As noted here, here and in many other travel blogosphere, US Airways and American Airlines are formally merging their operations on March 31, 2014. After this date, both companies will move forward to merge their award charts together and the combined airline will be a member of the Oneworld Alliance.
Even though US Airways is technically buying American, they've agreed to keep the American name and leave the Star Alliance to go to Oneworld. Unfortunately for those of us well versed in US Airways miles, this negates a lot of great deals that US Airways had in their award chart. In fact, I think it is currently the best award chart out there for "sweet spots" and am very sad to see it go.
Still, all good things must come to an end and much like we advised to book award before United's devaluation date of January 31, I think it's a good idea to front-load future travel while deals are still out there under the existing US Airways award chart. Here are some of the best miles deals that you should lock in if you have the miles to do it:
1. North Asia: North America to North Asia in business class is 90,000 US Airways miles. This has by far been the most frequent award that I have booked because of its cheap price and generous routing rules. North Asia includes regular destinations like Korea, China and Japan but also includes Taiwan, Hong Kong and Mongolia which is a great way to explore parts of Asia that would normally cost more. Another great tip is to route from the US, stopover in Europe and then end in North Asia. Not only will you get to fly through two continents, but you end up saving 10,000 miles on a 100,000 mile award to Europe. This is a fantastic deal that's almost guaranteed to go away.
2. South Asia with a Twist: As I mentioned in this series, US Airways has a fairly run of the mill business class award from North America to South Asia at 120,000 miles. However, if you start in Central America, Mexico or the Caribbean, the award magically goes down to 90,000 miles which is the same as North America to North Asia. I think this is the single best sweet spot in the current US Airways award chart and as long as you can get a cheap positioning ticket to Mexico or Central America, I'd do this in a heartbeat. Coincidentally, I've just booked one of these awards starting in Panama, stopping over in Los Angeles (which is my home airport) and flying to Jakarta Indonesia all for only 90,000 miles in business class.
In part two, I'll go into a few more awards that I think are on the chopping block after the merger and are a good idea to book now.