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This is it. January 31, 2014. The day we’ve dreaded since United’s trick or treat on October 31, 2013.

 

Tomorrow United massively increases the number of miles it will charge to book many awards.

Which awards should you absolutely book today? Which can you wait on booking? How far out can you book United awards today? What trick is there to lock in Lufthansa First Class awards at current prices?

Tomorrow the number of miles you’ll need to book many awards with United miles will increase dramatically.

Today, you can lock in an award at current prices for flights through January 3, 2015. (United’s own flights are only available until December 31, 2014 right now. Some partner space is loaded through January 3, 2015.)

Top Five Awards to Lock in Today

These five awards are increasing dramatically in price.

1. United States to Asia (via Europe or not!) for 70k miles in First Class.

Screen Shot 2014-01-31 at 12.43.42 AM

The US to Europe is 67,500 United miles one way in First Class today. For only 2,500 more miles, you can add a second longhaul flight in First Class to North or South Asia. The above award–Seoul to LAX the long way–cost me only 70k miles to book after the devaluation was announced. It features Asiana and Lufthansa First Class. Tomorrow, the same award would cost 120k miles to book one way! Save 50k miles today.

2. United States to Europe in Premium Cabins

Tomorrow, USA to Europe in partner business class jumps from 50k to 70k United miles each way. Partner First Class jumps from 67.5k to 110k United miles each way to Europe.

For folks who dream of flying Lufthansa First Class out of Frankfurt to enjoy the First Class Terminal, today is the last day to do so economically with United miles.

3. Mainland to Hawaii in Economy

Tomorrow, United bumps up the price of its awards from the mainland to Hawaii to 22,500 mile each way. That means a roundtrip award goes from 40k to 45k miles. And a family of four’s trip jumps from 160k to 180k miles.

Before burning United miles for Hawaii, though, check out my Cheapest Ways to Get to Hawaii post to make sure there isn’t a better way for you to get to paradise.

Screen Shot 2013-06-11 at 10.15.24 PM

4. United States to Southeast Asia in Economy

The United States to Southeast Asia in economy is way underpriced today at only 32,500 miles each way. Tomorrow it jumps to 40,000 miles each way.

I booked my buddy a roundtrip to Thailand last year to visit me for only 65,000 United miles. Today is your last day to replicate that award (with a free oneway.)

5. Any Partner First Class Award

Look at the insane jumps for first class awards that include partner flights:

Screen Shot 2014-01-31 at 12.56.04 AM
Prices one way in thousands on United miles

Awards You Can Wait to Book

Some United awards are not increasing in price tomorrow. If you’re saving your United miles for these three awards, you can relax and wait until you’re ready to book:

1. Western Hemisphere Awards

Very few awards entirely within the Western Hemisphere are going up in price. Not changing in price at all:

  • Awards within the continental US and Canada
  • Awards from the US to Mexico, Central America, Northern South America, and the Caribbean
  • Awards from the mainland to Hawaii in First Class
  • Awards from the US to Southern South America in economy

The Western Hemisphere awards going up in price are the US to Hawaii in economy and the US to Southern South America in premium cabins.

2. Most Economy Awards (Including to Europe)

Most economy awards are unaffected by tomorrow’s devaluation. Here’s a chart of the changes for economy awards originating in the US 49 and Canada:

Screen Shot 2014-01-31 at 1.01.38 AM
Prices One Way in Thousands on United Miles

3. Australia First Class on United Flights

United flies from San Francisco and Los Angeles to Sydney and Melbourne with three-cabin planes. I flew the LAX to Sydney route in First Class 13 months ago. (See the trip report.)

The award is 80k miles each way, and that doesn’t change tomorrow. The award is fair value at that price, but not exceptional value by any means. With the business class cabin costing 70k miles tomorrow, I would pay the 10k mile premium for first class.

United Global First Bed After a 15 Hour Flight
United Global First Bed After a 15 Hour Flight

Extending These Prices Until January 31, 2015

As I noted above, the award booking calendar is only open through January 3, 2015.

If you book a flight today, you can later change the date of that flight. The only limitation on the change is that all award tickets booked today must be completely used up by January 31, 2015 no matter how many changes you make.

United claimed on FlyerTalk that mere date changes–ie not changing airlines, cabins, or routes–would not cause a repricing of an award to the new higher price.

So theoretically if you book Dallas to Los Angeles to Honolulu to be flown June 15, 2014 for 20k miles today, you can change that date to January 31, 2015 later for no extra miles. (A $100 change fee will apply.)

I say “theoretically” because I don’t entirely trust United to interpret changes this way. Your mileage on changes may vary.

Lufthansa First for 67,500 Miles for All of 2014

Here’s a full post based on using the “Cancel & Rebook Later trick” to lock in Lufthansa First Class flights for all of 2014 at their current price even though you can only book Lufthansa space now through mid-February with United miles. (Lufthansa releases First Class space to partners about two weeks out.) Like the section above, your mileage may vary.

Other Ways to Get Star Alliance Flights

Only awards using United miles get more expensive tomorrow.

Booking United flights with US Airways miles will not increase in price tomorrow. Nor will booking Lufthansa flights with TACA miles be more expensive tomorrow than it is today.

Don’t burn your United miles needlessly today if there is a cheaper way to book the same flights with other miles.

How to Search United.com

Here’s How to Search United.com.

Too Late to Use the MileValue Award Booking Service for Devaluation Busting United Awards

In order to preserve our sanity, and to give the best service to clients who have already requested our help, and to give fast service to people requesting help with non-United awards, please do not contact the MileValue Award Booking Service today for help beating the devaluation deadline.

(The MileValue Award Booking Service is happy to take other requests that don’t need to be completed today.)

If you need some quick help, tweet @milevalue. I’ll make an effort to be around tomorrow afternoon.

Best of Luck

Best of luck out there! Today is the end of certain valuable and easy-to-get awards. But it’s not the end of our hobby. There will still be tons of ways to get value from your miles tomorrow.

Further Reading with Charts Showing Pricing Differences: United Massively Devalues Its Award Chart Starting February 1, 2014

How the Devaluation Affects Awards to/from Hawaii: United Devaluation from Hawaii

Might as well trick out the award you book today: Free Oneways on United Awards

Also google “Burn United Miles milevalue” without quotation marks for several posts in the last few months about great value United awards that disappear tomorrow.

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