US Airways is Growing on Me

I may rave about a good flight on US Airways here and there, but most of my dealings with US Airways come over the phone. So many of my European clients have discovered the tremendous benefits of purchasing discounted miles through US Airways then redeeming them—without a fuel surcharge—for travel on Star Alliance. That means I am on the phone with US Airways most days of the week.

US Airways agents are an interesting breed—they are typically geographically ignorant, having to look up what region a city is in if it is outside the United States and rarely knowing airport codes or even recognizing city names. Even the Chairman’s line features agents who do not know their carrier’s own routing rules. This can be used in your advantage, but it requires a great deal of patience to deal with these agents.

Lately, I have run into some great agents at US Airways, so great I felt the need to write this little post.  These agents still do not know the airport codes or that Frankfurt is in Germany, which is in Europe, not Kentucky, but I have had a string of good agents—courteous, kind, and able to find the space that I have already found, fast.

And that truly is the key to calling US Airways—do your research beforehand and you will be all set, in most circumstances. US still blocks Lufthansa first class and certain Swiss business and first class seats, as well as South African Express and certain United Express flights, but most everything else you can get by just going “point to point” when you call.

And the agents will profusely thank you for doing the work for them. Quite frankly, I enjoy seeing what the US Air folks can come up, so sometimes I just let them attempt to find space, even when I have already done the work.  90% of the time, they come up with nothing and are amongst the fastest to give up (Delta agents are the worst). So save yourself a headache and have the routing ready to go before you even call.

US Airways has a lot going for it—still an attractive award program, wi-fi growing on their fleet, better food on first class domestic flights than United, and a great new international business class seat. And despite the annoyance and lack of geographic knowledge, US has some good agents who will do their best to help you out. This week has made that much clearer to me.


Another issue US agents have is booking Air Japan-operated ANA flights.

While they are geographically challenged, many of them are exceptionally friendly. And they're much more knowledgeable than their counterparts at Delta.

Most of the time I think the speed at which they process things is a function of the poor tools they're working with.

Mike S. August 5, 2012 at 09:00 pm

me: I would like to book a reward flight to Singapore

U.S.airways agent: what city in Singapore?

arcticbull August 7, 2012 at 12:53 pm

I don't think it's US blocking United Express, I think United is making more space available for their own members. Usually if you can't book it with US you also can't book it with AC. Also, have you booked an LX F award in the last few months? I think they're done releasing it to partners.

arcticbull August 10, 2012 at 09:45 pm

I just hit the US Express thing again today booking an award with A3. I'm almost 100% certain it's united not releasing space to partners selectively, not US Air.

@arcticbull: I am 100% sure it is not United. Of course, UA does release additional saver space to elite members occasionally, but when you are logged out of your account, anything showing as available (blue) at the saver level on is bookable with any Star Alliance carrier in theory--that is the Starnet system. Maybe there is a technical glitch in the Starnet system itself, but it is not United releasing more space to their own members.

I have booked Swiss F recently (within the last three weeks), from JNB-ZRH and from ZRH-DEL. They still release the space occasionally, though usually not until two days before travel and I have not seen anything ex-USA for months. Sad that it has become so difficult to fly Swiss First.

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