There is a big day coming for both US Airways and Southwest Airlines. That “special” day is March 31st. Big changes are coming on that day for both airlines and they present me with an interesting problem.
March 31, 2014
On March 31st, major changes will happen for both US Airways and Southwest Airlines. Here is the breakdown.
March 31 is the last day to book Southwest award flights at the current value per points. After that, the value of the points will drop from 1.67 cents per point (actually a bit more with the taxes that are covered) to 1.4 cents per point. That takes the value of 50,000 points (the current bonus on the Southwest cards) from $833 to $715.
The good part about Southwest is that you can cancel award flights up to 10 minutes before the flight and get all of your points back in your account. That means that you can go ahead and book all the award flights you can through the end of their schedule and still cancel them after the devaluation. So, the time to book is now through March 31.
March 31 marks the day that US Airways leaves the Star Alliance and joins the Oneworld Alliance. It is supposed to happen one right after the other. Once US Airways is a part of the Oneworld Alliance, you should be able to use British Airways Avios to book flights on US Airways. Whether that will happen instantly cannot be said yet. It should, but it may not be properly loaded into the system right away.
So, those super-valuable British Airways Avios redemptions for short-haul flights (award tickets under 650 miles one-way only require 9,000 Avios round-trip) will be able to be used for all short-haul US Airway flights (without having to pay the annoying award processing fee that US Airways charges).
So, here is my situation. Our family is making plans to head down to Washington DC for a day and night while we are back in the US. The kids have been learning about a lot of our history/monuments/etc and would love to check those sites out for themselves. Both US Airways and Southwest Airlines offer non-stop, short-haul flights to the Washington DC area (Southwest to Baltimore and US Airways to Reagan National). Our primary choice would be to fly US Airways since the times work better and Reagan is the closest airport to downtown DC. However, Southwest would be fine as well (sure beats driving down!).
What is my problem? Well, we have a Southwest Companion Pass and enough points to count for one ticket (plus the companion pass). In addition, we also will be getting the 2,000 Southwest points for each of our kids. That means we will need an additional 19,000 points for all of our tickets. We have enough Ultimate Reward points (which transfer at 1:1) to make up that difference, so we are ok for that.
On the British Airways/US Airways end, we have enough Avios in an account to cover two of the tickets. Again, we have enough Ultimate Reward points to make up the difference. The problem is that we do not want to transfer points into both accounts since we will not have a use for the other account for a while (if that makes sense).
This means that I will have an extremely slim window in which to transfer and book my tickets. Fortunately, I should have a 24 hour window to do it since US Airways is joining Oneworld while rates are still the same for Southwest. Not sure what I will do if US Airways is not bookable right away with Avios, hopefully it works out right.
Anyone else dealing with something similar heading into these program changes?