This is the first of hopefully many Trip Reports, some written by myself and some by featured guest trip reporters. If you would like to be considered as a guest trip reporter on the First2Board.com website please contact me at mrpickles@TheMrPickles.com
Guest trip reports will be a unique feature of the new TheMrPickles blog page on First2Board.com. I hope you enjoy them.
Part 1. Introduction - About Me – Susan DeBruhl @miffSC on Twitter
Part 2. US Airways Off-Peak Low Level Award Trip to Paris – The Learning Curve
Part 7. Off to Versailles
-Editorial note: US Airways has discontinued off peak business class rewards when the merger was announced with American Airlines. Both American Airlines and US Airways continue to have off peak economy rewards, with different date restrictions. US Airways requires the redemption to be round trip while American Airlines allows oneway redemptions from Oct 15-May15 at 20k AAdvantage points.
US Airways Off-Peak Low Level Award Trip to Paris – The Learning Curve
Off-peak or low level awards to Europe are offered at a bargain 35,000 miles in Coach and 60,000 in Envoy. With the US Airways MasterCard, each of these can be had for 5000 miles less. As a reference, off-peak awards are available from North America to Central America, Mexico and the Caribbean Sept. 1-30; to South America May 1-31 and Oct. 1-31 and to Europe Jan. 15-Feb. 28. With that in mind, I began looking for a flight to Paris for some time in January. The purpose of my trip was primarily to visit a friend from Italy who finished his PhD studies in Paris this past fall. As I had been promising to visit for two years, and with his eminent departure scheduled for January 31st, I figured it was time to pony up and go.
I began my search for an award ticket right after Thanksgiving. Logging in to the US Airways site I was thrilled to see quite a few low level award seats in Envoy for 30K miles each way during the month of January. Several of the combinations would have been perfect for a five to six day getaway. And here is where I made my first mistake…I decided to wait a week before booking. When I next logged in, I found seats on the outbound but nothing that would work with my schedule for the return. At this point I called the Chairman’s Desk for help. The agent was incredibly helpful and tried to book a return flight on Lufthansa in Business for the return. When I inquired if these, too, would be a low level award she replied, no, that seat would cost me 100,000 miles. I explained that I really wanted to find a low level return, so she suggested flying back from LGW at the same 30K rate. I figured I would leave Paris a day early, take the Eurostar to the UK, spend the day in London and catch my flight from Gatwick the next morning. I booked the ticket, however, I decided to keep checking every few days to see if any awards opened up at a later date direct from Paris.
Finally, with just two weeks to go until departure, a low level opened up for the return from Paris. I called the Chairman’s Desk again and changed the award. As a Chairman, I incur no fee for changes to an award ticket prior to the flight. In addition, my taxes dropped from $255 to $95 so I would be getting a refund of $160. I also saved the cost of the Eurostar ticket ($120-140) and the cost of a night at the Hilton Gatwick ($139). So, with a little due diligence, I had saved over $400 and the trip had not even started.
Note: US has just recently changed its award chart therefore the Low Level European Awards will no longer be available in Business Class.
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