If you have ever wanted to fly around the world using your US Airways Dividend Miles, now would be the time to book your award redemption. (The New) American Airlines recently announced US Airways’ Dividend Miles program will be fully integrated into their AAdvantage program within the first two weeks of April 2015 but they will actually disable the ability to book US Airways award redemptions a few days beforehand! That means if you want to book a trip using US Airways’ cheaper award chart, lax routing rules and incompetent agents before they get converted to American Airlines AAdvantage miles, you must do it by the last week of March 2015.
US Airways has a cheaper award chart than American and US Airways will pretty much let you route any which way you want, to get to wherever you want. American, on the other hand, requires you to take the most “direct” route to your destination and has eliminated free stopovers and oneworld Explorer award tickets. That means if you want to fly first class around the world for only 125K miles, you should book it soon with your US Airways miles before they get converted.
Last May, I was able to book a crazy trip around the world for 125K US Airways miles and $239.98 in taxes and fees. Unfortunately, the lack of fuel surcharges was a short-lived glitch and you won’t be able to do that now. But there are still plenty of award redemptions you can take advantage of without (or with minimal) surcharges.
If you have some miles to burn, here are the US Airways award routing rules to keep in mind:
- You are only allowed one stopover OR one open jaw, but not both.
- Your stopover must be in a oneworld hub city.
That’s it. Those are the only two rules. Everything else is fair game. Well, sort of. . .
Everything else is fair game in the sense that if a phone agent will let you book it, then you can. US Airways doesn’t publish their award routing rules and I’m not sure anyone really knows what those rules are. I’m pretty sure the phone agents just make up their own rules and some are more lax than others. So my recommendation, plan out several itineraries, call US Airways and see what sticks. And if you can’t get anything to stick, hang up and call again.
US Airways’ best redemption is their roundtrip award from the US to North Asia in first class for 120,000 miles. This award lets you start in the US and end in North Asia (China, Japan, Hong Kong and South Korea). The great thing about US Airways awards is that they just tell you where to start and where to end, they don’t say anything on how you have to get there. They certainly don’t make you take the most direct route and you can basically go whichever way you want. Want to go by way of Europe? Sure. Want to transit through the Middle East, Central Asia or even Australia? Find the right agent and you can do whatever you want. To search oneworld partner airline flights, I find British Airways’ website to be pretty good.
So after an hour researching, I came up with three different itineraries, called US Airways and tried to book my craziest itinerary. Unfortunately, none of the phone agents let me do what I wanted to do (route through the Middle East and Australia) and I ended up with this itinerary instead. This took four hang up and call backs.
- Los Angeles to New York: American Airlines A321 first class.
- New York to London: British Airways 747 first class.
- London to Dusseldorf: British Airways A319 business class.
- Dusseldorf to London: British Airways A319 business class.
- London to Dubai: Qantas A380 first class.
- Dubai to Hong Kong: Cathay Pacific A330 business class.
- Hong Kong to Beijing: Cathay Pacific A330 business class.
- Beijing to Tokyo Narita: Japan Airlines 767 business class.
- Tokyo Narita to Los Angeles: Japan Airlines first class.
But wait, did you guys catch that? That’s right. Somehow I managed to get TWO stopovers on my trip. The first stopover in Dusseldorf is for four days and the second stopover in Hong Kong is for two days. And that’s not including my destination in Beijing for five days.
What happened was when I was going through my dates with the phone agent, I was switching back and forth between two itineraries and when the agent booked my trip, I think we both got confused and booked the wrong dates. It turned out in my favor because I wanted to hang out in Hong Kong for a bit. Not wanting her to catch the mistake, I just let it go and gave her my credit card number.
After it was all settled, my trip cost me 125,000 miles, $239.98 in taxes/fees and $50.00 award processing fee. But like I said earlier, there was a computer glitch when I booked this trip and this itinerary will now cost you over $1,000 in fuel surcharges. Sorry.
But wait again, you thought I said a first class award to North Asia was only 120,000 miles? How did it go up by 5,000 miles? Well, it looked like she charged me for the first class rate to Europe and not North Asia but I was so happy with this itinerary that I just booked it right away. I didn’t want to give her a second chance to review it another time and risk her catching some mistake she made. The additional 5K miles were worth it for me.
Here’s another tip about booking US Airways awards. If you find something that you like, book it right away. They allow you to place awards on hold but the next time you call in, that agent is supposed to double check and re-price your award, thus risk losing your award. Because they do everything manually, all the taxes and fees have to be calculated by the rates desk. This can take up to 20 minutes so don’t worry if it’s taking a long time.
I hope this info helps. Let me know if you guys have any questions or comments.