This past weekend I used a total of 250,000 (125,000 x2) US Airways miles for two round trip First class tickets to Europe on Lufthansa airlines. I’ll explain how I found availability, and transferred & bought miles to get enough to redeem for the First class tickets.
Finding Availability on Star Alliance
Since US Airways doesn’t have an online way to check Star Alliance partner availability, I signed up for a free ANA frequent flier account. Once I had an account I logged in and navigated to their partner award availability tool to search for the flights I was hoping to find.
I was looking for 2 first class tickets to Europe on the following itinerary for next summer.
Frankfurt to Madrid on flight in Business (I)
Barcelona to Frankfurt on flight in Business (I)
Frankfurt to Orlando on flight in First (O)
On my first set of dates I was able to find direct flights from Orlando on an Airbus A330 or through Dulles on a 747. I selected the flight with 1 less connection point departing from Orlando.
Transferring & Purchasing Miles to Get to Award Level
To begin with I had 80,000 US Airways miles, barely enough for 1 business class trip to Europe. So I was deficient 170,000 miles (250,000 – 80,000 = 170,000).
First I transferred 60,000 Starwood points over in batches of 20,000. When you transfer over 20,000 starwood points you earn a 5,000 bonus from Starwood. So that allowed me to transfer and get 60,000 miles + a 15,000 miles bonus, then using the US Airways 50% transfer promotion that expired in July I got an extra 37,500. Now I had a total of 192,500 miles (80,000 + 112,500), but still needed another 57,500 miles.
Next I used the US Airways purchase miles 100% bonus promotion to buy 29,000 and get a bonus of 29,000 for a total of an additional 58,000 miles. These miles cost a total of $755 (.025 per mile + $30 processing fee). Now I had my total of 250,000 US Airways miles.
Finally when I found my flights and had enough miles I picked up the phone and called US Airways International Awards desk at 800.622.1015 to make the award reservation. In the end I got two international First Class awards for a total of $755 + 60,000 SPG points + 80,000 US Airways miles. I think its a pretty good deal for tickets to Spain in First Class that are selling on the market for about $9,000.