I only have a few more days to take the plunge on ordering the Marriott travel package in order to take advantage of the US Airways 50% mileage bonus promotion (120,000 miles + 60,000 miles = 180,000 miles) and am trying to decide if it's worthwhile for me or not. I'd be doing it for a flight to either LHR or CDG from LAX next year, Spring 2014.
As I am west coast, I am still trying to find my US Airways legs. I just don't fly US Airways because they don't fly where I fly. The other challenge that I have with US Airways is that I can't fly non-stop from the west coast to Europe with them. With the merger however, all of that will no doubt change. Non-stop is a biggie for me, but I would be willing to accept a connection through Charlotte or Philly, if I'm flying for free (with miles).
Between North America and Europe, it costs 125,000 miles roundtrip (250,000 miles for 2 passengers) during high season. Since low season is only from Jan. 15 to Feb. 28, I figure it's just better to figure high season miles. So that would put us short by 70,000 miles. Does anyone know if the difference in miles can be purchased? Are there airline taxes and fees for the overseas legs? If US Airways is part of Star Alliance, can I combine their miles with my Lufthansa miles? The other option would be to purchase upgradeable economy class tickets and then use the miles for upgrades, 30,000 miles + $300 each way for the transatlantic flights plus 10,000 miles +$150 each way for the west coast - east coast legs, so a total of $900 + 70,000 miles just for a first class upgrade/person on top of the coach fare, which seems like a lot, but perhaps not when one considers the out of pocket cost of a first class ticket, and the fact that we are not frequent flyers, so do not have millions of miles at our disposal (or we could just fly first class half of the way maybe?)
So I'm wondering if this is a good deal for my travel needs in particular or not. Or if I'm missing any other options that haven't occurred to me. I would hate to take the plunge only to find that the miles won't work out for my needs. I'm still feeling so dumb about all of this, but I simply do not have experience with airline miles. Any thoughts or comments or answers to the above questions are greatly appreciated.
I agree, they are steep. Was it a U.S. based airline (i.e. Delta) or a foreign based airline (i.e. BA or Air France)?
In either 2010 or 2012 (can't remember which trip it was), we looked into doing a Marriott Travel Package with Air France, and they wanted well over $1200 in taxes/fees per person in addition to the miles, and the amount of points that would've been converted to miles (120,000) didn't come anywhere near covering two economy plane tickets on Air France. We would've needed to convert hundreds of thousands more Marriott points to miles, and still paid the steep taxes/fees on top of it. At that price, we decided to just pay cash for our tickets and save our points! That's part of why I'm having such a hard time wrapping my head around the travel packages. But I'm thinking that these steep taxes/fees are only with the foreign airlines. I am hoping that the U.S. Airways offer will work for us, but I need to be sure, because 120K points is a lot to waste if it doesn't meet our needs. That's 3 nights in Paris or Rome or NYC or WDC! Or Boston (go Boston!)
This morning when I looked up first class from PHI to LHR (for next Spring) using miles, it was $339/person (plus beaucoup de miles). It included taxes and fees, but there was no mention of any additional (redemption) fee. I then looked up BOS to MAD, and it was only $111/person (plus miles), again taxes and fees included. It must depend on the airport. What is this redemption fee?
You can answer your own question and be certain of your arrangement by going to www.usairways.com When on the site scroll over the Dividend Miles bar at the top of the site. Click on 'Book Award Travel'. When there, enter the dates of travel and the options will come up for you that show the miles required for the tix and the amount of $$ needed for taxes, etc.
This should give you a good barometer of whether or not the deal will work for you. If more questions, shoot me a private message (or an e-mail) and I will try and help some more. I am Plat with US Air and have a pretty good idea of how their programs work (but probably not as good as others on this site).
We flew First Class on award tix to Amsterdam and it cost us about $350 in addition to the points (but that was for first class taxes).
Hope this helps.
Thanks, Tef. This was very helpful. I messed around on the website, and called customer service and had a very informative chat with a very patient rep.
I think I have it dialed in. It'll be close (maybe even dicey, depending on what's available - high, medium, or low dates - after all of the miles post in May), but after playing around a bit and thus gaining a better picture, I think I'm going to take a chance and give it a shot.
I do know that if you get their credit card, you can get 30,000 more miles (and another 10,000 if you transfer $10,000 balance from other cards to their card). That would get you 30,000 miles closer. I noticed for us, they do fly to Mexico, but their 2 vouchers you get with the card, are only good for the US and Canada, so we'll probably stay with Alaska Airlines for that trip.
Thanks, Tryt. I will probably do that, just to get over the 200,000 mile threshold. (Having a number of airline credit cards sitting in drawers unused is a little bit concerning, though, because of the hit to one's credit rating. I've already got Alaska and Delta. I do fly Alaska. I've had the Delta one for almost a year now, and haven't done one Delta flight, so perhaps I'll ditch that one before I get hit with next year's annual fee.)
Although this will not help you for your upcoming trip, I have adopted the strategy of banking US Airways miles in anticipation of rolling them into the AA Advantage program when the merger is completed. From what I have read it may take a year after the merger to combine the two programs but the AA program will be the successor. We have great luck using AA for first and business class international award travel and if the trip is 100% AA the fees are nominal ($20 rt to LHR). Of course like all award travel the key is booking in advance and we typically plan 10-12 months which adds to our success. Our most recent is AA/BA from San Antonio to Rome with award stay at Rome Flora. The BA fees were about $300 pp for this one but still not too bad for 1st class travel. Good luck and safe travels.
Thanks for the info, Shashack. It'll be interesting to see how the merger shakes out. The US Airway rep told me that US Airways is actually the one buying out American (not the other way around), but I guess they will eventually just fly under the one badge, American. She said it's supposed to be better for consumers in terms of number of flights, etc. We'll see. Probably depends on where you are and where you're going.
Last summer I was able to use a MileagePlus award for my wife for a business class round trip from IAH-EWR-MUC on UA, then MUC-NAP-MUC on LH without a problem while remaining on a Star Alliance Partner, but then I used all the miles from my UA account and wasn't attempting to use from two different frequent flyer programs. And since mine was a paid ticket I got all the miles and bonus miles that applied to my Premier Status on UA. I know on CO a few years back you could purchase a percentage of miles for the trip if you didn't have enough in your account to cover, just not sure US allows it or not.
As for the purchasing of a ticket in business or first class as opposed to trying to upgrade, I've found out the only sure way to be in the business or first cabin is to purchase it. What I find on UA (US is probably different) is when you buy the economy ticket and then use miles to upgrade plus the extra fee for the upgrade only to be put on a wait list of which you may never clear you'll be stuck in econ. I've looked at the cost of both and after taking the miles you use for the upgrade and extra fee it's almost worth paying for the business/first class ticket, getting the bonus miles which are around 150% which all count toward your elite status and being assured to be up front I have taken the sure thing and not been sorry I did. Summertime fares to Europe are often much cheaper even up front however; that usually ends right after Labor Day and doesn't resume until mid to late June the next year.
Not sure if any of that helps you or not, but you should be able to use UA (I know not the best now days) in the Star Alliance from the west coast to ORD, IAH, EWR or IAD if you wanted to break up the flight or simply fly from SFO-LHR.
Thanks for the information. If you use miles to upgrade and are waitlisted, but don't make the cut, does United give you a miles and fees refund? Will you still make the flight at least in economy, or bumped altogether?
You're saying summertime fares to Europe are much cheaper? Do you mean that July and August is cheaper than say Apr-Jun?
No matter how you slice it, I'll never be able to afford a cash payment for a first class ticket to Europe or beyond. A mileage purchase or mileage upgrade is the best I can ever hope for.
On UA if you don't make the upgrade after being listed currently (who knows what Slimezek will do next to us) you get the refund of $$ as well as the miles but back into your account. Your seat is still in Economy and is good to go from what I've read on the UA website, but keep in mind I've never tried that type of upgrade on International flights other than to the Caribbean and Central America which is treated as a different animal particularly from IAH.
Yes, from what I find over the last four or five years the fares in Business Class are much lower, but you have to wait till probably mid May until you an find them and I normally have looked in August. My fare last year in Business Class from IAH-NAP and back was something like $2800, and that was with a night in MUC on the return.
At times I wish I had not payed for these fares, but then I think of how much better the travel was and how fast my body responded to the time change and it was well worth it for us.
Talk about waiting until the last minute, I just ordered my Marriott travel package today. It took me some time to research the US Airways mileage program to see if the mileage transfer plus the 50% bonus would be a good fit for two RT tickets to LHR from LAX, since I have no miles to start with. The Marriott associate said the mileage transfer would take about 48 hours to transfer to my US Airways Dividend Miles account. I contacted US Airways to ensure that even though it would take a couple of days to post, that I would get credit for the 50% bonus, since I did/requested the transfer today (April 30th, last day of 50% mileage bonus promotion.) She said she "thought so." All I can say is, "I hope so!"
Thanks to everyone for their input/advice, and especially tker, da man. Hoping it all works out with the merger, too.
I fully explained my dilemna to the very competent sounding Marriott associate, so she was well aware of my situation. She even waited on hold for me to contact a US Airways representative on another line to confirm that even if today's request took a couple of days to post to my Dividend Miles account, that I would get the bonus. So it is my belief that if she could've done anything to expedite it, she would have.
I'm not going to cry. I'm just not... (You don't want to see a grown woman cry, now do you?)
tryt and Pluto....
I think you'll be okay, as long as Marriott records the "activity" as Apr. 30th. Here's the official language from USAir T & C.
Eligible activity date: Eligible activity date is based on the date the qualifying partner records the mileage transaction, and not necessarily the date on which the transaction occurred.
PS...My travel package was deducted ( I read that as Recorded) from my Marriott Rewards Account the same day that I ordered.
Thanks everyone for input and encouragement, and thanks Pained for posting the US Airways fine print. I know that the transaction recorded with Marriott on the same day. I just don't know about US Airways, and to be honest, the fine print doesn't bode well with me, as I read "eligible activity date based on the date the qualifying partner - read US Airways - records the mileage transaction" as the date US Airways will go by. So maybe not good. If it doesn't appear that I will get the bonus miles, I will contact US Airways and attempt to advocate for myself. In the end, what's done is done, and I will make the most of it.
Does anyone know when the bonus miles will post?
Also and I find this interesting, when I called US Airways yesterday for the second time (the first time, the associate told me "I think so," when I asked her if my transaction would qualify for the bonus mileage), I got the same "I think so" response. When I asked her if she could check so that she could give me a more definitive answer, she said she couldn't, because there are too many promotions running with the airlines, and they're all different, and that I would have to go online and send them an email, to get a more accurate response. I offered up the idea that it's a simple matter of policy (you either use the transaction date or the post date, not rocket science, much like mailed payments, it's either the date the payment arrived or the date it was postmarked) and she got mad at me (and btw I didn't use the rocket science reference with her, though I am now - I was simply trying to understand why I couldn't get a simple answer). Not only did she get mad at me, she began to criticize me for doing my transaction on the last day. REALLY? It could've got ugly at that point (I admittedly was feeling some internal angst about would I or wouldn't I get the bonus points, because without the bonus points, the transfer is wasteful for me), so I let it go, but not without telling her that while I acknowledged her answer, my first impressions of customer service with US Airways have not been satisfactory, quite honestly. She could've cared less. I chalked it up to a (hopefully) bad day and moved on.
I admit I was (am) living on the edge. My 97 year old grandma has been on hospice at my mom's house and my 75 year old mom is her caregiver and I am her backup. It's been an unexpected challenge. Our 18 day trip to Prague/Vienna/Garmisch in two and a half weeks is very much up in the air (and of course that's not the priority). So I have my reasons for being flaky right now (not that I'm not capable of being flaky at anytime, but you know, I'm just sayin'... or as Ricky Ricardo would say, 's'plainin.')
I read the language different in the USAir T & C.....the qualifying partner would be the hotel, not USAir. I come to that conclusion since it's a USAir promo. I doubt they would call themselves the "qualifying partner" when in fact they are the originator of the promo....just my take. Either way, I'm hoping you get the bonus.
As far as the expected date for the bonus miles to post..that, I don't know. I recall our good friend tker mentioning "Mid May" as the time he's seen this in the past.
Before I did the travel package, I hopped onto US Airways website and priced out various options. It looks like the possibilities include two RT economy airfares (for sure can be done), or pay for economy to Philly, then upgrade to first for the Philly - LHR leg, or pay cash for economy the whole way, and use miles to upgrade. It depends on which miles category flights we can get (high, medium, low). I'm not counting on anything except high. We don't have flight date options, because I will be booking the hotel portion of the travel package only one or two days prior to the hotel category going up from an 8 to a 9 (on May 16th). I'm waiting so long to book the hotel, because I want a date as far out as possible. Once I get the hotel booked on points, I'm locked in as far as my flight dates, which means I can't play around looking for flights on medium or low points (all so I can save 20K MR points by booking prior to May 16th). I hope that all made sense. I can't believe the gymnastics we as consumers have to go through in order to get the best hotel and airfare rates. It takes a lot of tenacity, perseverance and old fashioned luck.
As far as which airline, do I have a choice? US Airways (or perhaps AA?) As far as taxes, I could only check as far out as March 2014, but (deciphering my notes), it looks like $239 each way for economy flight LAX-LHR, Taxes for 1st class PHI to LHR look like $339 RT. But I only have enough miles to fly 1st class from PHI-LHR if I can fly low season (100K miles per person), and I'm sure that's not possible (who wants to go to London in January?) Otherwise it's 200K miles or 325K miles for medium to high.
I just checked going to Alaska. AA using Alaska Air, 25K miles
US Air 80K + $60 fees.
I sure hope that these become AA miles and the AA program is the survivor. I heard that in about 2 months, they will start to impliment and just maybe, it will be done before you need to ticket.
But again, once my hotel is booked, I won't be able to play around with flight dates. This is all why I've always been so skeptical about travel packages. I just seem to have a hard time making airline miles work to my advantage. I have had great success with making the Marriott points work to my advantage for hotel stays, because I only use them for the most expensive hotel stays, which along with airfare, is the biggest cost of travel. So I have always figured that if I could get a $2500-$2800 hotel stay for free (ie. Champs-Elysees or Grand Flora) and only have to pay for airfare, then that's a pretty good vacation deal (although as we all know, Marriott, little by little, has begun to slowly rain on our rewards parades - pack an umbrella!). But this miles business, where you're paying for fees on top of points, pffft!
A U.S. Airways representative explained to me that U.S. Airways is actually buying out AA, not the other way around, but they will be collectively flying under the AA name and logo. It will be interesting indeed to see how it all shakes out.
We are going to London next Spring. It looks like the latest dates that I can book out to (prior to May 16th when the hotel will move from a Cat. 8 to a Cat. 9) are Apr. 26th - May 3rd, 2014 for this hotel (County Hall), and that's what I'm shooting for. From everything I've read on the hotel website and reservation engine, we will get a basic room. To get a larger room or a room with a Thames river or Big Ben view, you have to use the points + cash upgrade option, and the cash upgrades are pretty pricey. I can console myself that we won't be in the room much, and that it's a good hotel regardless.
I will definitely be asking London and day-trips-from-London questions on a new thread, as well as reviewing other threads.
The check by the bonus means that the miles are not preferred miles...counting toward preferred status. To achieve Silver with USAir, for example, you need to accumulate 30,000 preferred miles or 30 flight segments. So, all this means is they deposited the miles into your account as bonus miles. I'm not trying to pop your bubble, but this "bonus" category is standard for stuff anything that is not preferred miles. The good thing about the miles is the date 4/30, that says to me that Marriott transferred them and USAir accepted them by the deadline.
You are living on the edge! I think you are fine. As others have said, you have to initiate the transaction today. Marriott should have emailed you about your request. Just keep all correspondence. I would also print the T's & C's while still on the website in case you do need them later.
Back in I think September/October, I checked on award travel with US for my London hotel dates of late April, 2014. They had availability to fly envoy class from LAX to LHR for around 100,000 miles/person. I was pretty excited, but didn't book because some personal issues arose that caused me to be concerned about booking such a large quantity of miles and then having to cancel (and possibly not get a redeposit back into my account.) Now here it is January, and I can't get an award ticket for any amount of miles for that time period. The important lesson learned for me is that it is never too early to book award travel. If I do take the trip, we'll be paying cash for our flights (in which case we are not obligated to US at least), whilst in the meantime our US miles (from a Marriott travel package) may possibly devalue until we can use them again, but hopefully not and it will all work out well over time.