Why I’ll Never Use United Miles to Fly to Hawaii

Update July 1, 2014:

The current offer on the Premier Miles & More® World MasterCard® is 20,000 miles after first purchase and payment of $79 annual fee.

  • Earn 20,000 award miles after your first purchase or balance transfer
  • Earn up to 15,000 award miles with balance transfers (1 mile per $1 transferred) within 30 days of account opening
  • Earn 2 award miles per $1 on ticket purchases directly from Miles & More integrated airline partners
  • Earn 1 mile per $1 on all other purchases
  • Annual Companion Ticket after first purchase
  • No foreign transaction fees on purchases made outside the U.S.
  • Redeem miles for flight awards and upgrades on Lufthansa, Austrian Airlines, Brussels Airlines, SWISS, Star Alliance airlines and other partners
  • $79 Annual Fee, waived for SEN and HON Circle Members

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Anatomy of an Award posts highlight real awards I’ve booked to show you the techniques needed to book your dream trip.

United has very good award space to all four major Hawaiian islands from the mainland, but I’ll never use United miles to fly between the mainland and Hawaii again.

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The problem is that United charges more miles for its own flights than its partners like Singapore Airlines and Lufthansa Airlines charge for the exact same United flights.

All of United’s partners have equal access to the Saver award space you see on united.com before signing in, but the prices differ:

  • United charges 22,500 miles each way in economy and 40,000 miles each way in First Class between the mainland and Hawaii
  • Singapore charges 17,500 miles each way in United economy and 30,000 miles each way in United First Class between the mainland and Hawaii
  • Lufthansa charges 20,000 miles each way in United economy and 35,000 miles each way in United First Class between the mainland and Hawaii

Recently I booked myself an award in United economy from Honolulu to Chicago to speak at the Chicago Seminars (only 43 tickets left) with Lufthansa miles to take advantage of its discount relative to United miles.

Currently the Premier Miles & More® World MasterCard® offers 50,000 bonus Lufthansa miles after spending $5,000 in the first 90 days. (This offer expires June 30, 2014.) I had gotten in on the same massive offer last year, and I had over 70,000 Lufthansa miles burning a hole in my account, waiting to be used.

  • How good is United award space to/from Hawaii?
  • Which miles should you use to book the space?

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Ten Minute Three Day Trip with Avios and Hawaiian Miles

Anatomy of an Award posts highlight real awards I’ve booked to show you the techniques needed to book your dream trip.

I recently made a last-second decision to head to Las Vegas and Phoenix for three days for a mix of work and pleasure.

I planned and booked the trip in 10 minutes with miles and points, saving myself $1,500 in the process and getting to fly First Class on one long flight. The cost? Only 40,000 Hawaiian Miles, 8,500 British Airways Avios, and $102.50.

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When you need to make a last minute trip for a family or work emergency or when you want to take a last minute trip for spontaneous adventure, having balances with the right types of miles is key.

  • When I decided to travel to Phoenix and Las Vegas, what miles did I immediately think to use?
  • How did I find my direct flight options?
  • Which airlines charge a booking fee for last-minute awards and which don’t?
  • How did I search for award space?
  • How did I book my awards?

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Free One Way From Hawaii Using US Airways Dividend Miles

Anatomy of an Award posts highlight real awards I’ve booked to show you the techniques needed to book your dream trip.

Recently the MileValue Award Booking Service was contacted by a client who was wondering if he was able to add a “free” one way from Hawaii back to his home in New York City in connection with a dream trip for two to the Maldives using US Airways Dividend Miles.

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Most often we are asked to add a “free” or “cheaper” one way to Hawaii or elsewhere in the US at the end of an award but this client wanted to know if he could add one at the beginning.

By adding a one way to the beginning of an award, he would be getting the return flight home at the end of a Hawaiian vacation and then continuing onward to the Maldives several months later. He already had an outbound flight booked to Hawaii with miles, so this free one way saved him half the miles needed for trip to Hawaii.

In the end, he got two business class tickets from Honolulu to New York in September and two roundtrip flights from New York City to the Maldives in February for 120,000 US Airways miles per person–the same number of miles it would have cost for a standard roundtrip between New York City and the Maldives.

  • How did I work around the US Airways routing rules allowing a stopover or an open jaw but not both?
  • How did I search for award space from Honolulu to New York City in business class?
  • How did I search for award space from New York City to the Maldives in business class?
  • How did I book the US Airways award after identifying the desirable flights?
  • How did this “free one way” from Hawaii save the client 80,000 miles?

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Using United Miles to Fly Copa Airlines Business Class to Central America for Three

Anatomy of an Award posts highlight real awards I’ve booked to show you the techniques needed to book your dream trip.

Recently the MileValue Award Booking Service had a client who was looking to travel to Costa Rica with his family of three in business class.

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This. Times Four. In Business.

Award bookings for three are sometimes a struggle, so I want to highlight an airline and some routes to Central America with fantastic award space for groups.

Even better the award presented an awesome opportunity to use United miles on a route that didn’t go up in price during the recent MileagePlus devaluation, and we got the client and his family a later “cheap one way” to Hawaii in First Class as part of the same award for only 12,500 miles extra per person!

  • How did I search for award space for three people traveling together in business class?
  • What airlines and routes have the best availability between the United States and Central America?
  • How did I add a discounted “cheap one way” to Hawaii, saving the client 82,500 miles on a future trip?
  • What was my workaround to the super-common error I got on united.com?

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Anatomy of an Award: Cathay Pacific First Class and Qantas First Class on a Trip to Australia and Hong Kong

Recently a friend came to me with an award request along the lines of what I have done for hundreds of clients of the MileValue Award Booking Service.

He wanted to visit Sydney during its summer and Hong Kong on the same trip. He wanted to fly in some of the world’s nicest airline products. And he wanted to maximize his weekends because he could only budget seven vacation days for the trip.

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Through several rounds of Free Credit Card Consultations, he had built impressive six-figure balances with United, American, Delta, US Airways, and Ultimate Rewards.

I suggested that we use his US Airways miles now–before they are devalued next year–to get him into Cathay Pacific First Class and Qantas First Class, two of the world’s nicest First Classes. I helped book him an 11 day trip that uses only seven vacation days, gives him time in each city, and costs only 140k miles roundtrip.

He had gotten all of his US Airways miles from The US Airways® Premier World MasterCard®, which currently offers 40,000 bonus miles after first purchase.

  • How did I know that using US Airways miles would be the best value?
  • How did I search for the very rare Qantas First Class space on an A380 between the United States and Australia?
  • How did I search for Cathay Pacific First Class?
  • With what routing rules did I have to comply?
  • What were his options for a free oneway?
  • How exactly did I book the award?

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