Tag Archives: United

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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Comparison of Lufthansa and United Award Charts

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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There is one week left to get the Premier Miles & More® World MasterCard® with 50,000 bonus Lufthansa miles after spending $5,000 in the first 90 days. The offer expires June 30, 2014.

The normal bonus on the card is for only 20,000 miles. I got the card last year and racked up 73,000 Lufthansa miles. I’ve booked myself a few awards between the mainland and Hawaii, since Lufthansa charges fewer miles for the exact same United flights than United charges.

Comparing United and Lufthansa miles is natural because both are Star Alliance members with (basically) equal access to award space on all Star Alliance partners.

Between Hawaii and the mainland isn’t the only route where the United and Lufthansa award charts differ. I’ve compiled three charts to show whether Lufthansa miles or United miles are cheaper to any given destination in economy, business, and first class.

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

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To See a Third City on a United Award, Use Avios

You can see three “destination” cities on one United award, but you need to book a separate ticket with Avios or cash to tie the trip together.

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  • Why is three the limit?
  • Why does seeing even three cities require a second award?
  • How can you see four or more cities with United miles?

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United Adds New Route from Houston to Santiago; Award Space Nearly Every Day

United announced yesterday on Twitter that it would begin a new daily service from Houston to Santiago, Chile on December 7, 2014. Flights in both directions will be red eyes of just under 10 hours.

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Award space is phenomenal on the new route in stark contrast to United’s terrible award space to Buenos Aires.

The United flight can be booked with United, Lufthansa, Avianca, Aeroplan, ANA, and Singapore miles, which are all Star Alliance miles that are easily accessible to Americans from credit card sign up bonuses.

Chile is near the top of my list for new countries I want to visit because I love South America, I want to see Patagonia, and the former $160 entrance fee for Americans was discontinued this year.

  • What is the award space picture December 2013 to May 2014?
  • What cabins are available on the route?
  • What are your connection options in Houston and Santiago?
  • What miles are best to book United’s flight to Chile?

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How to Get Tremendous Value Out of Your Lufthansa Miles Without Leaving the USA

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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When United Airlines devalued its award chart earlier this year, one of the silver linings was that it left the redemption rate for transcontinental BusinessFirst at 25k miles each way. Now, 25,000 United miles for a flat bed seat on a flight from New York to California is a great value, but did you know that you can actually book the same seat for just 17,000 Lufthansa miles?

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You can snag one of these BusinessFirst seats for just 17k Lufthansa miles

Lufthansa miles have access to all the same Saver award space that United miles can access, there are never any fuel surcharges on domestic United flights booked with Lufthansa miles, and the miles price is 32% less with Lufthansa miles than United miles.

The Premier Miles & More® World MasterCard® is currently offering 50,000 bonus Lufthansa miles after spending $5,000 in the first 90 days. The card has a $79 annual fee. This offer expires June 30, 2014, and the normal offer on the card is 20,000 bonus miles.

The current bonus is enough for three cross-country flights in a flat bed.

  • What makes 17,000 Lufthansa miles for a cross-country bed such a great deal?
  • What is United BusinessFirst Premium Service like?
  • How do you search availability?
  • How do you book the award?

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United MileagePlus Earning Will Be Revenue-Based in 2015

Starting March 1, 2015, you will earn award miles on United tickets according to the cost of the ticket instead of the distance flown.

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Delta announced a nearly identical move a few months ago, and at the time my headline included “The Sky is Not Falling.”

The sky is still not falling. For everyone except United elites, these changes will have very little impact. The far worse news from United for most of us is still the devaluation of its award chart that went into effect in February.

The outsized value I get from miles comes from redeeming them to visit interesting countries in business or first class with stopovers, open jaws, and free one ways built into my awards. That outsized value remains unaffected by today’s changes.

The outsized value that comes from earning miles on cheap, long United tickets disappears starting March 1, 2015.

  • What will the new earning structure be?
  • How can you still earn United miles based on distance flown?
  • How are miles earned from credit cards affected?
  • How are award redemptions affected?

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It Took Me 8 Minutes to Book a Trip from Hawaii with Miles & More Miles

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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Booking a United flight with Lufthansa miles is extremely easy. I just booked myself a one way ticket from Honolulu to Chicago for 20,000 Lufthansa Miles & More miles + $2.50 in eight minutes.

I was using miles I had gotten by opening the Premier Miles & More® World MasterCard® with 50,000 bonus miles after spending $5,000 on the card in the first 90 days. (Hurry: this offer expires June 30, 2014 and will presumably be replaced by the standard offer of only 20,000 bonus miles.)

Using Lufthansa miles to book United flights within the Western Hemisphere is one of the best uses of Lufthansa miles because those flights incur no fuel surcharges, just low government taxes from $2.50 per segment.

Plus for many routes within the Western Hemisphere–including between the mainland United States and Hawaii–Lufthansa charges fewer miles than United for the exact same flights.

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  • What United award space can you book with Lufthansa miles?
  • How did I search for the award space?
  • How did I book the award space?
  • How did I select seats on the United flight?
  • Why was booking with Lufthansa miles better than booking with United miles?

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Giveaway: Pair of United Club Passes

Reader Milezjunkie has generously donated a pair of United Club passes that expire June 30, 2014.

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 between June 12, 2014 (because they will take a few days to get to you) and June 30, 2014, there are two ways to enter to win them!

  1. Comment on this post with something you’re grateful for. (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 early Monday morning, email the winner, and send the passes out.

Best of luck.

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Follow me on Twitter and Facebook for more chances to win. And sign up to receive one free daily email every morning with all of the day’s posts!



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United Award Chart vs. LifeMiles Award Chart

On Friday, I wrote about a revolutionary idea:

You can use the Barclaycard Arrival PlusTM World Elite MasterCard® to get 1.52 LifeMiles per dollar on all purchases. Read the whole post to find out how.

The Barclaycard Arrival PlusTM World Elite MasterCard® is the king of cash back cards (without even being one) because it offers 2.28% back on all purchases toward travel on top of 40,000 bonus miles after spending $3,000 in the first 90 days, which is worth over $500 in free travel.

But Arrival miles are terrible, no good, very bad miles for premium cabin redemptions just like all fixed-value points earned on bank cards.

That’s why you’d  convert Arrival miles to LifeMiles, the miles of Star Alliance carrier Avianca, at a rate of 1 Arrival mile to 0.76 LifeMiles: to book business class and first class awards on Star Alliance carriers like Lufthansa, United, Austrian, ANA, Thai, and South African.

Getting 1.52 LifeMiles per dollar on all purchases through the Arrival Plus would be the highest rate of airline miles per dollar of any card. But that doesn’t mean anything if the LifeMiles chart isn’t any good.

Luckily the LifeMiles chart is solid, much better than United’s for instance, for Star Alliance redemptions.

I’ve prepared side-by-side comparisons of United’s and LifeMiles’ award charts from the United States.

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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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Free Giveaway: Pair of United Club Passes

I’m dipping in to my personal stash to give away a pair of United Club passes that expire June 30, 2014.

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 between June 5, 2014 (because they will take a few days to get to you) and June 30, 2014, 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 early Monday morning, email the winner, and send the passes out.

Best of luck.

—————————————————————————————————–

Follow me on Twitter and Facebook for more chances to win. And sign up to receive one free daily email every morning with all of the day’s posts!



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This United Award is So Cheap It Took Me an Hour to Realize It Wasn’t a Mistake

United left one of the best values on their award chart when they devalued their chart in February.

You can fly between Southern South America–Brazil, Argentina, Chile–and Africa for 30k miles each way in economy and 45k miles each way in business class as long as your itinerary features South African Airways’ flights between Sao Paulo and Johannesburg.

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This is such a high value award that when reader Ryan pointed it out to me, we both thought it was a mistake. Ryan had searched for a September departure between Johannesburg and Santiago, Chile and the Saver economy award was 60k miles while the Saver business award was only 45k miles.

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At first I thought the price of the business class award was a mistake. After all, United’s chart lists the business class price between South America and Africa as 97,500 miles one way.

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But after about an hour of playing around on united.com, I figured out that the 45k mile price in business class between South America and Africa is not a mistake. It is the price United means to charge, and it’s a holdover from United’s last award chart.

  • Why did Ryan find economy on his route for 60k miles and business for 45k miles?
  • What is the key route that features the discounted price?
  • How is award space on that route?

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Airlines are Responding to Bank, Accounting, and Consultant Pressures by Opening Up More Award Space

According to the Wall Street Journal, airlines are opening up more award space this year compared to last year because of pressure from banks, accounting rules, and consultant studies.

In the short term, that’s good for us. More award space: woohoo!

But in the long run, these pressures could cause more airlines to move to revenue-based frequent flyer programs. Revenue-based redemptions: boohoo!

Every year IdeaWorks comes out with one of the worst-conceived studies imaginable in an attempt to quantify which frequent flyer programs make redemptions the easiest. Every year, Gary Leff makes correct points about why the study is so dumb.

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The yearly IdeaWorks study makes no sense because it compares all frequent flyer programs without differentiating which offer revenue-based redemptions, distance-based redemptions, and chart-based redemptions.

It ignores prices on the award chart, international flights by United States carriers, partner award availability, and the imposition of fuel surcharges.

Even with all those flaws, the study gets picked up in the Wall Street Journal and parroted as gospel about which programs are better for consumers.

That’s why it’s dangerous for us.

  • Why is the IdeaWorks study producing positive changes in the short run?
  • Why might the IdeaWorks study produce negative changes in the long run?
  • What pressures are on airlines to increase award availability and how can we increase those pressures?

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Current State of Free Oneways

This blog became famous because I was the first to articulate how to book free oneways on United and US Airways awards.

A free oneway is a one way trip to or from your home airport that is tacked onto another award for no extra miles. Free oneways cut your flight bill in half for a second trip without adding to the price of the first trip!

American Airlines killed free oneways on its awards last week by nixing all free stopovers because free oneways always rely on a free stopover at your home airport.

What’s the current state of free oneways with major frequent flyer programs?

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