American and US Airways Open Standard and AAnytime Awards
We've known for a while now that American Airlines and US Airways plan to merge their AAdvantage and Dividend Miles programs in the second quarter of 2015. You could already book saver awards on both airlines using miles from either program (like with most partner airlines). However, it now looks like you can book higher-level American AAnytime awards using US Airways miles and US Airways Standard awards using American Airlines miles.
That’s good news for flyers who have a ton of miles and just want to book the awards they want when they want, unbeholden to saver-level availability. Standard awards used to cost double the amount of saver awards for most airline programs, but American changed its mileage redemption levels back in April.
Now there are five tiers, though practically there are just three tiers for most awards on AA/US. Domestic MileSAAver awards are just 12,500 miles each way in economy and 25,000 miles in business/first. There are two AAnytime award levels: 20,000 and 30,000 miles each way in economy, and 45,000-55,000 in business/first.
What’s new is that AA.com is pricing out US Airways awards with these levels now, whereas those flights were previously available at the SAAver level only. The calendar below shows availability for US Airways flights from Los Angeles to Charlotte.
And here is one of the legs priced out in economy.
Here it is priced out in first class.
Theoretically, US Airways will be pricing out higher-level awards on American as well at the same levels, but there appears to be a glitch with its site at the moment, so stay tuned for that to be fixed.
American Waiving Phone Booking Fees
The other bit of good news is that American has announced it will now waive award ticketing service charges for bookings that cannot be made on AA.com. Currently, you can only book American, US Airways, Air Berlin, Alaska, British Airways, Finnair, Hawaiian, Qantas and Royal Jordanian awards on American’s site, so this will waive the fees for other partner awards as well.
Note that on February 16, AA will begin charging higher phone ticketing service fees of $30 for domestic itineraries and $40 for international itineraries that can be booked online.