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Today I’m answering two question from TPG readers Manav and Stratos who both asked about the US Airways 100% Share Miles Bonus.
“As a Star Alliance Gold (United 1K) member, would I get access to the the same inventory when booking an award flight on a Star Alliance partner using US Airways Dividend miles through US Airways?
I plan on purchasing 20,000 miles through the 100% Buy Miles promo on US Airways, and then transferring twice through the Share Miles bonus – purchase 20,000 miles, get 40,000, transfer once to get 80,000 miles and then transfer again to get 160,000 miles. I just want to know if I will get the same access to inventory as I would on United.”
“I am very tempted with this new 100% bonus on Shared US Airways Miles promotion, and am considering sharing 50,000 miles in order to receive 100,000. Since the price seems to be $567.50, it appears that it can be a very good deal. I have never flown in a premium cabin, and I tend to do a fair amount of traveling from Greece to the US (luckily my girlfriend is an Aegean Gold Member, so we get all the lounge, extra luggage and priority access).
So my question is: Would these 100,000 Dividend Miles get me from Greece to the US in business class? Maybe on a sweet Lufthansa aircraft? Perhaps like an Athens – Frankfurt (or Munich) – Denver? What would your expert advice be about going on with something like that?
Also, if on this flight (assuming availability) my girlfriend purchased a full-fare economy ticket, how would we try to get her upgraded to business with me?”
That’s a lot of questions, but let me see if I can take a crack at it.
Manav is talking about a 100% bonus on purchased miles, which is available until the end of October, but is a targeted promotion, so not everyone is eligible. If you are, though, the price per mile works out to just under 1.9 cents each, so it’s not a mind-blowing deal, but it’s certainly better than the usual 3.5 cents US Airways normally charges.
If you haven’t heard about the 100% bonus on Shared Miles, check out my post about it from last week. In my opinion, this is a much better deal since you’re essentially “buying” the bonus miles you get from sharing for the equivalent of 1.1 cents each.
Just keep in mind a few limitations:
1) You must be a Dividend Miles member for at least 12 days, so sign up now if you are not and want to take advantage (sign-up here for a free account). This promotion limits mileage sharing to 50,000 miles (100,000 miles with the bonus).
2) The 100% bonus goes to the person who receives the miles – not the one transferring them.
3) The maximum you can transfer out of an account is 50,000 and receive is 100,000 (which includes the bonus miles).
4) For each Share there is a processing fee of $30 and a 7.5% tax recovery charge and GST/HST will be charged to Canadian residents.
5) This transaction is processed by points.com so it won’t count towards airfare multiplier categories like the 3x on the Premier Rewards Gold or 2x on Sapphire Preferred.
Now for the specific questions.
Will availability be the same on US Airways as Manav, an elite United flyer, sees on United.com? No, not exactly. While United does open up some limited award availability for their elite members, it’s only on United-operated flights, not Star Alliance partners. So if, for example, you are looking to book on another Star Alliance airline like Thai or Singapore, what you find though US Airways will be the same inventory as you’d find through United. (Note: There have been a few issues using US Airways miles to book Lufthansa and SWISS first class, but for its part, United shows phantom Lufthansa availability). Plus remember that US Airways will let you hold an award, so you can create a booking and be sure it’s available before sharing miles to redeem for it.
As for Manav’s second question: purchasing 20,000 miles and ending up with 160,000 through the Share Miles promo – unfortunately that’s not a possibility. As you could see in the promo rules above, you can only share 50,000 miles from an account and receive 100,000 miles into an account through this promo, so the most you could hope to end up with in any one account would be 100,000 miles. That said, you might still figure out some creative ways to meet the max with several accounts by creating new accounts (though remember, they must be at least 12 days old) and sharing with friends and family. And remember, even if you don’t end up with the miles in your own account, you can book a ticket pretty much for anyone from any account, so as long as one of the accounts has the miles to meet your needs, you should be able to book the travel you want.
Now it’s time to answer Stratos’s question. He wants to head to Greece with his girlfriend, and he wants to do so by getting the Share Miles bonus and using those miles to book a “sweet” Lufthansa premium ticket. This is a great idea since United, Lufthansa and Aegean, which Stratos’s girlfriend has Gold status on, are all Star Alliance members. Plus, Lufthansa has great award availability, which I’ve booked several times myself, most recently on a first-class ticket aboard the 747.
It sounds like Stratos is coming from Denver, and while there is a non-stop Lufthansa flight from Denver to Frankfurt, it’s aboard an A340, which has Lufthansa’s old angled lie flat business-class seats, as do most A380 and the 747 for now. Personally, I’d rather try out the new Lufthansa business class seat aboard the airline’s 747-8, which operates out of Washington Dulles (and eventually LA and Chicago, too). Sure, it’s not as convenient as taking that non-stop, but the product looks a lot nicer, plus it’ll have that new plane smell. From there, it should be pretty easy to get to Greece. All for 100,000 miles roundtrip (which will cost you just under $600 by sharing 50,000 miles with this promo and getting 50,000 bonus).
Stratos also asked whether it might be a good idea for his girlfriend to buy a full-fare economy ticket and using US Airways miles to upgrade. In my opinion, that would be a bad value. You’d be paying $2,000-$3,000 for your full-fare ticket and then using 50,000 miles on top of that. Considering the current buy and share miles promo, it would just be cheaper to share enough miles to get her an award ticket in her own right for 100,000 miles (assuming you know enough people with enough miles to share back and forth0 so the two of you would be paying around $1,200 miles total for two business class award seats rather than thousands more plus miles to upgrade.
Have any more comments or questions? Feel free to comment or Tweet me. Even after the introduction of the Chase Sapphire Reserve, the Chase Sapphire Preferred is still a fantastic choice if you want to avoid the Reserve’s $450 annual fee, earn 2x on all travel & dining and earn a 50,000 point sign up bonus.