Since earlier this week I wrote about the bonus offer when you sign up for the US Airways Credit Card, I thought it would only be reasonable to provide my readers with a top 10 list featuring what I consider some of the best uses of US Airways Miles. This way if you are considering getting this card you could see 10 ways that the US Airways dividend miles program stands out compared to some of its major competitors.
On many occasions on the list below, I compare US Airways to Delta, United, and American. Just remember, on Delta airlines ONLY Business and Economy class redemptions are possible, and delta does NOT allow any first class redemptions at this time.
1) 90K Miles to North Asia in Business Class: US Airways defines North Asia as China, Hong Kong, Japan, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Macau, Mongolia, South Korea, Taiwan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, and Uzbekistan. United and Delta both charge 120,000 miles for Business class award tickets to North Asia and AA charges 100,000 miles but limits North Asia to Japan, Korean & Mongolia. US Airways provides a substantial savings over AA, UA, & DL! In addition, given space availability, you could fly on some amazing Asian carriers such as Asiana, Singapore, ANA, or Thai to North Asia! ****Note, as of April 2014 90K miles to North Asia trips are only available from the Carribean and Central America. From North America US Airways now charges 120k miles return. In addition, if you have made the right decision to charter a boat on your Carribean trip, your next best decision will be to make sure you have appropriate coverage for that boat. Make sure to consider getting a Caribbean charter boat insurance policy.
2) Business or First Class Travel within South/Central Asia: US Airways allows travel within South & Central Asia for less than United or Delta. Traveling within this zone only requires 30K miles for Biz and 40k for 1st. US Airways defines South/Central Asia as Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Brunei, Cambodia, Chagos, India, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Maldives, Myanmar, Nepal, Pakistan, Philippines, Singapore, Sri Lanka, Thailand, and Vietnam. United requires 35K for Biz and 60k for 1st, Delta requires 70K miles for business class travel within South East Asia, and AA requires 45K for Biz or 90 in 1st.
US Airways South East/Central Asia Zone
3) Travel between South East Asia & Central Asia: Since US Airways lumps the two regions into the same zone, round trip flights between places like Manila and India just got a lot cheaper with US Airways dividend miles! US Airways charges only 25k/35k/45k for econ/biz/first class round-trips between the two zones. Meanwhile, United charge 50k/80k/100k for travel between the two zones, Delta charges 50K/70K and AA requires 45K/60k/90k!
4) 35K Miles for Economy or 60K miles for Biz for Off Peak Travel to Brazil: It doesn’t matter if you start your trip in Hawaii, the Caribbean, Canada, Alaska, or Mexico, US Airways considers it all the same if you’re flying on their metal to Brazil! And from March 1-31 or May 1-31, Award prices are only 35,000 miles in Economy or 60,000 in Business! US Airways flies to both Rio de Janeiro and Sao Paulo (Sao Paulo service begins May 5, 2013). Delta, United, & American requires 60K miles for Economy & 100K miles for Business to South America from the lower 48, so this means off season travel equals HUGE savings especially if you’re starting your trip in Hawaii!! AA does offer off-peak redemptions in economy for only 20K each way.
5) Off peak travel to Europe: Travel from North America or Hawaii to Europe on US Metal in the off-season (January 15 – February 28) for only 35K miles in econ and 60K in Biz! American, Delta & United charges 60k/100k for travel to Europe from the lower 48 and United ups the charge to 65k/115k from Hawaii while Delta charges 70k/120k from the islands! AA does offer off-peak economy redemptions from North America for 40K, but does not offer off peak redemptions in Business, therefore US Airways still offers substantial savings.
6) Travel to the South Pacific: Traveling to the South Pacific isn’t always the easiest on Star Alliance carriers especially if you want to go direct from the United States, however it is possible thanks to direct route to Australia (United), New Zealand (Air New Zealand, and Christmas Island (Air New Zealand). If you redeem your US Airway Miles you can travel downunder for 80k/110k/140k for econ/biz/1st class travel. The same award with United will cost you 80k/135k/ 160k or 100k/150k with Delta! The only saving comes with AA miles In economy where they require 75K, Otherwise biz and first require more miles: 125k/145k.
7) Off peak Travel to the Caribbean: If you want to bury your toes in the sand and relax when it’s starting to get cold at home in the United States & Canada, consider extending your summer by flying US Airways Metal from North America for only 25K in Econ or 50K in Biz. Off Peak travel to the Caribbean is Sept 1- 30th. Also US Airways flies to just about every Caribbean destination including Antigua, Aruba, Bermuda, Barbados, Bahamas, Cayman Islands, Jamaica, Dominican Republic, Saint Martin, Turks & Caicos, US Virgin Islands, Saint Kitts, Puerto Rico, Granada, & Saint Lucia. American, Delta & United charges 35K/60k year round for similar routes, but AA does match US off-peak economy price for 25K miles.
8) Travel form Mexico/Central America OR the Caribbean to Central/South East Asia: If your trip starts in Central America or the Caribbean and your travel plans are going to take you to Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Brunei, Cambodia, Chagos, India, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Maldives, Myanmar, Nepal, Pakistan, Philippines, Singapore, Sri Lanka, Thailand, or Vietnam, starting your trip in Latin America can equal substantial saving. US Airways partner chart allows travel to the other side of the world for 60k/90k/120k! If you live in the San Antonia area, the Monterrey, Mexico airport is only approximately 290 miles away and is served by Star Alliance Partner Airlines. Or better yet, use those BA Avios miles for a short flight to the Caribbean or Mexico and then change to a Star Alliance flight! A little drive or short flight could potentially save you 20K+ miles for travel to South East Asia or Central Asia thanks to US Airways Partner Award chart! The same zone traveling from the USA would cost you 80k/120k/160k!
9) Trips to Africa from North America: Trips to Africa from the USA are always pricey, so I always say if you’re going to go that far get away on miles! US aAirways Star Alliance partners redemptions are only 70K/110k/150K! United Airlines charges & Delta require 80k/120k/150k while American Charges 75k/150k/200k!
10) Save 5k miles per award booking: If you have the US Airways credit card and your award booking is completely on US Airways Metal, then you will qualify for a 5K miles discount per award ticket! No other program offers this!
Finally, know that US Airways has extremely liberal routing rules! US Airways booking agents are not the sharpest crayons in the box (I only say this based on a number of stories from Matthew and others on Flyertalk/MilePoint) and many of the agents have failed basic geography. However, this will work in your favor because US Airways allows open-jaws (flying from NYC-London, return Paris-NYC) or a free stop over on an award trip.
There have been a number of stories of people flying from the USA to China with a stopover in places like Thailand or Singapore! OR even more crazy, flying from the United States to Buenos Aires with a stopover in Germany! Award routings on US Airways can have up to 10 segments & are subjected to maximum permitted mileage (MPM), however many of the agents don’t check MPM, so it’s not something to worry about. This being said, if you get an agent who doesn’t question some crazy routing, then book it and don’t question the agent!
The US Airways Dividend program has a number of hidden gems and is a program worth exploring. It’s not a program that gets a lot of coverage in the blogosphere, but the perks of having US Airway miles is almost second to none. Keep your eye out for other promotions to earn miles with US Airways, for there really are a lot of great opportunities for cheap travel with this program!