Good 2014 Europe Off-Peak Availability Via US Airways (30K Miles RT)

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One of my favorite airline redemptions so far was my US Airways Envoy Suites business class round trip ticket to Europe earlier this year. It rang it at just 55,000 US Airways miles for roundtrip off-peak business class seats to Europe. It was a great value for a great flight.  Sadly US Airways has since removed the option for off-peak business class flights to Europe, but they have retained that option for economy flights, and currently the availability is good for the next off-peak season in early 2014.

In case you aren’t familiar with the US Airways off-peak option, to fly roundtrip between North America/Hawaii and Europe from January 15 – February 28th, it is just 35,000 miles in economy.  This is down from the normal cost of 60,000.  To make the deal even sweeter, 5,000 miles are knocked off the price if you have the US Airways credit card.  You must fly on US Airways-operated flights to get the off-peak rates and the credit card discount.

There is no question that 30,000 miles roundtrip to Europe is amazing.  The only catch (other than the fact that it is in economy) is that you have to find availability, and that can be hit or miss.  However, right now with just a tiny bit of flexibility you are virtually assured of a homerun.  I did some test searches for February 2014 to Rome, London, Dublin, Amsterdam, Paris, and Madrid and saw many dates with availability at the off-peak level.

When you search you want to see lots of blue options as those are the ones that will show as 17,500 miles each-way.  In the screen below you can see that for Los Angeles to Amsterdam there are lots of blue dates to pick from out the outbound, but fewer options on the return.  There are still plenty of options to make it work, but I would recommend locking something in if it works for you.  My experience with off-peak US Airways award is they don’t always get better with time – availability often gets worse.  In fact, this is the time of year last year that I booked my off-peak award for 2013.

As you can see, since I have the US Airways credit card, my price on a mock trip to Madrid rings in at just 30,000 miles plus taxes and fees of a little over $100 total.  That is insane considering that a roundtrip within the US at the lowest level on most airlines would be just 5,000 miles fewer than a trip to Europe!

In many parts of Europe you can expect it to be cold in January or February, so that may put a damper on this deal for some.  However, our experience in Europe this February was great.  Sure it was a little cold out on some days, but that didn’t impact the fun we had.  We still did things outdoors plus visited indoor attractions as well.

At 30,000 miles a pop this is the sort of deal that can get a family with multiple travelers to Europe even without a ginormous stash of miles.  Have you ever used the US off-peak award?  Any plans to use it again in the future?

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  1. There’s one catch. You have to sit in a US economy seat! (They have very little room, but luckily those flights probably won’t be full in winter.)

  2. US has ceased Envoy offers for off-peak?
    The thought of TATL in a US coach seat makes my backside hurt and I’m at work!
    Good find though, thanks!

  3. Nun, I know that is a “catch”. At 30K it is almost tolerable though. I would just need to build in some recovery time!
    Rick, ha ha. But if you were heading to Europe to have a ginormous amount of fun…. 😉
    Geoff, sadly as of a few months ago. I know coach isn’t the preferred method of travel for me (including me), but East Coast to Western Europe isn’t any worse than a transcon. 😉

  4. I have used the US off peak award in the past and I plan on using it again next year to either go back to Brazil or to Europe. Haven’t decided yet.

  5. This past January I did San Francisco to Amsterdam on this off-peak award. I booked my next trip in 2014 for the same flight. Just upgrade the economy seat to a slightly better seat for $50. It’s not the best flight of your life but it’ll get you there in time to have some fun in Europe. Search for flights originating from San Francisco, Phoenix, Philadelphia, and Charlotte if you are not having luck at your local airport. I personally think Europe during winter is one of the best times to go because it is a lot cheaper and there are less people traveling around. If you can handle the cold, it’s not that bad.

  6. Good information! When you are booking trips for a family, you have to find these deals to stretch those miles further…even if it’s in the sub-standard economy class. Hey, some of us have to be back there to make those of you in business and first feel special! Otherwise who would you walk past to board the plane first? 😉

  7. Yes, I have done Europe in the cold and went in coach. However, a couple years ago FTG wrote that he used 5hours as the cut off between coach and Business/First. I liked that idea and found that I’m not wasting miles on under 5 hour trips and I am more comfortable on longer flights. People think they have to fly to Europe in first and then they go to Hawaii in coach. I know the product different but I like to use the five hour rule.

  8. I took advantage of this deal with my wife in 2011. I have no problem with coach since that’s what I’m forced to fly for business anyway. I’ll gladly take advantage of the opportunity to get both of us to Europe for a long weekend for 60k miles.

  9. @Jamie, After you book your ticket with award Miles and choose your seats, there’s an option to buy an economy comfort seat for $50 more each segment per person. I always do it on the overnight flight from Philadelphia to Amsterdam. Granted the seats are not much better, but they do have a few extra inches of leg room which might be a good benefit if you value your sleep highly.

  10. Awesome! Two quick questions- are there any options in terms of open jaws and/or free one ways on these? And more importantly-can these be booked with United miles? When I looked on the United site I didn’t see any US flights. I don’t know how it would work on the United site considering that the miles needed are less than everything else displayed. Thanks!

  11. Booking an award to Munich February 2014 as soon as some points clear from the hotel point to miles bonus. I don’t care if it is a coach seat. I survived a trip to India in coach. This enables me to do two coach tickets for me and my travel partner and we will be able to spend 13 nights in Germany and the Czech Republic (mostly on hotel points). My part of the trip will be under $1600.00. Can’t beat that.

  12. Europe is indeed cold in February but that means skiing, so MUC, GVA, ZRH and a handful of other airports are ideally suited. That really would be a bargain ski trip.

  13. Gene, ha ha.
    Maury, decision, decisions.
    Grant, good advice.
    Up&Away, exactly!
    Chris, I also have a cut-off, though it isn’t a hard and fast rule. I would and do consider breaking it for great deals.
    Jivepicnic, it is a tremendous deal!
    ncaahockeyfan, short answer is no. Longer answer is maybe, but it involves what is essentially hidden city ticketing and not something I would personally suggest doing. It certainly doesn’t work the same way as say United.
    Matt, they must be booked on US Airways metal with US Airways miles via US Airways. You should be able to have an open jaw or a stopover, but would have to book over the phone as you can’t do that online.
    Nichole, you can get US Airways miles from credit cards by getting the US Airways Mastercard and/or the American Express SPG card (20,000 SPG points = 25,000 US Airways miles). More info on both is available here:
    Lynn, sounds perfect. I totally agree that an airplane is just a means to an end. I prefer premium cabins, but coach gets you there just as well.
    NB, I like the way you think. 😉

  14. @MP You got lucky with your travel dates this year. In March it was below freezing in London, and actually snowing in Paris. March 2, 2013 the “high” in Paris was 37 degrees.

    So this was rolling the dice when you could go Envoy. Especially since you have to book nearly a year in advance, and then hope for good weather. Unless as NB points out you are going to the Alps to ski.

    Now with only economy available, especially for anyone not in driving distance of Philadelphia or Charlotte, you have to be really desperate to go. Amsterdam to LAX is a total of 15 or more hours sitting in coach, not counting time spent changing planes, even if you can get the route only changing in Philadelphia. The ones with multiple plane changes are even longer.

    Now add in the very real possibility of your flights being delayed or canceled by snow in the Midwest…. 🙁

    • Robert, all things to consider. Can’t argue that getting from LAX to AMS and back for just 30k miles is amazing though! Weather will be hit or miss, but there is plenty to do inside in places like London. We did have a bit of snow on our trip, but nothing significant. I don’t agree you have to be desperate to go – I think you just have to want to take advantage of a great opportunity while weighing the realities of coach and weather.

  15. My wife was able to book our Feb 2014 trip from LAX to Dublin for 30K miles RT each. We used some of the savings to buy lounge access for 6 hour layover in Philly. Not ideal but definitely worth it for us.

  16. @MP, what do unthinkable will happen with the US/AA merger? For some of the off peak dates, there are usually 3-4 routes per day, but only the “bad” routings are available at the off peak prices (long layovers, 2 stops), but with a little patience, US airways sometimes changes the times and you can call in and have them switch you to a “better” routing for free. Worked last year for me. I have 8 months of time to wait for the change.

  17. @Robert Hanson, 37 degrees is a heat wave in February or March compared to my winters in Pittsburgh! Your concerns about flight delays/cancellations are definitely valid, though. That’s certainly a possibility.

  18. I booked our family of 5 for next January, and it wasn’t as easy as you mention. Once you hit 3 or 4 seats, availability on domestic routes goes to 0. In addition, many of the US Airways express flights have 0 or 1 seat availability. International legs are fine, but getting us to PHL or CLT was a pain. Ended up splitting and booking two different domestic routes, and having to drive to DFW from AUS.

  19. Jason, congrats! Booking rewards for a family of five at the lowest level is rarely easy, but congrats on making it work! You are also right that sometimes the domestic legs can be the toughest parts.

  20. @Jivepicnic “37 degrees is a heat wave in February or March compared to my winters in Pittsburgh!”
    And Yes, I did have a flight home from Rome canceled one Dec due to a blizzard at ORD. Worked out okay for me, as I volunteered to wait a day instead of being rerouted, and AA paid for my room at the Hilton, and upgraded my flight home the following day.
    On the other hand, I spent a jet lagged night sleeping on the floor at DFW one Feb due to an ice storm that shut down the whole airport, and filled all of the nearby hotels. All AA gave us was a airplane type blanket and pillow. Luckily, I was flying solo that time, as it would have been a disaster with little ones.

  21. ok, new at this, and it seems like every airline is a new learning process.

    i can hardly find any routes covered by award travel. for instance, i cannot find any route to bucharest or istanbul from the us. i tried philadelphia, charlotte, new york, etc. the only way into italy is through rome. you check for routes going to naples or milan, it says award travel not available, check partners award chart.

    is this how it’s supposed to be? is there a chart or list of routes covered by miles into europe so i can see what is possible?

    • phil, one big problem you are hitting is that the off-peak awards are limited to routes operated by US Airways – not their partners. The other issue is always availability. I am seeing good availability to many cities in Europe, but that doesn’t mean that every city has perfect availability. So, if you want an off-peak award, stick with cities that have US Airways operated flights. US Airways has a route map here…but just look for flights operated by US.

  22. hey mp, thanks for replying! i think the bottom line is usair doesn’t fly very many european cities without using a partner carrier? forget availability, i tried 6 us cities to fly into athens, and every time the search comes up with “we don’t offer award travel to/from the cities you want”. i guess a trip to athens or istanbul through us air isnt in the cards.

    • phil, I think I tried Athens too and it must be seasonal or not scheduled next year.

      They do fly to many major Western European cities, just not the ones you want to go to 🙂 Might want to try getting from Rome to Istanbul with a paid ticket–the discounted award ticket is good enough that it still might make sense, and you get 2 stopovers as a bonus!

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