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United is offering a 20% discount on economy awards to Europe flown this winter.

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Instead of the normal 60,000 miles roundtrip, Saver awards to nine airports in Europe will cost only 48,000 miles roundtrip.

This is a good deal if you were already planning to use United miles to fly to Europe this winter, but there are better deals for winter travel to Europe.

  • How does the deal work? (One ways?)
  • What are the better off peak awards to Europe?

Basics of United Award Sale

The full terms and conditions of the sale are available here. You do not need to register; valid searches automatically display the sale price.

Selected terms:

  • Book: November 12 – December 4, 2014
  • Travel: January 12 – March 12, 2015 on Mondays, Tuesdays, Wednesdays, and Thursdays
  • Discount is valid only to the following European airports: Amsterdam (AMS), Brussels (BRU), Frankfurt (FRA), Geneva (GVA), Hamburg (HAM), London (LHR), Munich (MUC), Paris (CDG) and Zurich (ZRH)
  • Discount on Saver Awards to Europe is valid only for travel on United- and United Express®-operated flights and is not valid on United-marketed codeshare flights operated by other carriers.
  • Discounted Saver Award is valid only for travel between the U.S. (excluding Hawaii) or Canada, and Europe.
  • Discount is valid only for roundtrip travel in United Economy.
  • Open jaw itineraries within the same region do qualify for the discount (e.g., fly into Chicago O’Hare and out of New York/Newark). Stopovers do not qualify for this offer.

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Dummy bookings back up those rules. Searching for a one way award shows the normal price of 30,000 miles instead of the sale price.

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Searching for a roundtrip to a qualifying city brings up the discounted price of 48,000 miles.
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Interestingly, searching for a roundtrip with one date in the sale range and the other outside yields a price of 54,000 miles–which indicates the sale price one way and the normal price the other.

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Last week, I predicted we’d see this sale announced this week because United has run a very similar sale announced around the same time for travel around the same time for at least the last two years.

Comparison to Other Off Peak Awards

United’s sale is, at best, the fourth best off peak award to Europe.

American charges only 20,000 miles each way to Europe between October 15 and May 15 each year. That’s a much bigger window, and you can even fly American’s partners for the same price. Plus if you have the Citi® / AAdvantage® Platinum Select® MasterCard®, you get a 10% rebate on American Airlines awards, so a roundtrip would actually only be 36,000 miles on better dates to more possible cities with more possible airlines.

US Airways charges only 35,000 miles roundtrip to Europe between January 15 and February 28 on its own flights. Plus if you have The US Airways® Premier World MasterCard®, you get a 5,000 mile discount on all off peak awards, so you’d pay only 30,000 miles roundtrip.

Air France Flying Blue’s Promo Awards cost only 12,500 miles each way between select American cities and anywhere in Europe. There are fuel surcharges, and you can only fly select airlines from a few cities during each month’s rotating sale.

Check out Master Thread: Off Peak Awards for more info on all three awards.

Bottom Line

If you already planned to use United miles to fly to Europe this winter, you will now get a 20% discount on the award if you fly to right the city on a weekday.

If you weren’t already planning such a trip, this new sale probably won’t move the needle much. After all, there are at least three better off peak award sales to Europe this winter.