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We get a lot of complaints about the US Airways Dividend Miles program, and the difficulty in redeeming miles at the ‘low’ advertised levels (i.e. 25,000 miles for a roundtrip U.S. coach ticket). A recent study proved how difficult it is to book a reward with US Airways. Part of the problem is US Airways’ three tier reward structure, that has ‘low’, ‘middle,’ and ‘high’ rewards, versus traditional programs with just ‘low’ and ‘high’ rewards. The other is perhaps overly aggressive marketing of its mile credit card onboard flights.
But the part that’s really insidious and leads to unnecessary frustration is the online reward reservation tool on USAirways.com. It only shows reward flights with US Airways flight numbers, and not on its partners, leaving you in the dark about the majority of flight options. So the key to being able to use your US Airways miles…
Remember to search partner airlines!
United, Lufthansa, Swiss, and more
US Airways is a member of the Star Alliance, and that means your miles can be used to redeem on any of its members — including United, Continental, Lufthansa, Swiss, ANA, Austrian, Singapore and many, many more. If a ‘low’ reward seat is available with the partner, it will be generally available to book with US Airways miles. So, the next time you search for reward travel on USAirways.com and can’t find ‘low’ availability, try the following:
First, the typical frustrating US Airways search result. We’re trying New York La Guardia to Los Angeles in August…and it wants 50,000 miles or more for a coach ticket just about every day…
Step 1: Go to continental.com and do a search for Reward Travel — just click the button — it’s on the front page of the site, and you don’t need to login with an account to search.
Step 2: Enjoy the better search results. Green and yellow dates all have coach seats available for 25,000 miles roundtrip. Most of these United/Continental flights are bookable using your US Airways Dividend Miles.
Step 3: Write down the details of flights with availability. These are just 12,500 miles each way or 25,000 miles roundtrip. Half the price of the US Airways flights!
Step 4: call Dividend Miles at 1 (800) 428-4322. Ask for those specific flights and you should be able to book them.
So why do you have to go through this? Well, it costs US Airways more to use your miles on another airline than on their own flights. But since they are part of the Star Alliance they have to let you use miles on Star Alliance partners with reward availability. So, they make it difficult by not including them in the web searches on USAirways.com most people use. From time to time, the results you see on Continenal.com won’t be available when you call US Airways, but most of the time you’ll have much better luck this way than just using USAirways.com. Or, just avoid the frustration altogether and earn your miles with United / Continental — named easiest to redeem among the major global airlines.
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