As you may have heard, the US Airways Dividend Miles program is going to leave us soon. I thought this would be a good time to outline 5 of the best redemptions and benefits of the dying program! These 5 awards are what I have used with US Airways in the past!
US Airways has had a stellar award chart for the past few years and they offer amazing sweet spots throughout. A lot of people don’t always have good things to say about the agents but I don’t blame them because every time they learn something new, US Airways either buys out an airline or gets bought out! The agents are generally grumpy but you can find some really awesome ones as well. I know Ben has outlined booking with US Airways before, so I wont do that. Instead, i’ll list some of the different places you can use your miles to get to on the “cheap”.
Option 1: US Domestic Tickets (25,000-50,000)
US Airways has a great domestic chart for intra-US travel. Remember that if you fly exclusively on US Air metal and have their credit card, you’ll get 5,000 miles off. That comes out to 20,000 miles roundtrip in economy and 45,000 miles roundtrip in Business/First Class. Keep in mind that US Airways will devalue their North America chart soon.
The major benefit for the intra-US chart right now is the pricing for transcontinental First Class on American Airlines new A321T. Essentially the same as Cathay Pacific Business Class, AA has tried to capture the high profile clientele on their LAX/SFO-JFK routes. For 50,000 miles, you too can experience this level of service and comfort. It might seem like a steep price until you realize that American currently charges 65,000 miles in their own award chart for the same route.
Option 2: Mexico – South/Central Asia (60,000-90,000-120,000)
If you need to go to most of Asia, leaving from Mexico can save you a ton of miles. A family of four who starts their trip in Mexico can save upwards of 160,000 miles! As it is stated at the moment, Mexico to South/Central Asia is 90,000 in Business Class and 120,000 in First Class. I recently used this benefit to fly from Cabo San Lucas – Dhaka, Bangladesh in First Class with Cathay Pacific. It was a great redemption and it ended up saving me a total of 32,500 miles as I used 7,500 avios to get to Cabo.
US Airways still allows one stopover so you can use it up in your home airport. For example, if someone lives in California, they can buy a one way ticket down to Mexico for a vacation. Once finished, they can start their US Airways trip from there and head back home. Then they can create a stopover and depart to Asia whenever they have to. I’ve personally used this method to save 120,000 miles for my family. You must keep into account the costs of the tickets to Mexico. It was easy for us as there is plenty of avios space. It doesn’t make too much sense, however for people on the East Coast.
The way I think about these trips is the fact that USA-South Asia is 80,000 miles in Economy Class. If you head down to Mexico, you can literally fly in Business Class roundtrip for 10,000 more points. To me, it is a no brainer but to a family of four, it might be a nightmare to fly to Mexico and incur extra costs.
Keep in mind that Mexico – North Asia is priced higher in Business Class at 110,000 miles. It is a subtle change that mirrors the American award chart and shows that they are slowly coming into line with them.
Option 3: USA – South Pacific (80,000-110,000-140,000)
This is a great way to get to Australia. By far, one of the cheapest ways to get down under! Another great benefit of US Airways is that you can fly through Asia to get to Australia. Although there were more partners to Australia when US Air was part of Star Alliance, I have seen Cathay Pacific open up a lot of space to Melbourne and Sydney. There isn’t much availability with Qantas unless it is 11 months out or 1 week before travel. The best option is to actually fly through Asia now or keep checking the Dallas – Sydney flight as Business Class usually opens on that flight. If you want to travel in First Class, look for flights from USA-Hong Kong and then flights from Hong Kong and Singapore to Sydney with Qantas. For those who travel in Economy, there is usually a great amount of space from the US directly to Australia. Unless you want to fly Economy Class to Asia and have a stopover, you should try to fly the most direct flights possible.
To compare to American Airlines, it is often very hard to get seats because they do not allow you to transit through Asia on one award! They normally charge 75,000 miles in Economy, 125,000 miles in Business and 145,000 in First Class. Overall, US Airways will still be cheaper on this route in two of the three cabins! Couple that with flexible routings, international stopovers and you’re pretty much set to save a ton!
Option 4: USA – Middle East (80,000-120,000-180,000)
If you need to get to the Middle East, Dividend Miles are a great option to consider. There aren’t many Middle Eastern carriers with One World but Qatar Airways and Royal Jordanian are your best bets. Although they don’t open up a ton of space, Qatar Airways has flights from Chicago, Washington DC, New York, Philadelphia, Miami, Montreal, Dallas and Houston.
For 120,000 miles, you can also try to get across the pond on one of American Airlines or British Airways flights and have a nice stopover in the city of your choosing. After staying, you can catch a Qatar Airways flight to the Middle East. I have generally seen that there is a lot more open space from Europe than the US.
Subsequently, you can also try to book through Asia. This is beneficial as Cathay Pacific has just recently launched flights to Doha and more of the Middle East. There is also a ton of open space with Qatar Airways from Bangkok, Hong Kong and Singapore.
Option 5: Intra Asia – Intra Asia
The final option for using Dividend Miles is to use them for Intra Asia travel. The stopover benefit can be amazing when combining them with different flights in Asia. Cathay Pacific and some other Oneworld partners have fifth freedom flights within Asia and can greatly reduce costs when booking trips.
For 30,000 miles, you can fly in Business Class from Singapore to Bangkok with a stop in India for an extended period of time. This is super beneficial to people who like to travel Intra Asia or people who want to add on a few more cities to their other award trips.
Often times, this can have a financial benefit as well because Intra Asia flights can cost in upwards of $500-1000 per segment on Business Class. You can potentially get great value out of your miles and people who travel these routes often might even want to buy US Air miles when they go on sale.
Bonus Use: Save Them
If you don’t have a particular use for Dividend Miles, you should consider saving them. US Air and American will eventually merge frequent flyer programs and you will be able to transfer between both or to one program. The added risk that comes with this option is that either airline can devalue at anytime. By doing this, you can pool together your miles and save for a family trip or larger redemption.
If you do decide to save miles, chances are you can only transfer to American Airlines. By doing so, you actually forego some benefits like stopovers and routing rules. American is a bit more strict and they also manage to charge fuel taxes on some of their partner airlines.
Do you have any other suggestions about other redemption opportunities with Dividend Miles? Leave them in the comments below!