Category Archives: US Airways

Current State of Free Oneways

This blog became famous because I was the first to articulate how to book free oneways on United and US Airways awards.

A free oneway is a one way trip to or from your home airport that is tacked onto another award for no extra miles. Free oneways cut your flight bill in half for a second trip without adding to the price of the first trip!

American Airlines killed free oneways on its awards last week by nixing all free stopovers because free oneways always rely on a free stopover at your home airport.

What’s the current state of free oneways with major frequent flyer programs?

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17 Changes to US Airways and American Airlines Loyalty Programs Ranked by Importance

US Airways and American Airlines officially merged in December 2013. They are still independent brands with separate loyalty programs, but they are making major changes in unison, especially in the last few weeks.

Below are 17 changes made, mostly yesterday, in the order of my take on their importance. As I said yesterday, I am much more upset about how these changes were made (most of numbers 3-17 were made with no notice) than the fact that they were made.

1) On March 30, US Airways left the Star Alliance.

US Airways lost valuable partners for award redemptions like United, Lufthansa, and Thai. US Airways did maintain several Star Alliance partners including EVA, South African, and Turkish.

Some of those Star Alliance partners are disappearing this year, so make sure you book those partners in 2014 for travel through 2015.

2) On March 31, US Airways joined oneworld opening up great partners like Cathay Pacific, Qantas, and Qatar.

Unfortunately you cannot combine oneworld and the remaining Star Alliance partners on a single award.

Despite the change from Star Alliance to oneworld, no award routing rules changed for US Airways awards.

All the other changes were made yesterday, most with no notice.

3) American Airlines is no longer allowing stopovers on awards.

You used to be able to get a stopover in each direction at the North American International Gateway City. That opened up the chance to get two free oneways on roundtrip awards. That chance is no more.

Check out this award I priced out from Los Angeles to New York, stopover, New York to London. This would have cost 20,000 miles total. Now it costs 32,500 miles.

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4) American Airlines has eliminated the Explorer Award.

This is a huge blow for me personally because I was planning on booking myself one of these up-to-16-flights around-the-world awards that I’ve explained here.

American Airlines had by far the best round-the-world awards until yesterday, and now it has no option for round-the-world awards.

5) US Airways increased the amount of miles for a business class saver award from the US to North Asia from 90,000 to 110,000 miles roundtrip.

I covered this in detail yesterday.

The takeaways: Book your next US Airways award to North Asia in First Class for 120k miles instead. Or use the even sweeter spot of Central America to South Asia for 90k miles roundtrip in business class.

6) American Airlines is increasing the phone fee it charges on award tickets to $35.

It was $25 until yesterday. This phone fee is unavoidable on tons of American Airlines awards because most oneworld partners are not searchable and bookable on aa.com.

7) Starting April 30, customers who have the US Airways MasterCard® will receive one free checked bag for themselves and up to four companions.

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8) American Airlines AAnytime awards are going to a three tier system.

Until yesterday, American Airlines had the best value “standard” awards. For double the price of a MileSAAver (saver) award, you could get the last seat on the plane.

I had never taken advantage, but there were some circumstances where that would have been a good deal.

No more. The new American Airlines award chart has three levels of AAnytime awards, so if you’re getting the last seat on the plane, expect to pay through the nose.

By the way, if you click that link, you might notice that MileSAAver awards have two levels too. That’s not a substantive change, just a change from the old nomenclature. What used to be called “off peak” awards, which are only possible to certain regions, are Level 1. What used to be peak awards are Level 2. No MileSaaver prices changed.

9) US Airways is ending black out dates.

Even with three tiers of award prices, US Airways had some routes and dates with no availability at any price. That’s no more, but I’m sure the former black out dates will have exorbitant price tags that I’ll avoid.

10) US Airways High Level awards are splitting into two tiers starting June 1, 2014.

The US Airways award chart will soon have Low, Medium, High Level 1, and High Level 2 awards.

11) For tickets issued April 8, 2014 and later, US Airways Silver and American Airlines Gold will only get one free checked bag on American Airlines flights.

12) For tickets issued April 8, 2014 and later, full fare economy passengers on American Airlines are going from two free checked bags to zero.

13) For tickets issued April 8, 2014 and later, people flying economy AAnytime awards on American Airlines are going from two free checked bags to zero.

14) For tickets issued April 23, 2014 and later, US Airways Gold and Platinum Elites and American Airlines Platinum Elites are going from three free checked bags all the time to only two free checked bags when they fly economy on US Airways flights.

15) For tickets booked after April 8, 2014 on American Airlines flights, the free checked bag between the US and Mexico/Caribbean/Central America for all passengers is gone. New prices: $25 for the first bag, $40 for the second.

16) For tickets booked after April 8, 2014, the you will only get one free checked back on American Airlines flights to/from Brazil. You used to get two.

17) American Airlines’ unacocompanied minor fee is going from $100 to $150 each way.

I may have missed some other changes because US Airways and American Airlines didn’t communicate all of these is one place. Please let me know what I’ve missed in the comments.

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US Airways Has Eliminated One Sweet Spot to Asia, but There is a Sweeter Spot

US Airways–with absolutely no notice–made some award chart changes today. The big change to Saver award prices is that a roundtrip in business class to North Asia is now 110k miles roundtrip.

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US Airways’ definition of North Asia includes:

  • China
  • Hong Kong
  • Japan
  • Macau,
  • South Korea
  • Taiwan
  • and a bunch of ‘stans

Business class awards to North Asia had been under-priced at 90k US Airways miles roundtrip, and many people in this hobby had taken advantage with awards that included a stopover in Europe and Asia in business class. Bill wrote about his experience booking such an award here.

I am not surprised that this award went up more than 20%. It was well below what competitors charged for the route and had been well below for years. I am surprised and angered that we were given no notice of the change to the award chart.

We all understand that 90k miles get less valuable over time. That doesn’t bother me because we all expect it and because earning miles has become far easier over time. What bothers me is a no-notice change. We all earned US Airways miles under the old rules expecting that we’d be able to redeem under the old rules even if that meant a quick redemption after changes were announced but before they came into effect.

This change is especially brutal for anyone who bought 50k US Airways miles yesterday through the US Airways Share Miles program and was planning to use them to go to North Asia in business class. (By the way, I still think the Share Miles promo is a great deal.)

Now, there is no reason to ever book a US Airways award to North Asia in business class.

What cabin has the best deal to North Asia now? What is the even sweeter spot to Asia that US Airways forgot to devalue?

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US Airways Share Miles Promotion Returns for 7 Days Only. Buy Miles for 1.13 Cents Until Sunday!

Until April 13, 2014, US Airways is offering a bonus of 100% on sharing between 30,000 and 50,000 miles between Dividend Miles accounts.

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The US Airways Share Miles promo is typically the best mileage purchasing offer of the year.

Sharing miles works out to buying miles for 1.13 cents each. If you could buy unlimited miles at that price, a roundtrip award from the US to Europe in business class would be only $1,180 plus government taxes, an incredible value.

This is why I routinely max out US Airways Share Miles promotions even when I have no specific use for the miles in mind.

This is a non-targeted offer that only requires membership in US Airways’ Dividend Miles program for at least 12 days and a minimum of 1,000 miles in your account to begin.

Very similar promotions occurred in October 2012, October 2013, and December 2013. I participated fully all three times.

How can you take advantage of the best mileage-buying promotion of the year? Should you, in light of the fact that US Airways recently changed alliances?

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US Airways Losing Four Partners in the Next Few Months

The notes at the bottom of the US Airways award chart have some bad news: US Airways is losing four partners this year.

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On Saturday, I explained Where to Search for Award Space on All 26 of US Airways’ Partners. If you want to fly four of those partners, though, you need to book in the next few weeks.

Which partners is US Airways losing? When do you have to book by? How far into 2015 can you fly the awards? What are good substitute airlines for the partners being lost?

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Where to Search for Award Space on All 26 of US Airways’ Partners

Since US Airways joined the oneworld Alliance on March 31, I think they have the most valuable miles of any airline. The three main reasons:

  1. The world’s cheapest award chart. See a comparison with AA, Delta, and United.
  2. The laxest routing rules of any major airline because only agents–not computers–need to validate your routing.
  3. The most diverse partners.

For partners, US Airways has the rest of the oneworld alliance, plus it maintained several Star Alliance partners, and it even has a few other bilateral partnerships.

If you want to use your Dividend Miles to book an award, you must book it on usairways.com or by calling US Airways at 800-622-1015. Only American Airlines and US Airways award space is bookable online, so you’ll mostly call US Airways to book awards. (Luckily there is no phone fee for awards that can’t be booked online.)

It’s very helpful to search for award space before calling US Airways agents because they aren’t very good at it. You want to have all your flights picked out to read off to the agent to ticket the award.

So where do you search for award space for each of the 26 airlines bookable with US Airways miles?

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US Airways Joining Oneworld Means Phoenix to Maui for 4,000 Avios + $97

US Airways joined oneworld today, March 31, 2014. US Airways flights are already bookable on ba.com.

This is excellent news because the way Avios prices awards is so different than the way US Airways and American Airlines prices awards.

The differences in prices naturally mean that there are now some super cheap US Airways flights with Avios.

One amazing deal is an award from Phoenix to Maui for only 4,000 Avios + $97.50 each way.

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US Airways Background

US Airways legally merged with American Airlines last year, and the integration will be complete and the US Airways name will disappear some time in 2015.

US Airways has hubs in Charlotte, Philadelphia, and Phoenix. It flies throughout the United States, Canada, Mexico, the Caribbean, Brazil, and Europe.

What US Airways flights are a great deal with Avios? What awards are not yet bookable on ba.com? Are there fuel surcharges on US Airways flights booked with Avios?

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Two Days Until US Airways Leaves Star Alliance and Loses Incredible Summer Award Availability to Europe

US Airways leaves the Star Alliance Sunday (3/30/14) and enters the oneworld alliance Monday (3/31/14) as part of its ongoing integration with American Airlines.

Overall, this news is mixed because some awards are more easily booked with Star Alliance partners and other awards are more easily booked with oneworld partners.

Here are the awards that are easier to book in the next two days and the awards that are easier to book next week with US Airways miles.

One partner that US Airways loses on Sunday is Lufthansa, the German flag carrier, which is currently offering incredible summer award space between the US and Europe on an awesome fully flat business class product.

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This space can be booked now for travel through February 2015 for only 100k US Airways miles roundtrip. Next week 100k US Airways miles will not be nearly as useful to Europe.

Unfortunately things aren’t as simple as just searching united.com for Lufthansa award space and calling US Airways to book it. US Airways is blocking a lot of the Lufthansa award space that Lufthansa is releasing to all Star Alliance partners. The good news is that the Lufthansa award space US Airways will let you book has a pattern to it.

On what routes is Lufthansa releasing massive amounts of flat bed business class space? On what days of the week is US Airways not blocking that space?

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One Minor Change to US Airways Award Chart Today, One Big Change to US Airways Awards on Monday

On the US Airways award chart today, I noticed a minor change as part of the US Airways / American Airlines integration.

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Did you catch it?

On the US Airways chart, the word “Envoy” has been replaced with “Business Class.”

US Airways had previously referred to its International Business Class as “Envoy” (and it still does on other pages), but it looks like that name will disappear during the integration.

This is semantics, since the Envoy / Business Class will still be a great product–at least on the A330s where it is completely flat–but a far bigger change is coming to US Airways awards on March 31, 2014.

On March 30, 2014, US Airways leaves the Star Alliance. The following day, US Airways joins oneworld. As far as we know, all routing rules and award prices will stay the same, but the partners you can book with US Airways miles will change.

This is a huge deal because some places are easier to get to on Star Alliance partners, and some places are easier to get to with oneworld partners. That’s why I wrote a post called Which Awards to Book Before US Airways Leaves the Star Alliance March 30 and Which to Book After. Check it out.

If you have any last second awards you want to book with your US Airways miles before it loses most of its Star Alliance partners, consider hiring the MileValue Award Booking Service.

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US Airways to Have Oneworld and Star Alliance Partners Starting March 31, How to Take Advantage

American Airlines and US Airways have merged, and US Airways is joining the oneworld alliance on March 31, 2014 as part of the integration of the carriers into the new American Airlines.

Yesterday the Australian Business Traveler reported that when US Airways joins oneworld, it will not be ending all of its relationships with its former Star Alliance partners. US Airways miles will still be redeemable for award seats on the following Star Alliance carriers:

  • Aegean
  • Air China
  • Air New Zealand
  • Avianca
  • Ethiopian Airlines
  • EVA
  • Shenzhen Airlines
  • Singapore Airlines
  • South African Airways
  • TAM
  • TAP
  • Turkish Airways

This is fantastic news and will give people with US Airways Dividend Miles the best combination of partners of any frequent flyer program. But questions remain.

Will the current US Airways award chart still be in effect on 3/31/14? Will the current US Airways routing rules still be in effect on 3/31/14? Will you be able to book one award with US Airways miles that combines oneworld and Star Alliance partner?

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US Airways Random Buy Miles Promo, Up to 100% Bonus

Per the email I received last week, US Airways is again offering up to a 100% bonus on purchased or gifted miles. This “Mystery Bonus” promotion is a slight variant from previous iterations, as the bonus you receive varies by individual frequent flyer account. You might receive a 25%, 50%, 75%, or 100% bonus on purchased and gifted miles.

US Airways Mystery Promotion

US Airways frequently runs promotions offering bonuses to buy its miles, including one in December of last year. The deal is hardly a new proposition, especially if you receive an inferior 25%-75% offer like I did. However, there is a small subset that will want to jump on this promotion before US Airways leaves the Star Alliance.

Who should buy miles through this promotion? What do you need to be very aware of before booking a Star Alliance award with Dividend Miles? Are the lesser offers worth your time?

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Comparison of United, Delta, US Airways, and American Airlines Latest Award Charts

Update 4/14/14: US Airways has increased the price of its awards to North Asia in business class to 110k miles roundtrip.

In December, I compiled Comparison Tables of United, Delta, US Airways, and American Airlines Award Charts to show which program had the cheapest awards in each cabin to every country you want to visit.

With Delta announcing a new award chart that takes effect for awards booked January 1, 2015, I have updated the tables for economy and business class.

Check out the updated tables, my analysis, and my thoughts on what other changes we’ll see by 2015.

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Which Awards to Book Before US Airways Leaves the Star Alliance March 30 and Which to Book After

Come to Happy Hour with me today (2/17/14) in New York City!

US Airways has legally combined with American Airlines, but the airlines are still being run as two brands with two frequent flyer programs until some time in 2015.

Next month there are two key dates in the integration of the two airlines and specifically their AAdvantage and Dividend Miles programs.

This change only affects US Airways miles and does not affect American Airlines miles. It doesn’t mean that US Airways and American Airlines miles will be combined or freely combineable. All it means is that the award space you can book with your US Airways miles (or we can book for you) will change.

Which awards should you book by March 30, 2014 with your US Airways miles? Which awards should you book March 31, 2014 and later with your US Airways miles?

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Amazing Award Space for Two from the US to Asia

All Nippon Airways (ANA)–a Japanese Star Alliance carrier–launches a new route between Tokyo-Haneda and Vancouver from March 30, 2014.

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Saver award space is excellent on the route in economy and business class. You can book the space this week–by January 31, 2014–with United miles at pre-devaluation rates. You can also book the award space with US Airways miles until March 30, 2014 when US Airways leaves the Star Alliance, which will end its partnership with ANA.

How good is the award space? Where does ANA connect to/from Haneda? What Star Alliance flights fly into Vancouver?

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A Ranking of Miles from Most Broadly Useful to Most Niche

I naturally categorize miles and points into two groups:

  1. Broadly useful
  2. Niche programs

The first type of miles are the miles you want to stockpile if you’re hoping to follow a simple mile-accumulation strategy to meet all your future travel goals. Ideally these miles benefit from cheap award charts across all classes of service and to all regions without incurring fuel surcharges on awards.

By contrast, niche programs have some great values on their award charts, but lots of flaws. Maybe the program collects fuel surcharges on most awards, or charges too much for redemptions in premium cabins, or simply doesn’t release much Saver award space on flights.

Niche programs can be ignored my those who merely dabble in miles collection, but serious miles collectors should  know the strengths of and collect miles in niche programs too.

Which miles do I consider broadly useful? Which programs do I consider niche programs? What are the niche programs’ strengths?

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