Elite promotions are always a double-edged sword.
From the airlines' standpoint, more elite members means more customers with an extra-compelling reason to fly. And more perks translates into more loyalty, which in turn translates into more ticket revenue.
For travelers who stand to qualify for elite status as a result of the extra miles or easier qualification requirements, elite promotions mean an easier route to upgrades and other elite benefits.
So far, it's win-win.
But for program members who already hold elite status, opening the door to more elite members means a dilution of the benefits they earned the hard way. In particular, there are a limited number of elite upgrades to go around, so more competition means everyone gets somewhat less.
It is because of the potential to degrade the experience of existing elites—disgruntling their best customers and jeopardizing their future loyalty—that airlines are generally reluctant to make elite status easier to attain.
Nevertheless, US Airways has opened the door wide, at least on a limited-time basis, to new elites.
US Airways is awarding trial Silver Preferred status for 90 days to Dividend Miles members who register by August 15 and purchase a nonrefundable ticket for travel beginning by September 15.
Qualifying tickets must be purchased on usairways.com for travel on US Airways or US Airways Express within the U.S.
Elite status will be extended for the rest of the year if you fly the required miles or segments during the 90-day trial period.
Not eligible for this offer: "Members who have been granted Preferred status as a result of having elite status in another airline's program in the last 24 months; members who did not requalify for the same Preferred status in 2010 as 2009; members who have participated in US Airways Preferred trial program any time in the last 24 months."
Deal or No Deal
If you already plan on taking a domestic flight on US Airways over the summer, you can easily justify signing up for this on the basis of the elite perks for the qualifying flight alone—checked bag-fee waiver, priority check-in and boarding, and an upgrade (not likely) or Preferred seat (more likely).
Is this offer enough to warrant switching from another carrier to US Airways? There's no easy answer to that question—there are too many factors to consider. But it is worth considering.
Reader Reality Check
If you're already a US Airways elite, how do feel about this promotion?
If you're not a US Airways elite, is this offer enough reason to fly US Airways, if only to qualify for the trial?