Air miles query
April 23, 2005 10:18 AM   Subscribe

I have 30,000 Mileage Plus airmiles on United and about the same number of Dividend Miles on US Airways. Both are members of the Star Alliance. Can I combine both sets of airmiles to buy a transatlantic flight on either (or another) airline? Both airlines say the airmiles are 'not transferable' yet their websites say I can use airmiles earned with any Star Alliance partner to buy other products or services.
posted by essexjan to Travel & Transportation (7 answers total)
If you don't get a great answer here, post this at FlyerTalk - you'll definitely get it answered. Specifically post it in the Miles & Points section - there is a Star Alliance subsection that would be your best bet.
posted by fionab at 11:21 AM on April 23, 2005

You definitely can't do that directly.

The only way to do it that I know is to launder the UA miles through Diners Club Rewards points. You can buy Rewards points at 1 point per UA mile. Normally you could redeem these points at 2 points per US mile, but US is running a 25% bonus.

In summary, you transfer 30,000 UA miles->30,000 Club Rewards points->18,750 US miles. Not stellar. And Diners Club isn't even accepting new applications until Tuesday for some odd reason, so this might all change then.

I'd ask on if you want more advice. And not in Star Alliance, but in either the US or UA forums. The alliance forums are mainly used to discuss Round The World tickets and have smaller readerships.
posted by grouse at 11:26 AM on April 23, 2005

Thanks very much. I appreciate your help.
posted by essexjan at 11:45 AM on April 23, 2005

A friend in the industry recommends using miles/rewards for upgrades rather than actual flights. Apparently it works out as better value as the actual flights are pretty cheap.
posted by i_cola at 11:52 AM on April 23, 2005

i_cola: It's the conventional wisdom, but that's only correct if you value an upgrade at what the cost of a full-fare business/first-class ticket minus your coach ticket. Which I don't, being a poor student, an upgrade seems like an extravagance when I can't afford the flight in the first place. If you can afford a coach ticket to anywhere you want to go and want to upgrade, then yeah, it's a pretty good deal.

Other ways to increase value are to use the miles for a last-minute ticket, a ticket that you will need to be changeable (e.g. for family emergencies), or a multi-stopover ticket if your airline allows it. AA lets me take a circle trip with two stopovers in America and two in Europe for only 40,000 miles. This is a steal, and much more valuable than 40,000 miles worth of upgrades on the cost basis you were using earlier.
posted by grouse at 11:59 AM on April 23, 2005

The official word:

Q. Can I combine miles or points for free tickets?

A. No. Miles or points cannot be combined between Star Alliance airline frequent flyer programmes.

posted by WestCoaster at 6:16 PM on April 23, 2005

Just to add my two cents, a year or two ago, United and US Airways actually had a closer partnership that did allow mixing of miles for award redemption. However, probably due to their continued financial issues (esp. US Airways), that agreement has appeared to go by the wayside for the weaker partnership of the Star Alliance. Thus, as has been mentioned above, you can use US Airways miles to get a United flight or vice versa, but you can't directly combine your miles.
posted by Mrmuhnrmuh at 11:10 AM on April 24, 2005

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