US Airways is selling miles for 1.135 cents each again. This has been one of the best/craziest miles deals around for the past couple of years. At only 90k for a business class ticket to North Asia (which generously includes Hong Kong and Taipei), you’re looking at paying around $1100 for a business class ticket to North Asia (taking into account the $50 US Airways fee and some taxes). That’s less than many coach tickets would cost you in cash. Plus you get a stopover or open jaw and can route via Europe if you’d like. Australia and New Zealand are similarly a good deal at 110k miles for business class.
But the day I’m least looking forward to in the next couple of months is the announcement of the AA/US award chart devaluation (I guess my life is pretty great considering that this is the worst thing I have to look forward to). And it seems kinda fishy that US Airways is running another one of these promos so soon after the last Share Miles promo, especially when we know a devaluation HAS to be coming soon, right?
Obviously, if you have trips that you’re ready to book now and could use the miles, go for this promo. I think I’m in for 50k so I can book my dad his first international business class trip ever. But book ASAP, because it’s entirely possible that US Airways could pull a Delta and devalue overnight and not give advance warning (although I think the more likely scenario is that we will get at least a little bit of advance notice and time to book under old rates).
If you don’t have any trips in mind, should you buy speculatively? In the past, I think the answer was almost assuredly yes, assuming that you like to travel at all, as it’s a no brainer to use miles to book a business class award when a coach cash ticket will cost you the same price (e.g. I booked an off-peak Envoy class award to Europe for cheaper than a coach ticket, although that specific award is no longer available). But what happens if AA/US guts their award chart next month?
I’m pretty risk averse, but I think the answer is still probably yes, unless you’re already sitting on a ton of US Airways and American miles. Even if AA/US pulls a United and nearly doubles the award rates for premium travel on partners, let’s say to 160k miles roundtrip to North Asia as United’s will be, you’re still looking at the equivalent of a ~$1900 business class ticket to North Asia, which isn’t terrible. Of course, it’s harder to scrounge up 160k miles than 90k, but you should be able to combine miles between American and US in the near future, which will help.
Delta’s SkyMiles are perhaps the most maligned major airline mileage program out there, but even then, people value SkyPesos at more than 1.1 cents per mile. And AA/US probably won’t touch 25k miles for a domestic roundtrip, so that’s less than $300 for a domestic roundtrip ticket (although you do need to find award availability). All in all, even if it does feel a little bit like playing with fire, I think it’s pretty unlikely that you won’t be able to get at least 1.135 cents per mile of value out of the miles, so I think it’s safe to buy them at that rate.
Now, the real kicker would be if AA/US both doubled award rates AND added fuel surcharges…