US Airways PreferredAccess and ChoiceSeats: Worth the Cost?

by Brian on November 15, 2012

in Tips, US Airways

A US Airways A320

As a United Airlines Premier Silver elite member, I enjoy the ability to earn MileagePlus miles when flying US Airways thanks to the membership of both airlines in the Star Alliance. When I fly United, I have priority boarding and access to better seats in Economy Plus. Unfortunately, this benefit does not extend to travel on US Airways despite the airlines’ close partnership.

Previously, US Airways granted United elite members access to its better coach seats (ChoiceSeats) and offered priority boarding to all United elite levels. A few years ago, US Airways changed this policy. Perhaps it was because United does not offer US Airways elite members the ability to secure Economy Plus seats for free, either. In addition, United Premier Silver members no longer receive priority boarding on US Airways. United Premier Gold, Platinum, and 1K, however, are invited to board early with other Star Alliance Gold fliers.

So, being used to priority services, it’s a little disappointing to be stuck in boarding group 6 when flying US Airways. There are three solutions to this quandary: the US Airways Premier World MasterCard, US Airways PreferredAccess, and US Airways ChoiceSeats.

US Airways Premier World MasterCard

The first solution is to apply for the US Airways Premier World MasterCard®. Cardmembers are entitled to use First Class check-in and receive priority zone 2 boarding. In addition, the card currently offers a generous bonus of 30,000 miles with your first use of the card.  You’ll also earn up to 10,000 bonus miles with a balance transfer (1 mile per dollar transferred in the first 90 days), a free US Airways Club pass every year, and a certificate for up to 2 domestic companion tickets for $99 each. See TripBadger’s full review of the card here.

PreferredAccess

The second solution is to purchase US Airways’ PreferredAccess service. For only $10 during online check-in, the product lets you move up to zone 1 boarding (after Dividend Miles Preferred, Star Alliance Gold, and US Airways First/Envoy). You’re also given access to priority airport security lines at many US Airways airports. By buying your way into an earlier boarding group, you can ensure your ability to score prime space in the overhead bins for your carry-on bag and avoid paying checked baggage fees.

ChoiceSeats

The third option is to purchase a ChoiceSeat, which will move you up to zone 2 for boarding. ChoiceSeats vary in price depending on the route and length of the flight. They include window and aisle seats at the front of the coach cabin, as well as exit row seats.

TripBadger Recommendation

I’ve purchased both PreferredAccess and ChoiceSeats for recent US Airways flights. For only $10, PreferredAccess is a great deal. The ChoiceSeats, however, aren’t such a great value. They can be pricey ($30-50+) on top of your original ticket price. Unless you’re able to grab the bulkhead or exit row ChoiceSeats, I’m not sure it’s worth paying more for a similar cramped coach seat just to be toward the front of the coach cabin. United’s Economy Plus, by comparison, is a better deal because those seats actually have several more inches of legroom than United’s standard coach option. The US Airways Premier World MasterCard is the optimal choice if you’re seeking priority airport services and a way to build up your Dividend Miles account with everyday purchases.

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