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Today marks a huge step forward for the integration of American Airlines and US Airways, which have already legally merged. (See integration time line here.)

Today you can use your American Airlines miles to book awards that include flights on US Airways.

You can also use your US Airways miles to book awards that include flights on American Airlines planes.

Even better: space on both airlines is now showing on both aa.com and usairways.com.

The American Airlines AAdvantage program and US Airways Dividend Miles programs are very different. Each has strengths and weaknesses, so some awards will be better booked (or can only possibly be booked) with one type of miles or the other.

Keep reading for five times to use American Airlines miles, three times to use US Airways miles, my favorite new booking possibilities, and FAQ about today’s news!

When to Use American Airlines Miles

Use your American Airlines miles to book an itinerary that includes any combination of American Airlines flights, US Airways flights, oneworld partner flights, and flights on other partners of American Airlines whenever:

1. You want to book an award that includes oneworld (or other AA) partners.

You still cannot use US Airways miles to book Cathay Pacific First Class because Cathay Pacific is in oneworld and US Airways is still in the Star Alliance.

But you can use American Airlines miles to book an award that combines a US Airways flight and a oneworld flight. For instance, this award combines a US Airways flight and an airberlin flight on a Charlotte to Berlin itinerary.

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2. You want to book a one way award.

You can book a one way award for half the price of a roundtrip award with American Airlines miles. Awards booked with US Airways miles will continue to cost the roundtrip price even if you only want one way.

If you want to book an award seat on a US Airways Charlotte to New York flight one way, that would cost 12,500 American Airlines or 25,000 US Airways miles.

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3. You want to take advantage of American Airlines off peak awards.

American Airlines has incredible off peak economy award prices to:

  • Hawaii (17.5k)
  • the Caribbean (12.5k)
  • Mexico (12.5k)
  • Central America (15k)
  • Southern South America (20k)
  • Europe (20k)
  • Japan, Korea, Mongolia (25k)

Only the bolded off peak prices above are bookable with American Airlines miles on US Airways flights. Off peak pricing to the Caribbean, Mexico, and Central America is only valid on American Airlines metal.

For instance, Phoenix to Mexico City in mid-September is 12,500 American Airlines miles on American Airlines flights or 17,500 American Airlines miles on the direct US Airways flight.

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These off peak awards are one of the best reasons to use American Airlines miles to book US Airways flights!

American Airlines’ off peak period from the US to Europe is October 15 – May 15. A mid-April award from Philadelphia to Madrid on US Airways flights would cost 60k US Airways miles, but only 40k American Airlines miles!

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I can’t wait to book some US Airways flights at American Airlines off peak prices!

4. To take advantage of any place the American Airlines award chart is cheaper.

Other than off peak awards and one way awards, this is pretty rare. US Airways generally has the better award chart. But check the Comparison Table of United, US Airways, Delta, and American Airlines Award Charts to see where each is cheaper.

Awards that jump out at me as cheaper with American Airlines miles:

  • Australia, New Zealand, Southeast Asia in economy
  • Southeast Asia in Business Class
  • Southeast Asia in First Class

Neither airline flies to any of those places, so when deciding how to get to these places, you’ll mainly be deciding which airline’s alliance has better award space.

5. To take advantage of better American Airlines award rules.

  1. US Airways charges a $25+ fee for all award bookings including a $50 fee for international/Hawaii awards. American Airlines doesn’t charge any award booking fee. (They do charge for booking over the phone or within 21 days of departure, but so does US Airways.)
  2. American Airlines allows changes to your award even if you’ve flown the outbound. US Airways allows no changes once travel begins.
  3. American allows two stopovers per roundtrip, though they have to be at the North American International Gateway City. US Airways allows one.

When to Use US Airways Miles

Use your US Airways miles to book an itinerary that includes any combination of American Airlines flights, US Airways flights, and Star Alliance partner flights whenever:

1. You want to book an award that includes Star Alliance partners.

[Note update! You cannot combine AA flights with Star Alliance partners.]

You still cannot use American Airlines miles to book Thai First Class because Thai Airways is in the Star Alliance, and American Airlines is in oneworld.

You cannot even combine American Airlines flights with Star Alliance flights and book the award with US Airways miles.

Per the chart on usairways.com for travel on American Airlines:

“Award travel must be wholly on American Airlines or a combination of American Airlines and US Airways. American Airlines awards cannot be combined with any of our current partners.”

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2. To take advantage of any place the US Airways award chart is cheaper.

This is frequent. The US Airways award chart is awesome! Check the Comparison Table of United, US Airways, Delta, and American Airlines Award Charts to see where each is cheaper.

Awards that jump out at me as cheaper with US Airways miles:

  • China in economy
  • China and Korea in Business Class or First Class

American flies to both countries with great award space! Why pay 70k/110k/135k American Airlines miles roundtrip to China in economy/business/first when you can pay 60k/90k/120k US Airways miles on the same flights!

Here are some screen shots of American’s Chicago to Shanghai Business Class award space on usairways.com. (Do note that usairways.com is calling Business Class space “First” on the flight selection screen, but not on the calendar screen. I’m sure that’s just a mistake.)

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3. To take advantage of better US Airways award rules.

  1. US Airways allows a stopover anywhere en route. (Some agents say it has to be a Star Alliance hub city.)
  2. US Airways allows pretty much any routing you want. Agents–not computers–enforce routing “rules.”

FAQ About Booking American Airlines and US Airways Award Space with Both Types of Miles

Why is aa.com not showing the Medium award space I see on usairways.com? Why is usairways.com not showing the AAnytime award space I see on aa.com?

As always, airlines only have access to their partners’ “saver” award space, regardless of what that’s called.

American Airlines calls its saver space “MileSAAver.” USAIRWAYS.com will only display space on American Airlines flights that have MileSAAver space.

US Airways calls its saver space “low.” AA.com will only display space on US Airways flights that have low space.

Can I book space on US Airways flights with Avios? Can I book American Airlines flights with United miles?

No, neither airline changed alliances today, so there is no other change to which airlines can book American Airlines and US Airways award space today.

On March 31, 2014, US Airways will join oneworld. US Airways award space should be bookable with Avios that day.

Can I book American Airlines flights at US Airways off peak rates with US Airways miles?

No, US Airways off peak rates are still reserved for US Airways flights only.

For instance, economy awards on US Airways flights from the US to Europe from January 15 – February 28 this year will cost only 35k US Airways miles roundtrip (only 30k if you have the US Airways Premier World MasterCard.) That’s a great off peak discount.

But economy awards on American Airlines flights from the US to Europe from January 15 – February 28 this year will cost 60k US Airways miles roundtrip. This is the same amount that all partner awards to Europe cost all year round.

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Can I transfer miles from my US Airways account to my American Airlines account or vice versa?

No.

Or should I say “not yet”? I am really hoping we get to transfer miles freely at some point in the integration. We can’t for now, and we haven’t heard anything about whether we’ll ever be able to. During the United/Continental integration, miles were transferable from one program to the other for a while, and then eventually, miles were combined by force.

Recap

Great news today! As the integration of American Airlines and US Airways continues, you can now use either type of miles to book awards on either airline’s flights.

As integration continues apace, it’s one more reminder that the US Airways Premier World MasterCard with 30,000 US Airways miles after first purchase will disappear soon. (Also see yesterday’s post for more predictions about its disappearance.) Get the card before it’s too late to get the bonus miles.

Earn 60,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. That's $750 when you redeem through Chase Ultimate Rewards®.

Just getting started in the world of points and miles? The Chase Sapphire Preferred is the best card for you to start with.

With a bonus of 60,000 points after $4,000 spend in the first 3 months, 5x points on travel booked through the Chase Travel Portal and 3x points on restaurants, streaming services, and online groceries (excluding Target, Walmart, and wholesale clubs), this card truly cannot be beat for getting started!


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