One of my favorite awards out there are the US Airways off-peak awards. The time is just about past for booking travel to Europe with these awards this year, but they are almost ready to be booked for next year, so I thought it would be good to go over the different options.
US Airways – Off-peak Awards for Europe
The off-peak awards for Europe are for originating in North America and are valid for January 15 – February 28 each year. The cost for coach is 35,000 miles (unless you have the US Airways Premier Mastercard, then you receive a 5,000 mile deduction) and business is 60,000 miles (or 55,000 if you have the US Airways card). Ordinarily, coach is 60,000 miles and business is 100,000 miles, so this is a substantial discount. This is obviously because the slower season for Europe is between those days but that does not mean you cannot get a lot of value out of travel to Europe during that timeframe.
Even at this point of the calendar, you can still find availability to Europe for this year’s off-peak season to some of the destinations (in coach) but it is probably too close for most of you to plan for this year.
To search for this, you do it the same you would search for any other award ticket on US Airways (make sure you tick the box for using miles for this ticket). If you select flexible dates, you will see the calendar above. Pretty straightforward! Now, economy seats are plentiful but business would need to be booked way in advance.
This is why I am writing this post now – in another month, you will be able to start booking award travel using the off-peak dates for next year. That allows you to grab the best dates and cabins that you want. This gives you time to get the miles you need for these awards. Now, the only catch is that these off-peak awards are only available when flying US Airways metal (only US Air flights). This means that not all cities in Europe are available through it. Below is the list of European destinations US Airways serves (some of them are seasonal destinations and may not be operating during the off-peak time):
- Lisbon, Portugal
- Shannon, Ireland
- Dublin, Ireland
- Glasgow, Scotland
- Madrid, Spain
- Manchester, UK
- London, UK
- Barcelona, Spain
- Paris, France
- Brussels, Belgium
- Amsterdam, Netherlands
- Zurich, Switzerland
- Frankfurt, Germany
- Munich, Germany
- Venice, Italy
- Rome, Italy
- Athens, Greece
That gives you a lot of destinations for the cost of one credit card application!
So, what is the total cost of an off-peak award ticket to Europe? 30,000 miles (for credit cardholder) and $111 for a ticket! Pretty good!
Since this is the off season in Europe, are there races that you may want to include in your travels? Here is a list of the marathons in Europe during this timeframe (you can always use inter-European transportation – which can be cheap – to get from your US Airways arrival city to the marathon site).
- Gran Canaria Maraton (January 20) – Canary Islands, Spain (I have not run this race but have been to the Canary Islands and they are beautiful!)
- Naples Marathon (January 27) – Naples, Italy
- Siracusa City Marathon (January 27) – Siracusa, Italy
- Centraal Beheer Achmea Midwinter Marathon (February 3) – Apeldoom, Netherlands
- Bad Salzuflen Marathon (February 23) – Bad Salzuflen, Germany
- Limassol Marathon (February 24) – Limassol, Cyprus
- Seville Marathon (February 24) – Seville, Spain
- Verdi Places Marathon (February 24) – Salsomaggiore, Italy
These are just the marathons in Europe that I found. These off-peak awards are so good, though, that you could get to Europe, spend a few days in one of those cities and then take a different (cheap) flight to someplace else that has a marathon (there are many in Asia in that timeframe).
Is the cost difference worth it between Coach and Business? The difference is 25,000 miles for the round-trip. Personally, I would consider it a worth it since you can get a very nice product for 60% of what it normally costs in miles and you can get those miles with 1 US Airways credit card application (40,000 miles after 1st purchase) and 1 SPG American Express credit card application (10,000 points after 1st purchase and additional 15,000 points after spending $5,000 in 6 months – these transfer 1:1 to US Airways with a bonus of 5,000 miles when transferring in blocks of 20,000 points). So, for two people, you could each apply for 1 US Airways card and then have one of the people apply for a SPG card and split the transfer between accounts so each account has the minimum of 55,000 miles (because of the 5,000 mile reduction for cardholders).
Credit Cards to Apply for:
US Airways Premier Mastercard from Barclays Bank – 40,000 Miles – application link (I do not receive a commission if you use this link)
Starwood Preferred Guest Card from American Express – 25,000 Miles – application link (I do receive a commission if you use this link)
So, take this post and start planning for your European trip for the US Airways off-peak awards for 2014!
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