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Although there are still a few hurdles to clear, it looks like the American Airlines/US Airways merger will continue to proceed pretty smoothly over the coming months, and although the official merger announcement back in February included news that US Airways would join Oneworld, the rumors have been heating up on this FlyerTalk thread that the actual join date will be November 1, 2013.

US Airways offers tempting fee waivers for Dividend Miles Preferred members.
Come November, US Airways might be joining Oneworld officially.

At this point, it’s still pretty much speculation, but the fact of the matter is, US Airways will eventually join Oneworld and I suspect it will happen before the end of the year and once it does, US Airways’ award chart is likely to align more closely to American’s. So it’s time to start getting your award planning in order if you hope to use your US Airways miles on its 27 Star Alliance partners or to take advantage of sweet spots in its award chart like needing just 90,000 miles to fly roundtrip business class from North America to Asia, or just 110,000 miles to fly roundtrip business class from North America to the South Pacific (including Australia) and South Africa (like I did back in January) before it shifts alliances to the much smaller Oneworld.

With that in mind, I personally decided to take advantage of the current targeted 100% bonus on purchased US Airways miles in order to buy 100,000 of the miles I’ll need for a business class redemption from North America to Australia early in 2014. Although buying miles can be costly and usually only make sense with a specific redemption in mind, given the fact that this could be one of my last chances to get in on a 100% bonus on purchased US Airways miles and I know what I want to use them for, it seemed like a good decision for my circumstances.

With the bonus, I was able to purchase 50,000 miles and get 50,000 bonus miles – the price per mile dropped to 1.75 cents apiece – for a the grand total of $1,881.25 including the 7.5% recovery tax and $30 processing fee. While $1,881.25 is a chunk of change, compared to what business class tickets to Australia cost, it’s a pittance.

I bought 100,000 miles for just under $1,900.
I bought 100,000 miles for just under $1,900.

Not only that, but thanks to US Airways’ flexible routing options, I can fly through Asia on my way and try out a few different airlines I’ve been meaning to, including Asiana and EVA, which recently officially joined Star Alliance and whose business class product looks quite nice (I mean, they serve Dom Perignon- enough said!).

A quick search of ExpertFlyer and United.com helped me piece together a great award itinerary that would suit my needs perfectly where I fly from New York to Sydney via Taipei and Bangkok on EVA and then Thai Airways and then return via Seoul on Asiana.

US Airways Australia milesAll for the grand total of 110,000 miles and $204 in taxes and fees – bringing my total out-of-pocket cost since I bought the miles to about $2,266. Not exactly cheap, but when you compare what this itinerary or comparable ones would cost around the same dates I’m looking at flying in February…

Screen shot 2013-07-25 at 2.13.25 PMAre going for around $7,700, so I’m saving well over $5,500 – not that I’d ever pay that much for an airfare, but then again, I can’t survive long flights like these in economy thanks to my height, so I have to fly business class or not at all.

Although a ticket like this still cost me a couple thousand dollars, it’s money that I’m willing to spend because in the end, it saves me several thousand more to fly the way I want to a destination I’ve been dreaming of visiting for as long as I can remember – not to mention the fact that this might be the last opportunity to buy miles from US Airways at a 100% bonus before the merger goes through and/or it joins Oneworld officially and high-value redemptions on its award chart disappear.

Are any of you planning to book Star Alliance awards using US Airways miles before the merger? If so, which ones and why?

For more information, see these posts:

Official American Airlines US Airways Merger Announcement and What It Means For Consumers

Top 10 Potential Positive and Negative Changes of the US Airways American Merger

Maximizing A Potential US Airways American Airlines Merger

How To Prepare for a US Airways AA Merger

American and US Airways Board Approve Merger – The Potential Winners and Losers

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