Category

US Airways

US Airways Off Season Award Chart – Europe For 30,000 Miles

US Airways is not really an Airline people pay attention to unless they are selling Star Alliance miles for cheap.

That being said, if you know when to look, there are some real gems in the US Airways Off Season Award Chart.

The miles are really easy to get via the US Airways Credit Card, which is underwritten by Barclays.

For signing up, you get 40,000 Miles after 1st use. Then an additional 10,000 Miles if you do a Balance Transfer in 90 days of account opening.

Link To US Airways Personal Card

Link To US Airways Business Card

Normally 40,000 Miles would not get you to Europe or really anywhere outside of the United States, but during the off season, US Airways cuts the number of miles needed for an Award in half.

The dates US Airways picked are very random like March 1 – 15 to South America, but I am not complaining.

What makes these Off Season Awards even better is that if you have a US Airways Mastercard, you get an additional discount of 5,000 miles.

So while normally on United, a Roundtrip flight to Europe in January would cost 60,000 in Economy and 100,000 in Business, with US Airways it is only 30,000 or 55,000 if you have the US Airways Card.

In other words, for the same cost of an United Economy ticket, you could fly Business on US Airways for 5,000 less miles. US Airways Envoy Business Class Suites are a full flat bed, which is nice.

The only stipulation is that you do have to fly on US Airways Metal, so you can’t use these Off Season Awards for flights on United, Lufthansa, etc.

To find out where US Airways planes fly, please click here for their interactive route map.

For flights going to Europe, basically you have to route through Philadelphia (US Airways Hub). That being said, you can more or less get to all the major cities in Europe; London, Paris, Amsterdam, Rome, Zurich, Frankfurt, etc.

How To Book

USAirways.com is notoriously difficult if you want to book an Award Ticket that is not on US Airways because their website won’t even allow that as an option, so you have to call in.

Thankfully, these Off Season flights have to be on US Airways metal, so you can book it online.

To book, simply go to USAirways.com and enter your criteria. Remember that you can only fly US Airways Metal, so in the event that you don’t live in a US Airways city, you will need to get there separately.

If you want to fly Economy, even this late in the booking season, availability is wide open.

The boxes shaded in Teal are the Off Peak Awards.

For Business Class Seats, the availability is a little worse, given that people start booking these flights in June. However if your schedule is flexible, you can find Business Class seats.

Once you find what you want, simply select the dates and hit continue.

One thing to remember is that US Airways does have really annoying $50 ticket processing fees. So instead of $138 for the ticket, it costs $188.

According to Milevalue, although you aren’t supposed to be able to, you can add on a Free One Way if you would like. More information here.

Brazil

While Europe for either 30,000 Miles in Economy or 55,000 Miles in Business is a steal, I’d also point out that Brazil is pretty good value too.

Normally it would again cost you 60,000 in Economy or 100,000 in Business if you used United Miles!

Since you can only fly US Airways metal, you are basically limited to Rio De Janeiro but still for 30,000 – 55,000 Miles it is a steal!

How To Get US Airway Miles

As I stated earlier, the easiest and cheapest way is with the US Airway Credit Card that will get you 40,000 US Airway Miles. Since a Economy ticket to Europe or Brazil is only 30,000 when you use your US Air Mastercard, simply by signing up you have a free ticket. However if you would like to take a friend and thus need 60,000 Miles or want to fly Business and need 55,000 Miles, there are a few other ways.

The SPG AMEX is a transfer partner of US Airways, so for every 20,000 Starpoints you transfer, you get 25,000 US Airway Miles.

Additionally, there are some other “interesting” ways to “buy” US Airway Miles which The Points Guy outlined here.

Finally, almost every other month, US Airways runs Mile Purchase and Transfer bonuses as described here by Lucky, so you can easily buy 55,000 Miles for $550 no problem.

Recap

If you have ever wanted to go to Europe or Brazil, US Airways Off Peak Awards are the cheapest way to go.

Although you do have to go in the off season, normally it is less crowded and cheaper, so it might appeal to some people. When I was in School, all my trips were during January since that was the only time I had off and it was fine. My past France trip was actually the 1st time that I had ever been to Europe during the Summer.

I have 18,000 orphan US Airway Miles laying around, so I am going to sign up for the 40,000 Mile US Airways Card in November. That will get me enough miles to fly Business Class to Zurich and hopefully go skiing in the Swiss Alps in February. If I can’t find anyone to drag along with me, then I will certainly do Rio De Janeiro in March because I have never been and I’ve heard it is amazing.

Have any Readers ever taken advantage of these Off Season Awards, and what did you think? I’m not sure I have ever even stepped foot on a US Airways plane before…

-Parag

Understanding Airline Alliances & Partners

Reader Question

Your Name: Vladimir S.
Subject: Combine US Airways Points with United Points
Message:

Hi Parag,

I love your website and I am glad that you constantly update it.  I am a long time reader and I can gladly say it has helped me out a lot since I travel for work 90% of the time.

In regards to my question, I was wondering if I could combine my US Airways points (I have about 10,000) with my United miles, since they use the same partner.

Thank you,

Vlad

Answer

While on the surface this question is fairly easy to answer, Vlad’s question touches on a semi confusing part of Frequent Flyer Programs that I suspect many Beginners may not fully understand.

First though to answer Vlad’s question, you cannot combine or transfer US Airway miles into or with United miles or really any other Airline.

The same thing is true with almost all other Frequent Flyer programs including Delta, American, Southwest, etc.

Basically, there is no easy way to move miles between different programs for free.

While there are sites like Points.com which allow you to move miles, because they charge a fee, it is often cheaper just to buy a ticket outright than to transfer the miles via Points.com.

This is really why Credit Cards are the best way to go about earning miles, because in one application you can have enough miles in your account to take a free trip, instead of trying to combine miles from different accounts.

That being said, I suspect the reason that Vlad asked the question in the first place is because he saw that US Airways and United are Star Alliance Partners and thought because they are “Partners” that you can move miles between the 2 Frequent Flyer Programs.

What Exactly Is An Airline Alliance / Partner?

An Airline Alliance is essentially a partnership of Airlines that allows Customers to fly, earn, and redeem miles with all the different Partner airlines.

The reason Airline Alliances primarily exist is so that 1 Airline does not have to fly everywhere in the world.

For example, if a passenger wants to fly from the United States to Stuttgart, Germany, it doesn’t make sense financially for US Airways to operate a direct flight from the United States to Stuttgart, since there isn’t enough passenger demand for that route to be profitable.

Instead, US Airways (or United) will fly you Frankfurt or any of the big German cities where US Airways already flies, and then their Star Alliance Partner, Lufthansa, will take over and fly you from Frankfurt to Stuttgart on one of their smaller regional planes.

Same thing if someone from Germany wants to visit say Peoria, Illinois.

Lufthansa will fly them to Chicago and then their Star Alliance Partner, United Airlines, will fly a smaller regional jet down to Peoria.

Worldwide Alliances

In terms of Passengers and Airline Partners, Star Alliance is the largest, however there are 2 other major Airlines Alliance called SkyTeam and OneWorld.

Below are all 3 of the major Airline Alliances and a few of their major Airline Partners. If you are interested in seeing a full list of each Airline Alliance’s Partners, please click on their respective links.

Star Alliance

  • United
  • US Airways
  • Lufthansa
  • SWISS
  • Air Canada
  • Singapore
  • Turkish
  • Thai

OneWorld Alliance

  • American Airline
  • British Airways
  • Qantas
  • Cathay Pacific
  • Iberia
  • LAN

SkyTeam

  • Delta
  • Air France
  • KLM

Benefits To Customers

For Customers, the beauty of these Airline Alliances are that when you book a ticket, you can book a single ticket straight from United States to Stuttgart, Germany, and the Airline Alliance will take care of the logistics.

You don’t have to book 1 ticket to Frankfurt on United and then book an entirely different ticket on Lufthansa to get to Stuttgart.

In terms of Frequent Flyer Miles, Airline Alliances greatly benefit Customers because you can earn and redeem miles in your preferred Frequent Flyer Program even if you aren’t flying on that particular airline.

So for example, if you were flying to Stuttgart, Germany and your main Frequent Flyer program is US Airways, even though the Frankfurt – Stuttgart leg of the flight is operated by Lufthansa, you can still credit those miles to US Airways or any of the Star Alliance Airline Partners.

Similarly when you redeem your miles, you can redeem your miles on the various Alliance Partners, as long as they are part of the same Airline Alliance.

As you can see above, you can redeem your United miles for a flight on Lufthansa, because they are part of the same Star Alliance with Lufthansa.

You could not redeem your United miles on American Airlines, Delta, or British Airways, etc, because those Airlines are all part of a completely separate Airline Alliance.

To sum it up in layman’s terms:

You cannot transfer miles between various Airline Frequent Flyer Programs, however if the Airline is a Partner in an Alliance, then you can fly, earn, and redeem miles with those Partner Airlines.

Hopefully that answers Vlad’s question and gives some insight to other Beginners on how Airline Alliances and Partnerships work.

If you have any other questions about anything travel related, as always, you can email me at FrequentFlyerUniversity@gmail.com

-Parag

How To Book Star Alliance Flights On US Airways

Last year, US Airways mistakenly offered 18 points per $1 at BookingBuddy.com, which is like a Kayak.com airfare search engine. That probably should have been my first sign that something was amiss at US Airways.

Anyways long story short, my Parents were already planning on going to India, so I booked them 2 Economy tickets via BookingBuddy and thanks to US Airways and that mistake promotion, I acquired 45,000 US Airways miles for free.

I added on to that haul with an additional 20,000 miles via US Airways Grand Slam promo last year.

To be honest, I’ve never flown US Airways or even redeemed any miles with them. My main rationale for acquiring the US Airways miles was that they were free and that I knew I could use them on Star Alliance flights, I just had no idea what a pain in the butt that process would be.

Booking Via USAirways.com

This weekend, I was booking our flight to Washington DC and Baltimore for July and Kayak was showing almost $350 per a person each way, so I opted to use miles.

I was trying to avoid using any Ultimate Rewards or United miles because those are much more valuable for international trips or for redeeming free Hyatt nights. Unfortunately, I also couldn’t find any availability on American Airlines using British Airways Avios.

I then remembered that I had my cache of US Airways miles so I thought I might as well use those for 2 free Star Alliance flights as United.com was showing tons of availability.

I headed over to USAirways.com, entered my flight information, and thought I would be able to see all the flights on Star Alliance partners like United, while at the same time quickly being able to book our tickets online. Mistake #1

The following US Airways award calendar came up.

As you can see from the original United search image above, United charges only 10,000 miles per a person each way, for a grand total of 20,000 miles round trip per a person.

From the US Airways chart, you can see they have tiered structure based on seasonality.

In this case they wanted a whopping 30,000 miles each way, PER A PERSON!

 

So my options were to spend 40,000 United miles for 2 tickets or 60,000 miles for 1 ticket on US Airways.

Remember 60,000 miles is also enough miles for an Economy trip to Europe!

Also notice how US Airways sneaks in extra fees on the award, as compared to United who charges the actual amount of tax.

Worse than charging 60,000 miles for an Economy domestic ticket, is the fact that USAirways.com, does not show availability for anyone but US Airways! Additionally, all US Airways flights to the East Coast route through Charlotte in this case, so what would be a non-stop 2 hour flight on United, would be at a minimum 4 hour flight on US Airways.

I honestly could not believe how incompetent US Airways and USAirways.com was to think that it is acceptable to charge 60,000 miles for a domestic Economy trip and then to purposely inconvenience their Customers by not offering the ability to book non-US Airways partners online and purposely withholding non-stop flights on Partners. Talk about putting your customer first!

Anyways I decided to give US Airways a call at 800-428-4322 to see how exactly you book Star Alliance flights with US Airways miles since it clearly wasn’t available online.

Surprisingly, I got an agent extremely quickly and told her where I wanted to go, the United flight numbers, and asked to see if she could pull it up.

Without delay, the non-stop United flights I wanted were available and only 12,500 US Airways miles each way.

Apparently Star Alliance partner flights are cheaper than flying US Airways, since US Airway’s own website was quoting 60,000 round-trip. If anyone is interested, here is the US Airway’s Star Alliance Partner Award Chart.

Luckily, the normal $30 phone fee was waived since you can’t book Star Alliance tickets online, however we still did have to pay the $18 in taxes and $25 per a person award redemption fee.

The fees were extremely annoying but still cheaper than spending $700+ on airline tickets.

Anyways, for those of you that have US Airways miles, I have complied some helpful tips for redeeming them.

Top 10 List

1. At all expenses, don’t even bother trying to book or check award availability on USAirways.com. Just say NO!

2. When searching for US Airways Award Availability, use United.com.

3. Redeeming US Airways miles on Star Alliance partners is far more cost effective than redeeming the miles on US Airways flights, so if possible always opt for Star Alliance Partners. A full US Airways Star Alliance Partner award chart can be found here.

4. All non-US Airways flights operated by United, Lufthansa, etc, have to be booked over the phone by calling 800-428-4322. Use United.com award availability to search for the flights you want to take and provide those to the US Airways representative when you book over the phone.

5. One way award flights are not allowed on US Airways, unless you want to be charged (in miles) for a round trip award.

6. If you book a Star Alliance partner on the phone, the $30 phone fee should be waived, however everyone will still get hit with a $25 domestic, $35 for Latin America/Caribbean, $50 for Hawaii/Europe/Middle East/South America/Australia/Asia/Africa,etc.

7. Open Jaw (Flying into 1 city, departing from another. Chicago -> New York, then Boston -> Chicago), is permitted.

8. 1 stopover is permitted. However stopovers can only be in Star Alliance hub on the Carrier you are flying on. For example, you could only stopover in Zurich Airport if you were flying on Swiss Air since Zurich is their hub. List of Star Alliance Hubs by Carrier can be found here.

9. If you book an Award Ticket within 21 days of departure, you will get hit with a non-refundable $75 ticketing fee. 

10. If you try to book an award ticket on the phone and the agent isn’t able to book a certain ticket or is quoting you the wrong amount of miles, simply hang up the phone and try again until you find an agent that can help you.

Hopefully these tips save some Readers some time, money, and hassle. If anyone has any additional tips, feel free to leave a comment below.

As always if you ever have any questions about redeeming miles, feel free to contact me at FrequentFlyerUniversity@gmail.com

Happy Flying!

-Parag