Subject: Re: Best use of frequent flyer points + Upgrades

Because we live in a captive market where only one airline (USAirways) handles the vast majority of traffic, we have learned to only collect FF award points on that airline. We have used the awards for Europe and for California, and after 9/11, for a quick trip to NYC to see family, when the award amounts were significantly lowered, temporarily.

That said, I have two questions I want to run by Ziners: 1) Several people mentioned using award miles for upgrades. According to USAirways information, only tickets purchased at qualifying fares are available for upgrades. These qualifying fares are usually much more than we would ever spend for a ticket. I would never dream of buying a ticket for 1100 or 1200 USD in order to be able to get an upgrade. But maybe that isn't the way it always works?

I am wondering if I am misunderstanding things, or if only USAirways demands that you buy a high qualifying fare in order to use FF awards for upgrades. Could someone explain? I would hate to be missing an opportunity because I didn't understand the system.

2) We are considering using FF award points for a round trip ticket from NY <> Pittsburgh because without a Saturday night stay, all our searches are bringing the fare in at over $600.00. This is a necessary trip and the Saturday stay might not be a possibility. Any thoughts? Is this a good strategy? Can anyone think of another way to work it?

By the way, you might find a less expensive ticket on a search, let's say on American or another airline. Sadly, as far as we know, only USAirways flies jets (even regional jets) for NYC to Pittsburgh, and those other flights are tiny prop jets. Although we have used them a few times, the flights are atrocious, uncomfortable, and lengthy.

Thanks, Debbie in Captive Pittsburgh