US Airways Changes Elite-Level Qualification Policy
||:: Late-Breaking News
(Posted: Aug 27, 2002)
Effective January 1, 2003, Dividend Miles members will not receive miles or segment credit toward Preferred (elite) status for tickets purchased in H, K, V, Q and L nonrefundable fare classes. Remarkably, this announcement comes at a time when most employers have asked employees to keep costs down and thus are buying more non-refundable tickets for business travel than ever before. While it is difficult to determine exactly how this change in policy will impact elite program members, we estimate that as many as 37% will not requalify in 2003 and, therefore, will not receive elite benefits in 2004.
It is not known if other airlines will follow, but frequent flyers have to wonder how US Airways will be able to maintain a solid frequent flyer reciprocal relationship with United Mileage Plus with such a difference between the two programs. In fact, the agreement between the two programs stated that parallel benefits would be offered to elite members of each program. And in weeks prior, both Continental and Delta have announced an end to the 'favors and waivers' practice. It may well be that this announcement from US Airways is yet the first to come.
It is far too soon to tell what may come of this news. You can be certain there will be a surge of backlash from a large segment of the current elite base of Dividend Miles. While some members will seek other airlines and other programs, by years end there may not be any easement to be found.
In the early 1990s, Continental made a huge change to its frequent flyer program, which was nearly as drastic as the current move by US Airways. Continental later rescinded that change. Stay tuned for more on the frequent flyer version of "Survivor."
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