US Airways Dividend Miles award redemption basics

US Airways is running a couple of great promotions at the moment, making it easy to rack up a substantial mileage balance with them quickly.

The first promotion is their 50% bonus on points transferred from any of their hotel partners. This is a pretty great promo, since you’re earning 37,500 US Airways Dividend Miles for every 20,000 SPG points transferred (SPG throws in 5,000 bonus points for every 20,000 points you transfer, plus the 50% bonus). Furthermore, American Express Membership Rewards is running a 50% bonus on transfers from Membership Rewards to SPG, making it possible to indirectly convert Membership Rewards points into US Airways Dividend Miles at close to a 1:1 ratio.

US Airways is also running a 100% bonus on purchased miles, making it possible to rack up Dividend Miles at about 1.87 cents each.

With that in mind, I figured I’d share some of the basics of US Airways Dividend Miles so you can determine whether taking advantage of one of these promotions makes sense for you or not.

Award chart

US Airways belongs to the Star Alliance, and you can find their partner award chart here.

Stopovers

On awards between regions you have the choice between an open jaw OR a stopover at a Star Alliance hub or US Airways gateway city (meaning a transoceanic gateway served by US Airways)

Booking fees

US Airways charges a Dividend Miles processing fee of $25 for travel within the continental US/Alaska/Canada, $35 for travel to Latin America/Caribbean, and $50 for travel elsewhere. The call center booking fee is waived for Star Alliance tickets since they can’t be booked online. The redeposit and change fees are $150 per person. Lastly, if ticketing within 21 days of departure there’s a $75 quick ticketing fee.

Holds

You can hold an award reservation for up to 72 hours, even if you don’t have enough miles in your Dividend Miles account.

Routing rules

In theory US Airways follows MPMs (maximum permitted mileage) for awards. In practice I’ve never had an agent check the MPM, because I don’t think they even know how to do so. The only thing they regularly check on is to be sure that you don’t have more than one stopover or one open jaw.

For the most part US Airways agents are geographically challenged, to put it nicely. A few examples from the past couple of weeks:

  • Last week I was trying to book a ticket for a client between New York and Dubai, and found a routing through Zurich on Swiss. That’s about as direct as routings get. The agent claimed the routing included backtracking, so I asked her to double check on that. After putting me on hold for a while she came back and said “oops, you’re right, I was a little confused about where Zurich was.”
  • On the other hand, I’ve seen plenty of people book tickets from Miami to Buenos Aires via Frankfurt without an agent batting an eyelash. After all, Buenos Aires is in Spain, right? ;)

The key with getting a US Airways agent to book whatever you want is to minimize the number of segments involved. If you fly from New York to Frankfurt via Boston, Toronto, Montreal, London, Paris, Zurich, and Munich, that’s actually a legal routing in terms of the MPM, though it will likely confuse the agent, since US Airways agents seem to assume that lots of segments means lots of miles. If, on the other hand, you tried to book Newark to Tokyo via Singapore, you’d be exceeding the MPM by a ton, though I’d be willing to bet most US Airways agents wouldn’t have any issues with it. After all, Asia is tiny and Singapore and Tokyo are like 30 minutes apart, right? ;)

Anyway, what this means is that you can do just about anything within reason with a bit of effort. However, if an agent tells you a routing isn’t legal, just hang up and call again instead of arguing. You’re by no means entitled to a routing that exceeds the MPM, and once an agent notes your reservation you’ll have trouble ticketing it.

Lastly, keep in mind that routings aren’t confirmed till the time of ticketing. What this means is that even if you’re able to place an “illegal” routing on hold, that doesn’t mean the agent has to ticket it when you call back. As a result, if you get a really good routing, I suggest ticketing it right away.

Other restrictions

Award tickets can include a maximum of 10 segments.

Award chart gems

  • 90,000 miles for business class to North Asia. This is just about the lowest cost in the industry for business class to Asia, so it’s quite a value. By US Airways’ definition, North Asia goes as far South as Hong Kong. Furthermore, US Airways lets you route from the US to Asia via Europe, so you can have a stopover in Europe enroute. This is pretty funny since US to Europe in business class costs 100,000 miles, so you save 10,000 miles by continuing on to Asia.
  • 120,000 miles for first class to North Asia. All the same conditions as above apply. I did this exact award just a couple of months ago to Tokyo via Europe, including a couple of segments in first class on the Lufthansa Airbus 380. It was quite a value!
  • 110,000 miles for business class to Australia/New Zealand. This is considerably cheaper than the competition, not to mention that US Airways will let you route from the US to Australia via Asia (and sometimes Europe), which is often helpful given how limited award availability is nonstop between the US and Australia/New Zealand.

Future award chart adjustments

I hate to be Mr. Negative, but something tells me that US Airways will be devaluing their award chart substantially over the coming months. They haven’t had a major devaluation for a while now, and they really don’t have an incentive to be priced below the competition on the award front, especially given how inexpensively they sell miles. So I’d only take advantage of the above if you have a relatively short term use for the miles. If you don’t think you’ll be able to redeem the miles within the next six months or so, I’d hold off on doing any transfer or purchasing any miles.

Any questions?

Comments

  1. Marz says

    Whats the best way to find award availability so we can replicate your Tokyo trip on the A380? Or to find an award ticket to Australia? Thanks!

  2. lucky says

    @ Marz — I suggest using the United and Aeroplan websites to find award availability. To find Lufthansa first class award space you’ll have to book within a few days of departure, since that’s when they release the most award space.

  3. Rami says

    This is terrible for people like me that likes to have everything (flights, hotels, reservations) all ready 6 months in advance. I have been checking for award availability on United.com for the next 2 weeks and you can get great first/business class for almost everywhere in the world.
    I need to change the way I plan vacations.
    @Marz; you can always hire Ben to get it done for you; no hassle.

  4. Peter S says

    I am trying to fly Asiana from ORD to CAN with a stopover at PVG and back from CAN to ORD. Do you think I can sweet talk a free stopover at PVG out of US Reps. Technically, I can only make a stopover at a staralliance hub if I fly that *A and PVG is not a hub for Asiana but it is a hub for Air China.

  5. Checked says

    @Rami – I believe that continental.com/united.com is currently displaying wrong award availability for First Class on Lufthansa. If I x-check with the ANA Tool – it doesn’t give that generous availability and everytime I tried to book via united.com it gave me an error.

  6. dcacoaster says

    Lucky, thank you for this! Super clean and straightforward distillation of the rules and advice for us non-experts. Definitely bookmarking this.

  7. Nick says

    I know you said pretty much anything is possible with US Air and you said you could go to North Asia on a Australia/New Zealand award, but I was wondering if you thought it would be possible to do the opposite, go to New Zealand on a stopover for a North Asia award. That would be a great value as it would be 30,000 points cheaper for business class.

  8. Nick says

    I know you said you can do pretty much everything US Air awards and that you could do a stopover in North Asia on an Australia/New Zealand award. Do you think they would allow you to do the opposite, would it be possible to do a North Asia award with a stop over in New Zealand? That would be a better value since it would cost 30,000 less for business class. Thanks.

  9. says

    I have 150,000 miles on US Airways and I want to fly First Class to Lebanon. Currently I’m living in Brazil and Sao Paulo will be my departure city. I want to get the best of these miles, maybe flying through the US, then to Europe and finally to the Middle East. Would that be possible? Anyone has any route suggestions? I thought about:

    GRU-SCL on JJ – 773
    SCL-YYZ on AC – 763
    YYZ-YUL on AC – 319
    YUL-ZRH on LX – 333
    ZRH-CAI on LX – 343
    CAI-BEY on MS – 738 (not very happy about that since the C on short haul flights is awful)

    BEY-IST on TK – 321 or 738
    IST-LAX on TK – 773
    LAX-IAD on UA – 772
    IAD-EZE on UA – 763
    EZE-GRU on JJ – 333

    I heard about people getting more than 10 segments.

    Any ideas?

  10. Oliver2002 says

    Ben, you are evidntly calling the wrong number, there is a US Airways location that knows the world and books things in a flash :)

  11. caveman says

    Ben! you said “To find Lufthansa first class award space you’ll have to book within a few days of departure, since that’s when they release the most award space” What about business class award space in Lufthansa and Swiss?

  12. Andrew B says

    This is helpful! US is my airline of choice (mainly because I live near DCA and they treat low-tier elites fairly well). I may be asking for your services in booking an award trip to Germany this fall…hoping to get it all settled before any devaluation occurs.

  13. Rajesh says

    I tried holding the award reservation but the US Air agents didn’t let me. They said either I ticket it or start from scratch the next time. It happened twice. Anyone had the same experience ?

  14. lucky says

    @ Peter — They don’t care which airline you’re flying, but rather only that it’s a Star Alliance hub. You should have no problems with a stopover in Shanghai.

    @ Nick — I believe it would be 20,000 points cheaper (110,000 vs. 90,000), and I doubt that would be possible unless you found award space nonstop between the US and New Zealand, which is rather limited.

    @ Fábio Vilela — They’re strict about the 10 segment limit in my experience.

    @ Sarah — Nope, tickets are valid a year from the date of issue, so as long as the stopover doesn’t exceed that, you’re fine.

    @ caveman — That’s more readily available.

    @ Rajesh — I would try again. Which airline was it for travel all?

  15. Ananth says

    Lucky, Are the miles to South Asia competitive or do you think there’s better redemption elsewhere? Planning a trip to Singapore with a Stopover in India and have enough SPG points and MR points.

  16. lucky says

    @ Ananth — They’re still very competitive, especially if you want a stopover. They just aren’t *that* much better than the competition in that instance. But still a great deal.

    @ Andy — Unfortunately not. They’re not part of the Star Alliance.

  17. JRL says

    @Lucky – Do you have anything from US online that states the 10 segment rule? I’ve had the last two reps tell me that it is an 8 segment max. 4 going, 4 coming.

    JRL

  18. Josh says

    Hi Lucky, great article! I just wanna ask if with US airway it is possible to orginate in North asian to US and end up in Australia. I know this is intercontinental open jaw, and happy to pay for higher redemption rate 140k miles for first. But just wondering if US airway will allow it.

  19. lucky says

    @ JRL — Sadly like all things involving US IT (or geography), they suck. I don’t think it’s published anywhere.

    @ Josh — Open jaws between regions are allowed. The only restriction is that the distance of the open jaw has to be shorter than the distance of either the outbound or return leg. That shouldn’t be an issue in your case.

  20. Arcanum says

    Having spent the last two weeks trying to book YYZ-MEL with US, let me add a few things I’ve recently learned.

    1. You’re now allowed a max of 4 segments each way for a total of 8 (not 10). The folks in the US forum on FT say the agents have become very strict about this over the last few months, and none of the many agents I called would do an itinerary over 8. To make matters worse, the 4 segments include the stopover, so no doing Origin to Destination x 3, Destination to Stopover x 3, and Stopover to Origin x 2 as that gives you 5 segments on the overall return. Again, FT opinions indicate they’re now quite strict on this.

    2. Technically they are supposed to charge mileage based on the most expensive zone TRAVERSED, so if you go North America to Australia via Singapore in business, they should charge you the 120,000 for South Asia rather than the 110,000 for Australia. Given the geography skills of the average American agent, this will often get overlooked if you’re transitting a higher zone, but seems to get flagged if you try to do a stopover there. That being said, I managed to get a stopover in BKK on my way back from Australia without triggering the South Asia price level so YMMV.

    3. The US system will sometimes show no availability when other sources (Aeroplan, UA, ANA) show 1 seat available. If there are 2 or more seats available US is fine. It happened to me where there was 1 seat on NRT-ZRH but US couldn’t see it. Again, I consulted the US gurus on FT who stated that the “+1 issue” has been an ongoing problem with US and that no one seems to have found a way around it. If you’ve got a solution please let me know (and the US forum!)

    4. Aeroplan has been showing screwy phantom advance Lufthansa F space for a while now, and the new UA site seems to be doing the same thing. ANA won’t show these seats, and I’ve been unable to get Aeroplan to actually book one. I wonder if AP and UA might be showing the space available to Miles & More members rather than the general Star Alliance availability. Not having EF or a M&M account I haven’t been able to check this myself. Anyone know?

    5. There’s good availability in business to Australia most days from SIN and BKK, somewhat less from PEK, PVG, and ICN. Most intra-Asia routes are also wide open, so if you can get yourself to Asia in 2 segments (try LAX-ICN most days on Asiana) you should be able to get to any of the major Australian cities without a problem. For Auckland, NZ has some availability from PEK, PVG, KIX, and NRT, although those flights are not with the newest longhaul product. As for First, there’s Thai to SYD and that’s about it. I have yet to see SQ release First even on their old planes to Australia, and CA and OZ don’t fly First on their routes.

    6. There’s some debate about getting into Lufthansa First. The gurus say you can book a segment in Business on LH on a First Class itinerary, and if a First seat opens up before departure you can get US to bump you up into it free of charge. All of the agents I talked to (and there were many) said this would require canceling the ticket. I’m booked in LH J for one leg on my upcoming F award, so I’ll let you know in a month!

    7. Some agents will let you place an illegal itinerary on hold to reserve certain flights while you play with the rest. My original outbound was valid but the return was not; the agent put the whole thing on hold for 3 days while I got the return from 6 segments down to 4. That being said, when I called to fix the hold the next agent said they’re not supposed to hold illegal routings because the partner airline systems sometimes read them as invalid and auto-cancel the whole thing, so do this at your own risk.

    8. Hong Kong is technically a NZ hub and thus can be used as a stopover. Availability on the LHR-HKG and HKG-AKL routes has been as bad as NZ’s TPAC flights, although I did spot a couple of J seats about 6 weeks out that were rapidly snapped up.

    These are the nuggets I’ve picked up over 3-4 weeks of diligent searching. I finally managed to book YUL-BOS-FRA-BKK-SYD, BKK-SYD, and BKK-PEK-ZRH-YUL with 5 of 8 segments in F (and 1 in LH J that will hopefully get converted to F). FWIW, there’s good LX F space to NRT and PEK, although it’s the old F on the A340s apparently.

    Feedback is always welcome.

  21. Ananth says

    Lucky,
    I was playing around with Singapore availability in United, Aeroplan and ANA’s website and cant see any Business or First seats from the US for any set of dates. I thought Singapore was releasing availability for their partners from March 1st? Or was that just a glitch?

  22. lucky says

    @ Ananth — All Singapore promised is that they’d start releasing saver first class award space to their own members as of March 1. While they haven’t released any first class award space to partner airlines as far as I can tell, I have noticed them releasing business class award space within a couple of weeks of departure. Have you checked closer in as opposed to far out?

  23. Ananth says

    Lucky,
    I did. Nothing to be found in March/April. I have enough MRs to transfer directly to Krisflyer and book through them but using US Airways would have saved me some miles. I will keep an eye out for award space closer to the travel date. Thank you so much for your help.

  24. lucky says

    @ Ananth — Just to prove I’m not going totally crazy, I just searched EWR-SIN for March 26, and I see business class award space. Seems to be very close to departure, but there’s definitely some space there.

  25. JohnnieD says

    So, if I want to travel YYZ-MUC round trip for 100K, I could ‘stopover in MUC’ then when I want to come home, ‘continue’ my trip to BKK for a few days and then return to YYZ from BKK for 90K?? Sweet………..

  26. lucky says

    @ JohnnieD — Almost. Bangkok is considered South Asia and therefore 120,000 miles. If you made it Hong Kong instead, though, it would be 90,000 miles.

  27. Ananth says

    Lucky,
    Thanks. Found some award space in Aeroplan. I don’t know how I missed it the first time around. Thank you so much.

  28. Ian says

    Excellent article – thank you. I am new to the notion of using miles rather than moneyto travel (!) and this is a very helpful article. You had said

    “I hate to be Mr. Negative, but something tells me that US Airways will be devaluing their award chart substantially over the coming months”.

    Can I just confirm that this means you expect Dividend Miles to be even cheaper to buy in the future or that you can travel for less miles? I am looking to go from the UK to Australia in May/June 2013 which I believe is 120k points business and 150k first class. The current Dividend Miles offer seems to let me buy 50k + 25k bonus + 25k additional bonus later via points.com and I had planned to buy these now while the offer is on and then buy the balance when another similar offer is on. Or do you think I am planning too far ahead?

  29. lucky says

    @ Ian — Sorry for any confusion, I meant quite the opposite. I expect the value of their miles to go down, meaning more miles will be required to book the same tickets.

    Given that you plan on traveling in May, that means you could potentially make a booking as soon as June (that’s 11 months out, when the schedule opens). Since that’s the case, I’d say go ahead and start buying the miles now so you have enough between this promotion and the next one to book such an award. Good luck!

  30. jayy says

    Lucky – very helpful stuff! Question – what are the differences (if any) b/w United & USAir FF programs? Since they’re both StarA, are there any differences when trying to redeem for international biz/1st travel (availability, miles required, blackout dates, etc.)? Which program has better availability/pricing when it comes to non-alliance partner redemptions. What about fuel surcharges, processing fees, etc? Do either program do OW awards for 1/2 RT miles?

  31. lucky says

    @ jayy — Great questions! A few thoughts:

    United:
    — Lets you book one way awards for half the mileage cost
    — Doesn’t block any partner award availability
    — Has lower ticketing/change fees, and also more flexible change policy

    US Airways:
    — Has a few award redemptions that are cheaper than at United, like first class to Europe and North Asia

  32. jayy says

    Thx for the response! On partner availability, do u mean that United has the same access to Alliance (as well as non-Alliance) partner rewards as those airlines would release to their own members (& that USAir doesn’t)? For example, let’s say u wanted to use Qatar to the Maldives/ME/South-Asia, would I have a much easier time going thru United vs. USAir? Like you said, the USAir chart does have some deals but it sounds like its useless if you can’t access the seats! A further Q – who is more liberal on awards when it comes to stopovers/open-jaws, max # of segments?

  33. jayy says

    One more question – do mile purchases count toward the bonus travel categories w/ credit card programs like MR/Sapphire/Discover, etc?

  34. lucky says

    @ jayy — Mileage purchases do count as “airfare” in terms of category spend for the airlines that directly process the mileage purchases. Delta and United process them directly, while American and US Airways don’t, to the best of my knowledge.

  35. lucky says

    @ jayy — United allows more segments (16 vs. 10), a stopover and an open jaw (vs. just one or the other), and has more partners. So if you wanted to book a non-alliance partner you’re definitely better off booking through United.

  36. jayy says

    @ lucky: thank u 4 the responses – as always, helpful stuff! Sorry 4 a ton of Q’s – if u know of any good primers on the United program (like this one on USAir) pls let me know. Especially any that’ve been updated post-merger. 2 more Q’s: 1/ how do u go about finding key airports that an airline serves in a particular region? Not necessarily hub cities but ones that’re well served. The problem w/ route maps is that they don’t have details (frequency, etc.) 2/ Does United publish award-travel blackout dates (like USAir)?

  37. lucky says

    @ jayy — I can write one in the next week or so, if you’d like.

    Typically for finding the best routes you’re best off going to the website of the airline you’re booking and looking at their route map.

    United doesn’t have any award blackout dates.

  38. jayy says

    Thank you. It’d be helpful esp. if you’ve heard the same from others. Q – when United lets u do OWs for half of RT miles, is that only when it’s their metal? Or does it apply to partners as well?

  39. Rob says

    Hi, I have a couple of reward redemption questions. I’m planning a February trip to Europe for my family, and want to make sure that my ideas will work. Reward travel Europe is cheap in the winter (17,500 each way) and we have the credit card, so just 30K total per person. I have two questions. 1) Can we do open jaw; e.g., into Rome, and out of Paris or London, for the same mileage (30k) as it would be to go roundtrip.? And, 2) We’ll be traveling with 2 kids – a 5 year-old, who I assume will cost full mile, and a 1 year old, who I’m hoping to be able to treat as a lap infant and thus not cost any miles. Does that work? Will we just have to pay the $50 fee? Taxes? I’m hoping the whole trip for the 4 of us can be done for 90K miles plus taxes and fees.

    Thanks for any thoughts!
    Rob

  40. lucky says

    @ Rob — Absolutely, you’re allowed a single open jaw. You do need a seat for the five year old, though for the lap infant you’d have to pay 10% of the cost of a revenue full fare ticket for the route you’re flying, which can add up, though shouldn’t be so much for a coach ticket. Good luck!

  41. jayy says

    With the USAir card, does each person who wants the 5k discount have to be a separate/unique cardmember? Or can one cardmember book award-travel for a group and receive the 5k discount per person traveling?

  42. Julia says

    I’m looking to book a ticket from PHL to TGU with a stopover i IAH. United’s flights to TGU stop in IAH, and there is a little saver award availability and good standard availability for the dates I want. A couple of questions:
    1. can I book this itinerary with dividend miles? (I think yes)
    2. If I call USAir, should they have united award availability if united.com itself shows standard, not saver availability?
    3. if yes, will the ticket price out to 35k (coach) or 60k (F) DM, booked through USAir? (on united the standard award would be many more miles).
    Thanks so much! longtime usair flyer, but new to united/partner awards.

  43. lucky says

    @ Julia — Unfortunatey you can’t book an award only available at the standard level on United using US Airways miles.

  44. Ed says

    Hi Lucky,

    Kind of new with the US airways program. Was hoping if you could shed some light on the below.

    Background:

    I live in New York at the moment and will permanently relocate back to hong kong (Aug). I need to be at the Maldives in September and then Europe in October. Is there any way i can do a booking and abandon the sector back to the USA? I’m thinking something like this?

    JFK-NRT (ANA)
    NRT-HKG (ANA)
    HKG-SIN-MLE (SQ)
    MLE-SIN-FRA (SQ)
    FRA-JFK (Abandon the sector but say on LH for examples sake)

    Obviously nobody will be aware that im abandoning the last leg , but i can always book a one way back to HKG from anywhere in Europe.

    Is this sort of routing valid on US Airways? Also, how else would you add more sectors to make the route potentially the longer road travelled, since i plan to go in F.

    Thanks for any advice you may have. Love the blog and keep up the awesome work!

    Ed

  45. lucky says

    @ Ed — Looks good, though keep in mind that Singapore doesn’t release first class award space to partner airlines, and ANA only VERY rarely releases first class award space. So both are pretty unrealistic using US Airways miles.

    Technically your stopover would have to be at a Star Alliance hub which Hong Kong ISN’T, though I suspect you could get away with it, in which case the rest of it would be legal.

    Good luck!

  46. Christian says

    Hi Lucky — I’m new to your blog and I really appreciate you sharing all this info.

    I’m looking at redeeming two business class awards on UA from IAD-SFO-ICN (and back) using Dividend Miles. There are two business class seats open on the SFO-ICN segment, but not on IAD-SFO. Looking at the fare class info, it seems that the flight has space.

    Available Cabins: F9, A9, JN9, Z9, ZN9, P9, PN9, R4, RN4, IN1, I1, Y9, YN9, B9, M9, E9, U9, H9, HN9, Q9, V9, W9, S9, T9, L9, K9, G9, N9, XN9, X9

    Is it likely that award space might open up, and if so, how can I make sure I sit upfront on the IAD-SFO segment after I’ve booked? Any advice is appreciated. Thanks!

  47. lucky says

    @ Christian — You are correct the flight has two coach award seats available, and also one first class award seat available.

    In your shoes I would split the record so you can already book one passenger in first class and the other in coach. Worst case scenario if the second first class seat doesn’t open up, you can almost certainly switch seats with someone in coach and have them take your first class seat.

    In the past US Airways would consistently let you “upgrade” to the cabin you paid for for free if the space opens up, though as of late they’ve been charging the $150 fee. So you could make the change, but you would be charged the $150.

  48. Christian says

    Thanks for the advice. How do you suggest keeping track of when an award seat opens up? And, on the day of the flight, would I be eligible for an upgrade at the gate if seats are available (since I “paid” for a first class seat in miles?)

  49. lucky says

    @ Christian — You’re only eligible for an upgrade until you check-in, since ultimately US Airways is only paying the operating airline for the seat you’re confirmed in.

    You’re best off using the United or ANA websites to track when award space opens up.

  50. says

    Compliments of the season,

    I’m interested in booking a one-way (any class) SIN-DME-IAH with a long stopover in DME. Considering that I currently don’t possess a Russian visa, how risky a booking do you think this is?

    Thanks,
    Jonathan

  51. lucky says

    @ Jonathan — Assuming you don’t have a criminal history in Russia and haven’t killed anyone, I’d say it’s a pretty safe bet.

  52. Danny says

    Hi Lucky,
    great blog with valuable inputs!

    I am looking for an exciting trip from SIN to final destination ZRH for mid August. any idea for an interesting trip with many legs?

    Cheers
    Danny

  53. lucky says

    @ Danny — You’re looking at traveling during a really tough time of the year given the summer break around most of the world and Olympics, so chances are you won’t have many options. I’d go with whatever you can find, frankly.

  54. Danny says

    thanks Lucky, not what I wanted to hear but clear and honest. appreciated, thanks!

  55. Danny says

    Lucky, as being based in SIN I used SIA krisflyer so far but not really happy (high additional cost when redeeming miles).
    could I transfer my current miles to US Airways?
    Can I also continue to book SIA tickets and collect miles with US Airways? same amount as with SIA?

    Thank you
    Danny

  56. Tim says

    Lucky, I have struggled for years to use our US Airways miles and have wondered if there are agenst or a service that assist i booking travel to use miles. So you do this. All your info is extremely helpful, but I don’t have the time or knowledge to find the flights.

    I’m looking to head somewhere great in May 2013 four our 10th anniversary with about 200k US air Miles and 250k Marriott points.

    Is this something we can engage your services to assist with?

  57. Tim says

    Disregard my previous post, I now see the link for Points Pros. Awesome, will contact soon.

    Thanks!

  58. Christian says

    So is it true that US Airways blocks F awards on LH for transatlantic flights. Can anyone confirm? I just tried to book a seat that is available on United.com (IAD to FRA), and two different US Airways agents told me there were no seats. Any advice?

  59. Christian says

    Actually, at this point I haven’t been able to get a US Airways Agent agent to confirm availability for even 1 F seat on any LH flight (transatlantic or otherwise), even when the United.com website shows 2 seats. What gives? Do I need a secret code word?

  60. lucky says

    @ Christian — US Airways blocks ALL Lufthansa first class award space, unfortunately.

  61. Christian says

    I would like to book a Business class flight from Hong Kong to Shanghai using Dividend miles. Would it be possible to do an award from HKG->BKK->PVG->BKK->HKG and still be a North Asia award for 30K points? Could I have a stopover in Bangkok on the return?

  62. Tom says

    I have a question regarding booking frequent flyer awards 330 days out. While I understand that it is advised to attempt to make a award reservation 330 days out to try to get a good chance at your choice of flights and class of service. But when your outbound flight is 330 days out your return portion is more than 330 days out. What is recommended?

  63. lucky says

    @ Tom — Usually it’s not necessary to book exactly 330 days out with the exception of a few destinations during high season. That being said, keep in mind you can book 330 days out but your ticket is good for a year from the date of issue. So technically you could book the one way and then call back and add a return within 35 days of the outbound. There would be a $150 change fee, but it’s one way to lock in the flights.

  64. lucky says

    @ Christian — Since the award is entirely within one region, no stopovers are allowed. Technically you shouldn’t be able to route via another region, though in practice there’s a good chance they’d let you get away with it. Just not the stopover, most likely…

  65. lucky says

    @ Cat — I don’t think there’s a single best airline for awards to Australia since they’re so tough to come by. The key is diversification of points, because often awards are available with one alliance but not another.

    In theory American miles are best, since they partner with Qantas which flies nonstop. But in practice they don’t have much award space. Other than that I’d say US Airways is probably best.

  66. Christian says

    I’m trying to book a business class flight on ANA from NRT to HKG using dividend miles. I see availability using the ANA, United, Aeroplan websites. However, when I call US Airways, they claim they don’t see the flight. What gives? Is this another example of them blocking certain airlines?

  67. Christian says

    BTW — Thanks for all your help, Lucky. Using Dividend Miles is more challenging then I realized.

  68. lucky says

    @ Christian — Thanks! Unfortunately for whatever reason the ANA/Air Japan flights out of Narita sometimes don’t show as available to US Airways, while they do see the Haneda flights. Unfortunately I haven’t found a way around this.

  69. Randy says

    I have also met the problem that Christian has. When i tried to book a business class on ANA from NRT to HKG, I see availability using the ANA and United. When i call some CSP told me that they didn’t see any availability some say just been booked. Could you tell what happens with that and how should i do?

  70. lucky says

    @ Randy — Unfortunately there’s no way to get around it. For whatever reason the award space on certain ANA/Air Japan flights between NRT and other Asian destinations doesn’t show up to US Airways, and there’s no way around it.

  71. Dan says

    Hi Ben

    I am trying to book LAX-MUC-NRT then NRT-LAX

    The agent is telling me thats a rtw trip and not legal routing. Does that depend on the agent or do I need to come back through europe? such as NRT-MUC-LAX?

  72. lucky says

    @ Dan — That routing is allowed, but as usual US Airways agents are very inconsistent. You’ll want to hang up and call again.

  73. Sam says

    Hi Lucky, I am trying to book SIN-IST on SQ which ANA/Aeroplan shows as available but US does not. Does US block SQ seats?

  74. Cham says

    In regards to the devaluation of US Airways Dividend miles, I disagree that we should hold off on purchasing/transferring miles right now. When comparing the price for this year from last year, the price to purchase miles have gone up roughly $300 for 100k miles. Therefore, I highly recommend stock up on miles now.

  75. Jason R says

    I’d like to book a “multi-city” award trip on US Airways… BOS-TUS and PHX-BOS. Can this not be done online or am I missing something?

  76. Maury says

    Hi Lucky: I want to book a flight from USA to ARN(stop for a few days), continue to SYD for a few days and then return to the US. All this in business. Is this allowed using US Airways miles for 110,000 miles? Thank you.

  77. lucky says

    @ Maury — It very much depends on the agent you’d get, but I’d say that’s probably pushing it unless you can keep it at under five segments per direction.

  78. Flyer says

    Hi Lucky, very good article and helpful.
    Do you know how many US air miles I will need to fly between US and Jeddah(JED)?
    90k or 120k?
    Thanks.

  79. says

    How many miles can you buy each year?

    Wondering if can ever buy enough for a business return trip from Australia as current promotion is for max 100K miles.
    Dale.

  80. lucky says

    @ Dale — There’s no limit to how many you can buy in a year, just a limit to how many bonus miles you can get per promotion.

  81. Elaine says

    Hi,

    Thanks for this great post and your helpful comments too. I actually got here by clicking through on another of your posts which was on a similar topic.

    I have been a regular reader of your blog and am about to start my first awards booking using US Airways miles. Assuming I can reserve what I want, I will top off my account by buying some miles at the current 100% discount.

    I plan to book either PDX-TLV and then IST-PDX, or PDX-TLV-IST-PDX. Pretty simple compared to some of the complex routings I’ve seen here, but I still have a few questions, if I may:

    1) I’ll be in TLV for 3 weeks. Can I stop for a week in IST on the way home, by doing PDX-TLV-IST-PDX?

    2) Am I correct that either of these itineraries (PDX-TLV-IST-PDX; or PDX-TLV and IST-PDX) should cost 80,000 in Coach and 120,000 in Bus?

    My plan is to find the flights using the United site, call to get them on hold, buy the miles, and then get ticketed. I was a little nervous before my first AOR and reconsideration call, but I did fine. So I am determined to get the hang of awards bookings too. Any answers and advice you can offer this newbie is most appreciated!

    Thanks again!

  82. lucky says

    @ Elaine — Thanks for reading and sounds like you’re off to a great start with our “hobby.” You’re right both about the rates and that you can do a stopover in Istanbul on your way there or way back.

    Let me know if you have any other questions and safe travels!

  83. Dan says

    Hi Ben

    IF I am looking to book an award trip to North Asia for 90k miles in Business class. Can I do a stopover in Istanbul or Dubai on the way or can I only stopover in Europe?

  84. lucky says

    @ Dan — You can indeed stop in Istanbul since it’s a Star Alliance hub (and in Europe, technically). You couldn’t stop in Dubai since it’s not a Star Alliance hub.

  85. Daniel says

    Lucky, thanks for all your excellent posts. One very naive question, for practical purposes, what are the benefits of having 8 segments instead of a direct flight from point A to point B? For you, it’s beneficial to experience different airlines and products. But for most leisure flyers, do you get to explore the cities between the segments OR earn more miles on these award tickets OR other reason?

  86. lucky says

    @ Daniel — You don’t earn miles, so the reasons you would want more connections include:
    a) You want to try more airlines
    b) You want a bunch of stopovers of under 24 hours, as you can stop somewhere for up to 24 hours without it counting as a stopover
    c) There’s not more direct service between two cities with award space, as is often the case

  87. Dan says

    Ben, thanks for the previous reply.

    I read one of your older posts regarding a a possible trip to iceland and i was wanted to follow what you had said.

    I was planning on going from west coast to OSL (stopover) and then going from OSL to KEF

    Now to head back home can I go west back towards the US or do I have to go east past asia to head home?

    I would be using us airways miles – thanks!

  88. Brian says

    Newbie here…booked Conrad maldives for November 2014 and have usairways and united miles. Any chance I will be able to use star alliance awards in nov, one year out from hotel or you think AA merger will be complete?

  89. lucky says

    @ Brian — It’s anyone’s guess. If I had to guess I’d say by November US Airways will have left Star Alliance, though I could be wrong. Keep in mind if they can be redeemed as American miles, they partner with Etihad, which has excellent award availability to the Maldives.

  90. Jenny says

    I’m trying to work out a reservation from NYC-SYD, and was just put on hold while they looked up the MPM for the routing – I was shocked since the three previous agents never mentioned it! So I can be prepared the next time I call, where is the best place to look up US Airways MPMs?

  91. lucky says

    @ Jenny — To be honest I think the agent was full of it. I’ve booked hundreds of awards with US Airways and while I’ve had agents check if a routing is legal, I’ve never seen them cite the MPM. Most airlines let you go some percentage over the MPM, and to be honest I don’t know what the rule is for US Airways since I’ve never encountered it.

  92. Knightrises says

    Lucky would westcoast to MAD(month stopover)- ZRH-FRA-HKG-FRA-Westcoast be valid for 90k? I see 748i but If I go to far ahead I get TG through BKK, would that be valid?

  93. DaBears says

    Lucky C1w-MAD/(stopover)-GIG/GRU/EZE-C1w valid or do I have to route through Europe on return? How could I spend the least amount of miles to combine Europe and Brazil?

  94. lucky says

    @ Knightrises — Either should work fine. Some might try to charge you the South Asia price if you route through South Asia, though I’ve certainly booked similar awards before.

  95. lucky says

    @ DaBears — It depends on the agent you get, though I don’t think most agents would let you route from the US to Europe via South America (or from the US to South America via Europe).

  96. E says

    Is the quick ticketing fee 21 days inclusive as in it has be the 22nd day to avoid the fee?

    Book/Ticket on 9/17 for travel on 10/8. Does that incur a quick ticketing fee? Or does it have to be on 10/9 to avoid it.

  97. audisfo says

    Lucky, do you know if Dividend Miles Award
    Processing Fee for international award ticket could be waived? Is it same as the call center booking fee?

  98. gymrat says

    I spoke to 5 agents and they insisted the LAX –> stopover in FRA –> TPE is 100K since the stopover is in Europe and they need to charge the highest amount of the entire trip. Argh!

  99. says

    @ gymrat — I’d try calling again later, though if they’ve notated the record you’ll likely have to start from scratch.

  100. says

    @ audisfo — Sorry, just saw this! They are different fees. The call center fee is waived for international partner awards, but there’s no way around the processing fee.

  101. Sophea says

    Hi, we are planning to travel to Sydney, Australia in Oct. 2014. Leaving PHL to SYD, but want to stopover in Camboida, or New Zealand. How can I do this?

  102. says

    @ Sophea — You can only have a stopover at a Star Alliance hub, so couldn’t have a stopover in Cambodia. Auckland, New Zealand should work, though, since it’s an Air New Zealand hub. If you find space on the individual segments you should be able to book it.

  103. Charlie says

    Hi Lucky,

    Considering Austin, Tx to Seoul Korea using 60,000 Dividend Miles each. Would like to have San Juan P.R. as stopover. Any possibilities here?

    Thank you

  104. says

    @ Charlie — Since that’s not a Star Alliance hub or US Airways transoceanic gateway you couldn’t have a stopover there, unfortunately.

  105. Charlie says

    Could we do a stopover in Spain or Hawaii? Looks like Spanair used to be Star Alliance but may no longer be. Maybe Hawaii since Hawaiian Airlines is Star Alliance?

  106. Charlie says

    Lucky, regarding San Juan do you think a rep would let me sneak it in since SJU used to be an American hub? Thanks again!

  107. Mark241 says

    Am working on a stopover Europe at US air gateway or star alliance hub and then on to PEK for final destination.

    My question is how will US Air likely treat arrival back into the Bay Area?

    If we leave from say SJC can we arrive back at either SFO or OAK ? Since these airports are all so close will they consider it to be OK , same as if we arrived back at SJC or will they say it is open jaw and cannot be combined with stopover.

    Thanks Mark

  108. says

    @ Mark241 — Depends on the agent. Usually OAK/SFO are considered co-terminal but SJC isn’t, but you may be able to find an agent that considers SJC co-terminal as well.

  109. Michael says

    Hi there, Lucky, I’ve read through the thread and all the comments (and some other threads and comments on other sites), and wanted to confirm some rules or “guidelines” for an award ticket on US Airways. If you’re able to answer some questions, I’d appreciate it!

    I’m trying to book an award from the east coast of the United States to AKL (or even WHK, a small airport on the north island of New Zealand, but that might not be possible with segment restrictions) in a J or F cabin, with a possible stopover in SYD.

    Of course, the easiest/most direct would be on NZ, but my understanding is that their J cabin from LAX/SFO to AKL (almost) never has award availability, so I shouldn’t count on those flights. So, it seems the best alternatives are to go (a) over the Pacific and connecting in a major Asian city and/or Australia, or (b) over the Atlantic to Europe (probably LHR) and then through Australia.

    (1) Is the 4 segment rule (8 segments total) enforced strictly? I saw a comment above that said that it was now.

    (1a) What about MPMs? Would going to New Zealand by traveling east from the east coast of the US (but taking as “direct” a route as possible) be over the MPM?

    (2) If a US flight is going to be used in conjunction with a partner flight (whether OW, including AA, or legacy *A, like NZ before the window closes), must the US flight be in the “low” award category? Does it matter if the US flight is domestic or international?

    (3) Now that US is part of OW, can award travel with a legacy *A partner (such as NZ) be used in combination with a OW partner (like QF or even AA) while the award window is still open for NZ? (For example, if I fly on AA to NRT, could I then fly NRT-AKL on NZ; or if I fly to SYD on QF, could I then take NZ to AKL or even WHK?)

    (4) If I travel east, it seems that LHR is the best city for then moving on to New Zealand (through Australia). If I travel to LHR on US or AA (avoiding BA because of their high fees), and then want to take QF 2 or 10 to SYD or MEL, does QF 2/10 count as 1 segment or 2, because of the stop in DXB?

    And, would flying on QF 2/10 be considered to traverse the Middle East region (the most expensive on the US Award Chart) because the plane touches down in DXB, even though the flight originates at LHR and terminates at SYD/MEL?

    Presumably if that were a permissible routing, a stopover in SYD would be allowed because SYD is a QF hub?

    Thanks for reading this any for your reply!

  110. Cynthia says

    Hi Lucky
    Between us, my husband and I, both retirees on a pension, have invested heavily to purchase 730,000 DM points to fund future travel to visit my husband’s family in the US. Since February I have been trying to book two Business class award seats from SYD/PHL for mid May, returning in July. We have a stopover in PHL and an open jaw in Seattle. Due to the impending US/AA merger and exit from Star Alliance, USDM was unable to locate business class seats for the proposed travel, but promised that these would become available after 31 March with the entry into the OneWorld Alliance. This has proved not to be the case. We currently have a ‘hold’ on one mixed first/business class fare with routings both ways through Asia, and a second similar itinerary which dead ends in KL. No forward travel to Sydney available on or round 18 July 2014 in any class. Is it possible to purchase the final KL/SYD leg and add to award travel itinerary to complete the trip? What is the likelihood that at the last moment award travel seats will become available? (We have also used points to separately purchase domestic travel in the US and stand to lose most of the value of these if we are unable to travel).

  111. says

    @ Cynthia — The issue is that if you booked a Star Alliance award you actually can’t change it to add OneWorld segments. The best you’d be able to do is redeposit and start over with OneWorld. It’s a real pain — I’m sorry!

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