On September 14th, I called US Airways and signed up for their Trial Preferred program. While their Grand Slam promotion certainly led me to wait until 9/14 to make the call, the truth is that my decision wasn’t all about getting a “hit” in the Grand Slam. If you’ve been reading, you know that I’ve been debating some kind of move from United to US Airways for a while. On the face of it, I know that seems a little bit questionable, but the truth is that I find myself on more US flights than UA flights, I’m primarily a domestic US traveler, and further, I’m primarily an east coast traveler. Top that off with the fact that I’m a 15 minute cab ride to/from DCA on a busy day, and I think you can see where I’m heading with this. For me, US Airways, warts and all, makes sense.

For sure, I could continue to fly US and credit my miles to United, and there may be some circumstances where I do just that. But I can no longer ignore the compelling option that US Airways has become for someone who lives so close to DCA and flies up and down the east coast a lot. I appreciate early boarding afforded a Star Alliance Gold traveling on US, but I could be sitting in First Class. OK, stop laughing. I know US domestic first isn’t all that fabulous, but if it’s complimentary, why not take it?!?! Obviously, it’s about more than first class upgrades to US Airways’ not quite more than average domestic first product. Simply put, I think that the airline I spend the most time on is the one where I should hold status. And starting September 14th, that’s exactly what I’m going to do.

There are 3 options for trial preferred, Silver for $200 dollars, Gold for $400 dollars, and Platinum for $600 dollars. Given that I’m Premier Executive (Star Gold) at United, I considered the Gold trial option, but ultimately opted for Silver. In addition to being $200 dollars cheaper, it gives me the benefits I care about most, comp upgrades, early boarding (although I already have that through the US MasterCard), and waived fees for up to 2 checked bags. Then there’s the added benefit of if I actually fly the amount of miles and/or segments that qualify for Gold Preferred, US will elevate me to that status. In short, the Silver Preferred trial seemed to offer the most bang for my buck, so that’s what I went with.

Getting registered for the trial was pretty seamless. I called the number on the Trial Preferred page. The first rep I was connected to stated that she would transfer me to an agent who could assist me, and that agent was reasonably knowledgeable about the program and had me registered in a few minutes. She also took the time to go through the terms and conditions with me, and also gave me the Silver Preferred 800 reservations number for my use during the trial. By the end of the phone call, my Dividend Miles status was reflected on usairways.com. While I was immediately able to “see” preferred and exit row seats on usairways.com, it took about 36 hours for me to actually be able to successfully select those seats online. In one case, I called the Silver Preferred number, and the agent was able to place me in the exit row seats I was looking for. For another reservation, I decided to wait and see if the seat maps would eventually work for me, and as mentioned, after about 36 hours, I was able to grab those seats on my own. I can only assume that it takes about that much time for your new preferred status to propagate through US Airways’ various IT systems.

So there you have it. I’m “Trial Preferred” Silver at US Airways, and I earned a hit in the Grand Slam promotion. I’ll keep you posted on how things go from here.