Category Archives: US Airways

People Are Asking: Should I Take Advantage of the US Airways Buy Miles for 1.1 Cents Offer?

The travelblogeteria ™ has gone a little bananas about the US Airways offer where you can basically buy miles at 1.1 cents each (by transferring to another account holder). I’ve gotten a couple of questions from people about whether they should take advantage of this. Here are some thoughts:

- If you were planning on purchasing a ticket, especially in business class to North Asia, where US Airways only charges 90,000 miles for a roundtrip, then this is certainly a good option – you’re basically buying a business class ticket for $1,000. Great.

- Think about what trip you are using these miles for – for people accustomed to using US Airways miles easily on Star Alliance carriers, that ship has sailed a bit. Take a look at availability on Oneworld airlines for trips you think you may want to take. It differs greatly from what you were used to with Star (starting with the insane fuel surcharges on British Airways, which makes getting to Europe much more difficult, and Africa basically impossible without surcharges).

- As many others have pointed out far more times than I have, US Airways allows a stop in Europe on your way to Asia for free. Maybe this benefits you, maybe it doesn’t. I think this used to be a more valuable perk when they were with Star Alliance because there were lots of non-fuel-surcharge partners to get you to Europe, and then onward to Asia. This is less the case now with Oneworld, though keep in mind that some Star (and non-star) partners are still bookable with US Airways miles (Aegean, Air China, Avianca, Jet Airways, Shenzhen Airlines, South African Airways, TAP Portugal, and Turkish; Air New Zealand can be booked until June 29; Avianca can be booked until May 31st, Eva Air until May 14, and Singapore until July 31). That does reduce the number of options to Europe and onward to Asia (without fuel surcharges), but you do have some choices there.

- I never buy miles speculatively. I know that lots of people do. I’m very happy for them. But I have a lot of miles sitting around, and the idea of spending $1,000 to get a bunch more to throw on the pile seems a little nutty to me. Plus, I can get 100,000 AA miles pretty easily with the AA Citi Exec card (where you’re basically buying 100,000 miles for $250), or 40,000 US Airways miles for $89 with their credit card.

- This can be a great option if you do need to top off an award and you don’t have Starwood miles to transfer to US Airways.

Don’t get caught up in the excitement – this deal does make sense for some people, but I really don’t recommend grabbing these miles just because everyone else is.

A Clarification on Which US Airways Flights Earn United Miles

Based on what I’ve seen elsewhere, there is still some confusion (including my own confusion) around which US Airways flights earn United miles, now that US Airways is owned by American. Here we go…Until March 30th:

- US Airways flights on US Airways metal will earn United miles, as they always have.

- US Airways flights that are a codeshare with American Airlines that are on American Airlines metal will NOT earn United miles.

- US Airways Express flights operated by any of their express partners WILL earn United miles.

- Keep in mind that Republic flights Express flights for both US Airways and American. That is confusing. Just saying.

- American Airlines codeshare flights that are operated by US Airways WILL earn United miles.

The rule of thumb is that the operating carrier determines whether you’ll earn miles with United.

(Thanks to this FT thread…)

You Have Until March 30th to Redeem Your US Airways Miles on Star Alliance Carriers

US Airways announced that it will be leaving the Star Alliance on March 30th and joining Oneworld the next day. What does that mean for you?

It means that you may want to grab that last US Airways credit card for 35,000 quick miles since that will disappear at some point when the US Airways name goes away. The good news is that you can use those on Star carriers until March 30th and on Oneworld airlines after that. Keep in mind, though, that that’s a Barclays Card and generally you can only get 1 every six months. So you can decide whether you want to get the Lufthansa 50,000 mile deal (which ends Sunday) or get the 35k US Airways card.

They have not yet announced when they’ll be merging the US Airways and American frequent flyer programs. Starting early next year you’ll be able to earn and redeem reciprocally, but it will likely take months before you’ll be able to combine the miles into one program. Remember that with United and Continental there was a period where you could move the miles back and forth between programs, so I wouldn’t be surprised if they take that approach.

You can book a flight on Star Alliance for after March 30th, you just have to make that booking before March 31st. You should be able to make changes to that award booking without issue (fingers crossed).

Finally, they said that the first of the reciprocal benefits will be announced in January, likely starting with access to both sets of lounges.

The Department of Justice Has Some Wacky-Ass Reasons for Wanting to Stop the US Airways – American Airlines Merger

I’ve been reading through the ridiculous complaint filed by the Department of Justice taking a stand against the US Airways – American Airlines merger. The whole thing boils down to their belief that the consolidation will cause undue harm to the American people because airlines will raise their fares to levels where they can consistently actually make money.

Some key points from the complaint:

- They say that “even a small increase in the price of airline tickets, checked bags, or flight change fees would cause hundreds of millions of dollars of harm to American consumers annually,” which is probably true, only it’s not 1 person paying hundreds of millions of dollars annually. When you look at the 700 passenger emplanements annually, I’m pretty sure those travelers (and the businesses paying those tickets) can suck up any added cost.

- They say that US Airways will currently price connecting flights lower than nonstops served by competitors, but that that will stop after the merger, since American doesn’t currently have that strategy. Except that the airline will be run by the executives currently running US Airways. And that’s why you’d stop this? To (at best) help people who would prefer to save $25 to make a connection?

- “American had a standalone plan to emerge from bankruptcy poised to grow. American planned to expand domestically and internationally, adding service on nearly 115 new routes.” Har har har. AA had a plan to grow like Nixon had a secret plan to get us out of Vietnam.

- It appears that the whole complaint rests on the DoJ’s belief that the airline industry is healthy, and will continue to be healthy going forward. This is unproven. Yes, the industry is in the best shape it’s been since deregulation. For the first time airlines are acting as rational competitors, something that would likely continue with 3 major carriers, rather than 4. Plus, Despite what the DoJ says in their complaint JetBlue, Southwest, and Spirit do help to provide competition in many markets. So it boils down to this: if you think the industry is great, and will continue to be great, then this merger will only raise prices and eliminate service. But if you think the industry needs further restructuring to keep it healthy (something that would certainly be in everyone’s benefit), you’d want this merger to go through.

- They quote US Airways management extensively, suggesting that they have spent the past 10 years trying to reduce competition, encourage consolidation, and otherwise act in an anti-consumer manner.

- They call out Washington Reagan National as one area of concern – that because of the limited slots available there, the combined carrier will have 69% of the available slots. (They also note that there are a handful of markets outside DCA where AA and US are the only players – Charlotte-Dallas, for example) I think DCA is where we’ll see the horsetrading to get the merger through. US will divest slots at Reagan to whatever the DoJ considers to be a reasonable (or “reasonable”) level, and eventually the carriers will combine.

So this was a complete shock, as there have been no signs that the government had any issues with this merger, especially considering on how few city pairs they served as the only carriers. I’m just disappointed that the government thinks the airline industry should return to the unstable years that brought about the reduced service they’re now complaining about.

(Disclosure: I own a very small amount of US Airways stock)

US Airways Giveth Back (Free Wine) and Taketh Away (Lower Change Fees)

A couple of pieces of news from US Airways:

- They’re matching United’s annoying $200 domestic change fee and $300 international change fee. As a US Airways shareholder, I say, “Good for you!” As a human being I say, “seriously? $200 for a domestic ticket?”

- If you like wine, and you find yourself on US Airways flying to Europe put away your $6 (or whatever) because the find folks in Phoenix have decided that wine will be free on trans-Atlantic, Israeli, and Brazilian flights.

I Sure Hope You Are Not Putting Actual Spend on That US Airways Credit Card

I wrote last week about why a 2% cash back credit card actually makes the most sense for everyday spend for a vast majority of people.

I received an email for an offer (enter your details to see the exact offer for you) that’s been around for a bit to purchase US Airways miles with a 100% bonus. This offer is available in some format several times a year. They’ll sell you 100,000 miles for $1881 (or 1.8 cents per mile).

As I wrote last week, because you can get 2% cash back with a couple of cards out there, by forgoing the cash back you are purchasing miles for 2 cents each. It’s ultimately your decision to calculate whether you’re getting more value than that when you put spend on a points-earning card. But US Airways is basically telling us that their miles are available for purchase at 1.8 cents per mile several times a year.

If you put any spend on your US Airways credit card, you are buying points at 2 cents per mile – you are better off getting a 2% cash back card and using the cash to purchase US Airways miles at 1.8 cents each. Other airlines don’t sell their miles (typically) this cheaply.

This isn’t to say you shouldn’t get the card – the 35,000 mile signup bonus for 1st purchase is great, and it’s (somewhat) churnable. And once in a while once you have the card they’ll have some pretty good spend bonuses. (Unlike several other airlines, US Airways does not waive checked bag fees for credit card holders).

But if you are one of the many people who are using that card to earn miles, you’re making a mistake — take the cash and buy the miles when you need them.

In Case You Were Wondering, This Is the Food You’ll Get for $19.99 on US Airways

I have no idea why you need to know this, but since US Airways put out a press release, I’ll share it with you:

Wondering what food you’ll get when you pay $19.99 for US Airways’ DineFresh option? Me neither. But if you were, here’s the answer: they’ve updated the food they’re serving, and you get these choices.

- US Airways’ two new DineFresh options allow customers to select from either a meal of chilled sliced Asian beef with noodles accompanied by summer rolls with ginger sesame dressing, cucumber and shrimp salad, lavosh crackers and creme brulee cheesecake for dessert or a charcuterie meal that includes an assortment of cured meats and cheeses, lavosh crackers, Mediterranean salad, and turtle cheesecake for dessert.

- A refreshed DineFresh vegetarian option now includes orzo pasta with Portobello mushrooms and tomatoes, served with assorted cheeses, lavosh crackers, tomato and jicama salad, and a raspberry swirl cheesecake dessert.

- Similar to the new Asian beef option, a refreshed chicken selection consists of chilled sliced Asian chicken with noodles paired with summer rolls and ginger sesame dressing, cucumber and shrimp salad, lavosh crackers and creme brulee cheesecake for dessert.

Did I mention you’ll need to order those 24 hours in advance? Yes, you will.

US Airways 100% Mileage Purchase Bonus Is Live (Again)

US Airways’ seemingly never-ending promotion where you get double miles when you buy or gift miles is back again – It’s good through February 28th, and you’ll need to have a Dividend Miles account open for at least 12 days.

100,000 miles will cost you $1750, which is not something I’d do, but for lots of people it’s a cheap(er) way to buy business class seats to Europe (100,000 miles) or North Asia (90,000 miles).

Details here.

Now It’s Official: US Airways Does Not Permit First Class Redemptions on Lufthansa

(Thanks to reader XF for the heads up and the graphic…)

As Lucky pointed out in this epic post, US Airways has long unofficially blocked its users from booking First Class awards on Lufthansa. Although space was available through partners (say, United), US Airways would generally not permit First Class redemptions.

I just thought I’d note that that unofficial policy become official policy as of January 1, per the chart below.

Targeted Offer: US Airways Offering 5X Bonus Miles on Groceries, Movies and Utilities

My wife received this targeted offer from US Airways for her US Airways credit card:

They’ll give her 5 bonus miles for every dollar spent at grocery stores, movie theaters, and utility payments for the period of January 1-March 31st. Those 5 bonus miles are on top of the regular 1 mile per dollar (ie, you’ll get 6 miles per dollar in those categories). You can earn a maximum of 5,000 bonus miles.

As I said, this is targeted (she received the offer, I did not), and you need to register by January 20th to be enrolled in the offer.

I already use my Amex Blue Cash Preferred for groceries because it earns 6% cash back, so I won’t use it for that. My movie theater spend is pretty negligible. I earn 5X on phone, cable and Internet already through the Ink Bold card. I guess I’ll switch my auto-payments on my gas/electric and take the points (assuming I can remember how I actually change the credit card on that auto-pay).

US Airways has been doing these targeted offers seemingly every quarter, and it has definitely influenced my spend (I’m currently putting all my restaurant spend on my US Airways card because of a 5X offer they had for this quarter). As credit card companies get smarter about customer data, I imagine we’ll see more of this.

(I would put in a screenshot of the mail they sent me but in my eagerness/frustration I ripped the self-mailer while trying to open it).

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