MIAMI — American and US Airways rolled out significant changes in their frequent flier programs overnight on Monday.
The bulk of the changes surround the carrier’s frequent flier programs: AAdvantage for American (AA) and Dividend Miles for US Airways (US).
AAdvantage faces the most changes of the two, and has been expanded to include several new redemption categories. SAAver award tickets are now split into two levels of redemption, while AAnytime routes awards are expanding into three levels aptly named 1, 2, and 3.
The lowest tier redemptions will now cost less, 20,000 points, for a one way domestic ticket, depending on the time of year. Last seat availability will generally decrease to 30,000 per segment. Still, premium international fares generally all went up in level one, whereas level two saw increases in fares on all but three classes of service and destination.
Level three appears to be a set of mystery numbers tied to heavy travel days. The carrier specifically notes days such as the Sunday after Thanksgiving will now cost members at least 50,000 miles one way, but does not provide additional information.
Dividend Miles members will see slightly less changes. For starters, they will be able to redeem miles without blackout dates, but like with AAdvantage it’ll cost more miles than any other days. Also like AA’s program, Dividend will see increases in redemption levels to four domestically and five internationally.
The changes go into effect immediately for all travel beginning on June 1, 2014. Notably, the carrier did not opt to mirror Delta’s huge frequent flier program overhaul in February, when it decided to peg miles earned to amount paid for the fare.
Changes extend beyond mileage and redemption, however. Bag fees will also see changes. The carrier’s will offer two free checked bags on flights to South America and trans-Pacific. Mexico will see the first checked bag for a fee, while trans-Atlantic flights are now covered under an ambiguous “match or beat Delta/United pricing” category.
Members of the frequent flier programs will also see changes to bags. High tier members will receive three free checked bags, two for middle tier, and one for the lowest tier. That represents a loss for AAdvantage Gold and Dividen Miles Platinum and Gold members. The carrier additionally stated it would no longer offer free checked bags to customers on AAnytime awards or full fare economy tickets. The new fees will take effect on April 8th for AA, and April 23rd for US.
Ticketing will be more expensive, with international ticketing now being subjected to a slightly higher, unknown fee. Unaccompanied minors will now cost you $150 plus tax each way, plus the fare.
On a more positive note, changes will also be rolled out on board the aircraft to more closely align experiences between AA and US. Starting April 1st, first class meal service will be extended to all US flights over 1,000 miles or 2.75 hours, down from the previous 3.5 hour or longer flights. A bit more class will be added as well, as the meals will be accompanied by glassware and linens.
On the entertainment side, US Airways A330 international flights will see a wider selection of in seat entertainment. For those traveling in first or business on board a US Airways 757 or 767 aircraft a Samsung tablet with Bose headsets will be available, replacing the former Archos device.