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In this post, I’m going to talk about the newly loaded off peak award space to South America on US Airways including screen shots of the exact space. But first, I’ll give a little background on US Airways off peak awards, the main reason I rate US Air miles as more valuable than United miles, and the main time to use US Air miles instead of United miles. If you want to travel roundtrip from the US to Rio de Janeiro for 30k miles next spring, read on.

US Airways offers certain awards in economy and business class for short periods of time throughout the year for steep discounts. Specifically US-Europe roundtrip for 35k miles in economy and 60k miles on flat Envoy beds between January 15 and February 28. US-Caribbean for 25k roundtrip in economy and 50k in business during September. And finally US-South America roundtrip for 35k in economy and 60k in business during a rotating two months per year.

The dates and destinations details can be found on the US Airways award chart. Scroll down to see:

In May, I noticed that the 2013 dates for South America hadn’t been released yet. I added the page to my folder of pages to open first thing every morning, so when the dates were released, I would be the first to know. But checking it every day, I was struck by the fact that the dates must not have been updated since 2011, since 2011 dates are still listed.

That made me think maybe they’ve forgotten about the page–maybe the US Air internet team is as clueless as the US Air phone agents–so I just decided to check the award search engine to see if off peak awards had been loaded. They have!

Off peak to South America for 2013 appears to be March 1-15 and May 1-??.

Let’s talk about what the deal is exactly. Off peak US Airways awards are restrictive. Not only must the flights take off during the applicable dates, but the off peak award space is heavily capacity controlled. As you’ll see from the screen shots, the deal is not available every day in March and May, only a handful of days.

Furthermore all flights must be on US Airways planes (metal). While normally you can use your US Air miles for flights on any of their partners, that is not the case for off peak awards. And like all US Air awards, the roundtrip price is charged whether you fly oneway or roundtrip.

That means, we actually only have one possible destination in South America. The only US Airways flight to South America flies from Charlotte to Rio de Janeiro. So we need to find space on that flight and, for those of us who don’t live in the Bachelorette’s hometown, space on US Airways flights from our home airport to Charlotte.

Here is the award space for March 2013 from CLT-GIG (Rio) and GIG-CLT in economy class.

There are seven days in each direction with off peak availability. Obviously the goal is to fly off peak each way for 35k roundtrip. But if you must, you can mix and match off peak with other levels, so flying March 6 – 19 would cost 47,500 miles, still quite a bit better than the normal 60k price.

This chart leads me to believe the March off peak period is only March 1 – 15. Why? Low and off peak levels are mutually exclusive. During off peak periods, there are no “low” awards, only off peak, medium, and high. Around mid-March off peak awards are replaced by low awards.

Could the off peak period extend into February or April. I checked February and even late February has low, not off peak, awards. Same with April, so I am fairly confident the first off peak period is March 1 – 15 give or take a day.

Off peak awards also offer a discount on business awards, 40% off to South America. That means a business off peak award would be 60k roundtrip, the normal coach price, instead of 100k roundtrip.

Unfortunately, if you look at the March business class award chart CLT-GIG and GIG-CLT, there is no off peak availability:

Bummer! I’ve mentioned before that US Airways serves this route with angled business seats, unlike most of their service to Europe which feature flat beds in business. But some people would still want to pay 60k roundtrip for the angled seats. There is no chance to do that in March 2013 as of now.

Let’s take a look at the May charts CLT-GIG and GIG-CLT in economy:

As you can see, US Air is only allowing bookings through May 12, 2013 as of June 12, 2012. One more day on the calendar will open every day, so if you have dates in mind, wait until the return is available and lock it in! There looks to be great availability Monday through Thursday in both directions.

Unfortunately, like in March, there is no business class off peak availability in May:

Earlier in this post, I said you could get to Rio for 30k roundtrip next spring, so far it’s all been 35k. What gives?

Holders of the Barclay’s US Air Mastercard get an additional 5k off awards that fly on all US Air planes. Since that’s also a requirement of off peak awards, you can double dip the savings for 30k roundtrip awards to Rio!

I would totally book this right now, but I’ve placed a moratorium on booking new trips for a few months. I’ve just got too many coming up, especially after that LAX-Lima mistake fare for $238.

Will anyone be booking this amazing off peak fare?

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