Free First Class 2014: US Airways Dividend Miles Basics

12
2006

This is the sixteenth post in a monthlong series that started here. Each post will take about two minutes to read and may include an action item that takes the reader another two minutes to complete. I am writing this for an audience of people who know nothing about frequent flyer miles, and my goal is that by the end, you know enough to fly for free anywhere you want to go.

I’ve covered how to earn miles and the redemption options for miles. Now I’m giving the basics on several major airline programs where you can quickly collect miles for amazing trips. Today: the US Airways Dividend Miles program.

Why Collect US Airways Miles?

US Airways has the best award chart. Seriously, check out how much cheaper it is than its competitors.

The award chart probably won’t see any major changes until Dividend Miles integrates with AAdvantage in 2015.

US Airways has the laxest routing rules. Route basically however you want from point A to point B to point C to have the most exciting and cheapest combination of stopover and destination.

Collecting US Airways miles now is easy. Right now you can get The US Airways® Premier World MasterCard® with 40,000 bonus miles after first purchase. Check out all the places you can go with just that sign up bonus.

US Airways miles have access to amazing luxury products like Cathay Pacific First Class. Check out my trip report!

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US Airways miles will become American Airlines miles in 2015. If you’re collecting American Airlines miles, and you want more, get US Airways miles now and enjoy their conversion to American Airlines miles next year.

  • What airlines can you fly with US Airways miles?
  • What are the routing rules for US Airways awards (stopovers, open jaws, free one ways)?
  • What are the special features of the Dividend Miles program?
  • How can you book a US Airways award?

Mileage Price

US Airways has two region-to-region charts, one for travel booked on partners and one for travel booked on US Airways flights.

A region-to-region chart means that instead of having to calculate the number of miles for an award from your origin city to your destination city, say Atlanta to Rome, you merely figure out how many miles you need for an award from your origin region to your destination region, in this case North America to Europe.

There are two main differences between the award charts:

  1. The US Airways-metal chart lists off peak dates to Europe, South America, the Caribbean, during which you can fly US Airways award flights for steep discounts.
  2. The US Airways-metal chart lists Low, Medium, and High miles prices for each region. This is unnecessary on the partner award chart, since all partner flights price at the Low price.

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We redeem miles for Low price awards, the capacity controlled awards that cost the fewest miles, which are not available in every cabin on every flight. Medium and High price awards cost twice or more what Low price awards cost and are available on almost every flight.

To have a multi-segment award price at the Low level, every segment in that direction must have Low price award space.

Which countries are in which region of the chart can be found in the footnotes of the partner award chart.

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Partners

US Airways is a member of oneworld. That means you can use its miles on all these airlines:

  • American Airlines
  • US Airways
  • airberlin
  • British Airways
  • Cathay Pacific (Hong Kong)
  • Finnair
  • Iberia (Spain)
  • Japan Airlines
  • LAN (Chile and Peru)
  • Malaysia Airlines
  • Qantas (Australia)
  • Qatar Airways
  • Royal Jordanian
  • S7 Airlines (Russia)
  • SriLankan Airlines
  • TAM Airlines (Brazil)

US Airways also has several partners that are not a part of oneworld. You can also redeem miles to fly these airlines:

  • Aegean Airlines (Greece)
  • Air China
  • Hawaiian Airlines (intra-Hawaii flights, and flights to Tahiti and Samoa only)
  • Jet Airways (India)
  • Shenzhen Airlines (China)
  • South African Airways
  • TAP Portugal

Unfortunately you cannot freely combine oneworld and non-oneworld partners onto a single award. You must stick to one list or the other, though you can add US Airways flights to either list.

Routing rules? What routing rules?

US Airways award routings are only checked by humans, not by any computers, so you can get away with a lot if you are persistent.

US Airways charges the roundtrip price for all awards, so there is no point in booking a one way award.

US Airways awards can have one open jaw or one stopover. This rule is usually enforced by agents. The stopover is supposedly limited to oneworld hubs, but that rule is little-known among agents.

US Airways awards can have only 10 segments. Some agents cap segments at eight. One of these rules is usually enforced by agents.

You can route any way you want on your award. Some agents may raise a fuss over backtracking, but most won’t notice it.

US Airways agents figure out the price of you award by reading your origin, destination, and cabin off of the award chart. If your stopover and destination are in different regions, lead the call the entire way and call the cheaper region your destination to save miles.

All award travel must be completed within one year of the original booking. Changes can’t extend this time frame, so if you can’t fly within one year of your original booking, you’ll have to cancel you award.

Stopovers & Open Jaws

One stopover or one open jaw is allowed on US Airways awards.

A stopover is a layover of more than 4 hours on a domestic award or 24 hours on an international award.

Free One Ways

Free one ways are possible on US Airways awards by following a very specific formula.

A free one way requires a stopover at your home airport and using an open jaw, and US Airways awards only allow one or the other. To solve that problem, you need to take your free one way BEFORE your main award TO your home airport and add dummy legs onto the award at the end from your home airport to the start of your free one way.

For full details on Free One Ways on US Airways Awards, check out this Master Thread.

Special Features

There are two special features of the US Airways program that deserve a mention.

1. If you have The US Airways® Premier World MasterCard®, you get 5,000 miles off any award that contains only US Airways flights.

2. US Airways offers 35,000 mile roundtrips to Brazil and Europe and 25,000 mile roundtrips to the Caribbean during off peak dates as long as every flight on the award is on a US Airways plane.

Off peak awards are even eligible for the 5,000 mile discount for holders of The US Airways® Premier World MasterCard®, so they can enjoy 30,000 mile roundtrips to Brazil and Europe and 20,000 mile roundtrips to the Caribbean.

Taxes, Fees, and Fuel Surcharges

Taxes

US Airways awards require you to pay the government taxes associated with the itinerary.

These start at $5.60 each direction for domestic awards and go up to $300 if you fly to a high tax country. Generally international awards have roundtrip taxes of $50 to $150.

Fees

Award Processing Fee: US Airways charges a fee for redeeming your miles. This is my least favorite fee in the miles world.

The fee is $25 for awards within the U.S. (excluding Hawaii) and Canada, $35 for awards to Mexico and the Caribbean, and $50 for awards to Hawaii and all other destinations.

This fee is waived for Gold, Platinum and Chairman’s Preferred members.

Phone Fee: There is no phone fee to book awards that are not bookable at usairways.com. This includes any award not entirely flown on US Airways or American Airlines planes.

Quick Ticketing Fee: There is a $75 fee for award tickets booked within 21 days of departure. This fee is waived for Gold, Platinum and Chairman’s Preferred members.

Changes: There is a $150 fee per person to make changes to US Airways awards, which is waived for Chairman’s Preferred members. No changes are allowed after you fly the first flight of an award.

Cancellation: There is a $150 fee per person to cancel a US Airways award, which is waived for Chairman’s Preferred members.

Full details on US Airways’ award fees can be found here.

Fuel Surcharges

US Airways only collects fuel surcharges on British Airways and Iberia flights. These can be up to $500 per flight, so avoid these partners.

How to Book US Airways Awards

Only American Airlines and US Airways flights are searchable and bookable at usairways.com.

Partners that can’t be searched online can be searched by calling US Airways at 800-622-1015 or by searching other oneworld and Star Alliance award search engines.

If you can’t seem to find the award you want for your dream trip, you can hire my Award Booking Service to search and book your US Airways awards. We have the expertise to search every US Airways partner to maximize convenience and luxury while minimizing out-of-pocket cost.

Bottom Line

US Airways Dividend Miles are unbeatable for:

  • a cheap award chart
  • lax routing rules
  • incredibly cheap off peak awards
  • fantastic and luxurious oneworld partners
  • easy to earn miles

Right now you can get The US Airways® Premier World MasterCard® with 40,000 bonus miles after first purchase.

Check out all the places you can go with just that sign up bonus.

The card also comes with a 5,000 mile discount on awards flown entirely on US Airways planes, including off peak awards.


Any questions? What did I leave out?


Editorial Disclaimer: The editorial content is not provided or commissioned by the credit card issuers. Opinions expressed here are author’s alone, not those of the credit card issuers, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the credit card issuers.

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12 COMMENTS

  1. Too bad they RARELY have low priced awards available to the places I want to travel. Reminds me of Delta. Meh.

    • Yes, the same oneworld partners are available with either kind. AA miles can book one way, and US miles can’t. Hire my award booking service if you need help –> milevalue.com/award-booking-service

  2. hi Scott,

    We are interested in using your book service for two Business class to travel TPA to Australia, Auckland, and PPT on 12/10/15 for two weeks from US Airways points.

    I am trying to finalize the itinerary. Is it easier to book to PPT first or SYD first? Is it bookable for stopover at PPT and layover at AKL on this trip?

    Thanks

    • You need to wait until your US miles become AA miles. US does NOT partner with Air Tahiti Nui, the partner that is flying to PPT. When they become AA miles (some time between April and June 2015), that’s when you should book. Order shouldn’t matter much.

      You get zero free stopovers on AA awards, so this will be a series of one way awards.

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