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US Airways and American Airlines have merged since the publication of this post so it is no longer valid.

I received an email from Award Wallet saying a US Airways award I had booked had a schedule change. Nine months ago I booked an economy award from LAX to Richmond roundtrip with US Airways miles over Thanksgiving weekend.

The change to my award was minor, one flight was leaving thirty minutes earlier, but it made another itinerary slightly shorter. I decided to test whether US Airways would let me switch my award flight to the shorter itinerary.

Both my booked itinerary and the one I wanted to change to were flights operated by United.

The new itinerary I wanted did not have any low-level award space according to united.com. That meant it would not ordinarily be bookable with US Airways miles.

But I wanted to see what was possible.

I called US Airways at 800-428-4322 to make the change. I explained that my award’s schedule had been changed, and “the new times don’t work for me.”

The agent  was understanding and said she’d search to see what was available for me to change to. She reported there was nothing I could change to that day.

I asked her to search for the exact United flights I wanted, and she said no seat was available.

I complained that the schedule change had negatively impacted me, so I should be able to change for free to a different flight. She sympathized but said she couldn’t get me a seat on the United flights I wanted.

She offered me a full refund of the miles, taxes, and fees I had originally paid. She said the refund would have to be a total refund, and I would have to cancel both the outbound and return. This fits with the fact that US Airways awards have to be booked as roundtrips and not oneways.

I declined and hung up. I knew that it was a longshot that US Airways would be able to change my award to United flights that did not have saver availability. I wanted to test whether I could change to any US Airways flights I wanted.

I repeated my process of calling to complain about the schedule change. The agent was again sympathetic, but she said she couldn’t find any other flights to change me to that day. I inquired about a specific LAX to Richmond routing through Charlotte.

She informed me that I couldn’t change to that routing because it was at the medium 40k miles price instead of the low 25k price of my award.

I stepped up my insistence. I said, “I know there are seats available for purchase on the flights I want. Because of the schedule change imposed on me by US Airways, I would like to switch to a schedule that works for me.”

She put me on hold and went to a supervisor. She came back with the bad news that she couldn’t change my flight since my desired itinerary did not have low-level availability.

She made me the same offer of a free cancellation, which I declined.

Recap

Even minor changes can allow you to make a free change or cancellation of an existing US Airways award. If you want to make the change, though, you need to change to a flight that has the same level availability as your original award.

Unless you can sweet talk better than I can, US Airways is pretty firm in their change requirements.

 

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