Six Under-Priced Awards on the United Airlines Chart


As promised in yesterday’s post on the Five Under-Priced Awards on the American Airlines Chart, today I’ll post six under-priced awards on the United chart.

The basic premise of these posts and my post on the Coolest Thing You Can Do with 60,000 Miles was connecting far-flung regions into a single trip by taking advantage of under-priced awards between the regions.

Why American and United awards? Because they can be booked as one way awards, and these THINK BIG trips allow you to see more by booking a series of cheap one way awards.

I’m including the cheapest one way international awards between non-American regions only because the cheapest international awards from the United States are better known.

Hopefully seeing cheap ways to get between South America and Africa or East Asia and Fiji will spur you to THINK BIG and come up with a really creative trip that incorporates both places.

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1. Economy Class: 10,000 Miles Between Central America and Northern South America

or 20,000 miles in Business Class

Between Central America and Northern South America (Peru, Ecuador, Colombia, Venezuela), you can fly for only 10,000 United miles in economy or 20,000 in business.

Screen Shot 2014-09-10 at 10.15.36 AM

United partners have hubs in El Salvador, Colombia, Peru, Costa Rica, Ecuador, and Panama, so finding award space is a cinch.

This award could be the way to combine Central America, the Galapagos and South America on a single trip. THINK BIG.

  • What are the other top six under-priced awards on the United Airlines chart? Pay special attention to five and six!

2. Business Class: 45,000 Miles Between South America and Africa

United charges only 45,000 miles in business class between Southern South America and all of Africa.

Screen Shot 2014-09-10 at 10.20.04 AM

The key route is Sao Paulo to Johannesburg on South African Airways. (Last year I flew Buenos Aires to Johannesburg on South African, and here is the trip report, but that route has been terminated.)

South African Business Class, comfortable for lounging, and an angled lie flat bed

From Johannesburg, you can connect anywhere else on the continent for no extra miles.

3. Business Class: 30,000 Miles Between South Asia and Australia/New Zealand

or 17,500 miles in Economy Class

United charges only 30,000 miles in business class between South Asia (Southeast Asia from Hong Kong south) and Australia or New Zealand. Economy is only 17,500 miles each way, but these are some long flights, so treat yourself.

Screen Shot 2014-09-10 at 10.27.23 AM

The key routes are on Thai Airways from Bangkok to Perth, Sydney, Melbourne, and Auckland. United also partners with Air New Zealand.

4. Business Class: 40,000 Miles Between North Asia and Australia/New Zealand

or 20,000 miles in Economy Class

United charges only 40,000 miles in business class between North Asia (mainland China, Taiwan, and South Korea) and Australia or New Zealand. Economy is only 20,000 miles each way.

This part of the world is served by Asiana (Korea), Thai, Air New Zealand, Singapore, EVA (Taiwan), and Shenzhen Airlines.

5. Business Class: 30,000 Miles Between North Asia and Oceania

or 15,000 miles in Economy Class

United charges only 30,000 miles in business class between North Asia (mainland China, Taiwan, and South Korea) and Oceania. Economy is only 15,000 miles each way.

Screen Shot 2014-09-10 at 10.34.17 AM

The amazing thing about these awards are that they allow you to route through Australia and New Zealand for no extra miles. That means you can use these awards for hidden city tickets to Australia or New Zealand.

Or you can get 23 hour layovers in New Zealand on your way to Fiji. Or if you book a roundtrip United award, you could get a stopover in New Zealand on your way to Tahiti.

Air New Zealand serves a wide range of Pacific islands from its hub in Auckland.

Screen Shot 2014-09-10 at 10.41.27 AM

6. Business Class: 30,000 Miles Between Japan and Oceania

or 12,500 miles in Economy Class

From Japan you can book the same awards for 30,000 miles in business class and 12,500 miles in economy.

That means for 27,500 miles total, you can book the following in economy:

  • Tokyo to Queenstown, NZ (stopover)
  • Queenstown to Fiji (destination)
  • open jaw cash ticket to Apia, Samoa
  • Apia, Samoa to Shanghai (destination, open jaw)

Seeing Japan, New Zealand, Fiji, Samoa, and China on one trip. That’s thinking big with miles.

Screen Shot 2014-09-10 at 10.47.08 AM
27.5k United miles. You need a separate cash ticket from Fiji to Samoa and separate awards from home to Asia.

Did any of the routes catch your eye? How can these cheap routes combine with other cheap routes from other mileage programs for THINK BIG trips?


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  1. When other bloggers are busy promoting their referral link, you always writes good stuff like this. Loving your blog Scott!

  2. this is a life saver. i’m trapped in the non points friendly country of mongolia and was looking for a way to get to tahiti. all the routing somehow went through lax.

    excellent use of united miles!

  3. follow up on previous post,

    how do i find availability from pek or nrt to ppt. i searched akl to ppt and it shows nothing on united.

    thanks again!

    • My internet is too slow to check, but I believe the only Star Alliance flight to Tahiti is AKL-PPT by Air NZ, which is searchable online, so if there isn’t space on your dates, you’d be out of luck.

  4. I’m not sure if they still allow this routing, but post devaluation I was able to secure the following:

    AKL-PVG on Air New Zealand (9hrs layover) PVG-NRT on ANA (20hr layover) NRT-SIN on ANA (20hr layover) SIN-BKK on Thai

    All in business for 30k one way. I later changed NRT-SIN to United GlobalFirst and the whole thing somehow priced as 35k one way.

    I think four segments each way is the max, but you can certainly take some of these sweet spots and stretch long layovers to maximize.

  5. I’m based in Perth, Australia…great post!

    I have 6 tickets in economy for PER-BKK-CNX(5 day stopover)-HKT(8 day destination)-BKK-PER in April, 2015 for 35,000 UA miles each. 4 nights in Chiang Mai, Thailand (Le Meridien for 3,500 SPG points per night) then 8 in Phuket, Thailand where we’ll hit Phuket (3 nights at Doubletree on Hilton points), Krabi, and Koh Phi Phi (2 nights at Holiday Inn Phi Phi island on IHG points)…might hit Langkawi, Malaysia if we get adventurous.

    Also have 3 tickets in business class for a ski trip in Japan PER-BKK-HND(2 day stopover)-CTS(5 day destination)-BKK-PER in February, 2015 for 80,000 UA miles each. Layover in Bangkok for 8 hours in each direction to catch a Muay Thai fight in one direction and get traditional Thai massages in the other direction, 2 days in Tokyo at the Park Hyatt using Hyatt certificates, and 5 nights slope side in the Hilton Niseko Village (24,000 Hilton points per night when rooms were $571.00++ per night…best use of Hilton points ever!).

    Chase points transferred to United are paying off…

  6. I tried pricing option #2 using the United award booking engine and could not get a 45,000 miles business class itinerary between Sao Paulo and Cairo (through JNB). Is this something that could only be reserved over the phone?

  7. Scott,

    The So. America to Africa map that you drew is a little off. United actually considers Egypt to be in the Middle East, and not Northern Africa. However, the Canary Islands are considered Northern Africa, so you could get a stop over in JNB and then buy a pretty cheap ticket from the Canaries to Spain. A bit cheaper to get to Europe that way from So. America with miles.

  8. GRU-CAI comes out at 60k United saver business miles one-way. Is this the only African city that is priced higher than 30/45k from South America to Africa?


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