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A lot of readers and FlyerTalkers have been reporting trouble recently when trying to use US Airways miles to book Star Alliance awards, especially since the merger officially went through and Oneworld announced that US Airways would be joining it on March 31, 2014 after leaving Star Alliance. That is even when they find award availability using tools like the ANA search engine and ExpertFlyer as well as United.com, which are all the best ways to search for Star Alliance availability.
That’s quite troubling since US Airways is still supposed to be a full-fledged member of Star Alliance, and I know a lot of folks are hoping to book awards using the airline’s award chart sweet spots like 110,000 miles in Business Class to the South Pacific and 90,000 miles in Business Class to Asia, as well as some flexible routing and stopover rules that bring a lot of value to the Dividend Miles program using those miles on Star Alliance carriers like Lufthansa, Singapore Airlines, ANA and more.
Curious about what was going on, I took a look at United.com and found award availability on several routes on various Star Alliance partners, so taking what I saw, I called up US Airways to try to book sample awards using the same availability I’d seen.
The good news is that in every single case I asked about, the US Airways rep I spoke to was able to see the exact same availability I’d found on United.com. The bad news was that I was on hold for a solid 45 minutes! But when I finally got through, the following itineraries were available.
To show you a quick example, I looked at booking a roundtrip flight from New York JFK to Munich in business class on Lufthansa over Memorial Day and found the following availability on May 27-June 7:
The rep was also able to put it on hold for me:
It was priced out at 100,000 miles and $153.32 in taxes, with no reservation service fee and no expedite fee, but a $50 processing fee for a total of $203.32, and they were able to place it on hold for me for 72 hours.
Other sample itineraries I found included Taipei to LAX on EVA Airways:
I was playing around on United.com while I was on the phone with the rep, and in every instance, she saw the same availability as I did. Not only that, but TPG Managing Editor Eric was looking to burn some US Airways miles before the changeover to Oneworld and managed to book a fairly complicated award from the US to Asia with a stopover in Europe that involves segments on Air Canada, Air China, EVA and SAS, all without incident.
Maybe it was luck of the draw, or maybe the readers writing in are just having a run of bad luck or seeing phantom availability like Lufthansa sometimes displays, but I was relieved that for now, it seems like Star Alliance awards are still available to US Airways reps and hopefully will be for a while yet (and theoretically until the airline exits Star Alliance in March).
Just one correlated thing to note. Yesterday, UA Insider posted on FlyerTalk that Singapore Airlines award space would no longer display on United.com as of today:
I wanted to give you an early heads up about an upcoming change to the Star partner award availability you see displayed online. Singapore Airlines and United have agreed to remove Singapore Airlines inventory from our award flight search results on united.com and on the United Mobile App. This will take effect starting tomorrow, December 13, You will still to be able to book and change award reservations involving Singapore Airlines by calling our reservations lines.
Please let me know if you have any clarifying questions, and I’ll do my best to answer them.
Sr. Manager – Customer Experience Planning
Nor will the phone booking fee be waived, so that’s a bit of bad news, but you should still be able to find SQ space by searching ANA, so that’s what I’d suggest.
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The Chase Sapphire Preferred is a great pick for the beginner and the frequent traveler. The CSP has superb travel benefits, double points on certain purchases, and a 50,000 point sign up bonus. The $95 annual fee is waived the first year so this puts it as one of the less expensive cards, while still allowing you to earn one of the most valuable point currencies.