It was somewhat inevitable that the Star Alliance partner award chart would change once US Airways announced the changes to their own metal rewards a month ago (Coverage from Lucky here). And with as bad as the new scheme is for those rewards (numbers went up and now multi-tiered like Delta) it was not too far a stretch to assume that the Star Alliance reward chat was going to get ugly. And it did. A number of the rewards stayed the same price to be sure but plenty of them also went up in price, many more than 25%. Ouch. Here’s the full analysis…
North America to Europe and to South America are going up somewhat significantly in cost, from 20-25% depending on the cabin. Rewards will now be 60/100/125K depending on the cabin. Previously a coach reward was 50K and business was 80K. The business reward used to be a tremendous value at the 80K number. Not so much any more, though both of the premium cabins are still a better value than the other US-based Star Alliance partners.
Hawaii is bearing the brunt of the bad news. It seems to be involved in most of the worst increases. Coach seats from the mainland to the islands are increasing from 35K to 40K points round-trip. That number matches Continental’s new chart though US Air has business and first for 70K each while Continental charges 80K and 100K respectively. Fine, a 5K increase isn’t all that egregious, but that is a low number compared to a few others. Hawaii also is seeing rates to Europe and South America increase to 60/100/125K round trip. These numbers are the same as the cost from mainland North America so the value is pretty good, though they’re still increases of as much as 25% which isn’t great.
Reward travel from Hawaii to the South Pacific is taking one on the chin in a somewhat irrational manner. Rewards in that region go from 75/95/130K to 80/120/160K, a rise of about 15-20% at the top. But the strange part is that those costs are higher than North America to South Pacific rewards (80/110/140K) for much shorter trips. And the premium cabin service on the shorter ex-Hawaii trips aren’t as nice as those from the mainland, though the actual ticket costs probably are higher. Similarly, it is no longer cheaper to get from Hawaii to the Middle East than from the mainland to the Middle East. Both clock in now at 80/120/180K (no change from N. America, increases from Hawaii.
Maybe someone in US Air HQ is jealous of folks living the island life. Travel within the Caribbean is also taking a huge hit in redemption values. Previously travel within the region was 15K for a coach seat. The new rewards will ring in at 20/40/80K, pretty much matching Continental and similar to United, depending on the preferred cabin of travel. Trips from the islands to South America, Europe and the Middle East are also going up (60/100/125K, 60/100/125K and 80/120/180K, respectively) putting those categories in line with the rewards from the mainland and Hawaii.
As noted above, getting to the Middle East will increase in cost from both Hawaii and the Caribbean. On top of that, travel within the region is increasing 12-33%, depending on the cabin. Rewards will now go for 30/35/45K points rather than 20/30/40K. The percentages are worse than the actual number increases on these so they really aren’t terrible. Indeed, the numbers are still better than United and Continental who come in at 30/45/60K for those rewards.
Reward price increases always suck. There’s no two ways around it. And there are no rewards that went down in cost on the new Star Alliance Reward Chart from US Air. There are some new rewards available (forward cabin within the Caribbean) so that is a nice touch. And the fact that nothing really changed in Asia is rather pleasing. Indeed, the fact that they made this change and things don’t completely suck is actually rather refreshing, even if there is still some devaluation in play.
For the most part the rewards are still less expensive than the other Star Alliance options in the USA. That alone makes the US Airways Dividend Miles program still hold some reasonable value. Not a ton of value, especially given the other issues the carrier has, but still pretty reasonable value in their rewards scheme. And they still do not block partner award inventory like United is known to do, a huge plus. Still, I probably am not going to be out buying large pools of Dividend Miles for rewards anytime soon, even if they can be had at about .8 cents/mile when purchased in bulk this holiday season.
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