U.S. Airways .... I story of irony....

Discussion in 'US Airways | Dividend Miles' started by xhunter33x, Oct 17, 2013.  |  Print Topic

  1. xhunter33x

    xhunter33x Silver Member

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    Hi everyone.
    I had to ay something to someone as I have had a really unpleasant day trying to make arrangements for my mother to go to Germany next month. The reason for her trip is that the village in which my father lived until he was in his mid teens is installing what are referred to as 'stolpersteine.' to honor his parents, his brother and himself. His family was Jewish and were able to emigrate from Germany before the doors slammed shut. The vast majority of his relatives in that area were deported to Riga on December 13, 1941. My father's second cousin, Hilde, survived the ordeal, her younger brother having died just a few weeks before the liberation of Stutthof where they had been sent when the Soviet forces were approaching Riga.
    My grandparents had owned a clothing store in Germany and as was done during that time, their store and home as well as the greater share of their belongs were expropriated by the government at the time. Earlier this year I received an unusual email from a gentleman from this town, Rinteln, asking some questions about my grandparents. It was not clear as to the reasons for the questions and they were rather personal, however, my grandparents have been deceased since 1967 and 1973 my uncle since 1981 and my father since 1975 and so I figured it wouldn't hurt to find out the answers and return his email. Plus, his email stated that he had been trying for years to find relatives of my grandparents so I proceeded to call my mother and ask her the questions, hoping she could answer.
    Most of the questions had to do with the receipt of fair compensation for their store and home, what they were permitted to leave Germany with and other such questions. I emailed this gentleman back with the answers in a list type of format and thought that I would never hear from him again. Later that I day I checked my email and there was an email from Germany again. I opened it to find a letter starting with the words, 'my heart is heavy.' He then explained that it was his grandparents who were given the store and home of my grandparents. I was startled, but excited to hear from someone with whom a connection existed even if it was unusual. I spent much time explaining to this good man that he was not responsible for anything and reiterated the truth, my father always loved Germany and we always would have a Linden tree in the front yard as it reminded him of his childhood there.
    I apologize, but I am going off topic. In any case, he was looking for a member of my family because they were going to have the 'stolpersteine' placed in Rinteln for my family. Oddly enough, I had just read an article about the 'stolpersteine' no more than a week before. I didn't know how to respond as I was so touched by the gesture. I called my mother and she started to cry she was overwhelmed. We have been corresponding and several days ago I receive a notice that the 'stolpersteine' are going to be installed at the end of November. I go onto US Airways site to use miles to purchase two first class tickets to Germany. My mother is 89 and travel is difficult enough and she can not be sitting up in coach for 15 hours. I realized we were each short some miles and thought about the share miles and the 100% match offer that was going on, did the match and started looking for flights. I was shocked to find that during none of the month of November nor December were seats available for less than 100,000 miles more than the best mileage deal that is a possibility in low season. Needless to say, that was not a possibility. By the time I was seven years of age, my father and his parents were deceased and within five years my uncle had also passed and so I think it best that my mother go as she knows more about the experiences of my father's family in Germany. I assume it is her age as she does not feel comfortable traveling alone. She also suffered a stroke several years ago and I took care of her until she was able to care for herself. She did continue to live with me until last year when my sister asked her to move in with her in California. My sister is not the nicest person in the world and as of last month I moved my mother back in with me here in Las Vegas. Please understand that this posting is a way of getting out my frustration and nothing more, but the ironic thing about this is that her American Airlines miles would have helped substantially, however, they were absorbed back into American's system during the time she was recovering from her stroke due to inactivity. Right now, I feel that American and U.S. Airways are definitely meant to be together. (last time we were on American it was paid first class and the had three cats on the plane and my mother had to sit there with an oxygen mask on and we still ended up in the emergency room after the flight). How things have changed. Have a great day everyone!!!
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  2. KathInJax

    KathInJax Silver Member

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    Thank you for an interesting story. However, I am going to focus in the miles portion. First, if you could give us some airport codes and dates, we can probably help you find seats.

    There are a few things to keep in mind w/ US Airways:

    1. You cannot book partner awards online
    2. Use United or ANA website to search for flights on alliance carriers
    3. Search one ways awards, one segment at a time- in United you are looking for saver level
    4. Search TATL space first
    5. Look at DTW-FRA, MCO-FRA, etc
    6. If connecting through FRA, leave several hours for connection

    If you are still stuck, contact an award booking service that should be able to help you.

    Good Luck!
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  3. MSPeconomist
    Original Member

    MSPeconomist Gold Member

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    From FRA, it's easy to take a train to most places in Germany. There's a long distance train station attached to the airport. The same is true of several other German airports (DUS for example). IIRC the train is close to MUC but not actually at the airport. However, for a small town, you might want to rent a car. Distances in Germany aren't great if you're willing to drive fast on the autobahn.
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  4. LarryInNYC

    LarryInNYC Gold Member

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    You probably already understand this, but just in case, let me elaborate a bit on Kath's post:

    You can use your US Airways miles to fly on a lot of different airlines -- all Star Alliance airlines -- not only US Airways. When you search at the US Airways web site, however, they can only "see" seats available on US Airways and not their partners. Therefore, you're searching only a small minority of the seats that might actually be available. But when you call US Airways, they can use your miles to book on any of the partners.

    Therefore, you should use another web site (one that knows about the partners) to find the flights you want on partner airlines, then call US Airways to book the flights. I'm not an expert on booking awards, but I'd be surprised if you couldn't find something in November or early December (the holidays is a different matter, of course).

    Also, there exist award booking services that, for $100-$150 will find flights for you. There are a number of such people who participate here and while I'm sure they're all excellent for this particular instance you might want to try Ben Schlappig or Matthew Klint. Like yourself they're both of German extraction, travel there frequently, and probably have an above average understanding of getting to and around Germany on award tickets.
  5. Price123

    Price123 Silver Member

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    At first glance:
    Outbound options
    20th November - departs 07:00 from Las Vegas, arrives 14:41 in Philadelphia. Departs Philadelphia at 17:40, arriving Frankfurt 07:40 the next day. Mix of US and Lufthansa business class.
    20th November - departs 06:05 from Las Vegas, arrives 08:59 in Denver. Departs Denver at 11:25, arriving Washington at 16:35. Departs Washington 17:15, arriving Frankfurt 07:10 the next day. All United First class.

    26th November - departs Frankfurt 13:35, arriving Newark 16:10. Departs Newark 19:14, arriving Las Vegas 21:58. Lufthansa and United business class

    I have looked at Frankfurt as it requires only 1 change on the train (at Hannover) or would be around a 3.5 hour drive (if you are happy on the Autobahn). Munich would be a longer drive, unless you fancy extending the trip to be longer. Entry via Düsseldorf or Hamburg would be possible, but fewer flights and I would avoid Heathrow for connections if possible. US often has problems 'seeing' intra-European flights on Lufthansa. If you decide on a longer trip and come to Berlin (easy by train from Hannover), let me know and I'll show you around.

    Someone else will have to advise whether LH C or UA F is preferable (I presume the latter will have a flat bed, rather than inclined), although you would have to use first class mileage, regardless of whether some legs were in business class or all in first.

    Availability isn't fantastic, but if you can be flexible there are options out there. As others have said, post your dates here are we can help. Alternatively, pay the fee of an award booker service and they will sort for you. From what we offer, as you already have the miles, the fee would be around $75 if you book yourself, or $120 if you wanted us to phone for you to book. No award booker service should charge until you have flights booked that you are happy with, so nothing to lose.
    Last edited: Oct 17, 2013
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  6. Newscience

    Newscience Gold Member

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    As long as USAirways is part of Star Alliance, I'd rather book business class with a partner airline (i.e., Lufthansa) to travel to Europe. I've scoped out some future trips from the US to Paris on USAirways, and they require 162,000 miles each way for first/business! Phooey! It's hard to believe that a SA partner airline would charge as many miles. I am not looking forward to USAirways leaving SA, as it's going to be much harder to use miles in the One World Alliance to get to Europe than in SA. I hope that xhunter33x's travel goes as planned, and you're getting some great advice here!
  7. JetsettingEric
    Original Member

    JetsettingEric Silver Member

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    I've had some excellent redemptions on US Airways. I've found the buy miles option a very attractive option. I get a better value going business class to asia 90k miles vs. 100k miles. 100k is the "low" rate to europe. They have some deep discount fares during the really low season, but those are tough to find. I would consider a 100k miles roundtrip redemption great.

    Newscience - i totally disagree with choosing Lufthansa over US. The US product is much nicer than Lufthansa. Fully flat bed, reverse herringbone seats, direct aisle access vs. slanty flat bed. It's all about availability. If you find saver availability (tougher on US as they get quite a bit of paid purchases of envoy), it's the same cost as lufthansa.

    Hunter - Flying out of Vegas. Doing the transcontinental leg out of San Fran or L.A. may be easier as you have one long flight that you are asleep on. United and Lufthansa (using US miles) are likely your best options here. If you prefer to break up your trip, consider flying to Philadelphia or Charlotte on US, then continuing later on in the day or next day. I would also check availability on secondary destinations (try athens, rome, machester, etc) and then connect to a short lufthansa flight to germany.

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