Potentially lucrative mileage sales have become a semi-permanent feature of US Airways’ Dividend Miles program.
Most recently, the airline offered to double the number of miles purchased between June 1 and July 31, the fourth such offer in just the past year.
Apparently US Airways was pleased with the results of that promotion, and of its predecessors, because they wasted no time in launching a new one.
Between August 16 and September 15, Dividend Miles members will receive a bonus of between 25 and 100 percent on miles purchased on US Airways’ website, either for their own accounts or as gifts for other Dividend Miles members. The bonus depends on the quantity purchased, as follows:
- Buy or give 1,000 – 9,000 miles, receive a 25 percent bonus
- Buy or give 10,000 – 24,000 miles, receive a 50 percent bonus
- Buy or give 25,000 – 39,000 miles, receive a 75 percent bonus
- Buy or give 40,000 – 50,000 miles, receive a 100 percent bonus
There’s a limit of 50,000 miles that may be bought, which would amount to 100,000 miles with the bonus.
Miles are normally priced at 2.75 cents apiece, plus a 7.5 percent federal excise tax.
One important caveat: “Dividend Miles accounts less than 12 days old are not permitted to Buy, Share or Gift miles.”
Deal or No Deal
With the value of a frequent flyer mile averaging 1.2 cents by my calculations, buying miles at around 3 cents each is generally a losing proposition. But there are the occasional opportunities to squeeze decent value from purchased miles. And this is one of them.
To illustrate, a business-class award ticket to Europe on one of US Airways’ Star Alliance partner airlines is priced at 100,000 miles, which can be purchased through this promotion for $1,375, not including taxes.
A quick check using Kayak.com showed business-class fares on Lufthansa between Los Angeles and Frankfurt priced from $6,405 in early September.
And there you have it: Using miles purchased for less than $1,500 to buy a $6,405 ticket amounts to an eye-popping 78.5 percent discount.
Yes, you’ll still have to wrestle with the capacity controls that make award travel a hit-or-miss proposition.
And yes, there’s always the “real” value question: Is a business-class ticket truly worth 10 times as much as a coach ticket?
But even adjusting for the hassle factor, and assuming that business class is somewhat overpriced, the deal is compelling.
Reader Reality Check
Ultimately, the value of this or any other miles-for-sale promotion depends on the availability of award seats. What’s your experience been with US Airways miles—readily redeemable, or not?
Is a business-class ticket to Europe worth $1,375 to you?