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United is offering 25% off Saver economy awards between the mainland United States and Japan for flights completed by April 30, 2014.

You can book flights to Japan for only 26,250 United miles each way this month only, and the price shows up automatically online. The normal price is 35,000 United miles each way.

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Any discount is nice, but there are one or two drawbacks to consider. And anyway, there is a better deal for award flights to Japan this month.

What do you need to know about United’s 25% discount to Japan? What is the better award deal?

United’s 25% discount on Saver economy award flights to Japan is for this month only, and it excludes flights from Honolulu and Guam to Japan. United serves Tokyo-Narita from:

  • Newark
  • Washington-Dulles
  • Chicago
  • Los Angeles
  • San Francisco
  • Denver
  • Houston

United collects a $75 close in ticketing fee for award flights booked within 21 days of departure, though it is reduced or waived for elites. This will almost certainly come into play since most of the month is now covered by this fee. Luckily taxes are pretty cheap at about $45 roundtrip to Japan, so even with a $75 fee, you’d only pay $120 out of pocket.

The discount can apply on one way awards. Also if you book one of the flights by April 30 with a return later in the year, the outbound will receive the discount, so the roundtrip would be 61,250 United miles or 122,500 miles for two people.

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One way before April 30 and the return after April 30 earns half the discount.

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Award space is wide open on most routes in economy for two passengers. For instance, from Newark to Tokyo, a 14 hour flight, award space is open every day but one for the rest of the month. (The yellow and green days.)

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Discounted United awards to Japan must be on completely United-operated flights, not on partners like All Nippon Airways, which also fly to Japan.

American Airlines Off Peak

But maybe you should skip the discounted United awards because American Airlines has an even better deal.

Between October 1 and April 30 every year, American Airlines discounts its Asia 1 region of Japan, South Korea, and Mongolia.

For those seven months, a one way award is only 25k miles each way, and it can be flown on any American Airlines partner including Japan Airlines.

Screen Shot 2014-04-03 at 9.56.40 PM

If you want to book an off peak American Airlines award this month, keep in mind that American also charges a $75 close in ticketing fee.

Full T&C on United Discount

  1. Saver Award discount is valid for air travel only. Promotion period ends 11:59 p.m. (CT) on April 17, 2014.
  2. Offer is valid for travel between April 1, 2014, and April 30, 2014. Travel must be completed by April 30, 2014.
  3. Discount is only valid for travel on United- and United Express®-operated flights and is not valid on United-marketed codeshare flights operated by other carriers.
  4. Saver Award discount is valid only for travel between the U.S. (excluding Hawaii and Guam) or Canada and Japan.
  5. Discount is valid only for roundtrip travel in United Economy.
  6. Roundtrip is defined as travel from an origin region to a destination region with return travel beginning in the destination region back to the origin region with all segments on flights operated by United or United Express. A segment is defined as one takeoff and one landing. Stopovers do not qualify for this offer.
  7. A booking service charge may apply for travel booked less than 21 days before departure.
  8. Open jaw itineraries within the same region qualify for the discount (e.g., fly into Chicago O’Hare and out of New York/Newark).
  9. This offer cannot be applied to previously issued tickets.
  10. United Economy roundtrip Saver Awards are redeemable at 70,000 miles for travel between the U.S. (excluding Hawaii and Guam) or Canada and Japan. During the promotion period, these Saver Awards are redeemable at 52,500 miles. Award pricing is subject to change without notice. Passenger is responsible for all taxes, fees, baggage service charges and surcharges applicable to award travel, including, with respect to government-imposed taxes and fees, passenger facility charges (PFCs) of up to $18.00 per roundtrip; September 11 Security Fee of up to $10.00 per roundtrip (one-way travel may incur fees in excess of $5.00); U.S. segment tax of $4.00 for each domestic segment (takeoff and landing); U.S. excise tax of $17.20 for each international arrival and departure in the U.S.; U.S. inspection fees of up to $17.20 for each arrival in the U.S.; and non-U.S. government ticket taxes, fees and airport charges may add up to $265 per ticket as of January 1, 2014. Such taxes, fees and surcharges must be paid at the time of ticketing and are subject to change. Any valid unused award ticket may be returned to the MileagePlus Service Center, for a service charge, up to one year from the date of issue. Award seats are subject to availability and capacity-control restrictions apply. For more information on MileagePlus award travel, visit united.com/awards. Travel on award tickets is not eligible for mileage accrual in United MileagePlus or any other loyalty program.
  11. This offer is not combinable with other offers.
  12. This offer can be combined with other award types (e.g., member can redeem Standard Awards one way and Saver Awards one way) but only the flight segment purchased with a Saver Award will be eligible for the discount.
  13. Only MileagePlus Global ServicesSM members and primary cardholders of select MileagePlus credit cards issued by Chase are eligible for upgrades on award tickets.
  14. Changes to travel dates are permitted in advance by calling the United Customer Contact Center. Changes may be subject to additional service fees of up to $200 per ticket (based on account status at time that miles were redeemed):
    • After an award ticket is issued, service charges may be imposed for each requested change that necessitates the re-issuance of the ticket.
    • If a wholly unused ticket is exchanged for travel outside of the promotion period, the mileage will be credited back into the member’s account, subject to an applicable service charge, and a new ticket will be issued at the mileage-redemption rate commensurate with the new award.
  15. If the value of a partially used ticket is applied to travel outside of the promotion period, a new one-way ticket must be purchased or a new one-way award at the applicable mileage-redemption rate must be redeemed. The unused return portion of the ticket is not valid for travel and cannot be credited back into the member’s account.
  16. Redemption of additional award miles may be required if any portion of the itinerary is outside of the promotion period.
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