The 40,000 mile US Airways® Premier World MasterCard® offer is currently among the top airline credit card offers available. With the US Airways and AA merger going through it’s only a matter of time before this card will no longer be available, but until then it remains a great way to earn US Airways miles.
 
Over the next couple of weeks, I’ll publish a series of articles focusing on the US Airways Dividend Miles frequent flyer program covering how the program works and some of the most valuable ways of redeeming miles for award tickets. This post will serve as an introduction to the program and ways to earn US Airways miles.

Guide To Maximizing US Airways Miles Series Index

Part 1    |  Introduction to Maximizing US Airways Miles

Part 2   |  Maximizing US Airways Miles on Asia Awards

Part 3   |  Maximizing US Airways Miles on Europe Awards

Part 4   |  Maximizing US Airways Miles on Central & South America Awards

Part 5   |  Maximizing US Airways Miles on Oceania Awards

Part 6   |  Maximizing US Airways Miles on Africa Awards

US Airways, along with their Oneworld partners have numerous flights to Central and South America. US Airways operated flights however only fly to Brazil and these routes will be discontinued in January 2015.

US Airways defines the entire continent of South America as one region and everything between the United States and South America as Central America. This makes it cheaper to redeem awards to southern South America when using US Airways miles as compared to American Airlines (40k), Delta (60k) or United (60k)

US Airways Award Charts for Central & South America

The following shows a snippet of the US Airways award chart for Central America on US Airways flights only. The prices shown are for round-trip awards in economy, Business, and First Class. Also remember that US Airways charges the round trip price for one-way award redemptions.

US Airways award chart for Central America:

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US Airways award chart for Central America

Note that the award chart for Central America lists no Off-peak redemption rate!

Here is the US Airways award chart for South America:

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US Airways award chart for South America

One of the fallouts of the US Airways + American Airlines merger is that there are no Off-peak awards to South America anymore. Previously this was one of the great redemptions since you were able to travel to Brazil or other great South American destinations for only 60k US Airways miles in First Class!

US Airways hasn’t gotten around to updating the award redemption chart, but they did remove South America from the Off-peak dates section on their website.

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Here is the snippet from the Oneworld partner award chart for Central and South America:

Maximizing US Airways Miles on Central & South America Awards _03

Most flights to Central America are two cabin flights therefore the Business Class redemption rate is represented by “n/a.” South America on the other hand has both 2-cabin and 3-cabin flights depending on the route and the airline flown.

Maximizing US Airways Miles for Europe Awards

While there are no longer Off-peak awards for South America, there are no restrictions on the direction of travel for awards to Central & South America. Additionally US Airways has fairly relaxed award routing rules to South America and you can get 1 stop-over or 1 open-jaw.

Since it will cost you the same whether you fly solely on US Airways operated flights or on any one of their Oneworld partners, this makes it easy to maximize your miles.

Consider the following example itinerary as a great way to use US Airways miles to South America:

  • Los Angeles to Sao Paulo on American Airlines
  • Sao Paulo to Los Angeles on American Airlines (Stop-Over)
  • Los Angeles to Honolulu on American Airlines (Free One-Way!)
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Outbound Flight to Brazil

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Return Flight with a Stopover. Free One-Way!

As you can see, by making Los Angeles a stopover, you can get a free one-way to Hawaii for a later date. This itinerary will only cost 60k in Economy and 100k in Business Class!

If you have the US Airways® Premier World MasterCard® then you get an additional 5k discount for booking an award trip on flights operated by US Airways only making this trip’s cost only 55k in Economy and 95k in Business Class.

Additionally you can also have a free one-way to any of the following destinations since they all cost the same amount (in miles) for a round-trip award flight to South America:

  • United States
  • Canada
  • The Caribbean
  • Mexico and Central America

You can also use the stop-over in a third region, but as stated earlier in this series, the more complicated the itinerary, the more patience it will require you to convince the agent to price out the award.

Let’s try to really maximize our miles:

  • Los Angeles to Sydney on Qantas (STOP-OVER)
  • Sydney to Sao Paulo via Santiago on Qantas / TAM
  • Sao Paulo to Los Angeles on TAM
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Stopover in Australia en route to South America!

You can visit Australia and South America for only 60k in Economy and 100k in Business Class! While, there are no routing rules restricting this route, some booking agents might not be willing to price it out. The best advice at that point is to hang up and call again (HUCA).

Both itineraries discussed will not be charged any fuel surcharges which makes it the “cherry on top.” Booking awards like this are truly the best ways to get the maximum value out of your miles.

Stopovers To/From Central & South America

The following is a breakdown of possible locations for a stopover on a US Airways award ticket to Central & South America:

  • Central America – Fly various carriers to Costa Rica, or other coastal Central American cities.
  • Caribbean – Fly US Airways / American Airlines to the caribbean en route on the outbound or return leg.
  • Australia – Fly Qantas to Australia, then continue your journey.

Finding Oneworld Award Space

You need to either use Qantas or British Airways’ search engines to find all partner award flights. For American and US Airways specific flights only, the AA search engine will be your best bet. This post discusses basic award space search techniques.

Quick Recap

While US Airways allowed off-peak awards to South America at one point including premium cabins, the option no longer exists. Therefore currently we have to do the best with what is available. As discussed in the examples above, there are still some award redemption gems to be redeemed.

You can almost always get a free one-way at the tail end or the front end of the journey to either Hawaii, the Caribbean or Central America when booking round trip awards to South America.

If you can book your trip on flights operated strictly by US Airways, then you get an additional 5k mile discount for when you have the US Airways® Premier World MasterCard®.

While it may not be feasible for everyone, an award that includes Australia en route to South America for only 60k / 100k is a deal that can hardly be beat considering the trip will fly more than 22,000 miles in the sky!

As is the case with most “maximizing” awards, it may require a couple of attempts to find the booking agent that will price it out and let you put it on hold. The golden words of wisdom when booking US Airways awards are simply – Hang Up and Call Again (HUCA).

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6 Comments

  • Hey there! Happy New Year! Curious, did you write your part 5 in this US Airways series ” Maximizing US Airways Miles on Oceania Awards”? I am trying to find it, but can’t seem to locate it. I loved reading through this series and was hoping to read the rest. Thanks!

  • You’re not arriving anywhere in South America on US Airways metal after 15 January. You only get the 5,000-mile discount on US Airways credit card miles when you fly US Airways metal. Or am I missing something?

    • Hi simplyfantabulous

      You are correct on both assumptions. US Airways operated flights only fly to Brazil and these routes will be discontinued in January 2015

  • Nice blog!

    Does this method work with United or American miles to get to Australia and South America?