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Should I Book A Trip To Europe Using US Airways Miles Now Or Wait Until After The Merger?

by on December 15, 2013 · 8 comments

in American Airlines, US Airways

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Welcome to my new version of the Sunday Reader Questions, called “Ask & Tell”! I’m excited to be producing these high-quality videos on a weekly basis as I answer all of the excellent reader questions that come in, and hopefully you’ll notice a big improvement in video, sound and overall quality. I look forward to your feedback, but in the meantime, let’s get to the first question for the day.

I was hanging out at the Dallas Amex Centurion lounge this past weekend (I got in thanks to my Amex Platinum card) while out there for the Snowball Express events, and decided to answer a question about the upcoming American-US Airways merger from a TPG reader named Teddy who tweeted me the following:

@thepointsguy I am booking a 2014 European trip. Is it better to book now with US Airways miles or wait until I can use on Oneworld & Star Alliance?”

There’s no clear-cut answer here – it really just depends on what you want to do, Teddy. When the two airlines’ frequent flyer programs merge in 2014, I do anticipate some changes in the amount of miles it will take to travel – in other words, I expect some airline award chart changes to come up.

Right now, you can fly to Europe for 60,000 miles in economy or 100,000 miles roundtrip in business class using either American or US Airways miles. However, with American, you’ll find a lot of that European award availability is actually on its Oneworld partner, British Airways, which means you’re going to get stuck paying hundreds or even thousands of dollars in carrier-imposed surcharges and taxes because you’ll be transiting through London, so if you’re looking to save some cash, it might make more sense to book using US Airways miles instead.

A lot of American awards to Europe involve flying British Airways.

A lot of American awards to Europe involve flying British Airways.

But why settle just for Europe? US Airways has some amazing routing rules where, if you’re flying business class, you can go through Europe to North Asia and have your final destination be somewhere like Hong Kong or Taipei but stopover in your European destination on the way there before continuing on to Asia and then back to the US from there, and that will price out at 90,000 miles instead of 100,000 miles – it’s one of those award chart sweet spots that will probably disappear post-merger. So it’s actually cheaper to fly around the world than just to Europe and back!

Now, if you don’t care about business class and you’re not looking to tag Asia onto your trip, then I’d suggest looking into both airlines’ offpeak awards. With American, you can get to Europe for as few as 40,000 American miles roundtrip in economy from October 15-April 15, while US Airways has offpeak awards for as little as 35,000 miles roundtrip though their off-peak awards are much more restrictive just January 15-February 28. Otherwise, it’ll cost you 60,000 miles on either in economy roundtrip.

So it really just depends on where you’re looking to go and what class of service you want, as well as whether you’re looking to take advantage of US Airways award chart sweet spots or whether you want to wait, but the good news is, you have plenty of options!

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  • Shawn

    one point is that star alliance also has much better availability than oneworld for trips to europe. american used to have good availability in coach and business but about 12-18 months ago started making saaver seats very hard to find

  • Roman Goubin

    Search Air Berlin availability
    Very good
    You have to search it manually segment by segment
    Example
    If you search DFW Madrid you will not find anything for summer . However, if you search MIA or JFK to Madrid you will find lots of AB avaliability !
    You can then book a separate ticket to MIA or JFK.. Hope that helps

  • Tony

    With US Miles, can you do a stopover each way, say, LAX-FRA (stopover)-HKG-CDG(stopover)-SFO?

  • Roman Goubin

    US AIRWAYS 100 % buy miles promo started today thru dec 20 for anyone who is interested . up to 50,000 bonus making total 100,000 for $1,881 all in
    Thanks gary

  • toronto stef

    quick question, if I buy us airways miles can I transfer them to aeroplan? kinda new at this.

  • Roman Goubin

    You can use the miles for air Canada award but you have to book through us air before March 30….But no in general you cannot transfer US airways miles into aeroplan directly
    Only reason this will be possible with AA now is because us airways and AA are the same company now

  • xina

    I want to know this also, DFW-FCO (stopover)-NRT-DFW. Can we do this?

  • nycmom44

    Slightly off topic question for you experts: trying to book a one-way economy award on AA from LHR to NYC non-stop in August, and options seem limited to 60k anytime miles on AA, with ~ $200 fees or 30k miles on BA (which I could alternatively book on BA using my Avios) with ~ $380 fees. No nonstop US airways or Air Berlin award flights. Is saving the extra 30k American miles worth the extra $180 in fees, or should I wait and see if something at 30k miles with $200 in fees opens up over the next month or so? I’d do a connecting flight to save the miles and fees but it’s for my teen daughter who hasn’t traveled alone before.

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