, I did some research and phoned up US Airways to get to the bottom of this. It turns out they were having IT issues yesterday and could not see any partner award availability and so agents were just saying that there was none. However, as of 10pm ET last night, all their systems were up and running again except Lufthansa. They did not have an ETA on when Lufthansa would be bookable, but my guess is it should come back online today if it hasn’t already.
A peek at this Star Alliance Partner Award thread on Flyertalk revealed an interesting post from the KVS representative, explaining that the Sat Alliance StarNet datalink between the airlines was temporarily unavailable yesterday, which is why US Airways couldn’t see partner award availability, but everything should go back to normal now.
Just to double check, I decided to try booking a few partner awards for myself, and after about four successful attempts, it seemed like things were back on track. The specific examples I tried to book with US Airways were:
- Air Canada Vancouver-Los Angeles January 1-4, 2014 in Economy Class (successful)
- Air China Los Angeles-Beijing February 1-4, 2014 in Business Class (successful)
- Air New Zealand Auckland-Tokyo February 28-March 1, 2014 in Business Class (successful)
- Lufthansa New York (JFK) to Frankfurt February 1-4 in Business Class (unsuccessful since they were unable to load any Lufthansa flights)
So it does seem that this was indeed an IT issue doesn’t have anything to do with them leaving Star Alliance at this time, though we should all be preparing for that eventuality anyway since, despite the Department of Justice suit against US Airways’ merger with American, which could slow the merger timeline down, I still think we’ll see a transition sometime in 2014.
This was also another important reminder that airline programs can change in an instant with no formal notice to flyers – like Delta recently raising award levels on many of its routes out of the blue last week.
I know a lot of you are excited about the current 100% bonus on purchased US Airways miles that’s running through the end of the month – and I’ve purchased miles myself through it. If you’ve done so, or are still thinking of doing so, it looks like things will be fine, but I would caution you to book your awards sooner rather than later since there’s no definitive end date to US Airways’ membership in Star Alliance, and I certainly wouldn’t bank on buying US Airways miles and using them on Star Alliance awards past January 1. So if you’ve racked up the US Airways miles or bought some during this bonus and you were waiting to book a Star Alliance award using them, I would do so sooner rather than later so that you don’t miss out on the award that you want. Though the Business Gold Rewards card doesn’t have the benefits package of the more premium Business Platinum Card, it also doesn’t have that card’s $450 annual fee. In fact, the $175 annual fee on this one is waived the first year, so getting it is like a risk-free trial of its benefits plus it comes with appealing bonus spending categories like 3x on the category of choice and a range of 2x spending categories as well.
Though the Business Gold Rewards card doesn’t have the benefits package of the more premium Business Platinum Card, it also doesn’t have that card’s $450 annual fee. In fact, the $175 annual fee on this one is waived the first year, so getting it is like a risk-free trial of its benefits plus it comes with appealing bonus spending categories like 3x on the category of choice and a range of 2x spending categories as well.