As you may or may not know, US Airways joined oneworld just a few days ago. This meant that you can use your Dividend miles on oneworld partners. They retained the same award chart price levels as their previous star alliance awards, which had several very good redemptions.
This is their award chart:
US Airways Award Booking Basics
The other good thing with their redemptions is very lax routing rules. If you don’t recall, here are the “main” rules which remain the same as the previous Star Alliance bookings, in order of their difficulty to break:
- One stopover or open jaw per multi-region award
- Maximum 10 segments in an award
- Stopover has to be a gateway city with oneworld or US Airways
I’ve booked or seen awards that do break all of the above rules, so it’s a matter of calling multiple times and hitting the jackpot with a clueless agent. The other “rule” that agents often cite is that you’re above the maximum permitted mileage. As far as I know US Airways uses 25M for MPM but often it’s completely arbitrary what agents decide is valid or not, and it tends to be that you have a lot of segments. These rules still apply with the new oneworld bookings.
I’ve called a double-digit number of USDM agents in the past few days, and I’ve found the following issues so far with awards:
- Agents have trouble seeing space
I’ve had agents have trouble seeing Qatar, British Airways, and JAL segments so far, but if you hang up call back enough you’ll eventually run into an agent who does manage to see the seats. That means I actually don’t know whether it’s just agent incompetence or a completely wonky reservations system. The Flyertalk thread with oneworld USDM bookings says for you to tell the agent to check the Regular Availability System versus the Award Availability System, but I haven’t done that personally so I can’t give insight on whether it works or not. But if you call enough then you should be able to add all the segments you want.
- Manual pricing of awards
This has been the case with more complex Star Alliance awards where if the agent couldn’t price the award with the computer s/he would send it to the award rates desk, who would then be able to price it, whether through the computer or manually. With all the award reservations I’ve held and booked, I’ve spent at least 10-20 minutes on hold while waiting for the rates desk to price because none of the agents could price it by themselves. I don’t have a problem with this, but generally the rates desk means more “illegal” awards are weeded out.
I hope US Airways will fix these problems soon so there will be easier booking and less waiting.
My USDM redemption
The ticket I booked was actually a very vanilla routing compared to all the other US Airways awards I’ve booked because it didn’t break routing, stopover, or segment rules.
My routing was as follows:
Vancouver – New York: Cathay Pacific First Class
New York – London: British Airways First Class
London – Frankfurt: British Airways Club Europe
Frankfurt – Tokyo Narita: Japan Airlines First Class
Tokyo Haneda – Hong Kong: Cathay Pacific First Class
Hong Kong – London: Cathay Pacific First Class
London – New York: British Airways First Class
New York – Vancouver: Cathay Pacific First Class
I have a stopover of a few days in Tokyo and Hong Kong, as well as a 12 hour connection in New York.
This cost me 120,000 miles and just under $300.
Now here was the exciting part – there was no British Airways fuel surcharge and just the airport fees and taxes. I’ve never flown BA First or JAL First before, that’ll be fun. This was ticketed early morning yesterday, so I’m not sure whether they’re still charging fuel surcharges are not at this time. But there have been reports since Friday night/Saturday morning that there are no fuel surcharges involved.
The award chart does state the fuel surcharges are imposed on British Airways/Iberia Awards and several of my fellow BoardingArea bloggers have confirmed this, so I’d say if you’re looking to ticket and have the chance to fly British Airways with no fuel surcharges, get on it!