Over 60 hours in Qantas A380 and British Airways first class for 140,000 US Airways miles?
US Airways left the Star Alliance and joined oneworld about a month ago, which was both sad and exciting.
It was sad in the sense that you could no longer book some amazing itineraries for travel on Star Alliance, but exciting in the sense that it opened up all kinds of new award routings with oneworld that weren’t previously possible.
I’ve done what I can to cover every aspect of booking oneworld awards through US Airways, including:
- US Airways OneWorld Award Routing Rules
- Comparing Award Charts: American And US Airways
- US Airways Award Stopover Rules And OneWorld Hubs
- Changing US Airways Star Alliance Awards To OneWorld
- US Airways Dividend Miles Earning Rates For OneWorld Carriers
- US Airways Flights Bookable Using British Airways Avios
- US Airways Not Adding Fuel Surcharges To British Airways Award Tickets
Millions of miles to burn before further devaluations!
I always try to advise people to not have more miles in a single airline program than they can reasonably redeem in six or so months. The idea behind this is that most programs should give advance notice, which gives you the opportunity to redeem miles when award chart changes are announced.
I’m generally pretty good about following my own advice, but between my American AAdvantage and US Airways Dividend Miles accounts I have over a million miles, and when you add in the accounts of my family members, that’s another million miles or so. Those miles were earned through a combination of actually flying, Citi Executive AAdvantage Card sign-up bonuses, and taking advantage of US Airways’ 100% bonus on shared miles.
So I have lots of miles to burn for travel on oneworld, and I’d like to do it as soon as possible, before American or US Airways make any more devaluations without notice.
The two first class “sweet spots” on the US Airways award chart
The biggest “sweet spot” on US Airways’ award chart used to be the ability to fly from the US to North Asia via Europe for just 90,000 miles in business class. A few weeks ago they raised the cost of that award by 20,000 miles overnight.
Meanwhile they left the cost of first class to North Asia at 120,000 miles. At that point you’re paying just a 5,000 mile one-way premium for first class over business class.
With that in mind, I think the two current “sweet spots” on the US Airways award chart are as follows:
- First class from the US to North Asia for 120,000 miles
- First class from the US to Australia for 140,000 miles
Why I chose to book an award to Australia
So why did I choose to book an award to Australia rather than North Asia?
And in theory you would think American AAdvantage miles would be incredibly valuable for travel to Australia, given that they partner with Qantas.
The issue is that Qantas releases virtually no premium cabin award space between the US and Australia. That’s not to say it’s totally impossible — I’m flying from Sydney to Los Angeles in Qantas first class with my dad later this year.
Award space is much easier on their other longhaul routes, though, between Melbourne/Sydney and London (via Dubai).
For example, take a look at how many dates next February have first class award space from Melbourne/Sydney to Dubai:
Meanwhile you won’t find a single first class award seat on their Melbourne/Sydney to Los Angeles flight.
This has made it really difficult to redeem American miles to Australia, so it seemed like a good opportunity to take advantage of US Airways’ routing rules to book something that wouldn’t be possible under American’s rules.
To Australia via Europe and the Middle East!
So what did I book for 140,000 US Airways miles?
New York > London in British Airways first class, London > Dubai > Melbourne in Qantas first class, and back in the same way. And since US Airways isn’t presently imposing fuel surcharges for travel on British Airways, the total taxes and fees came out to about $250 roundtrip.
British Airways first class isn’t the greatest first class product in the world, though it’s tough to beat between New York and London.
Then I’m especially excited for my two ~22 hours in each direction in Qantas A380 first class.
It has been years since I’ve flown Qantas first class. The last time I flew Qantas they still did their “Kangaroo Run” via Singapore instead of Dubai, so I’m curious to see how the new routing compares.
I’ll even get to use the Emirates A380 First Class Lounge Dubai in both directions, which Qantas first class passengers have access to due to their agreement.
There are amazing savings to be had by “price shopping” between the American and US Airways award charts. And it’s not purely about the number of miles they charge, but also about their routing rules.
In comparison, American would have charged 285,000 miles plus over $1,500 in taxes, fees, and fuel surcharges for the same routing.
Stay tuned, in a follow up post I’ll share how I was able to book this routing, and my recommendations for other good value redemptions.