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Save miles with off-peak award travel

Most airlines have two types of award tickets: the standard restricted tickets and the more expensive unrestricted tickets. However, thrifty flyers should know that two airlines, American and US Airways, have a third type of award ticket: the off-peak award. If you want to save 5,000 to 20,000 miles, consider booking your award ticket for a flight during your destination’s low season. Besides holding some miles back for a future trip, you may even have an easier time finding an available award seat if you’re flying during the off-season.

Most of these off-peak awards are for travel in the autumn months, so if you want to snag a seat for the fewest number of miles, you might consider planning your fall or winter travel now. Read on for details of each program’s off-peak awards.


American does not offer an off-peak option for domestic awards, but it does discount low-season travel to Europe, the Caribbean, Latin America, South America, and Japan. The following chart lists the travel dates and savings compared with the normal, restricted MileSAAver awards for American’s off-peak awards. All awards are for coach travel.

Travel regions Off-peak dates Miles needed Savings
Between the Caribbean, Bahamas, Bermuda, Continental U.S. (including Alaska), Canada, and Mexico September 7 to November 14 25,000 5,000
Between North America and Central America, Colombia, Ecuador, Peru, or Venezuela September 7 to November 14 30,000 5,000
Between North America and Argentina, Bolivia, Brazil, Chile, Paraguay, or Uruguay August 16 to November 30 40,000 20,000
Between North America and Europe October 15 to May 15 40,000 20,000
Between North America and Japan October 15 to April 30 50,000 15,000

For more information on off-peak awards, visit American’s website.

US Airways

US Airways does not have as many off-peak options, but unlike American, it does have off-peak options for first class as well as economy travel, for both restricted and unrestricted domestic awards. Between September 15 and the end of February, you can fly within North America for the off-peak rates of 20,000 (restricted) or 40,000 (unrestricted) miles for a round-trip coach ticket, or 40,000 (restricted) or 80,000 (unrestricted) miles for a round-trip first-class ticket. You’ll save between 5,000 and 10,000 miles.

If you’re looking to fly to Europe, your only off-peak award option is for a restricted round-trip coach ticket. Travel between October 1 and April 30, and you’ll pay only 40,000 miles, saving 10,000 miles.

For more information on these off-peak awards, visit US Airways’ website.

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