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United, US Airways Put Frequent Flyer Awards on Sale

In the past few days, two major airlines have announced discounts on award travel, as follows:

United: South America Award Discount

Members of United's Mileage Plus program can book coach award flights to Buenos Aires, Sao Paulo, or Rio de Janeiro for 15,000 fewer miles—40,000 instead of the 55,000 miles normally required.

Travel at the reduced rate may be completed any time before August 31, but the booking must be made by May 24.

US Airways: Off-Peak Caribbean Award Discount

US Airways is offering members of its Dividend Miles program a chance to save 5,000 miles for coach and 10,000 miles for first-class award trips to the Caribbean between September 1 and September 30.

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Normally, coach awards are priced at 30,000 miles and first class at 60,000. So with the discount, they're 25,000 and 50,000 miles, respectively.

Both offers seem somewhat paltry, especially given the global slowdown in travel.

While the United discount yields a nice savings, it's limited to three destinations. And the award booking deadline is clearly designed to limit participation.

US Airways' deal, on the other hand, isn't much of a discount. And it squeezes the discounted travel into a 30-day window.

As they have become accustomed to doing, travelers will just have to file these lackluster award promotions under "better than a poke in the eye with a sharp stick."

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