Award travel reservations can usually be made up to eleven months in advance. Often, but not always, eleven months out has the best availability. Eleven Months Out is my new series looking at what you can book today for travel in eleven months.
US Airways off peak awards are some of the best deals in all of award travel. Right now is an excellent time to book a roundtrip award to Europe or Brazil for February 2014 for only 30,000 US Airways miles. Or you can book a roundtrip to Rio de Janeiro in lie flat beds for only 55,000 miles roundtrip during Brazil’s summer!
What Are US Airways Off Peak Awards
US Airways offers certain awards in economy and business class for short periods of time throughout the year for steep discounts. Specifically the prices are:
- USA to Europe roundtrip for 35k miles in economy between January 15 and February 28
- USA to Caribbean for 25k miles roundtrip in economy and 50k miles in business during September
- USA to South America roundtrip for 35k miles in economy and 60k miles for two months per year
For 2013 and 2014, here is the off peak calendar.
Image from usairways.com
US Airways off peak awards are the main reason I rate US Airways miles as more valuable than United miles, and the main time to use US Airways miles instead of United miles.
The 2014 award space is excellent to Europe and Brazil.
Every route I searched had off peak space available the majority of the off peak dates. For instance, Philadelphia to Madrid:
Green-ish blue dates have off peak space for 35k miles roundtrip to Europe.
I’ve been in Madrid during the winter. It’s cold, but not miserable, and possibly warmer than where you live.
Temperatures from wikipedia
US Airways also serves a few European destinations from Charlotte during the winter. The award space to Frankfurt is wide open.
Frankfurt is easy to score for 35,000 miles roundtrip.
Here’s the full list of European destinations on US Airways during the winter:
List from Wikipedia
US Airways has two routes to Brazil with daily departures from Charlotte to Rio de Janeiro and Sao Paulo. There are two off peak windows to Brazil in 2014. Space for the window from February 3-13 is wide open in economy and business class. This would be an especially nice time to visit Brazil during its summer.
Temperatures from Wikipedia
Charlotte to Rio de Janeiro–economy for 35k miles roundtrip
There is space for a weeklong trip in economy to Rio for only 35,000 miles February. Or you can splurge for lie-flat business class.
Charlotte to Rio de Janeiro–business for 60k miles roundtrip
There is plenty of space at the incredible 60k mile roundtrip price in business class to Rio.
The same pattern holds for space to Sao Paulo.
Charlotte to Sao Paulo–economy for 35k miles roundtrip
Blue-green space is 35k roundtrip in economy
Charlotte to Sao Paulo–business for 60k miles roundtrip
Blue-green space is 60k roundtrip in business
The March 17 to April 3, 2014 window of off peak dates to Brazil will begin to be bookable in a few weeks.
One incredible thing about these off peak awards is that US Airways has a world-class business class product on its A330s that it calls The Envoy Suite.
The A330 flies most European routes and the Charlotte to Rio de Janeiro route.
The Envoy experience is not fully flat on the 767 that flies to Sao Paulo. On 767s, the business class seats turn into angled lie flat beds. There is no first class on international US Airways flights.
Image from seatguru.com
Basically 60k miles is an unheard of price for such nice business class seats to such a great destination during its summer. Off peak awards to Rio for February 2014 are a steal.
But off peak awards aren’t perfect.
Off peak US Airways awards are restrictive. You have to find off peak space during a very narrow window. Yes, you can combine off peak one way and any other priced space the other way, but you won’t be getting nearly as good of a deal.
Furthermore all flights must be on US Airways planes (metal). While normally you can use your US Airways miles for flights on any of their partners, that is not the case for off peak awards.
If you don’t live in Charlotte or Philadelphia, you’ll need to find award space on US Airways flights to the gateway city at the low-miles price. That’s not always easy because US Airways doesn’t release a ton of domestic award space at the low level.
And don’t forget: like all US Air awards, the roundtrip price is charged whether you fly oneway or roundtrip.
Even if you don’t have any US Airways miles, you can rack up the miles you need very quickly to book this award space.
Because Charlie recently had trouble getting the personal US Airways card and business US Airways card on the same day, I would recommend getting the personal US Airways card and Starwood Preferred Guest from American Express.
The Barclay’s US Airways MasterCard comes with 30,000 US Airways miles after first purchase.
The card also offers a 5,000 mile discount on award bookings, meaning that the 35,000 mile roundtrips in economy to Europe are only 30,000 miles and the 60,000 roundtrips in flying beds to Brazil are only 55,000 miles!
There may even be an offer to get 5,000 more miles on this card!
The Starwood Preferred Guest American Express comes with 25,000 bonus Starpoints after spending $5,000 in the first six months.
Starpoints transfer 1:1 to US Airways miles, and if you transfer 20,000 points, you get a 5,000 mile bonus. So the 30,000 Starpoints in your account are worth 35,000 US Airways miles.
Combined, these two cards can get you off peak beds to South America or two off peak economy trips to Europe.
US Airways has released all of its 2014 off peak space to Europe, and the first tranche of its 2014 off peak space to Brazil. Book now for a winter vacation in Europe, or a sweltering summer in Rio.
The European space is 30,000 miles roundtrip for US Airways cardholders. The Brazilian space is 30,000 miles roundtrip in economy and 55,000 miles roundtrip in business class for US Airways cardholders. Charlotte to Rio and most European routes feature state-of-the-art beds in business class.
If you don’t already have the US Airways card, get it for the miles and the discount on award bookings. If you want to fly business class, get the rest of the miles you need with the SPG AMEX card.
Application Link: Barclay’s US Airways MasterCard
Application Link: Starwood Preferred Guest American Express