Last week my friend flew 24 hours of Lufthansa First Class and had a 3.5 hour layover in the famous Lufthansa First Class Terminal, which he booked for 125,000 United miles and $58. I helped him book the award, and this post will illustrate:

  • Where to Search for Lufthansa Award Space
  • When Lufthansa First Class Award Space Opens Up
  • How to Predict Whether There Will Be Lufthansa First Class Award Space on Your Desired Flight
  • How to Book Lufthansa First Class with United miles
  • How to Save $75 When Booking Lufthansa First Class

My friend was in Tokyo and wanted to move to Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. He had tons of United miles from opening United cards and cards that earn Ultimate Rewards in the past. He wanted to fly a fancy First Class product.

He contacted me in December, 2015 about a series of awards that he wanted to book to go from Buenos Aires to Southeast Asia to Japan and eventually to Rio. We booked most of his awards then, but I suggested we hold off on booking the flights from Japan to Brazil until the last minute. Why?

  1. There wasn’t award space in Business or First Class on any reasonable routing when we first searched
  2. I thought Lufthansa First Class would be a great product for him to fly with a great routing and fancy amenities, including the Lufthansa First Class Terminal in Frankfurt
  3. Lufthansa only opens up First Class award space for partners 15 days before the flight

When I made the suggestion, I wanted to be fairly sure that we could book him Lufthansa First Class when the time came. So I followed my own advice in “How to Estimate Your Chances of Last Minute Award Space.” I searched for award space from Tokyo to Rio de Janeiro for the next two weeks and found award space on 7 of 15 days. That was a good sign since he had some date flexibility, and May isn’t peak time on the routes.

He originally planned to fly May 10 +/- one day, so I set a calendar alert for April 25 and searched for award space for May 9 and May 10 on April 25.

I found some decent Business Class itineraries that I relayed to him, but I didn’t find the holy grail: Tokyo-Haneda to Frankfurt in Lufthansa First Class, 3.5 hour layover at the Frankfurt First Class Terminal, and Frankfurt to Rio de Janeiro in Lufthansa First Class.

That itinerary had First Class space on May 9…

Screen Shot 2016-04-27 at 12.45.01 AM …and May 7…Screen Shot 2016-04-25 at 10.48.38 PM …but for a May 10 departure, he’d need to fly ANA Business Class on the first leg and have an all day layover in Frankfurt (a curse if you’re in a hurry, a blessing if you like to see cities on 23 hour layovers en route.)Screen Shot 2016-04-25 at 10.47.04 PM
These First Class itineraries are very pricey since United devalued its award chart massively in February 2014, so I also mentioned the Business Class awards he could book, like 75,000 miles one way if he flew United Business Class (flat bed)…
Screen Shot 2016-04-25 at 10.45.15 PM …or 85,000 miles if he flew partner Business Class.Screen Shot 2016-04-25 at 10.43.33 PM

Finally I let him know that if we waited a few more days, I thought we could snag the all Lufthansa First Class award because at the time 5 of the next 7 days had First Class award space on that route.

He said he didn’t mind spending 125,000 miles one way. His main priority was ultra-luxury, and he would happily wait a few more days to book.

A few days later, he told me that he changed his ideal departure date by a week and now wanted to travel May 2. There had already been award space on May 2 when I first searched on April 25, and it was still there, so we were ready to book.

However, instead of heading straight to united.com and booking the award for 125,000 miles + $58 in taxes + $75 for ticketing an award within three weeks of departure, I told him to use this trick to avoid the $75 close in ticketing fee.

He went to united.com and booked himself an economy award from Haneda to Rio de Janeiro on Lufthansa for June 2016 for 55,000 miles + $58 and immediately called United at 800-UNITED-1. He told the agent he’d like to make a change to an award which he had booked within the last 24 hours and fed her the Lufthansa First Class segments on May 2. She made the change, deducting 70,000 extra miles (125,000 total as expected) and informed him that the taxes hadn’t changed. As we had hoped, she forgot to add a $75 fee for changing an award’s departure to within 21 days.

The Product

Both his segments were on the Lufthansa 747-8, which I have flown in First Class from Frankfurt to Washington-Dulles. The Lufthansa 747-8 First Class product is a large seat

Screen Shot 2016-05-05 at 7.34.41 PM

that folds into a comfortable flat bed.

IMG_0702

There is unlimited wine (I’ve heard of people requesting wine tastings) and caviar onboard (ask for seconds since they serve everyone out of one large containers instead of individual small containers.

Screen Shot 2016-05-05 at 7.35.41 PM

If you have a flight out of Frankfurt in Lufthansa First Class, you get access to the First Class Terminal, which is my favorite ground experience in the world.

This is an entire terminal just for First Class passengers with a top-notch buffet and a la carte food, a cigar bar, and warm baths with rubber duckies.

Screen Shot 2016-05-05 at 7.35.00 PM

Since you are in a separate terminal, when it is flight time, you are ferried to your plane in a Porsche.

Screen Shot 2016-05-05 at 7.35.19 PM

My friend loved his trip. He texted me from the First Class Terminal several times excitedly, and said that the ground experience alone was worth the miles.

While I think 125,000 miles is too much for a single one way trip, I think 62,500 would be an amazing price for either Tokyo to Frankfurt or Frankfurt to Rio de Janeiro in Lufthansa First Class (both of which are 12 hour flights), so I didn’t begrudge him the redemption.

Cheaper Ways into Lufthansa First Class

I am hoping to fly Lufthansa First Class in September for 50,000 Asiana miles (transferred from 40,000 SPG points) + $200-$300 from Eastern Europe to Washington-Dulles. Flying from Europe to the United States in Lufthansa First Class with Asiana miles is the best deal if you find a route with low taxes and fuel surcharges.

Getting the Miles

You can get United miles from the United Explorer and United Business Explorer cards. You can get Ultimate Rewards, which transfer 1:1 instantly to United miles from the Sapphire Preferred and Ink Plus.

While I can not directly link to the current United Explorer or Sapphire Preferred offers, you may find them by clicking below if you decide to apply. (I receive a commission, and your support keeps this blog going.)

While I can not directly link to the current Ink Plus or Explorer Business Card offers, you may find them by clicking below if you decide to apply. (I receive a commission, and your support keeps this blog going.)

Bottom Line

If you want to book Lufthansa First Class, do research many months out to figure out if award spaces usually opens on your route of interest within 15 days of departure. Have your miles ready (and ideally some date flexibility), and then start searching again 15 days before departure. If you find your dream space, book some dummy space more than 21 days out (ideally on the same routing and airlines, but it doesn’t have to be), and immediately call in to change to the real space you want to likely avoid the $75 fee for ticketing within 21 days of departure.

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Editorial Disclaimer: The editorial content is not provided or commissioned by the credit card issuers. Opinions expressed here are author’s alone, not those of the credit card issuers, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the credit card issuers.

If you liked this post, sign up to receive one free daily email every morning with all of the day’s posts! You can also follow MileValue on Twitter and Facebook.

Earn 50,000 bonus points (worth $800 in American Airlines flights) after spending $3,000 in the first three months on the Citi Prestige® Card. Plus get a $250 Air Travel Credit each calendar year, free airport lounge access worldwide, and your fourth night free on hotel stays. Why I got the card.

2

Elite members of United’s MileagePlus frequent flyer program get access to extra Saver award seats in economy class. (Platinum and higher members also get extra business and first class seat availability.)

Screen Shot 2016-05-05 at 3.16.55 AMScreen Shot 2016-05-05 at 3.16.51 AM

United credit card holders also get the extra Saver economy award space set aside for elites. That includes people with the United Explorer, Business Explorer, and Club cards.

I consider this one of the biggest benefits of the cards, and, oddly, it is a benefit that is completely unadvertised and possibly unintentional.

Recent Example

I have the United Business Explorer card and no elite status with United. I was recently looking for award space from Virginia to Hawaii in October as part of my Summer/Fall travel plans.

Here was all of the Saver award space in economy from Washington-Dulles to Honolulu before I signed into my account.

Screen Shot 2016-05-04 at 3.52.36 PM

That’s three possible itineraries. (The fourth, which costs “45k” is Standard award space.)

I signed in–alerting united.com to show me the extra award space reserved for elites and credit card holders–and ran the same search. There were about ten itineraries with Saver award space. Here are the first six.
Screen Shot 2016-05-04 at 3.53.34 PMLet’s look closer at that 3:50 PM to 9:45 PM itinerary that shows up when I sign in (second screen shot), but not when I don’t (first screen shot.) Once signed in, I am in Expert Mode, which allows me to see the number of seats in each fare class on a flight.
Screen Shot 2016-05-04 at 3.54.37 PMThe problem is that the second flight has X0 and XN9. “X” is the Saver economy award space open to everyone. “XN” is the extra set aside for elites and credit card holders. This award has nine Saver seats for elites and credit card holders but none for Joe Schmo. That’s why it showed up when I signed in but not before.

This flight is an extreme example of extra seats available to elites, but it illustrates how valuable the benefit can be to elites.

And It’s a Secret Benefit

While I can not directly link to the current United Explorer offer, you may find it by clicking below if you decide to apply. (I receive a commission, and your support keeps this blog going.)

The offer page touts an extra award space benefit, but not the one I’m talking about.

Screen Shot 2016-05-05 at 3.01.17 AM

This benefit refers to cardholders being able to book any seat, any time as a Standard award. There is some value to the benefit, but in general I try to avoid booking Standard awards, which tend to cost double the price of Saver awards. I would much prefer to get more Saver awards than be able to get any seat as a Standard award.

No, You Can’t Book This Extra Space with Partner Miles

I’m not going to book a a trip from the East Coast to Hawaii with United miles. The same United flights are much cheaper with Singapore miles. Unfortunately, when using Singapore miles you can only book United Saver award space in the “X”, “I”, and “O” fare classes–that is, the Saver award space open to non-elites and non-credit card holders.

So I had to sign back out of my United account to search for that space. Any United Saver award space you find when searching united.com without signing in should be equally bookable with all Star Alliance miles.

Bottom Line

United credit cards give you access to extra Saver economy award space on United flights when redeeming United miles. This is an unadvertised benefit and puts you on even footing with United elites.

The extra award space is not available for booking with other Star Alliance miles.

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Editorial Disclaimer: The editorial content is not provided or commissioned by the credit card issuers. Opinions expressed here are author’s alone, not those of the credit card issuers, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the credit card issuers.

If you liked this post, sign up to receive one free daily email every morning with all of the day’s posts! You can also follow MileValue on Twitter and Facebook.

Earn 50,000 bonus points (worth $800 in American Airlines flights) after spending $3,000 in the first three months on the Citi Prestige® Card. Plus get a $250 Air Travel Credit each calendar year, free airport lounge access worldwide, and your fourth night free on hotel stays. Why I got the card.

0

United Airlines is releasing tons of space flying flat bed Business Class from Newark to Paris for two people–and nearly as much in Business Class for up to four people–throughout July and August. Award space in Business Class isn’t quite as ubiquitous for the return back to Newark from Paris, but options are plentiful.

Award Space

Newark to Paris: 2 People

ewr > cdg 2 pax

Paris to Newark: 2 People

Green and blue days have Business Class award space for the indicated number of people.

cdg > ewr 2 pax

Newark to Paris: 4 People

ewr > cdg 4 pax

Paris to Newark: 4 People

cdg > ewr 4 pax

Product

There are two daily United flights from from Newark to Paris

One flies a Boeing 767-400ER, which has a 2-1-2 seat formation in Business Class. I would choose the middle aisle seat to avoid having to climb over or being climbed over during the flight. The seats all lie fully flat.

Screen Shot 2016-04-25 at 7.25.00 PM

The other flies a Boeing 777-200 with a 2-4-2 seat formation in Business Class. Unfortunately there’s no seat you can choose to avoid being climbed over.  All of these seats also lie fully flat.

Screen Shot 2016-04-25 at 7.38.07 PM

 

I’d rather fly the 767-400ER, but the difference isn’t huge.

Connections

If you don’t live in the New York area, you can still take advantage of this space. Newark Liberty International Airport is a United hub with flights to most of the country. You can tack on Economy, Business, or First Saver domestic award space onto these international flights for zero extra miles.

If you don’t want to go to Paris, or you want to fly an open jaw award, this space is still useful. United partners Austrian, Brussels, Croatia, LOT Polish, Lufthansa, Scandinavian, SWISS, and Turkish Airlines have tons of flights from Paris on to the rest of Europe.

Award Prices (Including Taxes and Fees)

United never collects fuel surcharges on its own flights. There are no fees for online bookings made more than 21 days before departure either meaning that you just pay unavoidable government taxes of $6 to Europe and $122 from Paris to the USA.

Newark to Paris

Screen Shot 2016-04-25 at 7.53.23 PM

Paris to Newark

Screen Shot 2016-04-25 at 7.53.15 PM

Note that the miles prices for these awards are based on flying United’s own planes; there are options flying United partners, but those cost 70,000 miles per person one way in Business Class as opposed to 57,500 miles per person one way in Business Class.

Other Miles?

You can book all the United Saver award space you see on united.com (before signing in) by calling any other Star Alliance partners. Here are the one way prices to Europe (except ANA which charges double the listed price for a roundtrip or one way award.)

Screen Shot 2016-01-28 at 9.31.05 AM

Lufthansa would collect fuel surcharges on the award, but none of the other programs would. That means you are better off booking this space with Asiana miles (SPG partner), Aeroplan (SPG, Membership Rewards partner), and ANA (SPG, Membership Rewards partner).

Taxes?

Taxes are higher on awards leaving Great Britain and France than most places in Europe, and can really start to add up when factoring for multiple people. Avoid Paris’ departure taxes by taking a train or low cost carrier flight elsewhere and continuing your journey home from a low tax country.

Getting the Miles

Chase Ultimate Rewards transfer at a 1:1 ratio to United miles. If you don’t already have a stash of United miles, you can sign up for:

1. The Chase Sapphire Preferred Card earns 50,000 Ultimate Rewards after spending $4,000 in the first three months and another 5,000 bonus Ultimate Rewards for adding an authorized user on the application.

While I can not directly link to the current Chase Sapphire Preferred offer, you may find it by clicking below if you decide to apply. (I receive a commission, and your support keeps this blog going.)

2. The Chase Ink Plus Business Card earns 60,000 bonus Ultimate Rewards after spending $5,000 in the first three months.

While I can not directly link to the current Ink Plus offer, you may find it by clicking below if you decide to apply. (I receive a commission, and your support keeps this blog going.)

Together those will earn you at least 124,000 Ultimate Rewards which is more than the 115,00 United miles necessary for one person to fly roundtrip in Business to Paris from the US.

Searching For and Booking the Award

To find this award space, you can search right on united.com.

You can also book these awards on united.com. Pay the taxes and surcharges with your Citi Prestige® Card.

The Citi Prestige® Card offers a $250 Air Travel Credit each calendar year that offsets your first $250 in spending on airlines with the card. Taxes on an award ticket definitely count.

The card also comes with 50,000 bonus ThankYou Points after spending $3,000 in the first three months, which can be transferred to 12 types of airline miles or used like cash toward the purchase of any ticket.

Bottom Line

If you want to go to Paris this July or August, you can easily use your United miles (or Ultimate Rewards that transfer 1:1) to fly yourself and up to three others roundtrip to Paris in Business Class with flat beds.

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Editorial Disclaimer: The editorial content is not provided or commissioned by the credit card issuers. Opinions expressed here are author’s alone, not those of the credit card issuers, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the credit card issuers.

If you liked this post, sign up to receive one free daily email every morning with all of the day’s posts! You can also follow MileValue on Twitter and Facebook.

Earn 50,000 bonus points (worth $800 in American Airlines flights) after spending $3,000 in the first three months on the Citi Prestige® Card. Plus get a $250 Air Travel Credit each calendar year, free airport lounge access worldwide, and your fourth night free on hotel stays. Why I got the card.

8

United miles are the easiest major miles to get. There are several United cards:

  • United Explorer
  • United Business Explorer
  • United Club Card
  • United Club Business Card

Plus Ultimate Rewards transfer 1:1 instantly to United miles, so you can earn United miles easily with:

  • Sapphire Preferred
  • Ink Plus

Plus Chase’s “cash back” cards actually earn Ultimate Rewards that can be redeemed for cash back or can be transferred to a Sapphire Preferred or Ink Plus and from there to United miles in a process I call the Freedom Two Step. So that adds:

  • Freedom
  • Freedom Unlimited

United devalued its award chart in February 2014–is that long enough ago that I can stop mentioning it?–but many great deals remain to spend your easily earned United miles.

  • What is the best strategy to earn United miles?
  • What is the best strategy to redeem United miles?

Earning United Miles

Can You Get the Card/Bonus?

Every card that earns United miles is issued by Chase. Chase limits who can collect the bonuses on credit card offers. The three main rules:

  1. Chase will deny your application if you have five new credit cards opened in the last 24 months. That means the ability to get Chase cards is probably restricted to people who are just entering the miles world.
  2. You have to be approved for the card. For personal cards, that requires a good credit score. For business cards, that requires a good credit score and a business.
  3. Bonuses are only available to new applicants who haven’t gotten the bonus on the same card for at least 24 months. So if you opened the Sapphire Preferred in January 2014, got its bonus in March 2014, and it is now April 2016, you can get its bonus again.

Assuming you can get the card and the bonus, the question becomes what cards to get.

A Rundown of the Cards

I don’t see any value in the United Club cards–because they have no sign up bonuses–unless you have to have United Club membership, which is what the $450 annual fee gets you. Sure the card earns 1.5 United miles per dollar, but you can also get 1.5 United miles per dollar by pairing a Freedom Unlimited with a Sapphire Preferred or Ink Plus.

The United Explorer and Explorer Business cards are an easy 50,000 United miles after spending $2,000 in the first three month, plus 5,000 more miles for adding an authorized user, as long as you are targeted for that offer. This FlyerTalk thread explains how to see if you are. If you are not targeted, the 30,000 miles/$1,000 spending standard offer should be skipped.

The Sapphire Preferred and Ink Plus are the crown jewels.

The Sapphire Preferred is one of the best personal credit cards on the market. It offers:

  • 50,000 bonus Ultimate Rewards after spending $4,000 in the first three months
  • 5,000 bonus Ultimate Rewards for adding an authorized user
  • 2 Ultimate Rewards per dollar on travel and dining purchases
  • 1 Ultimate Reward per dollar on all other purchases
  • no annual fee the first year and $95 thereafter

While I can not directly link to the current Sapphire Preferred offer, you may find it by clicking below if you decide to apply. (I receive a commission, and your support keeps this blog going.)

The Ink Plus is easily the best business card on the market. It offers:

  • 60,000 bonus Ultimate Rewards after spending $5,000 in the first three months
  • 5 Ultimate Rewards per dollar at office supply stores and on cellular phone, landline, internet and cable TV services
  • 2 Ultimate Rewards per dollar at gas stations and hotel accommodations
  • 1 Ultimate Reward per dollar on all other purchases
  • $95 annual fee

While I can not directly link to the current Ink Plus offer, you may find it by clicking below if you decide to apply. (I receive a commission, and your support keeps this blog going.)

The Freedom or Freedom Unlimited pair well with a Sapphire Preferred or Ink Plus. The Freedoms have small sign up bonuses–15,000 Ultimate Rewards after spending $500 in the first three months and 2,500 more for adding an authorized user–but earn points quickly and have no annual fee. The Freedom Unlimited offers 1.5 Ultimate Rewards per dollar on all purchases. The Freedom offers 5 Ultimate Rewards per dollar on categories that rotate quarterly.

The Freedoms’ Ultimate Rewards do NOT transfer to United miles, but they do transfer to your Sapphire Preferred or Ink Plus accounts, and from there to United miles. That’s the Freedom Two Step.

Screen Shot 2016-04-07 at 12.26.46 PM

While I can not directly link to the current Freedom or Freedom Unlimited offer, you may find them by clicking below if you decide to apply. (I receive a commission, and your support keeps this blog going.)

How to Spend 124,000 United Miles

Just getting the Sapphire Preferred and Ink Plus, adding an authorized user to the Sapphire Preferred, and meeting the spending requirements will net you 124,000 Ultimate Rewards, which you can transfer instantly to 124,000 United miles if you’d like.

You can get a lot more United miles from the United Explorer and United Explorer Business Cards plus Freedoms, but let’s just look at spending 124,000 United miles.

Traditional Ways: Flat Bed Business Class to Europe or South America

United charges 57,500 miles one way in United Business Class to Europe or 55,000 miles one way to Australia, Chile, and Brazil. You’d have enough for a roundtrip in a flat bed to those places with a few miles left over.

Business Class to Asia or Australia is a bit pricier, but you could go to either place one way in Business Class and one way in economy.

Add a free one way onto the end of these roundtrip awards to get half of your next trip for zero miles.

Advanced Way: Three One Ways Award

United allows one stopover and two open jaws per roundtrip award. You can combine the stopover, one open jaw, and United’s very generous definition of “roundtrip” to book a Three One Ways Award.

Screen Shot 2015-10-27 at 12.44.55 AM

First Class from the USA to Honolulu (stop as long as you’d like), Business Class to Bangkok (stop as long as you’d like), and First Class to Sydney (stop as long as you’d like) would be 120,000 United miles. You would need a separate award to come home.

Digital Nomad: Obscure Awards that Don’t Touch the USA

In Six Under-Priced Awards on the United Award Chart, I show some insanely cheap awards like Thai First Class from Southeast Asia to Australia/New Zealand for 40,000 United miles one way including the incredible ground experience in Bangkok that features a free hourlong massage.

Unfortunately none of the awards touch the United States, so they are most useful for round-the-world trips and digital nomads.

Bottom Line

United miles are easy to get and present amazing redemption options.

While I can not directly link to the current Sapphire Preferred offer, you may find it by clicking below if you decide to apply. (I receive a commission, and your support keeps this blog going.)

While I can not directly link to the current Ink Plus offer, you may find it by clicking below if you decide to apply. (I receive a commission, and your support keeps this blog going.)

 

While I can not directly link to the current Freedom or Freedom Unlimited offer, you may find them by clicking below if you decide to apply. (I receive a commission, and your support keeps this blog going.)

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Editorial Disclaimer: The editorial content is not provided or commissioned by the credit card issuers. Opinions expressed here are author’s alone, not those of the credit card issuers, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the credit card issuers.

If you liked this post, sign up to receive one free daily email every morning with all of the day’s posts! You can also follow MileValue on Twitter and Facebook.

Earn 50,000 bonus points (worth $800 in American Airlines flights) after spending $3,000 in the first three months on the Citi Prestige® Card. Plus get a $250 Air Travel Credit each calendar year, free airport lounge access worldwide, and your fourth night free on hotel stays. Why I got the card.

57

Update: I used this trick successfully. Here was my experience.

As I led a session at the Chicago Seminars this weekend on “Special Awards,” someone chimed in with an intriguing tip:

There is a simple method to avoid the $75 “close in ticketing fee” on United awards that is triggered when you try to book a ticket within 21 days of departure.

Screen Shot 2014-10-21 at 8.03.21 AM

I tested out the proposed method yesterday, and I have some input on how it works. (The trick does work!)

  • How can you save $75 per ticket on your next last minute United award?
  • What number do you need to call?

Facts

  • “Booking a MileagePlus award ticket through any channel, less than 21 days before departure” incurs a fee of $75 per ticket. This fee is reduced or waived depending on your status.
  • You can make free changes or cancellations of your United award within 24 hours of ticketing by phone or online. This is designed as a safety valve if you make a mistake in the initial ticketing, but you can use the free changes and cancellations however you’d like.

The Proposed Trick

If you want to book a United award within 21 days of departure, book the same flight for 1+ months in the future, then immediately call in to change it to within 21 days of departure. No close in ticketing fee will be charged.

My Test

I tested out the trick with a simple one way award from Kona to Honolulu on Hawaiian Airlines. The award normally costs 6,000 United miles + $5.60. Note that there is nothing special that made me choose this award except that it is the cheapest award on the United chart. If this test succeeds, all other awards should be the same.

Screen Shot 2014-10-20 at 9.24.26 AM

Within 21 days of departure, this award costs 6,000 United miles + $80.60 because of the $75 close in ticketing fee.

Screen Shot 2014-10-20 at 9.22.12 AM

I decided to book the ticket for March 31, 2015 for 6,000 miles + $5.60 and to try to change in to October 31, 2014 without paying the close in ticketing fee. I booked March 31 online in just a few seconds.

Screen Shot 2014-10-20 at 9.26.32 AMScreen Shot 2014-10-20 at 9.28.27 AM

Then I called the number for United web support. They can make award changes, I rarely have to wait on hold, and the Houston-based agents are good. In this case, too good.

I told the agent I wanted to change an award and gave her the confirmation number. I gave her the flight information for the October 31 flight, and she quickly made the change. She told me that since I was changing to a flight within 21 days of departure, there would be a $75 close in ticketing fee! Failure!

I thanked her and told her I would prefer to just keep my original itinerary before disconnecting.

From my knowledge of changing United awards, I suspected that agents have to remember to collect this fee on changes. I suspected calling a less competent agent might get me around the fee.

I called United back at its general 800-UNITED-1 number. I asked the next agent to change me to the same October 31 flight.

First she said that there was no award space even though there is award space on over a dozen Kona-to-Honolulu flights on October 31. This was a great sign; she seemed incompetent! I asked her to look again since I could see the space online.

Eventually she found the space and made the change. She noted that I had booked my award within the last 24 hours, so changes were free. She never mentioned any additional $75 charge. Success!

Inside my United account, my ticket had been updated to the October 31 flight.

Screen Shot 2014-10-20 at 10.52.29 PM

United agents won’t charge you an additional fee without getting your credit card info again or at least confirming which stored credit card you want to charge, but just to double check that no $75 charge had been snuck onto my credit card, I signed into my credit card account.

A pending charge for $5.60 in taxes on the award was present, but no $75 charge was present.

Screen Shot 2014-10-21 at 8.33.37 AM

Aftermath

I went into my online account and cancelled the award altogether to get my 6,000 United miles and $5.60 back. The $5.60 will post back to my credit card within a week or two. The miles re-posted to my account instantly.

Screen Shot 2014-10-20 at 10.53.02 PM Bottom Line on the Trick

The trick to avoiding the $75 close in ticketing fee on United awards–booking farther out and changing it close in within 24 hours of booking–works. I wish I had gotten the name of the person who gave everyone the tip.

The trick works because phone agents have to remember to charge you the $75 close in ticketing fee, and only well trained agents will remember to do that. If your agent remembers, thank her for her time, and tell her you have decided not to make the change. I think very few agents at the 800-UNITED-1 number will remember to charge you the $75.

If you liked this post, you will also like:

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Editorial Disclaimer: The editorial content is not provided or commissioned by the credit card issuers. Opinions expressed here are author’s alone, not those of the credit card issuers, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the credit card issuers.

If you liked this post, sign up to receive one free daily email every morning with all of the day’s posts! You can also follow MileValue on Twitter and Facebook.

Earn 50,000 bonus points (worth $800 in American Airlines flights) after spending $3,000 in the first three months on the Citi Prestige® Card. Plus get a $250 Air Travel Credit each calendar year, free airport lounge access worldwide, and your fourth night free on hotel stays. Why I got the card.

107

It is cheaper to book the exact same United flights to Hawaii with Singapore KrisFlyer miles than with United miles.

  • United charges 22,500 miles each way in economy and 40,000 miles in First Class between the mainland and Hawaii
  • Singapore charges 17,500 miles each way in economy and 30,000 miles each way in First Class between the mainland and Hawaii

That’s a humongous difference. Instead of costing 90,000 United miles to get two people from your home airport to Hawaii and back, you could pay 70,000 Singapore miles. Instead of paying 160,000 United miles for two roundtrip First Class tickets, you could pay 120,000 Singapore miles–even occasionally for flat beds!

To reiterate, these are the exact same flights with vastly different prices depending on which miles you use. Singapore has access to all the same Saver award space United releases to people with United miles (except for some space set aside only for United elites and credit card holders.)

For a very similar example, look at this post about booking Delta flights to Hawaii with Korean, not Delta miles.

What’s the catch? For bookings to Hawaii, there really isn’t one.

  • Singapore awards cost fewer miles than United awards
  • Singapore awards are way cheaper to change or cancel than United awards if your plans change
  • Singapore awards do not have a fee for booking within three weeks of departure like United awards do (though here is how to get out of that fee on United awards)
  • Singapore awards of United flights do not have fuel surcharges, so both types of awards will just have identical taxes of around $11 roundtrip.
  • Singapore miles are easier to get than United miles, and even share a key transfer partner.

Getting Singapore Miles

Singapore miles are a partner of the four major transferable points program:

  1. Chase Ultimate Rewards, 1:1
  2. Citi ThankYou Points, 1:1
  3. American Express Membership Rewards, 1:1
  4. SPG Starpoints, 1:1 with a bonus. Every 20,000 Starpoints transferred earns a 5,000 mile bonus, so the ideal transfers are in exact increments of 20,000 Starpoints to 25,000 Singapore miles.

Right now, I carry the two best cards to earn Singapore miles:

To compare this to earning United miles, United has its own co-branded personal and business cards plus is a 1:1 transfer partner of Ultimate Rewards but not any of the other three transferable points programs.

Searching for Award Space, Transferring Miles, and Booking the Awards

You will have to search for award space on the United flights on united.com; then you will call Singapore Airlines at 213-404-0301 to book the awards.

Here’s how to search united.com. Make sure that you do NOT sign into united.com when searching for award space that you plan to book with another type of miles because signing in can cause award space set aside for elites or credit card holders to appear, and that space is not bookable with other types of miles like Singapore miles.

How to Interpret the Calendar

The first thing you’ll notice when you search for award space to Hawaii on united.com is that it’s widely available for much of the year. Here’s a calendar from Houston to Honolulu. Yellow days have Saver economy award space; blue days have Saver First Class space; green days have Saver space in both cabins. Singapore miles can book all the Saver space that is depicted on these calendars.

Screen Shot 2016-04-14 at 2.08.25 PM

How to Interpret the Itineraries

Once you select a date, the itineraries will be displayed from fewest miles in economy to most miles in economy. Most results will have three columns of award space. You can ignore the First Standard Award column. Singapore miles cannot book that space.
Screen Shot 2016-04-14 at 2.08.52 PM

We’re looking for award space in the Economy column that says “Saver Award 22.5k” and award space in the First Saver column. Singapore miles can book all such space.

For instance, Singapore miles can book this itinerary in economy and First Class because the economy column says “Saver Award 22.5k” and because there is space in the second column (First Saver.)

Screen Shot 2016-04-14 at 2.10.31 PMSingapore miles cannot book this award space because the economy column doesn’t say “Saver Award 22.5k.”

Screen Shot 2016-04-14 at 2.09.03 PM

Two vs. Three Cabin First Class

The vast majority of United’s domestic flights have two cabins that are sold as Economy and First. Internationally, United’s two cabin flights are sold as Economy and BusinessFirst. Whenever United operates a two-cabin plane, the premium cabin’s awards are priced at the Business Class award price by United and by Singapore. And in fact, you should call the award space “Business Class” when talking with a Singapore agent.

Extremely rarely, you will encounter a plane on a domestic route with three cabins: Economy, Business, and First. Whenever any itinerary is available with any flight with three cabins, the three columns you’re used to seeing on the search results turn into five columns.

United charges 50,000 miles if any of the segments is in First Class on a three cabin plane. Singapore would charge 40,000 miles. But again, these flights are rare, and you can get flat beds in two cabin planes for 30,000 Singapore miles.

Screen Shot 2015-03-22 at 8.05.53 PM

Flat Beds

Both Business and First Class on three cabin planes have flat beds.

On two cabin planes, you can occasionally find flat beds in First Class. To find out if your plane has flat beds, click View Seats on the itinerary. Regular seats look like squares with rounded edges.
Screen Shot 2015-03-22 at 8.01.21 PM

Beds look like little beds.Screen Shot 2015-03-22 at 8.02.26 PM

Some 777-200s feature flat beds, and all 767-400ERs feature flat beds. Flights from Newark and Washington-Dulles to Honolulu all feature flat beds, and some San Francisco and Houston flights feature flat beds.

Mixed Cabin Awards

Many awards on united.com in the premium cabin columns say “Mixed cabin?”

Screen Shot 2016-04-14 at 2.09.13 PM

Holding your cursor over “Mixed cabin” launches a pop up that says which cabin is available on each flight.
Screen Shot 2016-04-14 at 2.09.19 PM

You always have to pay the full price of the premium cabin award even though part of the award is an inferior cabin.

Singapore Airlines also lets you book mixed cabin awards for the full Business Class price.

In April, I booked myself a mixed cabin award to Hawaii because my first flight was about 2 hours in economy, and the next was 8.5 hours in a flat bed. That seemed worth paying 30,000 Singapore miles.

Transferring Miles

Transfers from Ultimate Rewards, Membership Rewards, and Citi ThankYou Points to Singapore miles all take about 19-48 hours. My most recent transfer in July, 2015 from Citi ThankYou Points to Singapore miles were in my Singapore account when I checked 19 hours after the transfer. SPG transfers take at least as long as the other three.

Once I find award space, I initiate the transfer.

Award space changes all the time, so in a worst case scenario, your award space could disappear before your miles posted. If you can’t handle this outcome, transfer Ultimate Rewards to United miles instantly instead, and pay the extra miles.

I can handle the small chance that my award space will disappear. Maybe it will reappear later. If not, I can always use Singapore miles in the future for a different high value award.

How to Book Singapore Awards

Once your miles post, you have to call Singapore Airlines to book the award. Call 213-404-0301 and be ready with your Singapore Airlines KrisFlyer account number and six digit PIN.

Feed the agent the date, flight number, and cabin of each flight you want.

For cabin, call United First Class on its two cabin planes “Business Class” because that is what the agent needs to search for.

The agent will charge you taxes denominated in Singapore dollars. If you convert that price to US dollars, it should be about $5.60 per person per direction, the standard taxes on domestic awards.

Within a few minutes, you should get an email from Singapore Airlines with an attachment like this.

Screen Shot 2015-03-23 at 3.13.16 AM

Picking Seats

To pick your seats and confirm that your reservation was ticketed correctly, head to united.com and input the Singapore Airlines confirmation number on the home page where it says “My trips.” The Singapore Airlines confirmation number is the six letter/number code listed on your email attachment next to “Booking Reference.”

Screen Shot 2016-04-14 at 2.42.41 PM

United.com will recognize the Singapore Airlines confirmation number. You can select your seats and note your United confirmation number, which will be a different six letter/number code. You can also permanently add this reservation to your united.com account, which will be convenient for checking in without having to search for it again. To do that, click “Add to Account” from the tiny links above “United Confirmation Number.” That option isn’t available in the screen shot below because I clicked it a few days ago.

Screen Shot 2015-07-31 at 2.04.58 PM

Other Benefits of Singapore Airlines Awards Over United Awards

  1. United charges $75 to book an award within 21 days of departure. Singapore charges no fee for such bookings.
  2. United charges $200 to cancel an award booking and get your miles back. Singapore charges $30.
  3. United charges $75 to $100 to change an award booking. Singapore charges $20.

My Experience Booking United to Hawaii with Singapore Miles

April 2015

In April 2015, I found out that my mainland plans had fallen through, so I could start my trip to Hawaii a few days later. Booking so late in the game is no problem because United offers excellent last minute award space to Hawaii.

I needed to book an award from Atlanta to Honolulu, so I searched united.com and found a mixed-cabin award with Atlanta to Houston in economy and Houston to Honolulu in a flat bed in United First Class on a two cabin plane.

A short hop in the back before a long flight in a bed
A short hop in the back before a long flight in a bed

The award would have cost 40,000 United miles and $80.60 to book including United’s $75 fee for booking within 21 days of departure. I noted the flight number, dates, and cabins plus my KrisFlyer number and PIN.

I already had 30,000 Singapore miles in my account because I transferred Citi ThankYou points and Chase Ultimate Rewards weeks earlier in anticipation of booking an award to Hawaii in First Class when I knew what date I wanted to fly.

I called Singapore Airlines and fed the agent the information and called the First Class cabin on my United flight “Business Class.”

He priced the award at 30,000 Singapore KrisFlyer miles + 7.8 Singapore dollars ($5.66.) I booked the ticket with my Citi ThankYou® Premier Card because it has no foreign transaction fees and earns 3x points for airfare purchases and got an email confirmation a few minutes later. I input the Singapore confirmation code into the United app on my phone and selected my seat and bed.

July 2015

I had to book myself a one way award from Houston to Honolulu.

From Houston to Honolulu, there is usually a lot of First Class award space if you connect in Los Angeles or San Francisco and a lot of economy space on the direct flight. If you want First Class on the direct flight, which some days features flat beds, you normally have to book within a few days or weeks of departure.

But I got super lucky!

When I searched for award space, the monthly calendar of the direct flight looked like this. There was literally one day with First Class award space, and it was the exact date I wanted to fly.

Screen Shot 2015-07-29 at 2.08.23 PM

I transferred my 30,000 ThankYou Points to Singapore miles, and they posted within 19 hours. Within 20 hours, I had ticketed the award for 30,000 Singapore miles + $6.

Bottom Line

Use Singapore miles instead of United miles to book economy and First Class awards to Hawaii on United flights. You’ll pay fewer miles, lower fees, and be able to book the exact same seats. Plus Singapore miles are so easy to get as a transfer partner of pretty much everyone.

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Editorial Disclaimer: The editorial content is not provided or commissioned by the credit card issuers. Opinions expressed here are author’s alone, not those of the credit card issuers, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the credit card issuers.

If you liked this post, sign up to receive one free daily email every morning with all of the day’s posts! You can also follow MileValue on Twitter and Facebook.

Earn 50,000 bonus points (worth $800 in American Airlines flights) after spending $3,000 in the first three months on the Citi Prestige® Card. Plus get a $250 Air Travel Credit each calendar year, free airport lounge access worldwide, and your fourth night free on hotel stays. Why I got the card.

21

Update 4/13/16: Expert Mode was down for weeks, but now it is up and working again. Enjoy!

United has a setting you can activate called Expert Mode that allows you to see how many seats are in each fare bucket on a given flight.

I mentioned it first in “Booking Two Tickets on the Same United Flight” and I got some questions in the comments about what Expert Mode is, how to use it, and why you’d want to use it.

What is a fare bucket?

Every ticket you book with cash or miles has every segment come out of a fare bucket or fare class.

The fare bucket is a one or two letter code that represents what cabin you’re in, whether you got the seat with cash or miles, and how much you paid.

Everyone walking through this door has a ticket that booked into one fare bucket

Airlines are willing to book a certain number of tickets in each fare bucket. If the Saver economy award fare bucket has zero seats, you can’t book a Saver economy award on the flight, but if it has six seats, you can book up to six Saver economy award tickets.

Knowing how many seats are in each bucket will let you know whether you can expect an upgrade, whether you can book an award, and whether elites have better award access on a certain flight.

  • How can you enable Expert Mode on united.com?
  • How can you use Expert Mode on united.com in award bookings and to secure upgrades?

Turning on Expert Mode

To enable Expert Mode in your United account, click this link and sign into your united.com account.

You’re on the Search Preference page, and you can turn on Expert Mode by checking a box saying you “acknowledge these considerations”…

Screen Shot 2014-08-12 at 9.16.22 PM

…and then clicking Save at the bottom of the page.

Screen Shot 2014-08-12 at 9.16.39 PM

Now any time you are signed into your united.com account and do a flight search, you can use the tools of Expert Mode.

Using Expert Mode

To use Expert Mode, do a standard flight search on united.com, selecting “Search for award travel.”

Screen Shot 2016-02-03 at 12.20.08 PM

On any search result, click Details.

Screen Shot 2016-02-03 at 12.19.17 PMEach entry next to “Available fare classes” is a fare bucket and the number of seats available in that bucket.
Screen Shot 2016-02-03 at 12.19.31 PMIt’s not just United flights that show fare buckets; even partner flights like Avianca, Swiss, and ANA show their fare buckets.Screen Shot 2016-02-03 at 12.23.18 PM Screen Shot 2016-02-03 at 12.23.58 PM Screen Shot 2016-02-03 at 12.24.34 PM

In fact, the only partner whose fare buckets showed up incorrectly for me was Copa. All fare classes showed as having zero seats.Screen Shot 2016-02-03 at 12.22.44 PM

Key Fare Buckets for Awards & Upgrade

Remember that Saver award space is the cheaper award space that we try to book. Standard award space is the (approximately) double priced award space we try to avoid booking.

Saver Award Space
  • O: Saver award space in international three-cabin first class
  • I: Saver award space in international three-cabin business class or domestic two-cabin first or business class
  • X: Saver award space in economy

Extra Saver Space for Elites

  • IN: Extra Saver award space in international three-cabin business class or domestic two-cabin first or business class. Available only to Platinum elites and higher.
  • XN: Extra Saver award space in economy. Available to all elites and United credit card holders.

Standard

  • FN: Standard award space in international three-cabin first class
  • ZN: Standard award space in international three-cabin business class or domestic two-cabin first or business class
  • HN: Standard award space in economy

Extra Standard Award Space for Elites

  • JN: Extra Standard award space in international three-cabin business class or domestic two-cabin first or business class. Available to all elites and United credit card holders.
  • YN: Extra Standard award space in economy. Available to all elites and United credit card holders.

Upgrades

  • R: economy to the next highest cabin

In this screen shot–for a Washington to Frankfurt flight–we can see that the flight has no zero space in the O bucket (First Class.)

Screen Shot 2016-02-03 at 12.19.17 PM

The flight has zero Saver award seats in Business Class (I). There are 9+ Saver award seats in economy (X) and the same number listed for elites and credit card holders (XN).

There are four Standard First Class awards (FN) and nine Standard Business Class awards (ZN).

When to Use Expert Mode

Using Expert Mode quickly tells you exactly how many seats are available for awards and upgrades in every cabin at the Saver and Standard level.

That information would be slower to gather from awards searches as you’d have to change the number of passengers manually and repeat your search many times to figure out this info for a single flight.

If you’re thinking of buying a ticket with the plan to use an upgrade, Expert Mode lets you know which flights have confirmable upgrade space.

If you want to know whether getting the United credit card will open up extra economy Saver award space on a route you’re eying, Expert Mode will show you how much extra space is hiding in the XN bucket.

If you want to see exactly how many Saver award seats are available in each cabin on a flight without having to manually change the number of passengers on your award search over and over, Expert Mode will save you a few clicks.

------------------------------------------------------------

Editorial Disclaimer: The editorial content is not provided or commissioned by the credit card issuers. Opinions expressed here are author’s alone, not those of the credit card issuers, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the credit card issuers.

If you liked this post, sign up to receive one free daily email every morning with all of the day’s posts! You can also follow MileValue on Twitter and Facebook.

Earn 50,000 bonus points (worth $800 in American Airlines flights) after spending $3,000 in the first three months on the Citi Prestige® Card. Plus get a $250 Air Travel Credit each calendar year, free airport lounge access worldwide, and your fourth night free on hotel stays. Why I got the card.

0

United.com is the fastest way to search most Star Alliance award space. I frequently use the search engine even if I’m using another type of Star Alliance miles.

I often use the site’s calendar to search two months of award space at a time on a single route. Sometimes I’ll check “Nonstop only” if I am searching segment-by-segment, and sometimes I’ll check “United flights only” if I am using United miles (because United charges fewer miles for its own flights) or even partner miles (because some partners don’t collect fuel surcharges on United flights while collecting them on other partners.)

Yesterday I uncovered a problem with searching for United flights only.

How to Do an Advanced Search on United.com

On united.com, click Nonstop if you want the search results calendar to display nonstop flights only.

If you want to see only United flights, click “All search options” in the bottom left corner of the search box on United’s homepage….

Screen Shot 2016-04-04 at 8.06.57 PM

…where you will be directed to an advanced search page. In the locations and dates section, clicking My search preferences triggers a drop down menu. Clicking “United and United Express® only” puts a filter on the search that should leave out any partner flights.

Screen Shot 2016-04-04 at 8.10.47 PMRight now the “nonstop” filter is working but not the United-only filter.

Examples of the United-Only Filter Glitch

Yesterday I discovered a malfunction in the United-only filter when running some searches for United award space to Europe. Putting the United-only filter on my searches was yielding calendars that reflected results with partner flights as well.

I know this because the list of flights available for the specific day searched, listed underneath the calendar, were not showing the Saver space that was reflected in the calendar’s color coding (green = Saver Economy and Saver premium cabins available, blue = Saver premium cabin available). The United-only filtered calendars were matching the non-filtered searches, which should not be the case. Simple logic tells us there should be fewer United flights available than United and Partner flights available.

This means you’ll need to search day-by-day to check if the Saver space you want is actually available on United metal until a software tester at United figures out the bug.

Below are search results on different routes that illustrate and prove what I’m talking about.

This calendar shows the standard search results for two people from New York City to Frankfurt, with space on United flights as well as partners:

United only filter

This calendar shows the search results for two people from New York City to Frankfurt, filtered for only United flights (not partners):

United only filter

Despite my request for the second calendar to filter any partner flights and only leave United flights, it is the same as the first. The flights available for May 1 (the day selected on the calendar here) displayed under this calendar did not show any Saver space available in Business or First Class which is what the green color is supposed to symbolize.

To further prove my point, here is the same search query from New York to Frankfurt, filtered to show only nonstop flights (United and partner flights):

Non-stop filter

And here it is again, but filtered for Nonstop and United flights only:

Non-stop filterThe calendars are the same. And the flights available for May 1 (the day selected on the calendar here) displayed under the calendar did not show any Saver space available in Business or First Class, which contradicts the green shading.

Don’t Believe Me Yet?

Here are two other routes that exemplify the same problem.

These calendars are for two passengers traveling from Houston to Paris, unfiltered, showing all United and partner flights.

no filter iah to par

The calendars for the same route during the same two months, but filtered to only show United flights and not any partners, are exactly the same.  Flights listed underneath were not reflective of this Saver space.

no filter iah to par

These calendars are for two passengers traveling from Washington, D.C. to London, unfiltered, showing all United and partner flights.

no filter IAD to LON

The calendars for the same route during the same two months, but filtered to only show United flights and not any partners, are exactly the same.  Flights listed underneath were not reflective of this Saver space.

no filter IAD to LON

Nonstop Filter Only Half Working

I also noticed another small malfunction, although this one isn’t nearly as annoying as the United-only filter glitch as there are two simple ways to work around it.

The Nonstop box in the search tool on United’s home page and the “New Show only nonstop flight availability” check box on the search results page don’t fully work.

Screen Shot 2016-04-05 at 11.45.07 AM

Checking either will update availability on the calendar (i.e. the colors change) but the actual flights available listed under the calendar don’t update.

Screen Shot 2016-04-05 at 11.45.17 AM

I mainly care about the calendar, and “nonstop only” does correctly display on the calendar, so this really isn’t a huge deal. If it bothers you though…

The Work Arounds

You have to either:

  • Un-check the 2+ and 1 stop boxes on the advanced search page, making sure only the Nonstop box is checked or
  • Un-check the 1 stop box on the left hand side of search results page. This will update the flights listed under the calendar.

Bottom Line

United.com‘s search tool is buggy at the moment, so if you’re trying to find United flights to book with United miles and would like to see more than a day’s availability at a time, you’ll need to pay for it on a site like Award Nexus– read more here about how to use it. I will keep an eye on the situation and let you know when it appears that the bug has been resolved. Likewise, let us know in the comments if you see any progress.

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Editorial Disclaimer: The editorial content is not provided or commissioned by the credit card issuers. Opinions expressed here are author’s alone, not those of the credit card issuers, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the credit card issuers.

If you liked this post, sign up to receive one free daily email every morning with all of the day’s posts! You can also follow MileValue on Twitter and Facebook.

Earn 50,000 bonus points (worth $800 in American Airlines flights) after spending $3,000 in the first three months on the Citi Prestige® Card. Plus get a $250 Air Travel Credit each calendar year, free airport lounge access worldwide, and your fourth night free on hotel stays. Why I got the card.

Which airlines has the best miles and frequent flyer program? United, American, and Delta are the big three legacy carriers that most directly compete with each other in the United States. For that reason, I publish charts that compare their award prices.

I have updated my charts to show the prices that United, Delta, and American Airlines will charge for awards flown October 1, 2016 and November 1, 2016 or later. For travel through September 30, 2016, Delta’s different award prices can be found here.

Economy

All charts compare the cheapest possible award you can book with the airlines, called Saver, MileSAAver, or Level 1. All charts show the price in thousands of miles.

The economy chart has an extra column because American Airlines has off peak dates for economy awards that are cheaper than their normal MileSAAver awards. The asterisk next to the Europe off peak award is because, it is the only off peak award bookable on American Airlines partners. All other off peak awards must fly American Airlines planes only.

The slashes in the American column show the price for flying on American (cheaper) and partners (more expensive.)

Screen Shot 2016-03-02 at 7.06.12 PM

American’s devAAluation has put its economy award prices roughly in line with Delta’s and United’s.

Delta’s October Devaluation for Business Class came with some economy reductions. Delta now has some of the cheapest economy awards.

The biggest steals I see are American Airlines off peak awards to Central America and Hong Kong.

Business Class

The slashes in the United and American columns show the prices for flying that airline (cheaper) and partners (more expensive) except the slashes in the American cells for flights within the United States and Canada show the price for flying First Class on a two cabin plane (cheaper) and Business Class on a three cabin plane (more expensive.) The slashes in the Delta column show the price for flying First Class (cheaper) and flat bed Business Class (more expensive.)

Screen Shot 2016-03-02 at 6.47.30 PM

Again American’s changes put it right in line with its competitors briefly until Delta’s changes made American Airlines awards look cheap by comparison again. American miles are still cheaper to Northern South America, Japan, and Korea.

First

Delta doesn’t have a column because Delta miles cannot be used to book three-cabin First Class. To book SkyTeam First Class, transfer Ultimate Rewards or Starpoints to Korean miles. Slashes show the price of flying that airline (cheaper) and the price of flying a partner (more expensive.)
Screen Shot 2015-11-18 at 2.16.13 PM

It is almost always cheaper to use American Airlines miles to fly one of its awesome partners’ First Classes than it is to use United miles to fly one of its partners’ First Classes, but both charts are terrible. The only possible value I see is paying 80,000 American Airlines miles to fly JAL’s very awesome First Class to Japan or Korea.

Bottom Line

Of course we all thought that American Airlines would devalue its charts roughly in line with United’s and Delta’s, but I didn’t realize how closely American had copied its competitors until putting this post together and seeing that the airlines have nearly the same prices on all awards originating in the continental United States.

Delta’s changes for travel October 1 or later are welcome for economy travel but terrible for Business Class travel.

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Editorial Disclaimer: The editorial content is not provided or commissioned by the credit card issuers. Opinions expressed here are author’s alone, not those of the credit card issuers, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the credit card issuers.

If you liked this post, sign up to receive one free daily email every morning with all of the day’s posts! You can also follow MileValue on Twitter and Facebook.

Earn 50,000 bonus points (worth $800 in American Airlines flights) after spending $3,000 in the first three months on the Citi Prestige® Card. Plus get a $250 Air Travel Credit each calendar year, free airport lounge access worldwide, and your fourth night free on hotel stays. Why I got the card.

24

On roundtrip United awards, you get one free stopover in addition to your destination and up to two open jaws. I’ve given a few examples of how permissive United is in allowing us to combine these rules (1, 2, and 3).

I want to give a lot more examples and a clear structure of how and why to book what I’ll call “Three One Ways Awards.”

What are United Three One Ways Awards?

Imagine a roundtrip United award with a stopover.

  • New York to Frankfurt (stopover)
  • Frankfurt to Delhi (destination)
  • Delhi to New York

This is legal, and a little bit interesting. You get to see Europe for zero extra miles on your award to India. Now imagine that there is an open jaw between the origin (New York) and the final destination.

  • New York to Frankfurt
  • Frankfurt to Delhi
  • Delhi to Los Angeles

This is legal and a little more interesting, but you probably either live in New York or Los Angeles, so there’s little practical benefit.

Now imagine that you keep this structure of a stopover and an open jaw, but throw the idea of flying anything like a roundtrip out the window.

  • New York to Frankfurt
  • Frankfurt to Delhi
  • Delhi to Bangkok

Amazingly this too is legal. And it’s very interesting because it can be part of a New Yorker’s round-the-world or other very BIG trip. This map should make it clear why I call this a Three One Ways Award.

Screen Shot 2015-10-27 at 12.48.49 AM

The trick is that we book it as a single United “roundtrip” award and not as three one ways. Why?

Well in this example, if you booked all three segments as one way awards, you would pay 90,000 United miles in economy:

  • New York to Frankfurt (30,000)
  • Frankfurt to Delhi (25,000)
  • Delhi to Bangkok (35,000)

If you book the one ways as a single “roundtrip,” you pay 77,500 United miles.

Screen Shot 2015-10-27 at 12.48.42 AM

  • New York to Frankfurt to Delhi (42,500 with free stopover)
  • Delhi to Bangkok (35,000)

And we can find even bigger discounts and sweeter spots on the United chart.

How to Book a Three One Ways Award

You book Three One Ways Awards on united.com’s advanced search page by selecting “Yes” and “Multi-city” for the second and third questions.

Screen Shot 2015-10-27 at 7.06.55 PM

You may want to select three suitable one ways by using the United award chart . A United Three One Ways Award will touch up to four regions on the chart. Of those four regions, you are specifically looking for three regions such that a one way between A and C is way cheaper than A to B plus B to C.

For instance:

  • A = Japan
  • B = Australia/New Zealand
  • C = Oceania

A to B is 22,500 miles. B to C is 22,500 miles. So A to B plus B to C is 45,000 miles. A to C is only 12,500 miles, so getting a free stopover in B as part of a Three One Ways Award would be a huge savings.

Unfortunately you don’t decide on a Three One Ways Award what is the destination and what is the stopover. I tried to book Seoul to Tokyo to Auckland to the Cook Islands to take advantage of the huge discount I just mentioned between Japan and Oceania.

If I could choose the stopover, I’d make it Auckland and have the destination be Tokyo. Then the award would be 27,500 miles (Seoul to Tokyo is 15,000 and Tokyo to Cook Islands is 12,500.)copy

Unfortunately United’s computer made Auckland the destination and Tokyo the stopover. That made the award 42,500 miles (Seoul to Auckland is 20,000 and Auckland to Cook Islands is 22,500.)

Screen Shot 2015-10-28 at 2.45.11 AM

Screen Shot 2015-10-27 at 8.06.28 PM

United open jaws can only be at the destination or origin, so I tried to force the destination to be in Japan by changing the award to:

  • Seoul to Fukuoka (open jaw in Japan to force it to be the destination)
  • Tokyo to Auckland
  • Auckland to Cook Islands

Screen Shot 2015-10-28 at 2.52.06 AM

Unfortunately I got an error online. I need to call in to attempt to book this award. When I call in, I’ll either be told the award is illegal or costs 27,500 miles I believe.
Screen Shot 2015-10-27 at 8.07.23 PM

Weird Prices During Booking

The final miles price of the entire roundtrip award will always make sense as the sum of two one way awards, but while booking, some funny award prices will show up. Like this part of the award pricing at 21.3k miles or another time I saw awards listed for 0 miles.

Screen Shot 2015-10-27 at 12.46.49 AM

Those are caused by United arbitrarily assigning a portion of a one way award price to the parts before and after the stopover. The above screenshot is taken from the New York to Frankfurt to Delhi to Bangkok example. The 21.3k miles represents 21,250 or half of the 42,500 mile price from the United States to India.

The Rest of Your Trip

Three One Way Awards should be part of a bigger, perhaps round-the-world, trip. You can fly the three one ways to your home airport, from your home airport, or somewhere in the middle.

These awards should be combined with other sweet spot awards that I’ve compiled in this post.

Examples

Los Angeles to Honolulu to Bangkok to Sydney

United’s computer sees this as Los Angeles to Bangkok (stopover in Honolulu) with a return of Bangkok to Sydney. It is 17,500 miles cheaper to book all of this as a roundtrip award in economy than as three separate awards.

Screen Shot 2015-10-27 at 12.44.55 AM

Since the award breaks in Bangkok, that means you can take advantage of the way-too-cheap United awards from Southeast Asia to Australia: Thai First Class for 40,000 miles.

Screen Shot 2015-10-27 at 12.43.49 AM

Economy for the first two thirds and First Class to Australia is 80,000 miles total.Screen Shot 2015-10-27 at 12.44.21 AMNew York to Munich to Kigali to Sao Paulo

In economy, this would be 90,000 United miles as three one ways or 70,000 miles as a Three One Ways Award.

Screen Shot 2015-10-27 at 10.44.20 AM

Because Africa to South America is such a steal in Business Class (45k miles one way), I decided to book that leg in Business Class.

Screen Shot 2015-10-27 at 10.45.22 AM The first two thirds of the trip in economy and the last third in Business Class is just 85,000 United miles. Booking as one award saves 20,000 miles.Screen Shot 2015-10-27 at 10.45.42 AM Houston to Panama City to Lima to Buenos Aires

Just booking Houston to Buenos Aires is 30,000 miles in economy. Booking each leg individually would be 47,500 miles. Book all this as a Three One Ways Award for 37,500 miles.

Screen Shot 2015-10-27 at 10.47.26 AM

United considers the destination on this award to be Panama City.Screen Shot 2015-10-27 at 10.48.49 AM It’s a little more expensive if you get United to consider the destination to be Peru, which you can do by adding an open jaw there.Screen Shot 2015-10-27 at 10.51.39 AM The price jumps to 40,000 miles if the destination is Cuzco.
Screen Shot 2015-10-27 at 10.51.49 AM

Failed Online Attempts

Sometimes throwing an open jaw into the award in an attempt to pick the destination caused an error that looked like this.
Screen Shot 2015-10-27 at 10.55.36 AM I failed to book Los Angeles to Guam, Tokyo to Auckland to Fiji online.

Screen Shot 2015-10-27 at 10.55.56 AM
I also failed to book New York to Munich to Zurich, Brussels to Kigali online.

Screen Shot 2015-10-27 at 10.41.56 AM

I think these awards would be bookable by phone. More research is needed.

Bottom Line

You can use the free stopover on roundtrip United awards as intended for an en route stopover, to set up a free one way, or as part of a Three One Ways Award.

The Three One Ways Award is a useful way to string together three one ways onto a single award for massive miles savings.

Post some great Three One Way Award opportunities in the comments. Make sure to include:

  1. The cities involved
  2. How many miles total in the cabin you’d want to fly
  3. How many miles you’d save over booking three awards
  4. Whether your dummy booking on united.com was successful
  5. What united.com chose as the destination and the stopover
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Editorial Disclaimer: The editorial content is not provided or commissioned by the credit card issuers. Opinions expressed here are author’s alone, not those of the credit card issuers, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the credit card issuers.

If you liked this post, sign up to receive one free daily email every morning with all of the day’s posts! You can also follow MileValue on Twitter and Facebook.

Earn 50,000 bonus points (worth $800 in American Airlines flights) after spending $3,000 in the first three months on the Citi Prestige® Card. Plus get a $250 Air Travel Credit each calendar year, free airport lounge access worldwide, and your fourth night free on hotel stays. Why I got the card.

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Get 1,000 United miles just for signing up for MileagePlus dining. Get another 500 miles per qualifying restaurant visit in the next two months up to an additional 2,500 bonus miles.

Screen Shot 2016-03-09 at 4.17.23 PM

These aren’t huge miles, but they are easy to get, since signing up will just take a few minutes and is free. The additional 500 miles per restaurant visit are worth about $7.50 each to me, so don’t go too far out of your way to get them.

Sign up here.

Other than bonuses, the best use of dining programs is to cheaply keep miles active, so they don’t expire.

Full terms and conditions are below. The only important one is that you have to opt into emails and remain opted in until the miles post in a few months:

This bonus offer is open to all new MileagePlus DiningSM members without a dining profile. To qualify, you must create a dining profile by April 10, 2016, including creating a web login, and remain opted in to receive emails from MileagePlus Dining with a valid, deliverable email address. You must also continue to satisfy other Online/VIP level criteria to earn this bonus.

Upon creating your dining profile, you will earn 500 bonus award miles. Plus you will earn an additional 500 bonus miles, for a total of 1,000 bonus miles, when you create your dining profile between March 1, 2016 and April 10, 2016.

To earn each additional 500 bonus miles (up to 2,500 bonus miles), you must dine within 30 days of creating their dining profile at any participating restaurant, bar, or club and spend at least $25 (including tax and tip) on your check. All restaurant visits must be completed by May 10, 2016 at 11:59 pm Eastern time to qualify for this promotion. Limit one bonus–qualifying visit per restaurant per day. Please note that all checks must be paid for with a credit or debit card registered with MileagePlus Dining at the time of the visit. You may earn this additional bonus amount five times for a maximum amount of 3,500 bonus miles (initial 1,000 bonus miles plus 2,500 bonus miles).

Offer may not be combinable with other MileagePlus Dining bonuses and each qualifying visit can only apply toward a single bonus, as determined by MileagePlus Dining. All account inquiries related to this bonus must be received by July 10, 2016.

Please note that some restaurants offer rewards, including the MileagePlus bonus miles under this offer, only on certain days of the week or up to a maximum spending amount per month. For complete program Terms and Conditions, guidelines, restrictions, and the latest rewards calendar, visit dining.mileageplus.com. Other limitations may apply. Terms and Conditions are subject to change.

Miles accrued, awards, and benefits issued are subject to change and are subject to the rules of the United MileagePlus® program, including without limitation the Premier®program (the “MileagePlus Program”), which are expressly incorporated herein. Please allow 6–8 weeks after completed qualifying activity for miles to post to your account. United® may change the MileagePlus Program including, but not limited to, rules, regulations, travel awards and special offers or terminate the MileagePlus Program at any time and without notice. United and its subsidiaries, affiliates and agents are not responsible for any products or services of other participating companies and partners. Taxes and fees related to award travel are the responsibility of the member. Bonus award miles, award miles and any other miles earned through non-flight activity do not count toward qualification for Premier status unless expressly stated otherwise. The accumulation of mileage or Premier status or any other status does not entitle members to any vested rights with respect to the MileagePlus Program. All calculations made in connection with the MileagePlus Program, including without limitation with respect to the accumulation of mileage and the satisfaction of the qualification requirements for Premier status, will be made by United Airlines® and MileagePlus in their discretion and such calculations will be considered final. Information in this communication that relates to the MileagePlus Program does not purport to be complete or comprehensive and may not include all of the information that a member may believe is important, and is qualified in its entirety by reference to all of the information on the united.com website and the MileagePlus Program rules. United and MileagePlus are registered service marks. For complete details about the MileagePlus Program, go to united.com.

Hat Tip Dan’s Deals

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Editorial Disclaimer: The editorial content is not provided or commissioned by the credit card issuers. Opinions expressed here are author’s alone, not those of the credit card issuers, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the credit card issuers.

If you liked this post, sign up to receive one free daily email every morning with all of the day’s posts! You can also follow MileValue on Twitter and Facebook.

Earn 50,000 bonus points (worth $800 in American Airlines flights) after spending $3,000 in the first three months on the Citi Prestige® Card. Plus get a $250 Air Travel Credit each calendar year, free airport lounge access worldwide, and your fourth night free on hotel stays. Why I got the card.

66

Generous reader Caveman is donating two United Club passes that expire June 30, 2017–bout a year and a half from now–to one lucky winner.

United has lounges all over the world. The clubs are a pleasant place to relax in a comfortable chair, use free wifi, and enjoy free snack and drinks. Here are the amenities. One-time entry goes for $59, so this giveaway could be worth up to $118.

There are two ways to enter this contest:

  1. Comment on this post for a chance to win the passes. Include your real email address while commenting, so I can contact the winner. (Your email address will not be displayed and will not be used for any other purpose.)
  2. Retweet the following tweet.

Each person can enter both ways to double his chances of winning.

I’ll pick a winner by next Friday to get those passes in the mail as soon as possible.

Even if you don’t win this giveaway, there are credit cards that offer free airport lounge access every time you travel like the Citi Prestige® Card, which offers free American Airlines and Priority Pass lounge access.

 

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Editorial Disclaimer: The editorial content is not provided or commissioned by the credit card issuers. Opinions expressed here are author’s alone, not those of the credit card issuers, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the credit card issuers.

If you liked this post, sign up to receive one free daily email every morning with all of the day’s posts! You can also follow MileValue on Twitter and Facebook.

Earn 50,000 bonus points (worth $800 in American Airlines flights) after spending $3,000 in the first three months on the Citi Prestige® Card. Plus get a $250 Air Travel Credit each calendar year, free airport lounge access worldwide, and your fourth night free on hotel stays. Why I got the card.

Fiji is a year-round tropical destination, known for its beaches, diving, and hiking.

Fiji Beach Resort and Spa Managed by Hilton
Fiji Beach Resort and Spa Managed by Hilton

Fiji Airways (formerly Air Pacific) flies from Los Angeles, San Francisco, and Honolulu to Fiji. You can book Fiji Airways award space with American Airlines or Alaska Airlines miles.

American Airlines charges:

Alaska Airlines charges:

  • 37,500 miles each way between Hawaii and Fiji in economy
  • 45,000 miles each way between Hawaii and Fiji in Business
  • 40,000 miles each way between the continental United States and Fiji in economy
  • 55,000 miles each way between the continental United States and Fiji in Business

You can book a simple roundtrip to Fiji with miles. Or you can combine your trip to Fiji with Australia, New Zealand, Japan, or anywhere else in Asia for only a few more miles

Screen Shot 2014-11-01 at 1.52.02 PM

The Basics: Searching and Booking Fiji Airways

The Product

Fiji Airways business class on its A330 which flies the 11+ hour flight from Los Angeles and San Francisco features angled lie flat seats.

Screen Shot 2014-10-31 at 7.59.00 PM Screen Shot 2014-10-31 at 7.59.09 PM

The flight from Honolulu is only about 6.5 hours, so it is generally a pretty terrible value for such a high price. It also features recliners in Business Class.

When to Go

Temperature is basically constant, but rainfall varies dramatically in Fiji. I’d avoid January through March to avoid the rainy season.

Screen Shot 2014-11-01 at 1.57.09 PM
Source: http://travel.usnews.com/Fiji/When_To_Visit/

High season is July to September according to multiple sources. The shoulder seasons are the months around that like May, June, October, and November. Since the shoulder season has the same weather, smaller crowds, and lower prices, it seems like the ideal time to go.

Searching Fiji Airways Award Space

You can search for Fiji Airways award space on alaskaair.com. Any Fiji Airways award space that appears on alaskaair.com is bookable with American Airlines or Alaska Airlines miles.

On alaskaair.com, just search Los Angeles to Fiji. Do not start the search from your home airport. We’ll find that award space later. Check “Use miles.”

Screen Shot 2016-03-01 at 2.16.42 AM

On the search results, along the left side, view by “Calendar” to see a month of results at one time. You can also select to see a calendar of economy or Business Class award space right under the “View by” box.

Screen Shot 2016-03-01 at 2.17.02 AM

Here are the economy award calendars for two passengers from Los Angeles to Fiji for the next 11 months. Economy award space for two people (days that say 40k) is non-existent between June 7 and September 3, but it is pretty good in the shoulder seasons.

Screen Shot 2016-03-01 at 2.14.22 AM Screen Shot 2016-03-01 at 2.14.39 AM Screen Shot 2016-03-01 at 2.14.54 AM Screen Shot 2016-03-01 at 2.15.10 AM Screen Shot 2016-03-01 at 2.15.41 AM Screen Shot 2016-03-01 at 2.15.50 AM Screen Shot 2016-03-01 at 2.16.01 AM Screen Shot 2016-03-01 at 2.16.09 AMHere are the economy award calendars for two passengers for the next 11 months from Los Angeles to Fiji in Business Class. There are only two total days with award space.

Screen Shot 2016-03-01 at 2.14.44 AMScreen Shot 2016-03-01 at 2.15.00 AM

If using Alaska miles, you can book right on alaskaair.com. If using American Airlines miles, note the date, cabin, and flight number of the award space you find, then call American Airlines at 800-882-8880. American Airlines will not charge a phone booking fee, since Fiji Airways space cannot be booked on aa.com.

Award space on the return to Los Angeles is similar.

I didn’t find any award space on the San Francisco flight, which isn’t surprising because it is a seasonal route over the peak season.

I didn’t search the Honolulu route because it isn’t such a great deal.

You Don’t Live in Los Angeles

If you don’t live in Los Angeles and are booking with American Airlines miles, before calling in, find MileSAAver award space on aa.com flying American Airlines or Alaska Airlines that connects well with the Fiji Airways space. This will add zero miles to the prices quoted above. See:

If you are using Alaska miles, you can only add Alaska Airlines Saver award space. It also will add zero miles to the price of the award.

Taxes, Fees, Fuel Surcharges

The taxes on a roundtrip to Fiji are $126 per person. Alaska Airlines will also impose a $25 partner award booking fee. There is no way around this fee.

Screen Shot 2016-03-01 at 2.42.42 AM

There are no other fees and no fuel surcharges on these awards.

Advanced: Add Another Destination

Free Stopover on Alaska Awards in Fiji en route to Australia or New Zealand

Alaska charges the same price from the continental United States all the way to Australia or New Zealand on Fiji Airways as it does just to Fiji. And it allows a free stopover on one way awards.

Combine those facts to book some pretty fantastic awards like your home airport to Fiji to Australia or New Zealand for only 40,000 total miles.

Screen Shot 2016-03-01 at 3.05.25 AMBoth those itineraries feature a four-day stopover in Fiji.

Screen Shot 2016-03-01 at 3.05.14 AM

Your options in Australia are Brisbane, Melbourne, and Sydney. Your options in New Zealand are Auckland, Christchurch, and Wellington.
Screen Shot 2016-03-01 at 3.05.56 AM

Can you do something similar with American Airlines miles? No, American Airlines awards cannot have any layovers longer than 24 hours.

More information on free stopovers on Alaska Airlines awards.

United Awards to Add Destinations

One of the six under-priced awards on the United award chart is Oceania (where Fiji is) to Japan for 12,500 miles. Another is Oceania to North Asia (Korea and China) for 15,000 miles. All of these awards can route through New Zealand.

That means you can book the following award for 12,500 miles. Get off in New Zealand if that’s the second destination you want. Fly all the way to Tokyo if that’s your preferred destination.

Screen Shot 2014-11-01 at 2.47.18 PM

By the way, if you plan to get off in New Zealand, make sure you don’t have any checked bags.

The backbone of these awards, the direct flight from Fiji to New Zealand on Air New Zealand has had amazing award space for two passengers in the past, but right now I am getting an error message on searches.

Screen Shot 2014-10-30 at 9.01.38 PM

After the United award, hop around in New Zealand, Australia, and Asia as much as you’d like. When you’re ready to return home, you can do that cheaply with American Airlines miles, which charges:

  • 25k or 32.5k miles one way from Japan and Korea to the United States in economy, depending on the season
  • 35k miles one way from the rest of East Asia in economy
  • 37.5k miles one way from Australia or New Zealand in economy

Business and First Class are often modest premiums too, so consider booking Cathay Pacific First Class home for 67,500 miles if you end up in East Asia. (All these prices go up March 22.)

Screen Shot 2014-10-27 at 2.06.15 PM
Resting in Cathay Pacific First Class

Bottom Line

There is plenty of award space between Los Angeles and Fiji on Fiji Airways that you can book with American Airlines or Alaska Airlines miles from your home airport to Fiji.

Jazz up your trip by booking an Alaska award to Australia or New Zealand with a free stopover in Fiji. Or book a United award from Fiji onward to add destinations.

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Editorial Disclaimer: The editorial content is not provided or commissioned by the credit card issuers. Opinions expressed here are author’s alone, not those of the credit card issuers, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the credit card issuers.

If you liked this post, sign up to receive one free daily email every morning with all of the day’s posts! You can also follow MileValue on Twitter and Facebook.

Earn 50,000 bonus points (worth $800 in American Airlines flights) after spending $3,000 in the first three months on the Citi Prestige® Card. Plus get a $250 Air Travel Credit each calendar year, free airport lounge access worldwide, and your fourth night free on hotel stays. Why I got the card.

Hawaii is one of the best places in the world to visit, and judging by the number of inquiries I get about booking awards to Hawaii, it’s clear that many people agree. There are a number of cheap ways to get there that I’ll list in order.

Screen Shot 2013-06-11 at 10.15.24 PM
Waikiki at Sunset

1. Allegiant Air $314+ roundtrip (ending 8/2016)

Allegiant Air is an ultra-low cost carrier that flies from Las Vegas and Los Angeles to Honolulu. The flights are as cheap as $314 roundtrip, but a carry on will cost $50 roundtrip and a checked bag is $70 roundtrip. Additionally if you want to select your seat or board early, you have to pay extra.

If you live in LA or Vegas, don’t mind a middle seat for six hours, and can travel with only one carry on, $364 roundtrip to Hawaii is the best deal in my opinion–better than burning 25,000+ miles on the trip.

You can always pay for your Allegiant flights, bag fees, seat fees, and food with an Arrival Plus. Then you can redeem Arrival miles to remove those purchases from your statement.

Here’s my review of paying $90 extra to get a “Giant Seat” up front from Los Angeles to Honolulu when I flew Allegiant.

Allegiant has announced that it will terminate Hawaii service in August 2016.

2. Avios Award: 25,000+ Avios and $11+ roundtrip

I love that British Airways Avios has a distance-based award chart. For 25,000 Avios and $11, you can fly roundtrip on American Airlines or Alaska Airlines planes from the West Coast to Hawaii. Here are the possible routes.

Screen Shot 2015-12-03 at 6.21.15 PM
1: Seasonal

Avios can be used for one way awards at half the price of a roundtrip award, which means that if you can’t get the Avios deal both ways, it’s still a good idea to go one way for 12,500 Avios and use another one way deal.

See here for an Anatomy of an Award post for a step-by-step breakdown of the time I booked a one way award from Honolulu to Los Angeles with Avios.

3. Korean Miles Award: 25,000+ Korean Miles and $11 Roundtrip, First Class from 45,000 Korean Miles Roundtrip

Korean miles can book a roundtrip in Delta economy from anywhere in the United States to any of the four major Hawaiian islands for 25,000 Korean miles. A roundtrip in Delta First Class is 45,000 Korean miles.

You just have to find Saver award space on Delta flights on delta.com and transfer your Ultimate Rewards or SPG Starpoints to Korean miles.

More info on the process: SkyTeam Partner Awards for Way Too Cheap with Korean Miles

Korean miles can also book Alaska Airlines and Hawaiian Airlines Saver award space, but the price is higher: 30k/60k Korean miles roundtrip in economy/First.

4. Singapore Miles Award: 35,000+ Singapore Miles and $11 Roundtrip, First Class from 60,000 Singapore Miles Roundtrip

Singapore miles can book United economy from anywhere in the United States to any of the four major Hawaiian islands for 17,500 Singapore miles each way. One way in United First Class is 30,000 Singapore miles.

You just have to find Saver award space on United flights on united.com and transfer your Ultimate Rewards, Membership Rewards, ThankYou Points, or SPG Starpoints to Singapore miles.

More info on the process: Guide to Booking United Flights to Hawaii with Singapore Miles

While it’s ideal to use one of the three previous options to book an award to Hawaii, you might not live in a place that can take advantage of Allegiant flights or Avios awards, and Delta is notoriously poor for releasing award space (which means Korean miles are useless.) The best bet on this list is definitely United opening up award space, which you can then book with Singapore miles.

Getting the Miles

Singapore miles are a partner of every transferable points program. Cards I like that earns points that transfer:

What Wasn’t On the List

  • United miles
  • Delta miles
  • American Airlines miles

Flights on those airlines can be booked cheaper with Singapore, Korean, and British Airways miles respectively.

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Editorial Disclaimer: The editorial content is not provided or commissioned by the credit card issuers. Opinions expressed here are author’s alone, not those of the credit card issuers, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the credit card issuers.

If you liked this post, sign up to receive one free daily email every morning with all of the day’s posts! You can also follow MileValue on Twitter and Facebook.

Earn 50,000 bonus points (worth $800 in American Airlines flights) after spending $3,000 in the first three months on the Citi Prestige® Card. Plus get a $250 Air Travel Credit each calendar year, free airport lounge access worldwide, and your fourth night free on hotel stays. Why I got the card.

6

United.com was redesigned last fall. Most of the changes were neutral or positive, but one was atrocious. As I wrote in “New United.com Will Make Award Searches Much Harder,” United removed the nonstop calendar.

For years, when you checked “Search for award travel” and “Nonstop” on the search screen…

Screen Shot 2016-02-12 at 2.25.02 PM

…the resulting calendar let you see award space on nonstop flights for two months at a glance.

Screen Shot 2016-02-12 at 2.30.25 PM

This was hugely valuable if you only wanted to fly the nonstop flight or if you were searching segment-by-segment.

With the new United.com, you could still check “Nonstop,” but your request was ignored. You were shown a calendar of award space from the origin you searched to the destination you searched including connecting flights. At the time, I complained: “To find out which days have First Class award space on the nonstop flight, I’ll have to click all 61 dates individually. What an insane waste of time when United has the technology to show me all 61 dates’ space at a glance as evidenced by the old site’s calendars.”

The change was so terrible for award searchers that my subsequent post “Trick to Make the Old United.com Load” was one of the most viewed of 2015 because it allowed you to access the old United.com and the old nonstop calendar.

Enough of the history lesson, United listened to our many complaints and retweets and fixed the problem!

Proof

The nonstop calendar works again. If you perform an award search and check “Nonstop”…

Screen Shot 2016-02-12 at 2.25.02 PM

…you get a calendar of award space on the nonstop flight only.Screen Shot 2016-02-12 at 2.25.47 PM

Without even having to click a specific day, you know whether the nonstop flights for two months at a time have award space in economy and/or premium cabins.

Screen Shot 2016-02-12 at 2.25.52 PM

Example: Houston to Auckland

For instance, here is the award space from Houston to Auckland in March and April. (I didn’t check “Nonstop.”)
Screen Shot 2016-02-12 at 2.30.25 PMHere is the award space on the nonstop Air New Zealand flight from Houston to Auckland, which just started opening up Business Class award space this week. (I did check “Nonstop.”)
Screen Shot 2016-02-12 at 2.30.57 PM

There are many fewer days with award space on the nonstop flight. The first calendar included itineraries with connections in Los Angeles and San Francisco, which are fine itineraries if they are what you want, but annoying to see if you don’t want them. Now if you don’t want to see connections, you don’t have to!

Bottom Line

Award searchers (like me with my MileValue Award Booking Service) rejoice!

United.com brought back the nonstop calendars which can save you 60 clicks by showing you two months worth of nonstop award space at a glance.

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Editorial Disclaimer: The editorial content is not provided or commissioned by the credit card issuers. Opinions expressed here are author’s alone, not those of the credit card issuers, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the credit card issuers.

If you liked this post, sign up to receive one free daily email every morning with all of the day’s posts! You can also follow MileValue on Twitter and Facebook.

Earn 50,000 bonus points (worth $800 in American Airlines flights) after spending $3,000 in the first three months on the Citi Prestige® Card. Plus get a $250 Air Travel Credit each calendar year, free airport lounge access worldwide, and your fourth night free on hotel stays. Why I got the card.

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