Burn United Miles to Southeast Asia Now Before Award Prices Skyrocket Next Month

United announced a massive devaluation of its miles on October 31, 2013 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.

Awards to Southeast Asia with United miles are going way up in price next month.

  • The economy award is increasing from 32,500 miles one way to 40,000 miles one way. This is the largest increase for any economy award on the United chart.
  • The business class award is increasing from 60,000 miles one way to 70,000 miles on the United-only chart and 80,000 miles on the partner chart.
  • The first class award is staying at 80,000 miles one way if you stay on the United-only chart, but jumping to 130,000 miles one way on the partner chart.

Screen Shot 2014-01-02 at 3.34.15 AM

When to book, when to go, where to go, and how to add a free oneway for even more value!

When to Book

You have 29 more days to book at the current prices before they go up on February 1, 2014. If you plan to hire the MileValue Award Booking Service, beat the late January rush that I am expecting.

When and Where to Go

You can book any time in 2014. The main seasons in Southeast Asia are the rainy and dry seasons, which vary slightly by country. Different people prefer different seasons. Use wikipedia or a guide book to pick the right place/time combo for you.

I loved Malaysia for the bustle of Kuala Lumpur; the interesting mixture of Malay, Chinese, and Indian culture and food; and duty-free prices and beaches of Langkawi.

I loved Phuket, Thailand for the sea cave kayaking and Thai food at Thai prices.

I look forward to going to Singapore and 1-2 more places in Southeast Asia next month.

How to Book

Search united.com for Saver award space, which is wide open for most of 2014 in economy and business class. You can book online easily.

For a step-by-step, screen-by-screen post about my planning and booking of an award with United miles to Southeast Asia, see Anatomy of an Award: Last Minute United Award from Los Angeles to Phuket with a Later Free Oneway.

Variations to Maximize Your Miles

You always get one stopover and two open jaws on roundtrip United awards. You can use your stopover on the main award or conserve it for a later free oneway. Here are my thoughts on that trade off: Choosing Between a Free Stopover and a Free Oneway on United Awards.

If you decide to use the stopover en route, it could be:

  • in Southeast Asia like stopping in Bangkok before continuing to your destination of Phuket
  • in North Asia like stopping in Tokyo before continuing to your destination of Singapore
  • or in Europe like stopping in Frankfurt before continuing to your destination of Kuala Lumpur.

It could even be in Africa or on the way back home. The options are nearly limitless.

You can see three cities in Southeast Asia on one award by having a stopover and an open jaw. For instance you can fly to Bangkok, stop, continue to the destination of Phuket, take an open jaw and return from Singapore. You would have to book Phuket to Singapore separately, but flights within Southeast Asia are dirt cheap!

How to see Bangkok, Phuket, and Singapore on one award. (USA  Tokyo flights not pictured.)

How to see Bangkok, Phuket, and Singapore on one award. (USA Tokyo flights not pictured.)

You can mix-and-match cabins on United awards, going one way in economy and one in business for instance.

Here’s an itinerary that combines a few ideas. It has an outbound in business class and a return in economy for 92,500 miles plus a later free oneway from Chicago to Los Angeles for no extra miles.

Screen Shot 2014-01-02 at 3.20.31 AM

Getting United Miles

United miles are the easiest to collect because there are United personal and business credit cards plus cards that earn Ultimate Rewards, which transfer 1:1 to United miles instantly.


Southeast Asia awards are skyrocketing in price in all cabins next month. Book now if you want to visit this delicious region of the world with United miles in 2014.

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19 Responses to Burn United Miles to Southeast Asia Now Before Award Prices Skyrocket Next Month

  1. I booked my travel 2 weeks ago.
    SJC-DEN-IAD (long weekend to see friends)
    Than 3 weeks in Thailand!
    IAD-NRT-BKK (Global first on iad-nrt segment than business)
    BKK-PEK-NRT-SJC( First pek-nrt, buisness in787 nrt-sjc)
    140,000 miles and $93.

    Did I do well booking? Thoughts? Can I still add a free one way?

    Happy New Years. Love you blog, it has incredible information


  2. I recently flew some segments on US Airways for my United award, and got full mileage credit to my UA account! Not only that, but since it was first class, I got the fare bonus as well. So folks if you have a chance to fly US Airways on the international segment for your award, do it!

  3. Book a flight to Cebu, Philippines before January 19. January 19 is when the Sinulog Grand Parade happens. The kickoff for the festivities is on January 10.

  4. Tomorrow, I am going to a saver award business or first class RT SJC or SFO to Narita on either UA or ANA in March. Can I also book one way to or from Hawaii as part of the trip for the same required miles?

  5. Does open jaw have to be in same region? US-Middle East (open Jaw) south asia-US.

  6. Thanks for your tips. I have one question about the free one way, is it possible to book it after I book my initial simple out & back return flight?

  7. I was looking at business saver flights from LAX-BKK, and HKT-LAX and it is showing as 2 awards for a total of 240k miles. When I reduce it to one way, LAX-BKK it still says 2 awards for 120k miles. What’s going on here?

  8. Geoffrey Williams

    I was looking to go to S E Asia in early Jan 2015 using miles in First on either ANA or Thai. I thought that it would be possible to get under the devaluation wire, by booking within 1 year, but availability is only showing 11 months out. Did it change from 1 year? This devaluation timing is a pain in the a***. No more reasonably priced Thai First out of Bangkok!

    • It’s always been about 331 days out that you can book flights. But you have one full year to fly the ticket, so you can later change from 331 days out to 355 no problem by paying the date change fee.

  9. may not necessarily be an issue right now before the deval on 2/1 but when booking an award and using your stopover from say Japan to Hong Kong or Thailand, does the higher south asia rate kick in or is there a way to book at the lower (other) region/country miles rate?

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