United recently acquired several Boeing 787 Dreamliners and announced the first international routes that will be serviced by the plane.
But before those routes start, United will fly the plane between its domestic hubs. The very first flights haven’t been announced, but United did release the routes the planes will fly between November 4 and March 31. (H/T Mommy Points.)
To me, this is huge news. This will be our cheapest chance to get on a Dreamliner’s flat bed!
And I recommend holding your award booking today if you want to book!
Why? According to the press release, united.com will begin listing the Dreamliner as the aircraft for the domestic flights it will fly starting tomorrow, September 1.
I don’t know for sure, but this may have a deleterious effect on availability on those flights. Certainly it’s almost impossible (but not completely) to snag a BusinessFirst award on a United 787 on its international routes.
Here are some tips if you want to get max value for your 25,000 miles:
1) 25,000 miles is the oneway price for an award on United within the domestic US and Canada, so try to get in as much Dreamliner as you can.
2) All the Dreamliner routes go through Houston, so the longest flight is Newark to Houston to take advantage of the headwinds.
3) If you live in San Francisco, Los Angeles, Newark, Chicago, Cleveland, Washington or Denver, try to go to one of the other places on that list routed through Houston to get two Dreamliner flights for 25k and $5.
4) Remember that United only allows layover of up to 4 hours on domestic awards. That means you can’t always get 2 Dreamliner flights because the times don’t line up. For instance, in November, you can’t go EWR-IAH-SFO or EWR-IAH-LAX on two Dreamliner flights.
You can however go SFO/LAX-IAH-EWR/CLE/IAD/ORD on two Dreamliner flights. Those flight times do line up well.
5) Not all possible routings will show up on united.com, so you may have to call in. Here’s a tip to make it more likely that your connection will show up:
At the bottom of the search results, click on Advanced Search.
Trick to Avoid a United Phone Fee (H/T View From the Wing)
Say you’ve searched both individual segments and found that San Francisco to Houston and Houston to Newark are both available, but they won’t show up together on a San Francisco to Newark search.
Then on the payment page, don’t pay. Instead, where you see the credit card logos, you should click the link that says “phone order page.”
Now you can call 800-UNITED-1 and add on the held reservation. I would do that today before the Dreamliner is listed as the aircraft for the flights you want. Thank the agent for adding the flight, then hang up. You reservation is still on hold.
Then tomorrow, when the Dreamliner is listed as the flight, you can ticket it. Make sure when you call in to ticket it that you say you are calling in to ticket a reservation you started online, so they don’t accidentally charge you a phone ticketing fee.
I would also recommend using this hold process if you can find your perfect Dreamliner itinerary. The reason? I would want to be sure that the Dreamliner was listed tomorrow on my flights before ticketing.
But if you do ticket today, you can cancel United tickets without penalty for up to 24 hours.
The United Dreamliner will start flying domestic routes soon with its fully flat BusinessFirst beds. To get to enjoy the latest in flying, you can reserve your tickets now for 25k United miles and $5 for up to six and a half hours on a Dreamliner.
All the 787 flights are mid-cons though Houston, so you should look for two in a row that line up. I gave a screen shot example of ORD-IAH-LAX above.
If you see two Dreamliner flights that have a layover less than four hours, you can book them as one award. If it doesn’t show up online, start to book one, then hold it at the payment page. Add in the other leg over the phone and keep it held.
Tomorrow, if the Dreamliner shows up on your flights as expected, ticket your held award without a phone fee.