After 7 years of elite status with USAiways, it’s time say adios! Now, who will match my status?
I have a love-hate relationship with USAirways. I’ve had Chairman status w/USAirways for 5 of the past 7 years (the other two years I hit Platinum).
I went with USAirways because I love to traveling to South East Asia/Oceania for vacation and I find that USAir has the most liberal awards on partner airlines. For example, four years ago I flew first class on Singapore and Thai t0 Thailand for 120k round-trip (my friend traveled a different route using her United miles and paid 140k miles for business class to Thailand), this year I flew to Australia for 120k round-trip in first on Thai & Lufthansa.
I know what you’re thinking – USAirways has the worst planes. Yes, that’s mostly true. However, they have begun to add business class to their regional jets and their Envoy class to Europe, South America and the Middle East isn’t too bad. When I’m flying domestically, it’s usually for quick trips and since I’m based in Charleston, SC, 90% of the my flights are on RJs. All of my friends complain about the lack of entertainment system on USAir’s planes – I’ve got a laptop, an iPad and 2 iPhones – I’ve got plenty of entertainment options.
I typically have had great experiences with USAirways flight crews. Yes, occasionally I encounter a flight attendant whose having a really bad day and taking it out on everyone – but for the most part, the crews are pleasant and helpful. I had amazing service on a recent flight from Philly to Brussels as I noted in my flight report.
I’m pretty sure that USAirways has the worst elite benefits of any program. Their benefit of 2 system wide upgrade certificates for their elite Chairman status is probably worst in the industry. American Airlines provides 8 system wide upgrades for their Executive Platinum members. Delta provides their Platinum members with 4 certificates and Diamond members with 6 certificates. They don’t offer complimentary upgrades to Europe or the Middle East either. You can’t book 1-way award travel and you can’ t change your award travel once travel has commenced. While they offer unlimited upgrades domestically (including Hawaii) unless your a Chairman, you’re not likely to have a very high upgrade % annually (this is a statistic US provides you each year as a member) last year I had 90% while some Platinum and and Gold members reported having around 50% success with upgrades.
Now this is where USAir loses me – their customer service representatives are awful. As a Chairman I have special number to call to reach a Chairman’s liaison. Sometimes they’re helpful – sometimes they’re extremely helpful, sometimes their not – it’s really hit or miss.
Today I had an agent who questioned whether United was part of the Star Alliance. Really? After checking with her supervisor, she came back and confirmed for me that United was in fact part of the Star Alliance. Thank god she confirmed that! I hope it was her first day. However, I wasn’t calling to confirm what alliance United was part of and, in the end, she never solved my problem. I resorted to calling back and got an agent who couldn’t solve the problem, but was very apologetic and seemed knowledgeable (the problem: trying to book a Star Alliance Upgrade on USAir’s website using USAirways miles for a United flight – United is not an option in the drop down of Star Alliance Airline partners. The outcome: no one really knows why it’s missing – their assumption is the recent United/Continental merger and they suggested trying again in a few days….then, lucky me…call back if it’s still missing.)
Nine times out of ten I hang up from USAirways telephone customer service frustrated and ready to strangle someone. I’m also sorry to report that I typically feel just as frustrated when dealing with agents at USAirways baggage claim offices. I’m so tired of dealing with less-than-knowledgeable agents who don’t really seem to care.
So where does this leave me? 99% of my travel in 2012 and 2013 will be international to Europe, South East Asia and Australia. USAir is not a great option for me anymore and I’m feeling less and less loyalty to them every day. I currently have about 250,000 ff miles – which I can use for award travel on a star alliance partner airline. The bigger problem is that I’ve already earned 25,000 miles towards 2013 status with USAir – I should have been smarter and had those credited to my United Account.
I have a Chase Sapphire Preferred Credit Card – so United is a natural option. But here’s the problem. United won’t match my USAir status since they’re both Star Alliance members. That leaves American Airlines or British Airways – Chase transfers to British and they’re both OneWorld. Then there’s Delta – part of SkyTeam – and Chase transfers miles to Korean Airlines. Such a dilemma.
I’ve applied for a status match – not challenge – with Delta (corporate program) and American Airlines (I know they typically do challenges, but it doesn’t hurt to ask! After all, they’re in bankruptcy and could probably use a dedicated frequent flyer like myself.) We’ll see what happens!
What do you think? SkyTeam or OneWorld? Will anyone match my status outright or will I have to do a challenge? And, is there any way to get status on United this year??