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What is the Best Way To Fly To Asia In Business Class Using US Airways Miles?

by on December 8, 2013 · 14 comments

in star alliance, Sunday Reader Questions, US Airways

TPG reader David emailed me this week with a question about using US Airways miles to get to Asia:

“I’m looking to do a 10-day trip from Miami to Hong Kong and Phuket next year using US Airways miles. I currently have 127,000 miles my wife has 81,000. We are looking to go at least in business class. I know it’s 90,000 roundtrip to Hong Kong and 120,000 to Thailand. If we arrive into HKG and depart from PKT do we only need 105K each? Can we do a stopover using one reservation or do we need to get a one-way from HKG to PKT?”

David has the right idea since this is a smart redemption and one that might not be around for too much longer once the American and US Airways merger starts to go through, which could be as early as this week.

As David mentions, you only need 90,000 miles to fly roundtrip in business class from North America to North Asia, which includes Hong Kong, but those awards will disappear with the merger, so book them now!

So David’s question is, if he flies to Hong Kong and back from Phuket, will US Airways price out the award with one leg as North Asia and the return from Southeast Asia, which requires 120,000 miles roundtrip – a significant 30,000-mile jump. Here’s what David should do, though, if he can swing it.

North Asia including Hong Kong prices out at 90,000 miles instead of 110,000 to Southeast Asia.

North Asia including Hong Kong prices out at 90,000 miles instead of 110,000 to Southeast Asia.

Try to make your final destination Hong Kong so that US Airways prices out the award as a North Asia one at the lower mileage rate, but you can still stop in Bangkok potentially if you can find the right routing since Thai Airways is another Star Alliance partner, and then build in Bangkok as a stopover on your way to Hong Kong and just get some cheap Phuket flights from there.. Most US Airways reps should let you do that, though you might get a crabby one who says you’re flying out of your way, but in general, if you get the right rep who’s nice or who just doesn’t have a great grasp of geography, you could get the routing that you want.

This also works when you use US Airways miles to go to Australia. You only need 110,000 miles to fly roundtrip in business class from North America to the South Pacific including Australia, but you can route through Asia with a stopover like in Singapore or Bangkok and still have your time in Southeast Asia – all for 10,000 miles less than if you were just going to Southeast Asia and back rather than continuing on to Australia! So you have a lot of interesting options with US Airways – as long as its award chart is in place.

To answer your other question, US Airways does not price out awards a la carte as one-ways or leg-by-leg. They will price out your award at the highest level – so let’s say one leg of your award is in coach and one is in first class, your award will be priced out at the first class redemption rate, and same is true of destination, so in this case if you ended in Thailand rather than trying to book it as a stopover with your destination being Hong Kong, you’d be charged at the higher redemption rate for Southeast Asia, not North Asia.

So play around with it, do your research on FlyerTalk about maximizing US Airways awards to Asia in this thread, and see what you can come up with because it’s worth it when you can find ways to travel farther longer for fewer miles.

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  • Gustav

    Just booked this exact award a week ag. We did FLL to HKG with a stopover in SIN. We were able to get this for 90k. We are just going to fly Tiger Air and Malaysia Air to HKT and other SE Asia cities since they are only 60-100 dollars one way.

  • Aaron R

    When do we anticipate the award chart change? I’m 15,000 miles short of 180k needed for 2 business class redemptions – could grab the US air business card, but already have the Barclay Card (I’m on my second one).

  • Guest

    can you stopover with US Air on way to Asia in Dublin on Aer Lingus? I.e. NYC-DUB-TYO-NYC for 90k in business?
    Aer Lingus show up in the United award search engine but not on ANA–I assume they’re a United partner but not US Air?

  • globetrotter

    It will depend on US Airways agent you talk to when asking for the award booking pricing. Just try a few times to see if you can get 90K miles each. When I booked 3 award bookings on economy from LAX-NRT- SYD, the first agent quoted me 85K miles each so I hung up. The second agent quoted me 60K miles each, I ticketed three right away. The agent was surprised and asked if I wanted to put them on hold and call back but I declined.

  • Steve

    I may be missing something here. I just checked several dates in summer of 2014 for trips from Chicago to Hong Kong and each leg is 150K through Star Alliance. Where do you find the 90K RT fares? Thanks.

  • julie davidson

    i am having a very difficult time with us air finding any availability on partner airlines right now. i am looking to rome and they saw they can find nothing. is anyone else having trouble booking using us air miles?

  • Jorge

    When you call to request a “stop” in this case Thailand, when your final destination is Hong Kong. Do you ever run into problems when you say you would like that stop to be for lets say 3 days? The reason I ask is because when booking online, you only stay in the layover city for part of the day at the most. Thanks!

  • Nick

    When you call tell the agent up front your destination is Hong Kong. Once you fly to hkg say you would like a stopover on the way back. That stop is Phucket and then continue back to Mia. Should be 90k total. I have booked similar without issue.

  • thepointsguy

    Search united.com for saver availability and then that will usually be available when you call US Airways to book…their online award search does not include partners

  • thepointsguy

    YOu always have to book over the phone.. a stopover can be pretty much any amount over 24 hrs on an intl trip

  • julie davidson

    that is what i have done but when i call us air to book LH they say it is not available. they said they were probably not releasing to them b/c of merger?? very frustrating!

  • Matt

    I just got off the phone with US Airways…and I couldn’t find any award flights in business class leaving from Vancouver. I tried the following:

    YVR – FRA – Jan. 10 to Jan 22
    YVR – BUE – Jan. 6 to Jan. 22
    YVR – SAO – June 6 to June 26
    YVR – ASU – June 6 to June 26

    Have the partner airlines’ awars been cancelled?

  • thepointsguy

    Check united.com and find saver award space and then call in and book those flights – some phone reps are lazy and may only search US airways availability

  • matt

    Thanks. I have done that and they show up on both United and Aeroplan…it just seems like the partner flight awards have disappeared…I called twice with 2 different reps and neither could find a single award flight…I even tried from Toronto and nothing showed up.

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