Even though it is becoming easier to search for award flights with the addition of Singapore, EgyptAir and Air China to Continental.com there still remains a myriad of rules that might confuse you. In addition to booking awards through our airline award booking service, I field a number of common questions on awards booked using US Airways Dividend Miles.
Q. I’m booking an open jaw award for my destination, can I return to a different airport than I departed from? For example TPA-LHR then CDG-MCO?
A. No, you are only permitted one open jaw and since Tampa and Orlando are not co-terminal that would be a second open jaw. You can fly TPA-LHR//CDG-TPA or TPA-LHR-MCO.
Q. I’ve booked an open jaw, but the return flight requires an overnight. Is this considered a stop over and illegal for a US Airways Award?
A. Star Alliance awards book with US Airways may not include both a stopover and an open jaw – only one or the other. However, stops of less than 24 hours are considered a layover, not a stopover. (4 hours if traveling on a purely domestic USA itinerary). For example, if a flight from Beijing to Frankfurt arrives at 4pm, but all the connecting flight to the USA does not depart until the next morning, staying overnight in Frankfurt is acceptable even on an open jaw award.
Q. My desired flights aren’t available now, if I book something close, can I change it later without a fee?
A. No, US Airways charges $150 per ticket to change an itinerary once booked. US Airways does waive that fee is there is a schedule change (even a minor schedule change if you are persuasive enough) and will not charge the fee if you are changing cabins on a flight to correspond with the type of ticket you have booked. For example, say you booked a business class ticket from San Francisco to Hong Kong via Tokyo and the Tokyo-Hong Kong flight was only available in economy class when you booked. If business class award space opens up at a later time, US Airways will not charge a change fee to move you up to business class.
Q. Does US Airways have a maximum mileage for their awards?
A. US Airways technically states that the award cannot exceed the given maximum permitted mileage, however in practice agents never check this.
Q. Is routing across the Pacific from the USA to Asia and back through Europe across the Atlantic permissible on a North America-Asia award?
A. Yes. As long as you meet the stop and open jaw requirements you can transit both oceans on one ticket.
Q. What information do I need when I call to make an award booking with US Airways?
A. Usually they ask for your frequent flyer number, date of birth, billing address as it appears in your profile and possibly email address.
Q. How can I estimate the taxes and fees that are due for an award booking?
A. Using ITA Software you can search for the same flights and bring up the complete itinerary as if you were going to pay for the flight. On the last screen click “Show Fare Information” and a breakdown of taxes, fees, and fuel surcharges will be shown. Deduct the “YQ” line (fuel surcharge) as US Airways thankfully does not pass this on to consumers. This figure should be close to what you will pay.
Q. Can I book any Star Alliance carrier on a US Airways award? I’ve never even heard of Asiana.
A. Theoretically yes, though you will be frustrated if trying to book transatlantic Lufthansa First Class space because US Airways blocks it. If you do find Lufthansa First Class availability and US Airways claims they cannot see it, you may find an agent willing to do a “long sell” or “manual request” for the flight, but most do not know how to do or claim it is not possible. I have also found that certain United Express and Continental Express flights are blocked and have been unable to find a way around booking those.
Q. Where can I search for US Airways Star Alliance Awards? Their website won’t let me type in foreign destinations.
A. The simplest option is to use Continental.com, though it is missing availability from carriers including Swiss, Adria, and Croatian Airlines. Any Star Alliance award you find on Continental’s website should be available to book through US Airways, noting the two possible exceptions above. Also note that Continental.com includes award space from its Virgin Atlantic partner (outside of Star Alliance), which US Airways also partners with–but Dividend Miles rules states that Virgin Atlantic redemptions can only be in economy class.
Q. If I don’t have enough miles, can I hold the reservation?
A. Yes, you can hold a reservation for three days. That gives you sufficient time to purchase miles.
Q. I can’t book online at usairways.com will I have to pay a phone fee then?
A. Good news: no phone fee. Bad news: a processing fee applies anyway. US Airways has a $50 processing fee for international awards. Note that US Airways also has a 14-day close-in processing fee which will soon become a 21-day close-in processing fee.
Q. How many flights (segments) can I have in one award?
A. Generally eight, but I’ve managed more.
Q. The phone agent said something different to what you explained above.
A. Hang up and try another agent. Some agents at US Airways love to make up their own rules. No sense arguing, just try a different one. Or have me do it in my Award Concierge Service!