US Airways Now Pricing Awards As One Ways

Filed Under: Awards, US Airways

No, before you get too excited, US Airways isn’t allowing one way awards for half the cost of a roundtrip. Let me explain, though.

As it stands, US Airways charges the same number of miles for a one-way award as they do for a roundtrip. So booking just New York to Hong Kong one-way in Cathay Pacific first class costs 120,000 miles, while booking the roundtrip costs the same number of miles.

Redeem US Airways miles for Cathay Pacific first class

Furthermore, historically US Airways has charged you the roundtrip cost for the highest class of service you fly. For example, say you fly New York to Hong Kong in economy and Hong Kong to New York in first class, you’d be charged the roundtrip first class award cost.

It looks like that has changed. For a roundtrip award ticket, US Airways is now charging the average of the one-way  mileage costs. For example, I just held a Cathay Pacific award with the outbound in business class and return in first class, and was quoted 115,000 miles (ordinarily first class would cost 120,000 miles, while business class would cost 110,000 miles, so they simply averaged the two).


There are a couple of things worth noting about this:

This is a new policy, so not all agents are familiar with it yet

I called three times to put three different tickets on hold, each with travel in different classes of service in both directions. I didn’t prompt the agents as to the mileage cost. Two quoted me the new “average” cost, while one didn’t. Since this is a new policy, I would expect for it to be a while before this is consistently enforced without prompting.

Is this totally good news?

For the most part this is great news, and I guess it’s the first step towards allowing one-way awards.

That being said, here’s the potential downside. Let’s use the above example, flying Cathay Pacific business class to Hong Kong, and returning in first class. Previously you would have paid 120,000 miles, and if close to departure Cathay Pacific opened up first class award space on the outbound, you could pay $150 and then upgrade to first class, since you already “paid” the first class mileage.

However, now that you’re literally booking a different award type, you’d have to completely redeposit your award and start over if you wanted to change the award type in either direction. That means the space you had confirmed in one direction might not go back into inventory, so does add a considerable amount of risk.

Bottom line on US Airways pricing awards as one-ways

All things considered this is good news. I wouldn’t expect for this to be applied across the board immediately since it’s a new policy, and we know how slowly news spreads at US Airways sometimes.

This is actually very similar to the current Delta SkyMiles policy (which is changing in January). They don’t allow one-way tickets for half the cost of a roundtrip, though do “average out” the award rates for each direction of travel on a roundtrip.

What do you think of this new policy which charges you based on the cabin flown in each direction of travel?

(Tip of the hat to Adrien)

  1. Ben – found this out a month ago when I booked the wife NRT-SAN J SFO-NRT Y and got charged 85,000 miles. Great news as far as I’m concerned!

  2. @ Richklhs — Clearly I’m way behind the times then. Odd, because the agent said it was a new policy.

  3. Great! So first class booked with US Airways on CX from JFK – HKG on CX is a no-brainer as biz and first cost the same, right?

  4. @ Alvin — Business costs 110,000 miles roundtrip, while first class costs 120,000 miles roundtrip.

  5. If you already paid F class miles they would still charge you to change to F if seats opened up? I’ve never encountered that. But I have never booked an award with US. But AC and UA (for example) have always allowed me to make that sort of change with no fees.

  6. Lucky – you ready for a logic puzzle?

    What logic do you think US applied when they ticketed this for 115,000 per person for First:

    CLT – LHR (stopover) US C
    LHR – MEL (23 hour layover) QF F
    MEL – SYD (destination) QF C
    SYD – MNL – HKG (16 hour layover) QF C CX C

    Not complaining but am perplexed

  7. I have 2 economy segments, 5 business and 1 first class segments in one ticket…. Do they know how to calculate it? 😀

  8. @ TGPang — Hah, as is the case with US Airways, all depends on the agent you get (or I suppose more accurately, the rates desk agent that the agent gets).

  9. @ Lucky – *oops*

    Will you try out CX’s new business on a longer route (longer than BKK – HKG, of course) sometime?

  10. On Aug 2 my award booking was outbound in business and return in first on CX. It priced out the way you mentioned above.

  11. @ Danny — Interesting, thanks for the data point. Seems this has been around for a while, though haven’t seen it written about elsewhere yet.

  12. I noticed this also on a mixed cabin DFW-HKG award I booking recently although I didn’t get the dividend miles credit card 5k discount on AA metal I did get a cheaper ticket with the return in business.

  13. Lucky: While we are on the subject of US Airways awards, I need to reschedule a 90k North Asia business award for a later date. Do you know if they will charge me more miles to reschedule? Thanks

  14. @ Maury — Was it a Star Alliance or oneworld award? If a Star Alliance award you’ll definitely have to redeposit and start over. If a oneworld award I think you should be able to change dates without it repricing.

  15. Does this also work for mixed regions (open-jaw awards)? For example:

    N. America -> Asia
    Australia -> N. America

  16. @Lucky It was an old Star Alliance award. I guess I will have to pay a higher mileage for a new One World business class award. Thank you for your help.

  17. It’s good news, but I think the title “US Airways Now Pricing Awards As One Ways” is deceptive. Shame!

  18. Some agents at the Chairmans desk have told me it is not a full redeposit and rebook
    (I have had segments added and rebooked)
    some in the regular line do not know it and will try to redo the whole thing

  19. @ Arcanum — I clarified it in the first line of the post. 😉

    If you have a better title suggestion that’s still short enough to appear in social media I’d love to hear it!

  20. How about “US Airways updates mixed cabin award pricing”. Only 3 more characters than the original title, including spaces.

  21. Well that is interesting news. I may behind on your blog posts but glad I saw this! Working on an award Australia-USA. I may consider doing CX JFK-HKG in F instead of C for some variety. I just wish the difference on this route between C and F was only 10k like the award you held. 110 in C and 140 in F.

  22. Ben – So if I understand you correctly, say I’m flying FRA-DCA in Business (110k miles) and returning 2 weeks later (DCA-FRA) in economy (30k), US now will average out the mileage cost to 70k for the award ticket? Am assuming this has to be done over the phone (e.g., CP desk) as I’m getting a 140k total online.

  23. Lucky,

    When I get to my office in the morning, the first thing I do is open my email account and skim the subject lines. I then read the individual messages based on which sounds most important. Today, this post was the first thing I read because it sounded like a major development (yes, I realize what that implies about the general level of excitement in my job/life).

    Imagine my disappointment when I learned this was just a slight pricing change and not true one-way availability. Imagine it Lucky! Me, slumped over my desk in despair, great gasping sobs alternating with feeble ragged breaths, questioning my faith in God and the Internets…. OK, so maybe it was more of a mildly disapproving “Hmmm” while I sipped my coffee, but as a Housewives fan you clearly appreciate melodrama.

    In all seriousness, your title is rather deceptive and the fact that you clarified it in the first sentence means you were well aware of that (as someone with a degree in marketing should be!) You’re hardly the only blogger doing this (Gary’s been called out a number of times lately), but it’s still disappointing to see. I follow your blog because you collect and summarize all the important mileage news in a way that’s both informative and entertaining, and it’s usually a cut above most of the flotsam and jetsam out there. Try to keep away from the more tabloid-style blogging. TPG and MileValue wouldn’t like you treading on their turf, and I suspect either of them could take you in a fight.

  24. @ SG — At the end of the day it’s only a 15,000 mile premium each way for first class on a 15 hour flight between Asia and the US. Still well worth it, in my opinion!

  25. @ Rob — Correct, business is 100,000 and economy is 60,000, so you’d pay 80,000 miles roundtrip for a mixed cabin itinerary if booked over the phone.

  26. Lucky,
    I recently upgraded a Cathay Y reservation to J. I had BA Executive Club search open as I was on the phone with AA. There were 4 in J and 0 in Y. Someone must have holding or cancelled an award. So, the AAdvantage agent made the change, took more miles, no $ charge for the upgrade. So, I hit refresh on the BA page, and lo and behold, there were 2 in J and 2 in Y. So those Y seats did immediately go back into inventory. I have found BA to more accurate lately as well.

  27. You’re right it is only a smallish premium to fly F, though much more worth it on the JFK-HKG leg than the LHR-JFK leg which I can get in F. Couldn’t find anything in F on the HKG-Europe legs around my dates and the one flight I wanted to fly to and found availability in C is FCO which doesn’t offer F.

    cheers 🙂

  28. Lucky,

    Can we book oneworld partners in one direction, non-oneworld partners in the other, given it’s priced one-ways for return?

  29. Off topic, but I wanted to fly Phx to Helsinki then return Oslo to Phx. Would cost 60k miles b/c they only had coach seats.

    However then I still would’ve had to pay $750 for European taxes and the $40 processing fee which I’d gladly pay if I didn’t have to pay the other $700+. This sucks.

    Anyone know any way around it? Round trip flight is basically $1,400. So it’s really not worth it at this point. Very disappointing.

  30. How is this still not FRAUD? Paying for first or a higher average when not flying in that class? Is it really that hard to not be a corporate terrorist? Eh, US?

  31. @ Andrew — Sounds like you’re flying British Airways? If you fly any of there other partners, the fees wouldn’t be nearly as high.

  32. You are right. It was BA. They fly from Phx to Heathrow and then onto Helsinki. It was the quickest way to go. I will have to look at others. Thanks for the feedback.

  33. Hey Ben–We met at the Seattle FTU and you were kind enough to hook me up at the Olive 8 🙂

    Quick question on this…I searched your blog and couldn’t find an answer.

    Which SkyTeam airlines awards price out at the highest class of service vs. one way pricing like US Airways just implemented? Seems Delta and Air France are in the latter.

    I’m try to fly EWR to AMS and then back to JFK, and based on availability I can pick up Delta J on the way over and KLM economy on the way back. Thinking of transferring MR to Korean and getting it for 80k roundtrip but since I’m flying coach back I kind of wanna figure out a way to save the 15,000 miles. Air France prices out the one way Delta J at 62,500 so that’s no good. 🙁

  34. @ Mark — Unfortunately you’re correct. Delta SkyMiles and Air France FlyingBlue will price at the lowest cost per direction, though Korean Air SkyPass won’t on partner awards. I think Delta is probably still your best bet since they don’t impose fuel surcharges, while Korean Air would (they would be $800+ roundtrip).

    Sorry I don’t have a better solution.

  35. @Ben — Thanks for the super quick reply! Really appreciate it. So, I tried calling Korean and they told me they can’t look up tickets on the weekend. Nice, huh? So, I’m thinking maybe I’ll call them directly in Korea via Skype later today when it is tomorrow morning over there so they will hopefully talk to me.

    Generally, are fuel surcharges nearly identical when pricing SkyTeam partner awards on Air France and Korean? Because according to Air France, my DL J EWR to AMS ticket is only $23.10 in taxes/fees. And coach return from AMS to JFK on KLM is only $142.46 in coach although I see what you mean about $300+ o/w in taxes/fees in J on KLM! Although guess I would pay the $150ish premium to switch to J if it opens up on the return since I’ve already paid the miles for it.

    I think I should go for Korean award assuming taxes/fees are similar since I’ll save 7,500 miles (80 vs 87,500) and be able to transfer UR vs. MR (I have way more UR than MR). Do you agree? Anything I’m missing? Since I’m doing an open-jaw I presume I can’t get clever and do an extended stopover in NY and then get a free flight to LAX or SFO at a later date for free, right? 🙂

  36. @ Mark — Yup, unfortunately their SkyTeam service center in the US is only open on weekdays. For the most part fuel surcharges are identical when booking through Korean Air or Air France, though there are some exceptions, like the one you note.

    In this case, Air France doesn’t impose fuel surcharges for Delta awards originating in the US, while Korean Air does. More info on that here:

    Hope that helps!

  37. @ Ben. Yes! This helps a lot. REALLY, REALLY, REALLY appreciate it. And my gf who is “stuck” in Amsterdam for the summer/fall also appreciates this 🙂

    Given the fuel surcharge vs. no fuel surcharge situation on Delta (when booking using Air France vs. Korean), it seems crystal clear I should suck it up and pay the extra 7,500 miles to avoid several hundred dollars in fuel surcharges when booking the Delta J ticket. Never would have figured this one out without you. Thanks a ton!

  38. Lucky, Any advice on how to get this pricing done on a ticket that has been reserved? I reserved Cathay Pacific tickets ORD-HGK in business HGK-ORD in first. Right towards the end of the call the agent said “That will price out at 120K miles.” I politely challenged saying I understood it should be 115. He said only if it was all on USAir metal. If I call back in and it is already on reservation will they reprice it?

    Would appreciate any feedback. I am at the start of my 3 day hold.

  39. Happy New Year Lucky!!

    Have 125K sitting in my DM account and was planning to top up my DM by 02/01 for a return first class award from MELB-US via HK only to stumble on this. Also noting MELB-HK with no F, guess mix cabin is OK (MELB-HK in J and HK-US in F). Difference between J and F – 110K vs 140K, and splitting this in half would be 125K?

    Will definitely need PointsPro help with this next month!!

  40. @ Lance — You can indeed mix cabins, though if you do first class between the US and Hong Kong in both directions you’d pay the full first class price.

  41. Thanks Lucky. Do I still need 140K for a return F class flight out of MELB (Aus) to the US considering no F seat available (2 cabin class only) from MEL-HK? This will then dictate if I need to top up 15K more points before the 2nd Jan!

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