Wise Flyer – December, 18 2014

Wise Flyer – December, 18 2014

I have about 170,000 miles with US Airways. I need to find some way of getting my wife and myself back to the U.S. from the U.K. next May.

I understand that US Airways does not offer one-way flights using frequent flyer miles. Any suggestions you have would be most welcome.
Marcel Bissonnette

This is a tricky one to answer, not because it’s not possible, but because of the timing and unknown award availability. Here’s why: American Airlines has announced that their two loyalty programs will “… combine in the second quarter of 2015.” As you and I know, the second quarter starts April 1, and the month of May is within that quarter. And as you know, Dividend Miles is merging with AAdvantage. With nerves as strong as steel, one could surmise that it is possible with all the luck of the Irish to have these two programs merged in time for your Dividend Miles to be converted into AAdvantage miles and AAdvantage offers one-way awards. If the programs merge in time, then you would need the luck of winning Mega Millions and Powerball on the same day to be able to book a one-way award within days or likely no more than a few weeks before departure. The problem here is no apparent Plan B. What if … the two programs are not merged in time; what if … there is no award availability on the date for which you are trying to redeem miles; what if … oil rises to $120 a barrel and last-minute airfares are $2,800 one-way in coach? These are all possible and realistic scenarios.

These unknowns call for a Plan A. There are three of them:

1) Scrounge around your other loyalty accounts in the hopes of merging hotel points with any other airline miles that might allow a one-way award–and don’t forget American Express Membership Rewards points.

2) Use the Ben Franklin option. Sorry to say … cash is king in your situation.

3) Fade back and use the “winky, winky” option. Airlines frown on these situations and for reasons that they can violate their membership rules. We do respect that. But in this case, you are not trying to monetize your loyalty, which these rules can conflict with. What I’m referring to is soliciting family, friends and fellows well-known to you who are frequent flyers to see if any of them would like to offer a “payday loan” of American AAdvantage miles to you without interest. What they would do is redeem the necessary miles you need for one-way awards in both your wife’s and your names. And then at some date later than the “second quarter of 2015” when they have a need to redeem miles for an award, you would reciprocate and claim awards out of your new American AAdvantage account for their use, fully repaying the “payday loan”–but with no financial gain/loss or any other favors being extended. It was just a mile for a mile “winky, winky” event brought on by the fact that while US Airways employees now are paid by American Airlines and their benefits are part of American Airlines, loyalty members must wait on technology and other factors to have the same equal treatment from the new American Airlines. Again, we are reticent to offer this as advice, but it is a reasonable interpretation of the timing of events and would not be done in any manner to enrich either you or anyone you may know. It’s just an advance of American AAdvantage miles that you will soon have after the two programs fully merge.

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