Tag Archives: United

Reminder: You Can Still Book United Awards at Pre-Devaluation Prices

You can still pay United’s award prices from January 2014 and before for premium cabin awards.

The catch is that you need to be changing an existing award that you booked February 2, 2014 or earlier. Any award you booked before that date–no matter the origin, destination, cabin, and airline–that you haven’t flown yet should be eligible to be changed to any other award at the old award prices.

I recently changed a First Class award from North Asia to the United States to a different routing on a different airline and paid zero extra miles even though the current price for the award is 50,000 miles more than I originally paid.

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I get to fly in this suite after my change!

The MileValue Award Booking Service is ready to help you if you have an old United award you want to change to something better at the old prices.

  • How can you find out if you have any awards that are eligible to be changed at the old rates?
  • What are the old rates?
  • How do you make the change?
  • What change did I make?

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Uber and United Team Up, Up to 1,000 Bonus United Miles

Uber is my favorite way to get around. I no longer call or flag down taxis. And on a recent trip to San Francisco and Los Angeles, I didn’t rent a car, using Uber to get around instead.

Uber is the world’s best taxi service because it has clean, courteous drivers and the easiest ride-ordering app imaginable. Tap, tap, tap, and a car whose progress you can track towards you is on its way.

Now Uber and United have teamed up, with United putting an Uber button directly in the United app. Update your United app, and a tile should appear on the home screen for Uber.


There is a chance to earn 1,000 United miles by using the Uber service through the United app. I don’t think that’s as good as my referral link for new users, through which new Uber users can get a $30 credit toward a free ride when they sign up. (I also get a free ride up to $30. Feel free to post your referral link in the comments.)

  • How does the Uber/United partnership work?
  • How can you get 1,000 United miles by using Uber?
  • Is there a better offer for new Uber users?

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Anatomy of an Award: Three Cities in Asia on Two Awards

This post may contain affiliate links. Read my disclosure policy here.

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

I recently booked my brother a pair of awards that will allow us to visit Hong Kong, Beijing, and Seoul together. His awards cost about 100,000 airline miles and bank points and zero out of pocket.

from gcmap.com

from gcmap.com

The main award was a United award, but United awards only allow one stopover in addition to your destination, so I needed to add an extra Avios award for one segment between Hong Kong and Beijing.

We are not getting Chinese visas for Beijing, so I also had to time our flights to get us as close to 72 hours in the city as possible without exceeding the limit for visa-free transit.

Finally, he had enough miles for one way in business class and one way in economy.

These awards demonstrate the limits of United awards, how to see more cities than a United award will allow, and the problems with multi-city searches on united.com. They also showcase, the kind of award planning you can get from my Award Booking Service.

  • Why could I not book the entire trip as a single United award?
  • Why did I choose Avios for the second award, and how did I choose which flight to book with Avios?
  • How did I ensure I got as close to 72 hours in Beijing as possible?
  • How did I book one way in economy and one way in business class on his United award? How did I choose which direction for each class?

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Incredible Asiana First Class on A380 Flying to US

Asiana has started flying an A380 between Seoul-Incheon and Los Angeles. The daily flight includes fully enclosed suites in First Class and fully flat beds in Business Class.

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First Class on Asiana A380

Asiana is a member of the Star Alliance, so Asiana flights are bookable with United miles and Avianca LifeMiles without fuel surcharges.

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Business Class on Asiana A380

Award space is wide open in summer 2015 on the route in all cabins. Award space for this summer is less available, but if you are flexible, you can be among the first to fly the Asiana A380 in any cabin you’d like.

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  • How many miles does United charge to fly Asiana First Class and Business Class?
  • How many miles does Avianca LifeMiles charge?
  • How is the award space?
  • How does the product look?

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How to Use United Expert Mode

United has a setting you can activate called Expert Mode that allows you to see how many seats are in each fare bucket on a given flight.

I mentioned it yesterday in “Booking Two Tickets on the Same United Flight” and I got some questions in the comments about what Expert Mode is, how to use it, and why you’d want to use it.

What is a fare bucket?

Every ticket you book with cash or miles has every segment come out of a fare bucket or fare class.

The fare bucket is a one or two letter code that represents what cabin you’re in, whether you got the seat with cash or miles, and how many miles you’ll earn for the flight.

Everyone walking through this door has a ticket that booked into one fare bucket

Airlines are willing to book a certain number of tickets in each fare bucket. If the Saver economy award fare bucket has zero seats, you can’t book a Saver economy award on the flight, but if it has six seats, you can book up to six Saver economy award tickets.

Knowing how many seats are in each bucket will let you know whether you can expect an upgrade, whether you can book an award, and whether elites have better award access on a certain flight.

  • How can you enable Expert Mode on united.com?
  • How can you use Expert Mode on united.com in award bookings and to secure upgrades?

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Amazing Business Class Award Space for Four People to Europe

Until late last year, getting to Europe in business class was much easier than it has been lately, especially for traveling parties of three or more. In December of last year, Austrian Airlines stopped releasing business class award space until about three months before departure. This made advance business class award redemptions for larger parties much more difficult.

In the past I’ve booked families of four to Europe and even to the Middle East on Austrian Airlines, and it is a very solid and comfortable flat bed business class product. See my full review for my thoughts on the onboard chef concept and the comfort of the bed.

Minced veal patty, potatoes, and veggies in Austrian Business Class

I was very excited several weeks ago to discover that Austrian Airlines was again releasing business class award space as soon as the schedule opens for up to four passengers.

  • Where does Austrian Airlines fly?
  • What kind of business class product do they have?
  • What miles are best suited for travel on Austrian Airlines
  • How good is award availability?

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Booking Two Tickets on the Same United Flight

Last year I wrote “How to Book Multiple Awards from Different Accounts on the Same Flights.”

The idea is that you can never transfer miles from one airline to another, even if they are airline partners, but you can book two seats on the exact same flights with two different types of miles.

Last week I used 30,000 Singapore miles and 35,000 Lufthansa miles to book myself and a friend one way First Class flights on United from Honolulu to San Francisco.

United flies one flight a day from Honolulu to San Francisco on a 767-400ER with fully flat beds in First Class (in addition to the flights to Newark and Washington-Dulles which are always on 767-400ERs.)

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Sleeping in a flat bed on a previous United flight to Hawaii

Since my friend had never flown in First Class, since I really wanted to sleep the entire flight, and since Lufthansa and Singapore have reasonable miles prices for the flight, I decided to book us two First Class tickets.

I booked one ticket for 30,000 Singapore KrisFlyer miles + $5.68 and the other for 35,000 Lufthansa Miles & More miles + $5.60.

This guide will be useful whenever you want to book two or more seats on the same flight with two or more types of miles from airline partners. One common situation is to book the same oneworld flights with American Airlines, US Airways, and/or British Airways miles.

  • How did I search for the award space?
  • How did I book the awards?
  • What big risk did I take?
  • What other types of miles work together like this?

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Fully Flat Business Class to Europe for 25,000 Miles

Aer Lingus will upgrade its Business Class seats to fully flat beds in 2015. Aer Lingus flights can be booked with United or British Airways miles.

Boston to Dublin in a fully flat bed will cost only 25,000 British Airways Avios each way!

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The refurbishment of Aer Lingus’ A330s will be a big improvement of the angled lie flat seats that the airline currently features in Business Class.

The new beds will be in a staggered pattern that will offer aisle access to all Business Class passengers except those with a window seat in the first row.

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In addition, Aer Lingus claims to be improving the food and service onboard.

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Business Class will enjoy on-demand dining instead of a designated time, and passengers departing New York and Boston can even pre-dine at the airport lounge to maximize sleep on those very short flights.

Business Class passengers will get free on-board wifi, which is very rare. Most airlines make Business Class passengers pay for wifi.

  • How big is the seat?
  • Which US airline has the same Business Class seat?
  • How can you book Aer Lingus Business Class?
  • What is the award availability in Aer Lingus Business Class on the new beds?

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Free Giveaway Friday: Pair of United Club Passes Exp. Oct. 2015

Generous email subscriber Donn donated a pair of United Club passes that expire October 31, 2015 to one MileValue reader.

Here are the United Club locations to check whether you’ll be able to use a pass on your next trip.

If you can use the passes by October 31, 2015, there are two ways to enter to win them!

  1. Comment on this post. (Are you one of the people who receive one free daily email every morning with all of the day’s posts? Click the post title in the email and comment on the blog instead of replying to the email.)
  2. Retweet this tweet:

You can enter both ways.

I’ll pick a winner on Monday, email the winner, and send the passes out to the winner.

Best of luck!

Never miss a post again! Follow MileValue on Twitter and Facebook. And sign up to receive one free daily email every morning with all of the day’s posts!

Free First Class 2014: United MileagePlus Basics

This is the fourteenth post in a monthlong series that started here. Each post will take about two minutes to read and may include an action item that takes the reader another two minutes to complete. I am writing this for an audience of people who know nothing about frequent flyer miles, and my goal is that by the end, you know enough to fly for free anywhere you want to go.

I’ve covered how to earn miles and the redemption options for miles. Now I’m giving the basics on several major airline programs where you can quickly collect miles for amazing trips. Today: the United MileagePlus program.

Why Collect United Miles?

United miles are easy to collect in bunches. There are big sign up bonuses available on a half dozen cards that earn United miles or Ultimate Rewards, which can be transferred to United miles. When the miles are so easy to earn, it makes fancy trips or family trips easier to book.

United is part of the biggest and best alliance–the Star Alliance–with the most award space. I find better award space on United’s partners to most parts of the world than I do on any other airline alliance.

United never collects fuel surcharges on awards. The ability to book flights on all of the Star Alliance without fuel surcharges is incredible. Delta, US Airways, and American Airlines–United’s three major award program competitors–all collect fuel surcharges on some awards.

  • What airlines can you fly with United miles?
  • What are the routing rules for United awards (stopovers, open jaws, free one ways)?
  • What are the special features of the MileagePlus program?
  • How can you book a United award?

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Save Singapore Miles with Hidden City Ticketing

Singapore Airlines’ award chart has some phenomenal sweet spots, which I’ve covered extensively:

Yesterday I published comparison tables of United’s award chart for United flights versus Singapore’s award chart for United flights.

While compiling those charts, I saw that Singapore has an incredible sweet spot from the United States to the Middle East. Look at these prices (economy/business/first one way):

  • Singapore charges 27.5k/65k/85k to Europe
  • Singapore charges 37.5k/57.5k/75k to the Middle East
  • United charges 30k/57.5k/80k to Europe
  • United charges 42.5k/70k/90k to the Middle East

In case you need to brush up on your geography, the Middle East is quite a bit farther away than Europe, but Singapore charges fewer miles for a Business Class or First Class award to the Middle East than to Europe.

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United flies to four destinations in the Middle East:

  • Washington-Dulles to Dubai to Doha
  • Washington-Dulles to Kuwait to Bahrain

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We can use the Singapore sweet spot to book United’s Middle East flights cheaply in Business Class or First Class or to save miles on awards between the United States and Europe.

Singapore miles are extremely easy to get since you can transfer all of the major transferable points to Singapore KrisFlyer miles, and Singapore doesn’t collect fuel surcharges on United flights.

The major transferable points are:

How do you book Singapore awards?
What are the out-of-pocket costs?
How can you use the cheap award price to the Middle East to save miles to Europe?
How can you add a one way in United First Class to Hawaii onto this award for only 2,500 miles?

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Save 1,000s of Miles Booking United Flights with Singapore Miles

I’ve created comparison charts of how many mile a certain award costs with United MileagePlus miles versus the same award with Singapore KrisFlyer miles. Why?

  • Singapore Airlines miles can be used to book all the same Saver award space that United releases to its non-elite members without any fuel surcharges. That makes it a relevant comparison.
  • For many routes, the Singapore KrisFlyer program charges fewer miles to book a United flight than United charges to book the same flight. That makes it a profitable comparison.
  • Singapore miles are extremely easy to get since you can transfer all of the major transferable points to Singapore KrisFlyer miles. That makes it a useful comparison.

The major transferable points are:

I’ve compiled three charts to show whether Singapore miles or United miles are cheaper to any given destination that United serves in economy, business, and first class.

  • For which destinations are United miles cheaper?
  • For which destinations are Singapore miles cheaper?
  • What about fuel surcharges?

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Air India Joins Star Alliance

Air India has joined the Star Alliance. Its direct flights between the United States and India are now bookable with United miles, Aeroplan miles, Lufthansa miles, Singapore miles, ANA miles, and any other type of Star Alliance miles.

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Award space is searchable at aeroplan.com and widely available.

Air India flights from the United States to Europe have fuel surcharges on cash tickets, but awards with United miles never have fuel surcharges, and Aeroplan is currently not collecting fuel surcharges on Air India award flights.

  • Where does Air India fly in the United States?
  • What cabins does it operate?
  • What is the price of an Air India award with United and other Star Alliance miles?
  • How can you search for and book an Air India award?
  • What amazing deal related to Air India award space probably won’t last?

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Award Booking Secret: Return on United via Brussels

United releases a ton of award space in all cabins–economy, BusinessFirst, and Global First–from Brussels to Washington-Dulles, Newark, and Chicago. These are three little-known routes that allow easy returns from Europe to the United States, even at peak times like May and June 2015, at the lower prices for United awards on United flights.

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United partner, Brussels Airlines, has service to Brussels from the rest of Europe, and awards that feature United’s flights are very reasonably priced from Europe to the United States:

Click the cabins for trip reports.

  • economy: 30,000 United miles
  • fully flat BusinessFirst: 57,500 United miles (vs. 70,000 for partner business class)
  • fully flat Global First: 80,000 United miles (vs. 110,000 for partner first class)

Other routes have more award space to Europe, but returning from Europe, United’s Brussels routes are tough to beat.

Now is a great time to book awards to Europe for May and June 2015 for 2+ passengers with United miles!

  • How good is the award space out of Brussels?
  • What if you don’t want to go to Brussels?
  • What routes have more award space to Europe?
  • Africa, anyone?

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