US Airways adds fees for upgrades

As part of the revamp of their Divided Miles program scheduled to take effect in 2012 US Airways has announced new fees – in addition to the miles required – for upgrades on flights. The upgrade fees will apply to all flights, not just their Envoy long-haul product and the rates are based on the length of the flight.


The good news here is that they are also cutting the miles required in many cases, making the overall upgrade proposition slightly better on the shorter flights. But for anything over 1500 miles or outside of the Continental US and Canada the numbers are not attractive at all.

The fees are waived for all Dividend Miles Preferred members or passengers on Y/B fares.

In addition to the new fees US Airways also announced a couple cuts to their Silver Preferred status level. Those passengers will only be able to check one bag for free going forward, matching a policy change first made by United Airlines a few weeks back and also recently matched by Delta. And the company changed their "quick ticketing fee" cutoff for award reservations from 14 days to 21 days, with a charge of $75 for that service. Silver Preferred members will not be exempt from that fee, though Gold and higher will be.

All in all, a whole lot of downgrades for the Dividend Miles program, though it still isn’t the worst out there by a long ways.

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Seth Miller

I'm Seth, also known as the Wandering Aramean. I was bit by the travel bug 30 years ago and there's no sign of a cure. I fly ~200,000 miles annually; these are my stories. You can connect with me on Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn.


  1. Eh. It’s still decent for the elites. Award processing and quick ticketing fees for elites are gone, according to my email.

  2. How is this “a whole lot of downgrades”?

    The varying mileage levels can be considered a big upgrade for elites…the only “downgrade” as far as the upgrades go are for non-preferred members who were using miles to upgrade on flights 2000+ miles.

    As you said, the Silver benefits are now aligned with UA/DL…sure it’s a downgrade from where it is today, but it’s not much of one.

    If anything I’d say these changes are fairly neutral…maybe you could argue “a slight net negative change,” but not “a whole lot of downgrades.”

    1. It is a minor improvement if you are using points to upgrade on very short flights. Then again, if you’re doing that I think you’re probably not getting much value for the points anyways. The fees for longer flights, as well as the Caribbean/Mexico network suck. And the silver benefits downgrade is aligned with DL/UA, but it is still a downgrade. I just don’t see enough positive in the cheaper upgrades on short routes to offset that.

  3. I guess I’m looking at it as a US elite who doesn’t have to pay the co-pays. The fact that I can book a long-ish flight like CLT-DEN for only 7,500 miles or a transcon like PHL-SFO for 10,000 is a 50% and 33% reduction in miles from the old model, respectively. And in terms of something like Hawaii, I’m not even sure you could use miles to upgrade previously (I feel like you had to either book an award flight outright, or use an upgrade instrument…but I’m not positive on that)–but even so, to have some of the longest flights in the domestic system remain at the mileage level that ANY flight was previously, doesn’t seem too bad to me.

    I agree that from a non-elite perspective, the co-pays for longer flights and Mexico/Caribbean/etc suck.

  4. I meant to add that the potential downside to this (in fact I’d be shocked if this didn’t happen) is that UDU availability on longer flights will shrink as a result of it being cheaper for elites to confirm an upgrade on these long flights.

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