Tuesday news broke that US Airways is not collecting fuel surcharges on British Airways flights on award tickets, which is surprising since American Airlines and British Airways have long collected fuel surcharges on British Airways flights.

US Airways miles are the most valuable miles around because of:

Combining those three elements, I just put on hold a US Airways award from New York to Sydney with a stopover in Hong Kong one direction for 140k US Airways miles + $192.76 out of pocket.

Outbound in Red, Return in Blue
Outbound in Red, Return in Blue

The award features British Airways First Class, Cathay Pacific First Class, Qantas First Class, and American Airlines First Class and routes one direction via Europe and Asia with stops in Hong Kong and Sydney. It’s a fantastic award for destination lovers and luxury-flight lovers.

The award is really easy to book, and the miles necessary are very easy to earn. Right now the US Airways Premier World MasterCard is offering 40,000 bonus miles after first purchase.

  • How can you book an award that maximizes destinations and luxury with US Airways Dividend Miles?
  • How can you search for award space?
  • How can you rack up US Airways miles?

Planning

US Airways has a number of sweet spots on its award chart. For this example, I decided to focus on Australia, since US Airways’ lax routing rules allow awards to Australia to transit Europe and Asia.

US Airways has a number of partners with fantastic business and first class products. Flying to Australia via Europe and Asia allows the award to sample several of these top products for only 140k miles roundtrip in First Class.

Screen Shot 2014-05-01 at 2.23.08 AM

Between the United States and Europe, the best product of any US Airways partner is British Airways First Class. To fly British Airways First Class one way normally costs over $500 in taxes and fuel surcharges, but US Airways is not collecting fuel surcharges on British Airways flights.

Between Europe and Asia, the best products available to US Airways miles are Cathay Pacific First Class and Malaysia Airlines First Class.

Both feature massively wide thrones that turn into humungous comfortable beds.

IMG_0052

Between Asia and Australia, Qantas First Class is a great choice.

For the return, the best product from Australia to the United States in Qantas First Class on an A380.

Qantas mainly flies to Los Angeles. From Los Angeles to New York, the best product available to US Airways miles is American Airlines’ new fully flat Flagship First Class on its transcontinental A321s.

Stopover

There is a misconception that routing via London drives the taxes on an award through the roof. The expensive tax is actually on departing the United Kingdom. Transiting the United Kingdom for less than 24 hours triggers a substantially lower tax. Arriving in the United Kingdom triggers no tax.

For that reason, I just wanted the award to layover in London and not stopover there. That meant the best place for a stopover on this award was Hong Kong.

Searching

I searched several different websites for award space. I planned all along to book with US Airways miles, but usairways.com only displays award space on US Airways and British Airways flights. This is a general strategy of award booking to search an easy-to-search site even when you’re using a different type of miles.

I did a lot of my searches on ba.com and aa.com for award space on other partners’ flights. All award space that displays on ba.com is bookable with US Airways miles, and all Saver award space on aa.com is bookable with US Airways miles.

JFK-LHR

The best place to search British Airways award space quickly across multiple dates is aa.com. BA.com shows the award space, but moving from one day to the next on the search calendar is much slower than on aa.com.

This route is a gold mine for award space next winter in British Airways First Class. I found several flights with First Class award space pretty much every day in late January.

LHR-HKG

The best place to search Cathay Pacific award space is ba.com. AA.com doesn’t display it.

This route has some award space in First Class next winter, maybe once or twice a week.

HKG-SYD & SYD-LAX

The best place to search Qantas award space quickly across multiple dates is aa.com. BA.com shows the award space, but moving from one day to the next on the search calendar is much slower than on aa.com.

Hong Kong to Sydney has OK First Class award space next winter, maybe once or twice a week.

First Class award space between Australia and Los Angeles is nearly non-existent. I found a few days with Business Class award space, so I used that when constructing the award.

US Airways charges the roundtrip First Class price if any leg of the roundtrip award is in First Class, so using the Business Class space offers no discount on the miles price of the award.

LAX-JFK

The best place to search American Airlines award space quickly across multiple dates is aa.com. BA.com shows the award space, but moving from one day to the next on the search calendar is much slower than on aa.com.

This route is wide open in First Class. (As an aside, American Airlines charges 32,500 miles each way on this route in First Class. US Airways charges 50k miles roundtrip because it treats two-cabin first and three-cabin first the same within the United States.)

Booking

With all the award space found, I called US Airways at 800-622-1015 and fed the flight numbers, dates, and cabins one segment at a time to the agent. She then put me on hold, while the rate desk priced the award.

They priced the award at 140k US Airways miles + $192.76. I asked her to put the award on a three-day courtesy hold, and she complied after giving me my record locator.

I can call back within the next 72 hours and ticket the award by giving the next agent the record locator.

The Award

New York to London to Hong Kong in British Airways First Class and Cathay Pacific First Class

Screen Shot 2014-05-01 at 2.21.55 AM

Four Day Stopover in Hong Kong, then Qantas First Class to Sydney

Screen Shot 2014-05-01 at 2.22.08 AM

Six Weeks in Sydney, then Return Sydney to Melbourne to Los Angeles in Qantas Business Class. After 23 hours in Los Angeles, the Last Leg is LAX-JFK in American Airlines Flat Bed First Class

Screen Shot 2014-05-01 at 2.22.18 AM

Recap

This is a classic example of an extremely high value US Airways award that takes advantage of US Airways’ cheap chart, lax routing rules, and luxurious partners.

You can book an award to your dream destination with US Airways miles using the same principles.

Right now the US Airways Premier World MasterCard is offering 40,000 bonus miles after first purchase. This is by far the best credit card offer on the market with no minimum spending requirement.

 

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