In the words of Vesper Lynd, there are award redemptions and award redemptions. A USAirways off-peak economy redemption to Europe is the latter – 35,000 miles, instead of the normal mileage cost of 60,000, 90,000 or 130,000 for low, medium and high tickets. If you have the US Airways Premier World Mastercard, subtract another 5,000 miles, making the cost 30,000 miles. Add only taxes and fees of $100-180, depending on your destination, and there’s your ticket to Europe!
Basically, I’m going to Spain with my father (who also took advantage of the deal) for 8 days in February for $108. Here’s a portion of my confirmation email showing the exact price in miles and dollars:
|Your fare (Refundable)||
|PHL to MAD (XDMEU1)||17,500 mi|
|MAD to PHL (XDMEU1)||17,500 mi|
|Taxes and fees||$107.20|
|Number of passengers||x 1|
|Total by passenger type||35,000 mi|
|Total fare (All passengers)||30,000 miles + $107.20|
That same nonstop ticket, according to Kayak, would cost me at least $880:
Here are the rules:
- Off-peak awards must be on USAirways planes ergo partner oneworld airlines are not allowed. This means flying exclusively out of Philadelphia and being limited to the following destinations: Paris, Zurich, Madrid, Lisbon, Barcelona, Rome, Venice, Athens, Shannon, Dublin, Glasglow, Manchester, London, Amsterdam, Brussels, Frankfurt, Munich and Tel Aviv – terrible cities, I know. (Remember, even with a $200-300 connecting flight or a $100-150 train ride to Philadelphia, the savings are still north of 50% on a regular ticket to Europe.)
- The start and end dates of the trip must fall between January 15 and February 28.
- There must be space available on the flights you want.
These are the only rules! USAirways will even populate the correct prices when searching for award tickets, so it’s super easy to see availability. (Here’s a link to sign up for a USAirways Dividend Miles account.)
It’s also a great time to visit Europe. For instance, it’s prime skiing season and the Alps are liberally coated with gnarable shred. Since it’s cold and also in the middle of the school year, the tourist population shrinks dramatically – no three hour lines for the Mona Lisa, for example.
There’s still lots of space available if you have some USAirways miles! Munich was my first choice – I wanted to go skiing in the Bavarian Alps and then spend some time in Salzberg. Unfortunately, Pops said his skiing days are finito. He also said no unnecessary cold weather – something about his bones creaking and his joints aching when the mercury drops, a condition known as OPP – old people problems. I don’t know, though, Elsa Bailey’s 100 and she’s still slaloming. (Dad, I love you.)
It’s also futebol season, so Real Madrid/Athletico Madrid/Barcelona/Espanyol/Valencia will hopefully have two, new fans this February. I already saw Ronaldo when Portugal played Ireland at Metlife Stadium this past summer, so I’m gunning for Messi this time.
Part 2 will be coming tomorrow and show how my father and I are saving many more thousands of dollars by using points for free hotel nights!