International First Class for 10,000 miles per segment

The secret is at the bottom. Read down even though the beginning might not seem so relevant!

I love sweet spots in award charts. I think it’s the Asian in me as I rather enjoy seeing that I paid less for everything (and that includes shopping for anything else) so I guess it extends to redeeming miles and flying places as well.

A lot of sweet spots exist with zone based charts with conventional miles (i.e. United/Aeroplan/etc.) when you redeem within a zone. Some programs have very “wide” zones, and that’s where a lot of the very nice redemptions exist, because generally redemptions within a zone require much lower mileage than usual. For example, look at US Airways’ Dividend Miles Award Chart:

USDM Award Chart

USDM Award Chart

As I’ve highlighted in red the redemption is only 25,000 miles in economy, 30,000 miles in business, and 40,000 miles in first. So remember how I said that it’s good to have a wide zone? Well, with US Airways, the zone includes Australia/New Zealand (duh) and Guam.

I’m sure Guam rings a bell for a lot of you (chirP) but what’s important to see is that Guam and Sydney are quite far from each other.



Of course there are very few direct flights between the two city paris (Guam and Sydney) in this case so what does this mean? Connecting in Asia! The city pair even has an MPM (maximum permitted miles) of 6585 miles. Of course, US Airways theoretically allows you to have up to 25% more miles than that (or 25M) so you are allowed up to 8,231 miles of flights between these two city pairs.




All of this is all on paper, because as we well know US Dividend Miles agents looks at an itinerary with a real paper map and of course prices taxes with an abacus. 😉 But anyways, theoretically, you could have a perfectly legal routing such as Guam-Manila-Singapore-Sydney:

"Legal" Routing

“Legal” Routing

I say this because while there is the rule that awards are supposed to price at the most expensive region transited, I’ve at most seen this enforced once or twice out of the many calls I have had with the Dividend Miles desk for these types of awards (which don’t touch North America at all). I’ve also seen this as an itinerary suggested by the agents when s/he thinks the routing I’ve cooked up myself isn’t valid (and of course you thank them politely, and hang up call back).

But now you ask, where is the international first class for 10,000 miles per segment?

When you take an routing which exceeds the MPM of course. It isn’t too hard actually. For example, GUM-NRT-BKK-SYD which could include two segments of Thai First Class. You just need a good agent who thinks Tokyo is 30 minutes away from Bangkok. 😉

New Routing

New Routing

So if you can find award space for a nice clean routing like GUM-NRT-BKK-SYD-BKK-NRT-GUM, that means 40,000 miles and ~$200 in taxes for 4 international first class segments. You’re welcome. Of course this pairs wonderfully with a certain tricked Lifemiles route. I would argue this is probably the best redemption for international first class with US Airways if not most other mileage currencies.

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Thai Airways A380 First Class

Of course this is not the only one. There are probably tens of these sweet spots in zone based award charts but this is one of the most lucrative. As always, if you have any questions, feel free to comment below!

Note: I can personally guarantee that this is bookable as I have already ticketed and flown one of these tickets. For more information perhaps my post on booking an “interesting” US Airways itinerary may be useful.


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  1. Nice idea to password protect post! Wish other bloggers would follow suit. I think you meant to highlight South Pacific Zone though and not North Asia. Same prices, but Guam and Sydney both in South Pacific not North Asia.

  2. I was thinking about doing something like this… Not certain if it would work, but now totally confidence boosted by your post! Thanks!

  3. Good for you Jeff. Great booking. I’m sure it was a great trip and it sure is a hot spot. I did the GUM to RAR so I had a stopover in NZ. Did it in biz.
    I wish I had some US Air to burn.

  4. @Jeff
    why did you say “Aeroplan” on the top when it’s USDM awards? Is that typo?

    I was all excited (I have no USDM but tons of Aeroplan/AMEX MR) until I see it’s all USDM awards/clueless reps/etc..


  5. Jeff,

    I like the thinking outside of the box – and this answers lots of questions from your huge trip a couple of months ago! I especially like the fact that you password protected this post, it shows you are making an effort, but still sharing great finds.

    I wonder if a similar trick may work with South America, also 40k, but, limited Star Alliance partners. I may have to look into that, but, by all means, if I’m barking up the wrong tree, let me know so I can focus efforts on better areas.

  6. Jeff:

    Where on the US Air website does it say that Australia, Guam, and New Zealand are within the North Asia section? Also, where does it say it’s 10,000 miles per segment in first class when exceeding the MPM? Thanks

  7. I think the part actually worth highlighting in the table is the South Pacific-South Pacific section but it’s the same mileage either way. 🙂 Great post!

  8. Overdid the s**t out of this last year.


    5 legs each way in F.

    Love those US Airways ladies.

  9. so what airlines can you book sin-syd using dividend miles on a premium cabin? I know you cant book premium with singapore airlines.

  10. I did do MEL-AKL-SIN-KIX-GUM-NRT-PVG-AKL-MEL for 30k all J in July. A guy I was giving tips to on Flyertalk managed to wangle an 8-day stopover in NGO enroute from Australia-GUM. A good spot to exploit, especially for those living in Australia like me.

    I’m burning 60k UA miles for SYD-BKK-PEK-KIX-GUM-FUK-TPE-SIN-MEL (SYD-GUM F 35k and GUM-MEL J 25k) at the end of this year to fly F on the TG 747s SYD-BKK-PEK and get the TG F lounge/spa experience, which I hope is awesome. The A380s will have to wait. I want my confirmed stopover when I get back home to SIN, and not be at the mercy of the USDM agents, which is why I burned my UA miles instead 😀

    There is another LifeMiles tricked route where it does appear possible to get onto an SQ 77W trip in J for reduced miles 😉

      • Yes indeed! Depends on what LifeMiles presents. It’s always about the fickle-mindedness of the booking system, no? I can’t wait for US Airways to join OneWorld… QF A380 in F SYD-HKG enroute to GUM! And if I can fit JL’s NRT-CGK 77W in F on the way back, it’s a double bonus! 😀

  11. But I’d say the USDM Australia/NZ-GUM awards work very well with the LifeMiles tricked route. After all, it does mean that it is possible to get a reduced mileage ticket to Australia! Unfortunately NZ J space is getting harder and harder to find these days (on UA, at least!) and is limited mainly to the PVG-AKL or NRT-AKL segments.

    • Can you book a flight gum-mnl-bkk-syd-sin-mnl-gum and just fly mnl-bkk-syd-sin-mnl-gum? I know the last leg you can just miss but I’m not sure if it invalidates your ticket if you don’t fly the gum-mnl leg

      • No you need to fly out from GUM. But why transit MNL when there are nicer airports and nicer flights through NRT/KIX??

        • Coz I’m from the Philippines. It’s more convenient. No prob though coz tickets to gum are only 150usd. But knowing I need to transit through gum might as well go nrt-bkk on thai a380F. By the way can you explain how you can get sq 77w on j with lifemiles?

          • Somehow LifeMiles can book J on the SQ 77W and A380, wherever available. I’ve seen it available on the SQ2/1 and SQ16/15 routes to SFO when looking for options for my friend to get home from SFO. But of course, there is a tricked LifeMiles route to get 77W space for less miles than usual… Not gonna talk about that though 😉

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