Executive Summary -
In our final part of our review, we explore the pros and cons of this card and assign a rating. In a nutshell, the best use of this card is it's companion ticket perk where a family can save quite a bit from cheaper fares.
The US Airline scene has been one of consolidation for the last couple of decades. At this moment, there are only a few big players in the domestic industry. United's merger with Continental solidified their status as the largest domestic airline. SouthWest takeover of AirTran consolidated their status as the dominant discount carrier. With American Airlines in the chapter 11 process, US Airways is the other main domestic carrier along with Delta.
The key attraction of this card is their companion ticket feature. To recap, each card member gets a $99 companion ticket for two every year. That means if you buy a ticket (for say $250 in base cost), you can get two other companion ticket for $99 each in base price (you will charged taxes and surcharges).
This is a great benefit for families who travel every year with US Airways. For example, if you have three kids in your family, then it makes sense for both spouses to each get this card. Then you could use the companion tickets to really save money on domestic flights (and also flights to Canada). The savings from the companion certificates will more than offset the annual fees that you pay for the card.
Another perk that I especially like about this card is the fact that you can check in at the first class counter. You can avoid long lines this way. It comes in handy if you do not do e-check-ins. Another nice perk is that you get one club lounge pass every year.
If you are not an Preferred Dividend Miles member, then the priority zone 2 boarding is an extra perk that you may appreciate. To visualize the value of this, you have to understand the boarding priorities of US Airways. The first to board are those classified as preferred access. They include first class passengers, Dividend Miles Preferred members and Star Alliance Gold Members. Next comes the Zone 1 boarding, which are folks who are seated at bulkhead and exit seats without under-the-seats storage. Next to board are Zone 2 folks, which include the US Airways card members, those who book with Choice seats and exit row passengers with under-the-seat storage. Then, the rest will board.
If you are already a preferred member (whether it is Silver, Gold, Platinum or Chairman's level), you will be boarding with Zone 1 folks so this benefit will not be of use to you.
While there are many great things about this card, there are a couple of other features I wish they have. For example, card members will not get their first bag checked in for free (unlike some other airline affinity cards). However, for those who are preferred members of the Dividend Miles program (Silver will do), you get free first bag check in for yourself and your companions as well. So the lack of this feature will not bother those with preferred status.
I mentioned earlier that their companion ticket feature is the only one where you can use the certificate for two (most companion tickets are just for one other person). However, I wish they could improve on a couple of things. For example, you cannot fly to Hawaii or Alaska. This is in contrast to the Alaska Airline card companion ticket where you can use it for Hawaii flights. Secondly, US Airways and Barclays actually use a physical certificate where your individual code is written there. This can cause some inconvenience if you lose it. I would rather they issue you an e-certificate where you can get the details simply by logging into your account.
Verdict - If you travel at least once a year with your family and fly US Airways, then I think you should considering getting this card because you can really save a lot of money with the use of their companion ticket certificate. If you have a large family, then have you and your spouse get one card each. This is the only companion certificate perk that allows you to use it for two companions. The savings from this alone will easily pay for the annual fee.
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