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Speculation is running rampant that US Airways will join oneworld November 1. The most recent fanning of the flames came from a post on FlyerTalk purporting to rely on an internal memo to US Airways employees.

Then View From the Wing pointed to this article quoting J. Scott Kirby, US Airways’ president saying: “We plan to be fully transitioned to oneworld by the beginning of next year.”

I don’t know whether US Airways will join oneworld on November 1, December 31, or somewhere in between as part of its merger with American Airlines, but I can prepare for the transition which looks nearly certain to happen this year.

If November 1 is the date, the timing of this leak is ideal for stragglers who still haven’t gotten the US Airways Premier World MasterCard with 30,000 US Airways miles after first purchase.

Those stragglers have time to get the card once and maybe even twice if they hurry.

What does the switch to oneworld mean for you? How can you prepare?

What a Switch to oneworld Means

When US Airways switches to oneworld, its miles will no longer be redeemable on Star Alliance partners like United and Lufthansa and will instead be redeemable on oneworld partners like American and Cathay Pacific.

Any tickets booked before the transition on Star Alliance partners will be honored, but later changing those tickets could be thorny.

How Will the Integration Work?

There are a lot of ways the integration of the US Airways Dividend Miles program and American Airlines AAdvantage program could progress, and the possibilities have my head spinning.

Whatever the integration schedule is, the main thing from my perspective is that US Airways and American Airlines announce all changes with some lag time before the changes come into effect, so that in each case we can burn miles under the old system or new system, whichever is more favorable.

As long as we are given notice, there is no need to speculate or plan too much now.

In the short term, I expect some advantages to the combination of the programs for those of us with American and US Airways miles.

For instance, if there is any time period during which the miles were convertible 1:1 to the other type and both charts were still active like during the United/Continental merger, that would open up huge value.

Even more value would be created if there was convertibility while the airlines were in different alliances. Imagine moving your American miles to US Airways miles and booking Thai First Class or transferring US Airways miles to American to book Cathay Pacific First Class.

What Can We Do to Prepare

The key to being ready to maximize the integration from our perspective will be to stay on top of the changes (which I will be covering here, on Twitter, and on Facebook) and to have as many miles as possible in each program.

If the changes are to our short-term benefit, then we’ll need miles to take advantage. US Airways miles are doubly important to collect because our ability to earn them will disappear some time soon (not necessarily the same time US Airways enters oneworld.)

The best way to earn US Airways miles is the US Airways Premier World MasterCard which offers 30,000 US Airways miles after first purchase.

I have gotten the US Airways card and its sign up bonus twice as I described here. In addition to the sign up bonus, Barlcay’s is very aggressive about offering people 15k bonus miles to spend $750 per month on its cards three straight months, like the offer I just got for my Lufthansa card.

Full offer details:

  • Earn up to 40,000 bonus miles on qualifying transactions
  • EXCLUSIVE: Redeem flights for 5,000 fewer miles
  • Zone 2 boarding on every flight
  • Enjoy 2 miles per $1 spent on US Airways purchases
  • Earn 1 mile per $1 spent everywhere else
  • Annual companion certificate good for round-trip travel for up to 2 companions at $99 each, plus taxes and fees
  • First Class check-in
  • Please see terms and conditions for complete details

Application Link: Barclay’s US Airways Premier World MasterCard

Recap

US Airways is inching toward membership in oneworld, which would mean an end to redemptions on Star Alliance partners. As the US Airways-American Airlines merger progresses, I think there will be short term opportunities for those with the carriers’ miles.

If the end of US Airways Star Alliance partnership is November 1 or December 31 of this year, that should give everyone one final chance to get the US Airways card once or maybe even twice before it joins oneworld.

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