Early this morning I spent a good bit of time on the phone with US Airways.. four passengers in business class between the US and South Africa.
Part of the reason it was a long phone call is that the miles were separately coming out of four different accounts, miles for each passenger from their own accounts. That means separate reservations for each. And the taxes on the award wouldn’t price automatically, which with US Airways means getting the rate desk involved. And the agent has to hold for the rate desk.
I love US Airways for international awards. I love their award chart. I love their flexibility. And I don’t think I’ve spoken to an agent outside the US since January. On the whole they’re very helpful.
But the calls often take awhile. Calls to Continetnal seem to go the quickest and smoothest for me. United and American calls tend to be quick as well. But US Airways calls, you’re in for the long haul. (British Airways calls take a long time, too, but mostly that’s just sitting on hold waiting for an agent.)
South African Airways never seems to load more than two business class award seats per long-haul flight. Fortunately there are two Johannssburg – London flights, we split the passengers up 2+2 on these two flights which take off and land within half an hour of each other. The rest of the trip they traveled together, thank goodness for Lufthansa’s generous award availability — when they make awards available they make awards available. Four seats on Frankfurt – Houston – Frankfurt and also on the return Frankfurt – Johannesburg.
The US Airways award chart has some real sweet spots, and busienss class from North America to South Africa sure has to be one. Business class from the US to Europe is 100,000 miles. Business class frm the US to South Africa via Europe is only 10,000 more (110k per person).
Now that’s a great use of points!
This particular award included a stopover in London, and of course UK premium cabin departure taxes are an absolute killer. Often I’d just assume not go to the UK!