Booking US Airways Envoy Suites to Europe for 55,000 Miles

Please note this site has financial relationships with American Express and this post may contain affiliate links. Read my Advertiser Disclosure policy here to learn more about my partners.

Today is the day that the months of playing the US Airways Grand Slam last fall paid off.  Well, at least one of the days, I suppose the days we are on are trip are really when they will pay off, but securing the award availability you want is pretty exciting by itself.  I played the Grand Slam with a specific goal in mind – two tickets in US Airways Envoy Suites for my husband and I to go to Europe during the off-peak award time when tickets are only 60,000 miles each.  Actually, they are only 55,000 miles each if you have the US Airways MasterCard like we do.  That is just an insane value when you think about it.  I spent about $398 out of pocket to earn 120,000 US Airways miles in the Grand Slam last year, and now that will be more than enough miles for us to go to Europe at the front of the plane.  Why does everyone not do this??!!

As I posted earlier today, after obsessively checking the US Airways site for availability during the off-peak time frame to Europe in 2013 (Jan 15th – Feb 28th) for the last several weeks, there was significant improvement today in reward flight availability for many different European cities.  London (Gatwick), Paris, and Rome are three cities that I saw lots of Envoy Suite availability from the US.  I’m sure there are other cities as well, but those are the ones that I specifically noticed with Business Class availability.  Additional cities had economy availability.  Off-peak economy awards are only 35,000 miles round trip, or 30,000 with the US Airways Mastercard.  The award chart lists these mileage rates valid for North America (includes the continental U.S., Canada, Bermuda, the Caribbean, Central America and Mexico)/Hawaii to Europe.  To qualify for the off-peak reduced mileage rate, all of your flights do have to be on US Airways metal.

My husband and I want to go to London and Dublin on this trip.  Ideally we would be flying into Dublin as the fees are much lower than London, but that availability just isn’t there right now.  An open jaw, where we fly into one city and out of another, would have also been ideal given our plans, but with no Dublin availability, that isn’t currently an option either.  Many sane people would just wait and see if Dublin availability opened up, but the earlier I can plan the better.  To pull this trip off we are going to have to use both sets of grandparents to watch Little C for that many days.  That means also finding award availability on American (using British Airways Avios) for her Kansas grandparents.  Considering we are now impacting the schedules of six adults, we need all the advance notice we can get, so I would rather lock in London with the higher taxes and fees, than gamble on Dublin down the line.  I can buy a cheap ticket on BMI to get us from the short London to Dublin distance.

Currently our plan is to fly into London (Gatwick) from Houston via Charlotte and then spend a day/night in London  to get acclimated and go to Windsor and/or Stonehenge that day.  We will then fly out early the next morning to Dublin and spend a few days there.  The Guinness Factory is on my husband’s “must do” list in Dublin.  We then return to London for a couple nights, and fly home on the same route we came in on.  Our trip will never be long enough to see and do everything there is to do in those two cities, but we really want to spend a little time in both, so that is what we are going to do.  We’ll be returning with our daughter in a couple years, and will do a longer trip at that time.  I’m sure I will miss her like crazy while we are gone since this will be the longest we will have been away from her.  Three to four days is about my normal limit before I start going crazy missing her.  A full week will be brutal, but worth it.

Our next big decision will be hotels.  I have set aside my two 50,000 point hauls from the Radisson promo last year for our Europe trip.  We also have enough Hyatt points to cover two nights in either of the Hyatt London properties.  I’m leaning toward an SPG stay at Heathrow the first night before our flight to Dublin.  So, my initial plan (with limited research) is a relatively inexpensive SPG night at Heathrow the first night, three nights at the Radisson Blu Royal Hotel in Dublin (with at least two nights using Club Carlson points), and then two nights at either the Andaz Liverpool Street (which is currently cheap enough to just use dollars), or the Hyatt Regency London Churchill (where we would absolutely use points).  I have a lot of research still to do in that department, but would love any recommendations that anyone has!

If you have any interest in getting in on the US Airways off-peak awards to Europe in 2013, now is a great time to check availability.  You can call in and have US Airways hold award tickets for three days free of charge.  I have read repeatedly that you do not have to have enough miles in your account for the ticket to hold it, but I was told on the phone today that I did have to have enough miles for the tickets in order to hold them.  Probably just a confused agent, but it was worth mentioning, especially if you are considering buying US Airways miles for this deal or transferring them in using the Membership Rewards to SPG to US Airways route (though that may take even longer than three days).  If you were to purchase US Airways miles with their current 50% bonus, then the 55,000 miles would cost you $1,392 to fly in International Business class to Europe during the off-peak time.  That is actually not bad.  If you don’t have the US Airways MasterCard, then the 60,000 miles needed would cost you $1505.

Of course, playing the US Airways Grand Slam is an ever more fun and less expensive way to obtain those miles, so I hope to see everyone playing along with me this year!  It will have certainly paid off for my family.

 

Pingbacks

  1. […] Ultimately I won the debate based on audience voting, with the argument that this is the richest signup bonus of any credit card currently on offer. The line that stuck though, since British Airways adds fuel surcharges onto awards where paid tickets also have them, is that my willingness to pay those dubbed me “Mr. Fancy Pants.” I was, however, wearing jeans… and she has finally booked her own premium cabin award trip… […]

Comments

  1. Just booked round trip ord-fco in envoy for a 10 day trip Feb 2012. Availablity to FCO is great on the way there but spotty on the return. Going to have to return mid-week. 110K miles and booking fees were $198.

    Lined up the Rome Cavalieri for 5 nights at 40K a pop (flexible rates around $500/night), (transfering 90K AA miles into HH pts to top off that account). Probably off to Florence for a few days before coming back to FCO. Florence hotels are pretty cheap, decent ones for around $120 a night.

    Great way to burn grand slam miles and some of my way too many AA miles.

  2. And…the taxes since you’re departing London? Could have just as easily called to book open jaw and return from Dublin to avoid that, albeit on a 757 with Envoy.

  3. @deals, thanks!

    @eds1830, congrats, that sounds awesome!!

    @ArizonaGuy, I would have if there had been availability, but there currently is not any. That would have been the ideal plan – regardless of the aircraft type. The taxes and fees all in are around $300 per person. If Dublin availability comes open, it may be worth the $150 to change the flights. Still a great deal overall, but the London taxes do stink!

  4. If it’s any help, I went to Dublin last month, and did visit the Guinness Storehouse 🙂 It’s kinda cool, it really shouldn’t take more than a couple hours, and it’s fairly convenient on the Dublin bus tour. I’ve been meaning to write about my time on that trip, but haven’t gotten a chance to yet 😛 (TPG was also there the same weekend I was).

    Anyway, I think you do enjoy Guinness a bit more by learning about it. The Book of Kells was pretty cool, if you’re into old artifacts at all, and I generally enjoyed food and drink that I had in Dublin. I didn’t have time to go to the Jameson distillery, but I think that would’ve been fun too 😛

    As hotels go, I actually stayed one night at the Radisson Blu in Dublin one night. I had intended to use my 50k points, but the rate ended up being like $150, and I decided that was cheap enough to just pay for out of pocket. And due to some promotions on Club Carlson, I ended up getting another 10k points or so for my $150 stay. It’s a nice hotel, feels very European 😛 I spent the first night at the Westin Dublin though, on Starpoints. it’s in a better and more happening location, though the property does not feel as modern overall (it’s in an old building renovated to be a hotel).

  5. Is europe still cold that time of the year? I’ve been thinking too since i found out about europe off-peak with US.
    Any idea/website what/where to go for that time of the year?
    Thanks,

  6. I’m jealous. My Dad and I are hoping to use these awards to fly over for a Premier League match, but the schedules won’t be out for another four months.
    Did you consider flying into Manchester? There’s good Envoy Availibility, and its generally closer/cheaper/easier to get to from Dublin.
    Consider the rail/ferry combo if you’re adventurous. It’s only 33 quid from London, no dealing with the awful LCCs.
    Be prepared for god-awful weather that time of year

  7. I was very disappointed with the Hyatt Churchill London… Probably because of comparison to other Hyatts in Europe. The rooms are tiny and you can hear your neighbors. Very different than the Park Hyatt or the Hyatt Madeline in Paris. The location is convenient and the staff was good but if I were to do it again, I’d try the Andaz or use my points at Starwood or Hilton. Remember that London is a more expensive city than Paris or other European cities so that’s probably why the hotel rooms are disappointing. The Hyatt Churchill was the only hotel I stayed at in Londao so maybe all hotels are really expensive with very small rooms. Your idea to stay at the Sheraton at the airport on your first night is the right decision. I’d save my Hyatt points for a better property. I did love the Manhattans and the excellent bartenders at the Churchill though. 🙂

  8. congrats, sounds good.
    Is there any way to get an idea of US low availability in TATL C before you start calling them up?

  9. I booked mine earlier in the week to Europe. The great thing is that from HNL, my home, it was still only 55k, connecting thru the mainland of course. If I was just going to the mainland, it would be 65k. So DM is rebating me 10k miles for the extra segments to/from Europe.

  10. Are the Envoy suites available in A330-300s as well as the A330-200s? It seems that the Gatwick and Dublin flights are operated using A330-300s and US Airways website currently still shows the A330-300s as having non-suites?

  11. I am new to the points game (just started in Janurary to collect mileage points). This ‘Grand Slam’ sounds like a nice way to collect points. I just don’t know what the “Grand Slam” is? Could you please give me a little info or a location that I can go to and find out. This trip is for my wife. She wants the Europe trip. I am looking into all avenues for that will help me get to Europe (cheap) and allow her to have a good time. (she likes cheap also)

  12. Congrats on booking your trip! Some quick observations and suggestions at this late (early?) hour:

    1) Landing at LGW and then going to Windsor and Stonehenge seems a bit ambitious, time-wise, especially if you are planning to go to DUB early next morning. Even doing one on the day you land is ambitious. If you pared down your choices, I personally would go to Stonehenge – but do also make a stop at the relatively close Avebury stones. I found Avebury to be as impressive, if not even more interesting because of its sheer size, compared to Stonehenge.

    2) Don’t forget to enter the rental from the right side if you’re driving, and drive on the left! 😉

    3) Guinness factory rocks! I’m sure you’ll have a great time there, and also in the Temple Bar area! 🙂

    4) Hyatt Churchill is more old school luxury, more centrally located, but rooms tend to be smaller. Andaz is more in the financial district, larger rooms, more hip and modern feel, and right next to the train station. If the price is right and you want to save points, stay at the Andaz.

    5) If you have time and are so inclined, I highly recommend two restaurants: Tamarind on Queen Street in Mayfair – best Indian food in London; and Matsuri of St. James – great Teppanyaki and sushi. I also like Nobu for Japanese, but Nobu (as great as it is) is in lots of cities around the world.

    6) If you are going to ride the British Airways Eye of London, book tix in advance to avoid all of the queues.

    7) Make time for a long walk. I personally love going from Trafalgar Square across the Millennium Bridge, walking past the Globe Theatre and to Tower (“London”) Bridge, then backtracking along the Thames to the ‘Eye’ and to nearby Parliament, Big Ben and Westminster. It’s a lot of walking, but a great way to see the city.

  13. I lived in London most of my life, and can tell you neither Hyatt property is particularly well located. You may want to look at using the Club Carlson points at the Park Plaza’s around Westminster. These look very family friendly and are much more in the hub of it.

  14. My wife and I did a week in Paris this past Feb with the off peak award @ 55k each in Envoy. The seat is very comfortable and lie flat. Its something I would recommend. The service is what I would say was adequate—not bad but not great. Try to avoid flying out of the UK if possible—the extra tax is excessive.

    Also, Feb is the middle of winter. The weather can be bad — we had two days of snow in Paris………….

  15. I would choose Windsor over Stonehenge in a heartbeat but agree it is ambitious to do that right after you land.

    I think the Churchill is a better location than then other Hyatt

  16. Seen some mention of this in this post but you can’t do an open jaw on these off peak awards. They have to be roundtrips and also have to be bookable online (though holding a bookable flight for 3 days is ok)

  17. Remember to dress WARM! London was cold and had snow during that time this year. As for Windsor, you can book a reasonably priced one day bus tour for Windsor, Stonehenge and Bath. This tour also gives you good views of the English countryside. Enjoy the trip even though it will be entirely too short —–

  18. My wife and I flew Envoy to Paris in Feb for 110K miles. We spent 7 nights at Park Hyatt Vendome, 1 night at the Radisson Blue Ambassador, and then 6 nights at the Park Lane Hilton in London. (all on points). I am Diamond at both Hyatt & Hilton, and was upgraded to amazing suites. Vacations of this sort rarely come together so perfectly. In fact, our most expensive purchase was center box seats at The Opera Garnier!

    I travel frequently for business, and have enjoyed reading your blog for some time. I would like thank you for offering insight on how to maximize the use various loyalty programs. I’m sure that you will make a great decision, and looking forward to reading your summary.

  19. Thanks to everyone for the comments! We are super excited. I agree that the Hyatt properties are not really in the optimal location, but it is hard to turn down the Diamond benefits we would have, so we’ll see what we do. Since we won’t have a little one with us, we will be more mobile than we otherwise would be. I agree that doing Windsor and/or Stonehenge on the day we land is ambitious, but again, with no kid on this trip, we can be a bit ambitious. 😉

    As to open jaws on this type of award. I also thought you couldn’t, but then could not find that restriction clearly spelled out anywhere yesterday. I also saw reports of people doing open jaws with US Airways off-peak, so looks like it is possible, but I can’t swear to know what the actual rule is since I have read you can and that you can’t.

    It will be cold in Feb, no doubt. That’s okay, I loved the cold snowy days when I lived in New York, so it will be a fun change of pace for us for a few days. The trip will be entirely too short, but that is just a reason to return in the future.

    The Envoy suites are supposed to be in the A330-300s by Summer 2012, so hopefully by Feb 2013 we will okay. Love all the suggestions, thanks again!

  20. Oh, almost forgot. For those who are wondering what in the world the Grand Slam is, click on the link in the first paragraph that says “I spent $398 in the Grand Slam……” to see a summary of my Grand Slam adventures last year.

  21. @mommypoints, maybe some off-peak Choice points redemption in London? Hopefully they will offer them again in the upcoming Daily Getaways promotion. Disappointed that you decided to skip Paris – otherwise, we could meet up!

  22. Ugh.

    Your grand slam hits included renting a car six times, three Starwood hotel stays and two hyatt stays.

    To say “it only cost me $398, why isn’t everyone doing this?” is a bit misleading. Don’t you think?

    Factor in the points you used in redeeming the hotel stays and the real cost is near $1000.

    • @jesse o, I am pretty good about totaling all expenses and wrote many, many posts on the Grand Slam that outlined all the details. My out of pocket cost was $398, but the hotel stays were ones that would have to have happened anyway, so they did not factor into my total because it would have happened with or without the Grand Slam. I did count the short Hertz rentals as they would not have happened anyway. Some people choose to count the value of the hotel points they didn’t earn, but that doesn’t matter as much to me as it isn’t dollars coming out of my pocket. If you want to see a full list of my Grand Slam hits, there is a Grand Slam Hits Tally still at the top of the home page. It was absolutely worth it to me and many others, but nothing is for everyone. Certainly not trying to mislead anyone into the Grand Slam. 😉

  23. You can do both windsor and stonehenge in one day. I have done it twice with colleges that I was with during a down business day. I all depends on how much time you spend at Windsor. Get there early, find parking in a car park at the bottom of the hill and walk up. Try to get there in time ofthe changing of the Guard. The drive to stonehenge is not bad. Pretty much all motorway the entire time. You ars probably not spend much time there. An hour usually at the most.

  24. Thanks for all the info, new to all of this but can you fly from the us to Rome and then Venice back on usair doing this?

  25. @michael, I believe that Venice is a seasonal route for USAir, and last time I checked, it would not be operating in the off-peak winter season. As for open-jaws, mommypoints mentioned that some said yes, and some said no. The key is no partner airlines on any segments. Everything has to be on US planes. Good luck!

    • @Hong, all depends on the goal of your trip and your options related to leaving them behind. It is absolutely doable. That said, I am leaving my (then) three year old home for this trip, as the goal of this trip is related to pubs, keeping a brisk pace sightseeing, and spending time as a couple. I will be taking her likely when she is 4-5, but just not this time. So, think what your goals are for the trip and then decide. It is just a different trip when you have children – not necessarily better or worse, depending on your travel goals. 😉

  26. Not sure if you are already locked into your intinerary yet, but if not… Note that the British exit taxes are only if your return trip originates in England. If you fly out of Ireland, and just change planes in England without a stay over, the taxes don’t apply. Ditto for arriving in England from anywhere, no taxes for arrival, just departure. You could do an open jaws into London, stop over there, then go to Dublin for the Irish stay. Then return home thru London in transit, without a stopover, and there would be no British exit taxes due…..

  27. As an idea for anyone heading overseas, there are some wonderful celebrations during Carnival all throughout Europe – not just in Venice or Cologne, although those are not to be missed! Ash Wednesday is Feb 13 2013, so the best celebrations are in the 2 weeks leading up to it. They range from spontaneous street theater to elaborate parades to traditional family carnivals to samba spectacles.

  28. Congratulations MP! I paid for a family trip to Miami from the Grand Slam. Since the time I booked the flights US Airways has changed our itinerary. I read on a blog(?) that when an airline company changes the itinerary you could ask for an upgrade. Is that correct or am I miles-eyed?

  29. Hi Mommy,
    I had a question about Envoy availability. I tried doing a couple of dummy bookings (SF-LHR and NY-LHR), but the US Airways site kept defaulting to coach/economy. I’m wondering if Envoy Suites weren’t available on those flights? Is there an easy way to figure out which planes/routes have the envoy suites?

  30. @Robert, if Dublin had availability that is exactly what I would do, but sadly there is no availability.

    @james, thanks for that tip!

    @RZ, you can usually get them to change you to another flight if the schedule change doesn’t work for you, but I doubt a complimentary upgrade would happen. 😉

    @sharon, that means no Envoy/Business available. It does that for me as well. The suites are currently on the A330-200s and will be on all A330-300s by this summer (allegedly).

  31. I got a letter today saying that Bank of America is ending the US Airways debit card on 9/30. I know that the Grand Slam started in the middle of September last year. I wonder if we will be able use that card to make a purchase and count as a point before the end of September. I was wondering if you had any insight on this and congrats on your booking!

    Thanks in advance!

  32. @DaninSTL, yeah that is in the post – not a bad deal potentially if redeeming for Biz Off Peak award! Congrats on the Rome trip!

    @Jay, I got the same letter and just wrote a short post about it. Too bad, that was an easy hit.

    @Scott, there is a reason it is an off-peak time I guess. 😉 My husband has his heart set on those destinations this time, so that is where we will go, but you are right that other locations would have better weather that time of year for sure!

  33. Having stayed at both, I’d definitely pick the Andaz Liverpool St over the Churchill. Latter is loud, cramped and service isn’t at typical Hyatt standards. Plus stupidly expensive. I actually like area around Andaz and love their breakfast

  34. We took advantage of the biz tickets to/from CDG last Jan (the weather was fantastic, btw – we got out of there just before that cold front came through). If you or anyone else is interested, I compiled a fairly detailed review of the Envoy Suites, so at least you’ll know what to (maybe) expect. I hope that your FA’s a friendlier than mine were…

    http://www.flyertalk.com/forum/trip-reports/1311000-us-airways-envoy-suite-off-peak-travel-cdg.html

  35. I am plannnig a euro trip feb 2013 bringing my 2 kids who are 8 and 7. I am still contemplating if I should just travel coach or envoy. I know business class is always a grey area when you purchase them for children. Many have said you should have one parent stay in business and one with coach with the kids, but I have enough points for my family of four to travel all in envoy. MP, I am wondering how are you traveling with your 4 year old next trip to euro? Are you going to get an envoy seat or go all coach on US Airways. Is getting 4 envoy awards even possible in offpeak to Euro? I am looking to enter via London or Paris or Rome and do an open jaw with one of the cities. All originating from PHL.

  36. @Lette, thank you for sharing. I am heavily leaning toward the Andaz myself.

    @G.David, I had seen your review on FT and really enjoyed it. Thanks for sharing the link here as well. Glad the weather cooperated for your trip!

    @Jedi, you know your kids best, but I would absolutely do it with mine. Many 7 and 8 year old travelers are good candidates for business class travel if you prep them ahead of time.

  37. My husband and I just booked our tickets for 110k miles total – Valentine’s Day 2013 in Dublin! We are flying SEA-PHL-MAN r/t on US Airways, then getting cheap tickets MAN-DUB. The $300/ticket fees aren’t fun, but overall it’s still a fabulous deal. We will either exchange a few Amex Membership Reward points for Avios for the MAN-DUB portion (taking advantage of the current 50% transfer bonus), or just get some cheap tickets ($127 r/t on Air Lingus right now). Hotel will be fully covered by points as well, naturally. We’re very excited, what a great use of Grand Slam points!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *