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FlyerTalk Forums Thread Wiki: Star Alliance Award Bookings Using US Airways Miles - FAQ and Help Thread [MERGED]
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Update 08APR2014: Star Alliance Awards must have been booked by March 30, 2014. They are no longer available through US. This thread is mostly useful for historic purposes, and discussing issues such as schedule changes/route changes that affect FTers existing *A awards booked before 3/31/2014.

Discussion of the new oneworld awards on US is available here.

If you are looking for discussion on US's new partner awards that use various partners not in oneworld (many of whom are former *A partners), see the devoted thread on using US miles to book NON-oneworld partners here.

------------------------

Update 07JAN14: American Airlines award tickets bookable online on usairways.com or through reservation.

  • Award travel must be wholly on American Airlines or a combination of American Airlines and US Airways.
  • American Airlines awards cannot be combined with any of our current partner.
  • American Airlines award travel chart (PDF)

Please see the devoted thread on using US miles to book AA here.


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Old May 8, 07, 11:48 pm   #1
 
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Star Alliance Award Bookings Using US Airways Miles - FAQ and Help Thread [MERGED]

All You Need to Know About Star Alliance Award Bookings Using US Miles

The 60 Second Summary for the Uninitiated:
You can use your US Airways miles to redeem on Star Alliance carriers. You cannot do this online. You will usually save yourself significant frustration and have a more enjoyable trip if you invest time early on to carefully research the available carriers servicing the destination you wish to travel to.

Use any combination of the ANA tool, Air Canada website, Continental website, ExpertFlyer (paid service) or KVS Availability Tool (paid donation) to view award availability. Once you've pieced together an itinerary, call US Airways Dividend Miles Service Center (or your elite line #) to book it. There should be no phone booking fee, but there is an award processing fee. Plan carefully and note that a change or cancellation of the award will result in hefty fees unless you are a Chairman's Preferred member.

To get started, you will need:
  • Patience
  • Flexibility
  • An ANA Frequent Flyer account (free)
  • Time to research options (1-2 hours)
  • Time to book the ticket(s) (up to 1-2 hours)

Important Links:
Important Notes:
  • An award booking can contain a maximum of ten segments.*
  • Awards are booked in classes O, I, and X. O is used for first class, I for business class, and X for coach/economy class.
  • One stopover (subject to conditions) is permitted on an award, or ONE open-jaw.* (This rule changed from two-stopovers to one stopover in Summer 2010.)
  • Mileage is charged based on the most "expensive" transited region.*
  • Stopovers must be at the inbound carrier's hub airport. For example to stopover in London, you must arrive into London on BD.*
  • MPM and routing restrictions are loosely enforced.
  • You cannot combine Star Alliance and non-Star Alliance carriers on one booking.
  • US will charge a fee to cancel an itinerary and redeposit the miles, and it's expensive - $150 to $250, waived for Chairman's members only.
  • US will charge a mandatory award processing fee on all award travel ($25-$50).
  • A quick ticketing fee of $75 is charged for awards booked within 14 days of travel. Chairman's and Platinum members are exempted from this fee.
  • Agents will occassionally make use of the Star Alliance website to review routings.
  • After any complex itinerary is built, it will be sent to the rate desk. This process can take from 5-30 minutes or more.
  • US will allow itineraries to be placed on hold, subject to the TTL restrictions of the carriers included on the res. Plan on between 24-72 hours, except for itineraries including SQ-operated segments, which must be ticketed immediately.
  • Although not permitted by rule, multiple individuals have been offered RTW itineraries for the price of the region-to-region travel.
  • Agents are generally very friendly but not well trained. One may allow/disallow something that another would/would not. If you are dissatisfied with a response you receive, politely hang up and call back later. Once notes are added to your PNR, you will almost certainly not get what you are looking for.

* = Although these are supposed to be "rules", there are reports of exceptions to these items.

Frequently Asked Questions:
Can I mix miles from multiple accounts?
No, but you can purchase miles to "top-up" an account, up to 50k miles per year per account (excluding promotions like 100% buy bonuses).

Can I use my miles to book a ticket for someone else?
Yes. Any fees for the issuance of the ticket are based on your status, not the status of the recipient.

Can I put an award on hold without the required number of miles?
Yes. (Reported okay via PM - no link - as of 14 Oct. 2011 by kudzu - thanks!)

Can I make changes to an award after it's ticketed?
Yes, but only before travel begins. Almost all changes will result in fees (some significant).

Can I cancel an award after it's ticketed?
Yes (as long as travel hasn't commenced), but you won't get the miles or fees back*. (* = Chairman's members receive free mileage re-deposit - all others must pay a fee. Taxes will be refunded to all members.)

Can I mix airlines on an award?
Yes, as many as you wish, but only Star Alliance members (no partners like Virgin, QATAR, etc.). Star Alliance partners sometimes codeshare with other non-Star Alliance partners - these codeshare flights cannot be included on an itinerary. For example, Singapore Airlines has a wholly-owned subsidiary called SilkAir. Even though Singapore Airlines owns them, they are not part of the Star Alliance and you cannot use your miles to book flights on them.

Can I mix classes of service on an award (e.g. first class and coach)?
Yes, but you'll pay the higher mileage cost. Note - most carriers consider a two-class cabin to have coach and business, however some (e.g. US Airways, United [pre-merger], and Air China) consider a two-class cabin to have coach and first class. Be certain you are not charged the higher mileage for first if the aircraft only has two cabins.

I'm booked in [First, Business] but one of my flights is in [Business, Coach] - can I change it to the higher class?
Yes, before travel commences, you can change the class of service on a segment if a seat becomes available. There should be no cost to do this. Note that you must have paid the higher mileage rate when you originally ticketed the award. (reported okay as of 27 Oct. 2011 by mercflight and confirmed by ArizonaGuy - thanks!)

Can I book one-way awards?
Yes, but there is no discount in terms of mileage cost - you'll pay the full round-trip mileage cost.

What if a flight on my award ticket is cancelled or changed?
Contact US Airways, ideally after you've researched your options using one of the tools referenced above.

What exactly does 'temporarily unavailable' mean on the award chart?
Your guess is as good as ours, since it has said that for several years now.

What about co-terminals (different airports in the same city or metropolitan area) - can I fly in from DCA and out from IAD?
Yes, and it should not count as an extra segment. (reported okay as of 24 Oct. 2011 by dcpatti - thanks!)

Planning and Research:
A round-trip award booking is made up of multiple "segments". Each "segment" connects two cities together. It is best to piece together your itinerary segment by segment, and you may find it easier to start with the longest (or "hardest" to find) segments first.

For example, if you wish to fly from Tampa, Florida (TPA), to Cape Town, South Africa (CPT), the longest segment is probably going to be Europe->South Africa, and thus it would be best to find availability on this segment before all others. Yes, there are US->South Africa flights, but in such limited frequency that you would probably be better off searching via Europe (not to mention you can add a stopover there if you wish).

This is also the point at which it helps to really get to know the Star Alliance website so you understand which carriers fly to which cities so that you can maximize your routing options.

To get to CPT specifically, you will either fly direct from LHR, SIN, FRA, or IST (note some of these are non-stop and some are "direct" with a stop in JNB). To keep things simple, we'll exclude SIN and SQ from this example. Since there are relatively few flights to CPT direct, you would also want to consider a connecting flight from JNB (Johannesburg). European options to JNB include LHR, FRA, MUC, ZRH, IST, and CAI in Egypt.

So the first flight you may wish to search for would be LHR-CPT, FRA-CPT, or IST-CPT, or LHR-JNB, FRA-JNB, MUC-JNB, ZRH-JNB, IST-JNB, or CAI-JNB. Once you've found availability on that flight, then you'd look for something in the US to your European gateway city. From Tampa, logical connections at Star Alliance hubs might include CLT, IAD, PHL, ORD, EWR.

You "simply" repeat this process until you've got a whole trip pieced together. From Tampa to Cape Town, a likely routing might be TPA-CLT-MUC-JNB-CPT. The most direct routing would probably be TPA-EWR-LHR-CPT, but seats on the LHR-CPT segment can be difficult to find. The idea is to give yourself plenty of options for each segment, always keeping in mind that you can have a maximum of five segments for each leg of your trip (the outbound and the return).

Last edited by vysean; Nov 9, 11 at 8:40 pm.. Reason: updated through post 8282
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Old Mar 26, 09, 3:06 pm   #2
 
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Star Alliance award ticket Stop-overs - conslidated thread

Quick question.

On *A Award trip (I am doing South Asia) is one allowed one stop-over period or one in each direction?
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Old Mar 26, 09, 6:07 pm   #3
 
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I believe it is one stopover period.
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Old Mar 26, 09, 11:27 pm   #4
 
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I was on the phone today trying to find an itinerary and found out the following changes:

One can have one stop-over in each direction.

Any layover over 18 hours is a stopover. (used to be 24 hrs)
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Old Mar 27, 09, 12:02 am   #5
 
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18 hours? Seems odd - it's possible that connections aren't even possible until greater than 18 hours after arrival in some airports around the world. Though it's still more than reasonable to try and find a route somewhere, at least.

I always understood the stopover to be as you were told - one in each direction for international awards. Just no mix of stopover(s) and an open jaw, and no double open jaw. And the open jaw can't be greater than either leg as that would make it two one-way awards and cost you double, basically.
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Old Mar 28, 09, 12:48 pm   #6
 
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Stopover in *A Hub

I just tried to ticket my trip and I was told that stopover is only allowed in *A hub. But hub has to be that airlines hub. In my example they will not let me do a stopover for an award ticket in PEK when I fly in on Thai and fly out on ANA.

Is this right or should I ask another agent?
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Old Mar 28, 09, 2:01 pm   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by iztok View Post
I just tried to ticket my trip and I was told that stopover is only allowed in *A hub. But hub has to be that airlines hub. In my example they will not let me do a stopover for an award ticket in PEK when I fly in on Thai and fly out on ANA.

Is this right or should I ask another agent?
I've only personally done it when I was flying the hub carrier either in or out of the hub in which I wanted to stop over. However, I'm under the same impression you are, that it's not a requirement. I suggest contacting vysean, he's done a bunch of these tickets, knows the rules well and probably knows the answer.
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Old Mar 28, 09, 2:19 pm   #8
 
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So, according to the rules, the following itinerary would appear to be legal:

SFO-LHR-CAI(stop)
CAI-JNB(destination)
JNB-CPT(stop)
CPT-LHR-SFO(destination)

That's a single stopover at a hub airport in each direction.
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Old Mar 28, 09, 3:46 pm   #9
 
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My most recent experience ticketing an award on US didn't involve a stopover (although it did represent my greatest flown mileage in a single award), however my recent experiences have shown that they are getting far more by-the-book than they ever were before. Lots of referring to the *A website for valid routings and such.

As to the specific question of stopovers in airline hubs, I was quoted that two years ago and nearly missed a flight because of it (long story and even longer phone call to get it sorted). So they're serious about it. Your option is either to accept it and move on (no stopover), change carrier now or at the last minute to get the stopover you want, or hang up and keep calling until you get someone to ignore the rule. IMO, it's a very dumb rule, and certainly not one that's a requirement of the *A. Just don't get something noted in your PNR.

Another option, depending on the airports involved, is to simply do an open-jaw. If you want to post or PM the routing you're attempting to ticket, we might be of more assistance.

Good luck!

Sean
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Old Mar 28, 09, 3:58 pm   #10
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by 90minfromJFK-CDG View Post
So, according to the rules, the following itinerary would appear to be legal:

SFO-LHR-CAI(stop)
CAI-JNB(destination)
JNB-CPT(stop)
CPT-LHR-SFO(destination)

That's a single stopover at a hub airport in each direction.
That sounds correct - here's what is posted on usairways.com:

Quote:
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.
What is a little less clear to me then is the ticketed partner issue. Let's use the following example:

LAX-LHR-FRA, with LAX-LHR on NZ and LHR-FRA on BD. LHR is a hub city for BD. Could you stopover in LHR if arriving on NZ but departing on BD? I was told the answer is "no". You'd have to arrive into LHR on BD, and presumably then could take any carrier from LHR onward.

The verbiage on the US site is IMO unhelpful, because it says "ticketed partner". In my book, a ticketed partner might be defined as the operator of any single segment of a ticket/PNR (realizing the two are not the same). I don't have copies of my paper tickets in front of me at the moment, so I don't recall if award tickets (single PNR) routinely contain multiple tickets. And I'm unfamiliar with ticket generation, so it's entirely possible that my paper tickets, while having different numbers on the end (e.g. 0379120001 - 0379120009), are a single ticket (or not).

From what I know then, in the above example the LHR-CAI flight would have to be on MS, while the CAI-JNB flight could be on SA, except that they don't fly that route.

BTW, don't know what class of service you're looking at, but LH does fly widebodies FRA-CAI, even featuring international F. LX (SWISS) does too, but I understand they're more likely to swap to a narrowbody. Would be a nice (short) ride in C/F.
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Old Mar 28, 09, 4:06 pm   #11
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by iztok View Post
I just tried to ticket my trip and I was told that stopover is only allowed in *A hub. But hub has to be that airlines hub. In my example they will not let me do a stopover for an award ticket in PEK when I fly in on Thai and fly out on ANA.

Is this right or should I ask another agent?
Code:
Stopovers

   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.
   3. Stopovers are allowed only for the most direct route of travel.
   4. Stopovers must be reflected in the reservation at time of 
ticketing. Stopovers are not allowed once an award has been 
ticketed or travel has commenced.
   5. Star Alliance Round-the-World awards permit five en route 
stopovers in a forward direction toward the original departure 
city.
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Old Mar 28, 09, 4:13 pm   #12
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by vysean View Post

You'd have to arrive into LHR on BD, and presumably then could take any carrier from LHR onward.
That is what I have been told.

But I've been told different things by multiple agents. Sometimes we are lucky, sometimes it never breaks our way.
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Old Mar 28, 09, 4:25 pm   #13
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by iztok View Post
I was on the phone today trying to find an itinerary and found out the following changes:

One can have one stop-over in each direction.

Any layover over 18 hours is a stopover. (used to be 24 hrs)
I don't buy the 18 hour thing - I think that must have been an uninformed agent. I can't tell you how many times I've had to go back and forth on "stopover" versus "layover", so I'm not surprised in the least. That said, there's no time definition on the US website for international stopovers - only domestic ones (anything exceeding 4 hours).
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Old Mar 28, 09, 4:40 pm   #14
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by vysean View Post
</snip>

What is a little less clear to me then is the ticketed partner issue.

</snip>
That's been an issue for me in the past as well. I suppose I'll have to call and figure it out with the agent (or hang up and call again). Thanks for the info.
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Old Mar 28, 09, 4:40 pm   #15
 
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The rules quoted in the previous post don't say it must be that particular hub's airline. The rules say it simply must be at a US hub, *A hub or US international destination.

Even so, let's go with the thought that it must be via the hub's carrier. Does that mean both inbound and outbound segments to that hub must be on the hub's carrier, or only one? Can I arrive in BKK via UA, stopover and continue on via TG?
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