Monday, November 9, 2009

U.S. Airways passengers: GoAwards is a bad deal for you.

U.S. Airways is touting a change in its frequent flyer program as one that provides "more flexibility and options when redeeming miles for award travel."

GoAwards, as the new program is called, replaces what was a two-tiered mileage redemption chart with a chart that has four tiers that vary based on travel volume for a given day. So far, so good--except GoAwards doesn't offer the lowest tier (Off-Peak) for flights within the United States and Canada, or between North America and Hawaii.

  • Flying exclusively within the U.S. and Canada? Today, it's either 25K for Saver or 50K for Standard. Under GoAwards, you'll need 25K for Low days, 40K for Medium days, or 60K for High days.

  • Looking for that trip to Hawaii? Saver awards are 35K and Standards are 70K. But GoAwards takes 40K on Low days, 65K on Medium days, and a whopping 90K on High days.
There are a few instances, such as travel from the U.S. to the Caribbean or Europe, where Off-Peak awards are listed for less than today's Saver awards, but let's be honest. There won't be many Off-Peak flights--and all of the Low awards are at least as high as the current Savers.

In other words, all of this "choice" talk is meant to camoflage the real purpose of the program, which is to basically guarantee that you'll need more miles to travel under GoAwards than you need today under the two-tiered system. (For comparison, just look at the current award chart.)

There's no news yet as to whether fellow Star Alliance airlines United and Continental will copy this model. But I doubt it, because angry elite passengers tend to go elsewhere.

And if they don't follow U.S. Airways' lead, I suggest that every U.S. Airways Dividend Miles elite member do exactly that: request reciprocal status in OnePass or Mileage Plus, and get more value for your miles.

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