US Airways Announces Mileage Increases to Star Alliance Award Chart — And They Aren’t So Bad

One Mile at a Time points to changes to the US Airways Star Alliance award chart. While increased mileage costs are never good, I’m not sweating this one.

Here’s the old chart and the new chart (both .pdf files).

Last month US Airways announced changes to awards booked on US Airways flights. Those changes were not good, and Randy Petersen really took them to task over it.

At the time I expected that US Airways would have to make changes to their Star Aliance award chart as well. It seemed unlikely that they’d leave awards booked on their own flights as significantly more expensive compared to awards redeemed on their partners. The archetypical example of what had to change was US to Europe in business class — going from 80,000 miles on the US Airways metal chart up to 100,000 miles, I certainly expected the same change to be made to the Star Alliance chart.

And that’s exactly what happened. But since a Star Alliance award chart change was impending, there was clearly some risk out there that it could have been bad, much worse than actually came to pass. And there was risk that it could have been done without any notice at all, as they did two years ago.

Now that we know the actual changes, it’s unlikely that significant additional changes will be made for awhile, and that’s good. US Airways has been printing miles like crazy (see this current promotion and this one). Giving away huge amounts of miles cheaply pretty much always presages increases in the award chart, but now we know what those are and can plan and act accordingly. And since the changes don’t go into effect until January 6, we have a month to book awards in advance of the changes.

Here’s a nice summary of the changes from the Flyertalk thread on the new award chart:

  • Rates effective from 6 January, 2010.
  • The average increase across all changed rates was 21%.
  • Increases to/from Hawaii for many regions (averaging 19% across all award changes).
  • Increases from North America/Hawaii/Caribbean to Europe/South America.
  • Increases in intra-region transport for Middle East, Caribbean/Latin America, South Pacific (coach only) and Europe.
  • F intra-Europe is still not available (despite UA and TK operating F cabins intra-Europe).
  • C/F intra-Caribbean/Latin America is now available.
  • Russia still assigned to North Asia region.
  • No increases from North America to South Pacific, Asia (North, South, or Central), Africa, or the Middle East.
  • Flyertalk member yvsean cooked up a spreadsheet comparing the awards that are changing between the old and new charts:

    But the bottom-line for me is that

    (1) the changes aren’t bad for any route that I’m likely to be interested in,

    (2) there aren’t nearly as many changes to routes that don’t overlap with US Airways flying (and thus with changes to the US Airways-metal award chart), and

    (3) there aren’t any changes to premium cabin awards to Asia and very few changes to first class flying.  The upside is we now have more certainty, and I’m much more comfortable taking advantage of current US Airways promos.

    About Gary Leff

    Gary Leff is one of the foremost experts in the field of miles, points, and frequent business travel - a topic he has covered since 2002. Co-founder of frequent flyer community, emcee of the Freddie Awards, and named one of the "World's Top Travel Experts" by Conde' Nast Traveler (2010-Present) Gary has been a guest on most major news media, profiled in several top print publications, and published broadly on the topic of consumer loyalty. More About Gary »

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    1. Thanks for the heads up. Agreed, the changes aren’t “that bad.”

      Of course, the chart makes little logical sense — which is good for the frequent flyer “gamers” who read this blog. North Asia (aka China and Japan) and Africa are the best deals. Hawaii is still an OK deal for East Coast US travellers.

      It doesn’t make sense to me that China and Europe are the SAME amount of miles. Especially for East Coast US residents — no doubt the majority of US Airways frequent flyers –it makes little sense in most instances to redeem frequent flyer miles to Europe.

    2. Does USAir allow stopovers on Star Alliance awards for travel between two regions (or within one region) outside the US?

    3. According to the US website,

      1.Stopovers are not permitted when travel is within one award region or the itinerary includes an open jaw.
      2.One en route stopover is permitted at a US Airways hub city, a US Airways international destination or ticketed partner’s hub city per direction. US Airways hub/gateway cities include Phoenix, Las Vegas, Philadelphia, Charlotte, Ft. Lauderdale and Pittsburgh. Please consult with Reservations for partner hub cities.

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