Burn United Miles: Get in Bed on a United Dreamliner for Cheap!

United announced a massive devaluation of its miles on Halloween to take effect for awards booked February 1, 2014 or later. Until January 31, 2014, I’ll be running posts about the best ways to burn United miles.

You can save 20k or more miles by booking your 2014 United Dreamliner flights to Asia by January 31, 2014. Space has improved dramatically in the last few months on Dreamliner routes.

United has a fantastic fully-flat business class product (called BusinessFirst), which is the only premium cabin in its configuration of the 787 Dreamliner, one of the world’s newest and most advanced planes.

Screen Shot 2013-12-02 at 11.50.03 PM

United’s Dreamliner flies three routes, all to Asia:

  • Los Angeles <-> Shanghai
  • Los Angeles <-> Tokyo-Narita
  • Denver <-> Tokyo-Narita

The plane has 36 beds up front in a 2-2-2 configuration. Snag a middle seat to avoid having to climb over anyone or be climbed over.

Screen Shot 2013-12-02 at 11.48.16 PM

Currently, the cost from the US to Japan or China in economy class is 32,500 miles each way or 60,000 each way in business class.

For awards booked February 1, 2014 or later, those prices rise to 35,000 miles each way in economy class, 65,000 miles each way in business class to Japan or 70,000 miles in business class to China.

The award prices on the Dreamliner’s routes are rising 8-17%, hardly earth shattering, but not exactly pleasant.

Prices to Southeast Asia are rising quite a bit more, though, so if you were planning on using a Dreamliner segment as part of a trip to Thailand, for instance, the price of a one way in economy will rise from 32,500 miles to 40,000 miles. And a one way in business class is rising from 60k miles to 70k miles on United flights or 80k miles on partner flights.

Booking Dreamliner flights now would lock in the better prices. The good news is that award space for two people is available on all three routes in 2014 in economy and business. This is a change from a few months ago when United was not releasing award space on any of the Dreamliner routes.

What is the award space picture on each route? Which route is ideal for connections throughout Asia? How can you earn United miles to redeem before the devaluation?

Los Angeles <-> Shanghai

This is the toughest route for connections because Shanghai is not a Star Alliance hub. The westbound flight leaves Los Angeles at 12:40 PM and arrives at 6:50 PM the next day.

Screen Shot 2013-12-02 at 11.21.31 PM

The best award space for two passengers in business class is in January, July, and September 2014.

All calendars below show the award space on United’s direct flight for two passengers. Yellow means Saver economy award space is open. Green means both Saver economy and business space is open.

Screen Shot 2013-12-02 at 11.21.37 PM Screen Shot 2013-12-02 at 11.21.59 PM Screen Shot 2013-12-02 at 11.22.28 PM Screen Shot 2013-12-02 at 11.22.45 PM

The eastbound flight leaves Shanghai at 8:25 PM and arrives in Los Angeles the same day at 3:50 PM.

Screen Shot 2013-12-02 at 11.23.58 PM

There is much better award space on the eastbound. February has 10 days with business class award space for two and 22 days with economy award space for two.

Screen Shot 2013-12-02 at 11.23.46 PM Screen Shot 2013-12-02 at 11.24.15 PM Screen Shot 2013-12-02 at 11.25.40 PM

Los Angeles to Tokyo

This is the best route for connections throughout Asia since it lands at 4 PM, in time to catch connecting flights.

Screen Shot 2013-12-02 at 11.26.55 PM

Business class award space is meager with only five days in 2014 currently showing two business class seats. Economy class award space is plentiful.

Screen Shot 2013-12-02 at 11.27.04 PM Screen Shot 2013-12-02 at 11.27.25 PM Screen Shot 2013-12-02 at 11.27.53 PM Screen Shot 2013-12-02 at 11.28.10 PM Screen Shot 2013-12-02 at 11.28.27 PM

The eastbound flight leaves Tokyo at 6:15 PM and arrives the same day in Los Angeles at 11:00 AM.

Screen Shot 2013-12-02 at 11.29.01 PM

There is no business class award space on the flight at all in 2014 for two passengers.

Screen Shot 2013-12-02 at 11.29.10 PM Screen Shot 2013-12-02 at 11.29.24 PM Screen Shot 2013-12-02 at 11.29.36 PM Screen Shot 2013-12-02 at 11.30.05 PM

Denver to Tokyo

From the east coast, this is your ticket to Asia. The westbound flight leaves Denver at 12:20 PM, late enough to get there easily from any point east.

Screen Shot 2013-12-02 at 11.31.29 PM

This route also has the best business class award space for two passengers, with Saver availability sprinkled throughout 2014.

Screen Shot 2013-12-02 at 11.31.39 PM Screen Shot 2013-12-02 at 11.32.12 PM Screen Shot 2013-12-02 at 11.32.16 PM Screen Shot 2013-12-02 at 11.32.41 PM Screen Shot 2013-12-02 at 11.32.58 PM Screen Shot 2013-12-02 at 11.33.54 PM

The eastbound flight leaves Tokyo at 5:55 PM and lands at 12:45 PM the same day.

Screen Shot 2013-12-02 at 11.35.28 PM

The return from Asia also shows fantastic economy award availability for two and very solid business class availability mid-week.

Screen Shot 2013-12-02 at 11.35.41 PM Screen Shot 2013-12-02 at 11.36.01 PM Screen Shot 2013-12-02 at 11.36.24 PM Screen Shot 2013-12-02 at 11.37.14 PMGetting Beyond Tokyo

Tokyo-Narita is a hub for United and United’s Japanese partner ANA. United flies to:

  • Bangkok
  • Singapore
  • Seoul
  • Guam

ANA flies to:

Screen Shot 2013-12-03 at 12.22.11 AMOther Star Alliance partners like Singapore, Thai, and Asiana fly to their hubs from Tokyo.

Getting the Miles

You can still earn and burn United miles before February 1, 2014. If you apply for a rewards card today and meet its minimum spending requirement before the first bill closes, you will very likely have all your miles in mid-January, 2014.

The United card, Sapphire Preferred, Ink Bold, and Ink Plus are all options to earn the miles.

CKANbanner_300x250_v6bRecap

You can save 20k or more miles by booking your 2014 United Dreamliner flights to Asia by January 31, 2014. Space has improved dramatically in the last few months on the routes.

CKANbanner_300x250_v6b

21 Responses to Burn United Miles: Get in Bed on a United Dreamliner for Cheap!

  1. I am flying the 787 from SEA-NRT next year on ANA in business class.

  2. I am planning to fly back from MUC to NYC in May 2014. Quite surprisingly, I could still get 4 seats in first class with United. However, since we had great experience in Lufthansa’s business A330, which ‘product’ shall we take? United’s first class on B777 or Lufthansa’s business seats on B747???

    • Why did you like Lufthansa? The old business class seats looks really uncomfortable, though I’m sure the service was better than United. If you prefer service, Lufthansa has the edge, but United First will be a more comfortable seat.

      • I just flew with them from MUC to EWR in the 1st class on A340-600 and in business class on A330 last summer. I am excluding the 1st class flight from the comparison (though I must say I am still lacking the words to discribe my incredible experience) as it is not available for a party of four at this time.
        I am not sure if A330 had old business seats but they were the same as in A380 I flew from IAH to FRA last week and were not that uncomfortable at all :) I am just questioning the product/service offered by United. If it is really something worth trying than I’d book it right away.

  3. Shanghai is technically a hub for Air China. See this Wikipedia page: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Air_China

    Also, doesn’t Eva Air fly to TPE from NRT?

  4. I am hoping to book two flights in business class to South Africa before Feb 1st for travel in November 2014. I would love a post on getting to Africa!

  5. from Nrt or pvg is still a long way to SEAsia, 3-5 hrs in economy on alliances airlines, there is no way to get on UA metal on those segments in business class. lets just pay a little more for SA rate and get all Business class without worries of being stuck in economy. 160k in business for SA is very reasonable with flexible routing rules.

  6. I used your free credit card consultation about 4 months ago. One of your suggestions was United’s credit card. Once I was about 2 months into the spending requirements I got a postcard from the card company saying that I’m not eligible for the miles bonus since I’ve gotten a similar bonus within 2 years. 1.) how am I supposed to know that prior 2.) do you take stuff like that into consideration when suggesting credit cards to apply?

  7. Hi Scott

    Great article !!! I was looking at the 787 flight from SEA-NRT on ANA. If I wanted two seats together how would I check to see what the seat maps looks like ? Do you think ANA service is better then United ?

    thanks

  8. If you were to consider an open jaw into Thailand what might it look like?
    L

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>