Why you should burn your US Airways miles to visit Europe before 2015

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Combining a couple of interesting US Airways features, US Airways has been the source of one of the cheapest Europe tickets for only 30,000 miles roundtrip.  But in 2015 some new changes to the US Airways credit card are disrupting that strategy, and that great price.

Those of you who have the US Airways credit card may want to do something spontaneous and see how darn charming Europe can be this time of year.

Why visit Europe in the winter?  Well for one reason, the alps are just gorgeous in the winter, but more importantly, the first part of this 30,000 mile ticket strategy involves US Airways’ off-peak prices.

 Take a look at US Airways’ award chart here.

Screen Shot 2014-11-25 at 11.43.18 PM

Guidelines:

  • US Airways only provides roundtrip tickets, so we’re talking about roundtrip prices here.
  • The off-peak US to Europe price is 35,000 miles
  • “off-peak” is a fairly short, 45 day stretch from January 15 to February 28

These prices are especially impressive if you know what the other mileage programs are charging.  Drew has a post about the cheapest miles to get to Europe with a chart of the different US to Europe mileage options.  We’ll include a few of those options here, but visit the post for the full list.

What are the competing rates?

  • American Airlines’ roundtrip off-peak Europe price is 40,000 miles.
    •  Off-peak dates for Europe are much better with AA: Oct 15- May 15
    • The same prices and off-peak stipulations apply when using Alaska miles to book on American Airlines off-peak flights
  • United  Airlines’ roundtrip Europe price is 60,000 miles (no off-peak options)
  • Lufthansa’s roundtrip Europe price is 50,000 miles (no off-peak options)
  • Delta’s roundtrip Europe price is 60,000 miles (as Saver awards; no off-peak options)

It’s especially easy to see when looking at Drew’s comparative miles-to-Europe chart, but you can see here too that 35,000 miles with US Airways is already a great deal.

But we can make it even better with the second half of this strategy.

US Airways’ (soon-to-be-gone) Credit Card Perk

The US Airways Mastercard has had this great benefit of a 5,000 mile rebate for using your card to book US Airways awards. (All legs have to be US Airways flights.) That brings our off-peak Europe price down to 30,000 miles.  However, according to this PointsGuy article about changes in the US Airways credit card, that perk along with others will be discontinued January 2015.

Well…when life gives you lemons, fly to Europe for 30,000 miles.

Guidelines:

  • All legs of your flight need to be US Airways flights
  • Reserve and pay for the flight with your US Airways Mastercard
  • Book before the benefit discontinues in January
  • Fly between the dates of January 15 and February 28

 

Bam. You’ve got yourself a 30,000 mile roundtrip ticket to Europe.

Now, if you’re worried about bad weather, let me entice you with some photos.  We have had a blast in Europe and we’ve always gone around winter time.  Last year in February the weather in Italy was wonderful, though admittedly the locals told us it was unusually so.

Civita di Bagnorigio, Italy

Salzburg

Berchtesgaden

 

 

4 Comments on “Why you should burn your US Airways miles to visit Europe before 2015

  1. Great post Carrie. Not sure we can pull this off from CHO, yet thanks for the tips! Italy sounds grand for a week. If I read you right, the key is making the reservation before end of 2014, even if we fly in February. Same for Hawaii? Bam indeed.

    • Thanks Scott!
      Yes, book before Jan 1 2015 and fly before February 28, 2015. Though, I don’t think the off peak prices apply to Hawaii unless you’re thinking of flying from Hawaii to Europe. Unfortunately this post is mostly highlighting the off-peak Europe prices. The award chart off-peak distinctions (screenshotted in this post) make it hard for me to tell whether or not they include Hawaii in the North America off-peak dates (Sept. 1-30). I would guess that it does include Hawaii but I wouldn’t feel confident about that without calling.
      But if you did have a Hawaii to Europe trip in mind, then that would work under the Europe off-peak dates of January 15 to February 28.

  2. Is it worth it to get the card now, before the end of the year, if you don’t already have it? Dying to go to Europe again.
    Thanks!

    • You probably could actually get that card in time to use it for this plan, BUT there are a few things to consider. 1.) it has an $89 annual fee that’s not waived for the first year, 2.) if you wanted to try to book the off-peak ticket discussed in this post, you’d have to pay a $75 fee for booking what they would consider a last-minute ticket, 3.) plus there is a $25 award booking fee.

      Simply to have the card now vs. the one that you’d get after 2015 may be worth it, but only if those expenses ($189 in total) are factored into your decision.

      Also, if you have any American Airline miles, that is a great way to do Europe right now too since it’s also AA’s off-peak season and will be all the way until May 15

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