6 Reasons the USAirways Award Chart Rules (and 1 Reason it Doesn’t)
As I was booking my tickets the other day for my Tokyo-Singapore-Bali-Mumbai August adventure, I was reminded of how much I love the USAirways award chart. While all award charts and programs have their quirks, USAirways seems to have more than most, which can make earning USAir frequent flyer miles an awesome value if you use them right.
To help understand the ins and outs of USAir miles, and the best ways to use them, I’ll give you the 6 reasons why I think USAir’s award chart rules.
1. Great redemption rates
Each airline has their own rate of how many miles a flight costs and typically these are fairly standard: 25k miles for a domestic US flight, 60k to Europe, 80k to Australia.
While USAirways falls in line with some of these, they also have some outlier rates for certain flights that are lower than the competition (especially in business class), and are rarely, if ever, higher (I actually couldn’t find a single time that USAir’s rate was higher than the competition!).
Some examples of routes that USAir is considerably cheaper than the competition (mileage needed is for a roundtrip ticket):
North America-Africa economy: 70k on USAir (75k AA, 100k Delta, 80k United)
North America-Africa business class: 110k on USAir (150k AA, 140k Delta, 120k United)
North America-North Asia economy: 60k on USAir (65k AA, 70k Delta, 65k United)
North America-North Asia business: 90k on USAir (100k AA, 120k Delta, 120k United)
Japan-India economy: 40k on USAir (45k AA, 50k Delta, 60k United)
Japan-India business: 60k on USAir (60k AA, 70k Delta, 80k United)
With such a generous award chart, not only are flying for free by using your frequent flyer miles, but you are able to stretch them even further! Gotta love it!
2. Off-peak award discounts
USAirways is the only American carrier who offers off-peak award discounts in both economy and business class and if your travel dates coincide with their off-peak schedule, you are getting a STEAL! I’ve written about it in depth in this post, but here’s the cliff notes version:
A roundtrip economy ticket from North America to South America will only cost you 35,000 miles if you travel during either March or May and a business class ticket will run you 60k.
If you fancy going to Europe and can travel between the off-peak times of January 15 and February 28th, you’ll get the same deal; 35k roundtrip in economy or 60k roundtrip in business.
For comparisons sake, these tickets would normally cost 60k in economy and 100k in business for most carriers, including USAirways during peak season. By traveling off-peak, you can save almost 50%!
3. 5,000 mile discount for having a Barclays USAirways Mastercard
If you have a Barclays USAirways Mastercard, you’ll receive a 5k mile discount on any award tickets when you fly USAirways. Note that this offer is not valid if you use your USAirways miles to fly on a partner airline but only if you fly on the USAirways flight itself.
This is great for anyone wishing to fly domestically in the US, to the Caribbean, or even to Europe.
USAirways operates its own flights to cities all across the United States and the Caribbean and also flies to many cities in Europe, including Amsterdam, Barcelona, Paris, Rome, Athens, and even as far east as Tel Aviv. To see a list of all the places USAirways flies, you can us their interactive map).
Many people have coupled this discount with the off-peak rates and flown to Europe between January and February for 30,000 miles roundtrip! There is absolutely no better value out there than a 30k trip to Europe.
4. USAir allows stopovers
A stopover is any time you stay in a city for over 24 hours before heading to your final destination. Stopovers are a GREAT way to maximize your miles and I highly recommend considering using stopovers when you fly. You can see 2 awesome places all for the price of 1 ticket.
For example, let’s say you are flying from Philadelphia to Rome. Instead of simply going direct to Rome, you could stopover in London or Paris, spend a few days there, and then continue on to Rome. Unless you under an extreme time crunch, there is absolutely no reason not to take advantage of stopovers.
Technically, USAirways allows 1 stopover per itinerary, but…
5. USAirways has really “bendable” routing rules
I say technically because there site specifically states “Either 1 stopover OR 1 open-jaw are allowed per award ticket”.
However, USAir is renowned for allowing many, many creative routes on an itinerary that break this rule and which can allow you to visit 3 places all for the price of 1 ticket. I’ll give you a perfect example.
I recently booked a roundtrip ticket from Tokyo, Japan to Mumbai, India. According to the rules, I was allowed 1 stopover OR 1 open jaw (when you fly in to one city and out of another).
I decided that on the way from Tokyo to Mumbai, I’d like to take advantage of my stopover and stay for a week in Bali, Indonesia. This was perfectly ok and within the rules.
However, when I saw that I was going to make a connection in Singapore, I decided that instead of just staying at the airport, I’d like to visit some friends who lived there.
I decided to press my luck and try to get a second stopover. Since the agent didn’t know the rules allowing only 1 stopover, I was granted a second stopover in Singapore.
Lastly, there were no good flights out of Bali airport (DPS) to Mumbai, but there were great flights from Jakarta (CGK) to Mumbai.
However, I didn’t want to fly in to Jakarta since I’d be spending my vacation in Bali, so I was able to convince the agent to let me fly from Singapore into Bali airport but fly out of Jakarta. Hello, open-jaw.
My final itinerary looked like this:
Tokyo to Singapore. Stay in Singapore 2 days as a stopover. Singapore to Bali. Stay in Bali for 6 days. I’d then take the ferry from Bali to Jakarta and leave from Jakarta airport (open jaw) to Mumbai. From Mumbai, I’d then fly home to Tokyo.
All told, I was able to get 2 stopovers and 1 open jaw, and all for the same price (40,000 miles) that’d I’d pay if I flew direct from Tokyo to Mumbai and back. Talk about “bendable”!
6. No fuel surcharges
When you use USAirways miles to fly, whether you are flying on a USAirways flight itself or on one of its partner airlines, you will NEVER pay a fuel surcharge.
This is a huge deal, since many airlines are now imposing fuel surcharges on award tickets and they can range between $400-800 a person. With USAirways, you’ll never have to worry about that!
The one downside
USAir does not allow you to book one-way tickets when using frequent flyer miles. Instead, you’ll always have to book a roundtrip ticket, meaning that you’ll have to end your trip back where you started it.
This isn’t normally a huge deal for most travelers, seeing as they leave from their home, go on vacation, and the come back.
However, it does put a crink in the plans of people who are looking to travel to multiple destinations on a round the world trip or someone who might have miles spread across a variety of airlines but doesn’t have enough miles in USAir to book the whole ticket.
Most of the times, this is either inconsequential or a small price to pay for the other awesome perks that USAir’s award chart but it is something you should be aware of.
Hopefully, as many other airlines have now moved towards allowing one-way tickets, USAir will soon follow suit.
Best Credit Card to Earn USAirways Miles
If you want to take advantage of USAir’s awesome award chart but don’t have enough miles, I’d suggest you take a look at the Barclays USAirway Mastercard.
Not only will this card save you 5k miles each time you fly USAirways (as mentioned above) but you’ll also receive a decent sign up bonus.
It also waives the annual fee for the first year, so there is no reason not to add this card to your collection.
For a more detailed review of the USAirways Mastercard, check out the Best Current Deals page.
What other award chart quirks do you love? Is there an award chart that you find to be as generous as USAir’s? Let us know in the comments below?