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A few weeks ago, United’s Danish website was way under-pricing First Class tickets from London to the United States, about $100 to anywhere you wanted to go. United said it would not honor those tickets, and I sided with United while noting that United States Department of Transportation (DoT) rules seemed clear that United couldn’t unilaterally cancel its tickets.

Now the DoT has weighed in with a statement.

The statement makes clear that United will not have to honor the mistake fares. It leaves open whether any mistake fares in the future will be honored, and I really don’t like some of the language. Here’s the part that could kill mistake fares:

Additionally, the Office is concerned that to obtain the fare, some purchasers had to manipulate the search process on the website in order to force the conversion error to Danish Krone by misrepresenting their billing address country as Denmark when, in fact, Denmark was not their billing address country. This evidence of bad faith by the large majority of purchasers contributed to the Enforcement Office’s decision.

Most mistake fares do not require you to change the country of purchase (though that trick often saves money on airfare), but I’m worried about what else the DoT could classify as “bad faith” that could then “contribute” to the next decision that a mistake fare doesn’t have to be honored.

Will a mistake fare going viral be enough evidence on its own that a majority of the people who purchased it read about the fare on a blog or website and knew the fare was a mistake? Is that “bad faith”? Will that be enough to make the next mistake fare unenforceable?

I don’t know the answers, but my take is that the DoT didn’t want to enforce this mistake fare and “back-filled” reasons to get there. The DoT had some useful facts at its disposal this time, since almost everyone who got in on the fare lied about having a billing address in Denmark. Those facts probably won’t be present in the next mistake fare that the DoT has to adjudicate, but will DoT simply expand its definition of “bad faith”? If the DoT doesn’t want to enforce the next mistake fare, will it back-fill new reasons?

We shall see.

In the meantime, I set up a twitter account last week that I haven’t tweeted from yet. I’ll only tweet from @MileValueAlerts when there is a you-need-to-know-right-now deal on the level of a mistake fare. Set up free text message alerts every time @MileValueAlerts tweets as explained in this post.

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Meeting the minimum spending requirement on the Arrival Plus give you about $500 worth of free flights on any airline with no blackouts.

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I’ve wanted to fly Swiss Business Class for a while. It just looks really nice. The 6’6″ beds nearly all have direct aisle access, and the food and lounges look nice.

Screen Shot 2015-02-23 at 11.24.41 AM

Swiss flies to Zurich from eight North American cities and from Zurich throughout the rest of Europe. Normally Swiss Business Class costs 70,000 United miles each way, but until Saturday you can book it for 57,500 miles each way.

Screen Shot 2015-02-23 at 10.49.00 AM
from gcmap.com
  • What is the Swiss Business Class product?
  • Where should you sit if you’re traveling alone or with a partner to ensure direct aisle access?
  • What is the award space picture?

Swiss Business Class Product

Swiss Business Class on its A330s and A340s that fly to the United States is the staggered Business Class also found on Austrian (trip report). Some rows are 1-2-1 and others are 2-2-1. Your feet in the sleeping position are under the arm rest of the seat in front.

Screen Shot 2015-02-23 at 11.25.38 AM
From seatguru.com

The seats you really want to avoid are seats A and B in odd-numbered rows. Seat A doesn’t have direct aisle access, and seat B has to let A occasionally climb over. Plus seats A and B have to share an armrest. When traveling together, I’d go for the middle seats D and G in ay row. When traveling solo, I’d go for a K seat in an odd-numbered row because the arm rest is on the aisle side giving you better privacy and window access. If you really like a lot of space to put things down and have them at hand, you could go for seat A in an even-numbered row to grab two arm rests.

Here is a video that shows the cabin and seat/bed.

The bed is a fully flat 6’6″ sleeping surface.

Award Space

I’ll go through the eight North American cities, showing the award space for two passengers in Business Class. While Swiss’ planes have First Class, that award space is never released to partner programs.

The main takeaway will be that routes have the most award space in the next month. Some of that is because February and March are a low period of travel between North America and Europe, but a lot of it is that Swiss releases premium cabin award space in the last few weeks (or even on the day of) departure. If you want to travel to Europe in the next month, you’re spoiled for choice. If you want to travel in the summer, use this as a guide for which routes open the most last-minute award space.

Boston

This route has the best award space. This isn’t surprising since Boston to Zurich is the shortest route, and it has no connecting traffic to fill the flight, since Boston isn’t a United hub, to fill the flight.

Award space is wide open in Business Class (green and blue days) for two passengers on Mondays, Tuesdays, and Wednesdays for the next month.

Screen Shot 2015-02-23 at 10.49.40 AM

Surprisingly, as you’ll see as I show award space from other cities, there is even award space for summer departures at the moment.Screen Shot 2015-02-23 at 10.50.57 AM

For such a short flight, I like the flight time. It’s late enough, you might be able to sleep the whole time.

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Chicago

Chicago only has Business Class space for two the next two days.
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Newark and New York

I combined my search from these two cities by typing in NYC as the airport code. Swiss has multiple daily flights from the two airports, so you can choose whether you want a late departure or early arrival. Screen Shot 2015-02-23 at 10.58.19 AM

United also flies from Newark to Zurich daily, so the award search could pick that flight up. I’d rather fly Swiss Business Class.

Award space is excellent in February and March from the New York area to Zurich for two passengers in Business Class.Screen Shot 2015-02-23 at 10.58.30 AM Unlike Boston, there is not good Business Class award space for departures later in the year, but this has to make you excited about the chance that space will open up close to departure for your preferred travel date.

Montreal

I was hoping for great award space because there is often better award space to Europe via Canada. But all we get is two days of award space this week and four days next month.Screen Shot 2015-02-23 at 11.01.51 AM Screen Shot 2015-02-23 at 11.01.56 AM

There is a trickle of award space into May.

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Miami

I was also hoping for better award space here. There are two daily flights, and there must be almost zero connecting traffic on United flights to this non-hub that is out of the way en route to Europe.

But all we get is two Business Class seats on both flights for the next two days and a little space next week.
Screen Shot 2015-02-23 at 11.03.01 AM Screen Shot 2015-02-23 at 11.03.07 AM

Total guess: I bet this route has award space almost every day if you can wait until it is released a day or two before departure. They cannot possibly be selling all the Business Class on two daily flights out of Miami.

Los Angeles

There is award space today only. Direct west coast-to-Europe flights are always a challenge. (Check out AA’s LAX to London flight though for great Business and First Class space.)Screen Shot 2015-02-23 at 11.03.36 AM Screen Shot 2015-02-23 at 11.03.51 AM San Francisco

Speaking of bad award space on direct west coast-to-Europe flights, there is no Business Class space for two from San Francisco to Zurich.Screen Shot 2015-02-23 at 11.04.10 AM

Bottom Line

Boston, New York, and Newark have the best award space in Swiss Business Class to Europe with tons in the next month. Other routes have a few scattered days.

Boston also has award space–though not a ton–for the rest of the year. The other routes are confined to the next month or two. This post shows that Swiss opens its best award space very late–a few weeks to a few hours before departure. If you’re looking to snag a 6’6″ transatlantic bed at the last minute check out Swiss.

Here are the connections out of Zurich to the rest of Europe. Adding Business Class flights intra-Europe to your transatlantic Business Class space will add zero extra miles.

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Update: This fantastic deal ends in five days on February 28! You can book through December 31 at the discounted prices.

You know those “secret” sales United has been having where they discount a lot of partner Business Class awards? Partner Business Class awards have cost more than United Business Class awards for a year now, but with these sales, both are the same price.

Well now United has published and expanded the sales.

  • Book by February 28, 2015
  • Travel by December 31, 2015
  • Saver Award prices for Star Alliance and other worldwide partner airlines are temporarily reduced for select regions and cabins. Choose your favorite qualifying destination and book a flight by February 28 to take advantage of this offer

Here’s the chart of price reductions:

Screen Shot 2015-02-05 at 12.21.50 PM

Interestingly the sale was posted February 3, but indicates United knew the sale has been going on since January 30.

For me, the exciting sales are the Business Class sales from the United States to Europe and Asia.

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There is real value in partner Business Class to Europe and Asia at these prices, which are still higher than American’s prices to Asia and Europe, but are pretty good. Book your summer vacation to Europe now–I already explained how in complete detail.

The other sales don’t jump out at me as great deals, but all of them will be useful for someone.

These deals are automatic and hard-coded into the search results. You don’t have to do any registering to save miles on your next United award booked by February 28.

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This blog became famous because I was the first to articulate how to book free one ways on United and US Airways awards.

A free one way is a one way trip to or from your home airport that is tacked onto another award for no extra miles. Free one ways cut your flight bill in half for a second trip without adding to the price of the first trip!

American Airlines killed free one ways on its awards in April 2014 by nixing all free stopovers because free one ways always rely on a free stopover at your home airport. Delta killed its free one ways on January 1, 2015 with the elimination of free stopovers on its awards (though in return, we do now get to book one way Delta awards.)

What’s the current state of free one ways with major frequent flyer programs?

If you get confused during this post, please read my Introduction to Free One Ways.

Alaska Airlines

Free one ways are possible on one way Alaska Airlines awards. That means you can book two free one ways per roundtrip awards.

Alaska has an amazing group of partners:

  • Alaska Airlines
  • Horizon Air
  • AeroMexico
  • Air France
  • American Airlines
  • British Airways (fuel surcharges)
  • Delta
  • Emirates
  • Fiji
  • KLM
  • Korean
  • Qantas
  • Ravn Alaska (flights within Alaska)
  • PenAir (flights within Alaska)

Unfortunately you must book only one partner each one way award (you may add Alaska Airlines flights as well.) And unfortunately most Alaska Airlines awards need to either start or end in the United States.

Abide by those rules, though, and enjoy some amazing free one way opportunities.

For full details, see Free One Ways on Alaska Airlines Awards.

American Airlines

Free one ways are impossible on awards booked with American Airlines miles. Free one ways always rely on a free stopover at your home airport, and American has eliminated the chance to take any free stopovers on awards.

British Airways

Free one ways are impossible on awards booked with Avios. Every flight on an Avios award has a mileage cost (determined exclusively by its distance and the cabin you book.) If every flight has a cost, there’s no way to get one for free as a free one way.

Delta Airlines

Free one ways are impossible on Delta awards since stopovers were eliminated on January 1, 2015.

United Airlines

Free one ways are possible on both international United awards and awards between the mainland and Hawaii. Free one ways are not possible on awards wholly within the mainland United States and Canada.

Screen Shot 2014-04-15 at 9.24.10 PM
Roundtrip award from Los Angeles to Honolulu with a later free oneway to Newark

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You can either have a free one way BEFORE your main roundtrip award TO your home airport or AFTER your main roundtrip award FROM your home airport.

United’s routing rules are pretty lenient for free one ways. You can do some amazing backtracking. You can also do “cheap one ways” where you fly the extra leg to a distant land and pay far fewer miles than you “should.”

You will get a lot of errors trying to book free one ways on united.com because united.com’s multi-city search tool is broken. Don’t despair. Find all the space you need with one way searches, then call in to book.

For full details, see Master Thread: Free One Ways on United Awards.

US Airways

Free one ways are possible only on international US Airways awards.

US Airways only allows one stopover OR one open jaw on awards, and you ordinarily need both on a free oneway. Because of this limitation, free one ways are only possible on US Airways awards:

  • before your main roundtrip award
  • to your home airport
  • with a corresponding dummy leg(s) to where the free oneway began
  • after the main award
  • within 24 hours of landing at your home airport

That might sound a little more complicated than it is. Check out Master Thread: Free Oneways on US Airways Awards for an easy explanation.

While American and Delta killed its free one ways recently, and free one ways have never been possible with Avios, free one ways are still possible on awards booked with United, Alaska, and US Airways miles.

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United is releasing economy and Business Class award space on its 787-8 and 787-9 Dreamliners from Asia and Australia, not so much to. I didn’t used to see any award space in the flat bed BusinessFirst (Business) cabin, and American Airlines isn’t currently releasing Business Class space on its Dreamliner, so I wanted to share the good news.

Routes

United flies its 787-8 Dreamliner between:

  • Denver and Tokyo-Narita (65k miles in Business)
  • Los Angeles and Tokyo-Narita (65k miles in Business)
  • Los Angeles and Shanghai (70k miles in Business)

United flies its 787-9 Dreamliner between:

  • Los Angeles and Melbourne (70k miles in Business)

The difference is that the 787-9 has 33 extra seats including 12 extra Business Class beds.

Screen Shot 2015-02-16 at 3.05.34 PM

Award Space

When the Dreamliners made their way onto United’s schedule, award space was nearly impossible to find in Business Class. (The planes don’t have First Class.)

Over time, that has changed somewhat. Hopefully the same change happens with Business Class on the American Airlines Dreamliner.

In November, I wrote about some award space appearing on the 787-9 to Melbourne. I took a look at the award space now, and I found only one day in the next 11 months with award space from Los Angeles to Melbourne in Business Class on the direct flight–April 7.

Screen Shot 2015-02-16 at 3.00.45 PM

Interestingly enough, using united.com Expert Mode, I found the flight has 9 Business Class award seats–“I” below.

Screen Shot 2015-02-16 at 3.03.19 PM

The return from Melbourne to Los Angeles, though shows much more award space. There is award space in the next week, which is a common pattern in premium cabins on United flights. United is generally good about releasing unsold seats at award space at the last minute.
Screen Shot 2015-02-16 at 3.03.56 PM

And there is also award space from Melbourne to Los Angeles in July, August, September, and October.Screen Shot 2015-02-16 at 3.04.26 PM

This pattern is observed on all the United Dreamliner routes: award space is far better on the flights to America than from America to Asia and Australia. I’m not sure why that would be, but you can take advantage by using your United miles to fly home and using American or Delta miles to fly to Asia and Australia.

For instance, from Shanghai to Los Angeles on the smaller Dreamliner, there is award space 13 days in the next month in Business Class.
Screen Shot 2015-02-16 at 3.07.44 PM

And from Tokyo to Denver, there is award space eight days in the next two weeks.Screen Shot 2015-02-16 at 3.08.19 PM

The flights to Tokyo and Shanghai have far less award space.

Bottom Line

United is releasing more and more Business Class award space on its Dreamliners from Australia and Asia to the United States. Award space is far better on these eastbound flights than the westbound flights to Australia and Asia. Either fly a United partner, fly United economy, or use another type of miles to get to these places and then return in United Business Class on its new Dreamliners.

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United has posted a statement saying that it will not honor the mistake fares I posted about this morning that allowed one way or roundtrip First Class bookings from the United Kingdom to the United States for $100 or so. Here is the entire statement:

United is voiding the bookings of several thousand individuals who were attempting to take advantage of an error a third-party software provider made when it applied an incorrect currency exchange rate, despite United having properly filed its fares. Most of these bookings were for travel originating in the United Kingdom, and the level of bookings made with Danish Kroner as the local currency was significantly higher than normal during the limited period that customers made these bookings.

Isn’t that impressive? Several thousand tickets were booked. Good work guys! I couldn’t get my ticket booking done because Argentina.

My instinct on these is that every single person who booked one of the mistake fears knew it was a mistake, and over 99% of the people who booked one found out about the mistake from a forum or blog post that made it clear that this was a mistake. Maybe its my moral compass or maybe its my Contracts class from law school talking, but I think mistake should void a contract. Since United has cancelled the tickets within about 8 hours of their booking, no one should be inconvenienced by the bookings unless they made other non-refundable arrangements.

However, current United States Department of Transportation regulations are actually pretty clear that United can’t cancel mistake fares. That would constitute “increas[ing] the price” of air transportation after purchase, which is forbidden. (It is an increase in the price because canceling the ticket means the only way to fly the route is to purchase a new, more expensive ticket.) Check out all the legalese in 14 CFR 399.88. Based on my thoughts in the previous paragraph, I’d urge people to consider the mistake fare a free lottery ticket. If it’s honored, you win. If it isn’t, you didn’t lose, and you had fun playing. All this drama is fun.

But I’m sure a lot of people will file DOT complaints and maybe law suits. They are within their rights to take this mistake-fare saga that route, but morally they’re in the wrong. United isn’t trying to get one over on these people. These people are trying to get one over on United.

Now before anyone posts too angry of a reply, I want to clarify that I don’t think this is a small matter or morality, not a big one. If my friend said he was filing a DOT complaint, I’d say, “I hope you lose, but you’re still my friend.” It would be on the level of telling me he supported a different presidential candidate than me. No big deal.

I’ll be interested in how this all plays out, and I will keep everyone posted.

What’s your take? Did United respond appropriately? Is a DOT complaint appropriate?

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Meeting the minimum spending requirement on the Arrival Plus give you about $500 worth of free flights on any airline with no blackouts. That would have been five cancelled mistake fares today. ;)

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Asiana Airlines is a member of Star Alliance–United’s alliance–based in Seoul, South Korea. I flew Asiana First Class on its A380 last year and was very impressed.

Screen Shot 2014-08-17 at 12.25.22 AM
Business Class on the Asiana A380

 

Since Asiana is a member of Star Alliance, all the award space it releases is bookable with United miles. Until recently the award space showed up on searches of united.com also. For whatever reason, Asiana award space no longer displays on united.com. My prediction is that this will be a short-lived glitch.

But in the meantime, it is very useful to know where to search and find Asiana award space since United is holding a sale this month for 2015 award travel to Asia and Europe.

Search Aeroplan.com

Here’s how to search award space on aeroplan.com. It’s very intuitive once you sign up for a free Aeroplan account.

I searched aeroplan.com for Business Class award space on Asiana’s Los Angeles to Seoul flight, which is fairly wide open at non-peak times.

Screen Shot 2015-02-09 at 11.32.35 AM

I found award space on October 21 on aeroplan.com. Any Asiana award space that shows up at aeroplan.com is bookable with United miles. Ignore the miles price listed if you plan to use United miles because you will pay the price on United’s chart, which is 80,000 miles one way normally in partner Business Class to North Asia (though only 70,000 miles currently during the sale.)

I went to united.com to pull up the same flight, and united.com isn’t showing it.Screen Shot 2015-02-09 at 11.33.23 AM

The only award space it sees on the route is on the Thai Airways flight, and all that space is in economy.Screen Shot 2015-02-09 at 11.33.29 AMHow to Book Asiana Space with United Miles

Call United at 800-UNITED-1 and feed the agent the date, flight number, and cabin of the Asiana award space you found on aeroplan.com.

If you prefer to have United call you, use this call back form.

Ask to have the phone fee waived, since you couldn’t ticket this online because of United’s glitch.

Bottom Line

While Asiana award space has disappeared from united.com, the space still exists and is bookable with United miles. Find it on aeroplan.com and book it by phone with United.

Hat Tip View from the Wing

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A generous reader is donating two United Club passes that expire 2/28/15, about 2.5 weeks from now, to one lucky winner. If you can use the passes between the 15th and 28th of this month (to account for the delay in sending them), comment on this post with how you’ll use the passes.

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 $50, so this giveaway could be worth up to $100.

I’ll pick a winner from post commenters overnight, so she can put the passes in the mail tomorrow.

Don’t forget to join the 6,041 geniuses on Twitter and 4,691 mavens on Facebook who follow MileValue for more chances to win.

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It’s already February. Summer is just a few short months away, so now is your last, best chance to plan and execute a perfect summer vacation to Europe for 2015 with miles and points for pennies on the dollar.

Your roundtrip flights can be under $100. You hotels can be free. Everything else will seem like it’s 30% off as the euro sits at $1.13. I’ve been in Europe when it was $1.50!

This blueprint will explain which miles to accrue, why to accrue them, how many you need, and which cards to open now to accrue them. I’ve even got a few tips on free hotel and airbnb.

Get United Miles

United and its partners in the Star Alliance have the best award availability to Europe for Summer 2015 by far. Award space in economy to Europe is wide open for 4+ people on the same itinerary this summer. Sample routes:

New York to Frankfurt, June and July, award space for 4 in economy on 54/61 days

Screen Shot 2015-02-02 at 2.48.55 PM

Houston to Brussels, July and August, award space for 4 in economy on 55/62 days Screen Shot 2015-02-02 at 2.50.03 PM

Los Angeles to Paris, June and July, award space for 4 in economy on 34/61 days Screen Shot 2015-02-02 at 2.50.28 PM

Award space is better from the East Coast because finding the award space within North America during the summer is hard, and flights from the West Coast directly to Europe have terrible award space on almost every airline.

Award space within Europe is excellent, so pretty much no matter where you want to go in Europe should have similar award space.

Business and First Class award space is very limited right now. Usually United’s flights to Brussels from Newark and Washington-Dulles have some of the best premium-cabin award space in its European network. Right now Washington-Dulles to Brussels only has premium-cabin award space for one passenger on 6/61 days in July and August.

Screen Shot 2015-02-02 at 3.14.37 PM

Some days do have award space in both Business and First Class.Screen Shot 2015-02-02 at 3.14.55 PM

If you really want to fly a premium cabin, I’d suggest one of two options:

  1. Book a premium cabin one way. There is sprinkled award space in Business and First Class on various routes. Find space in one direction that you can build on, and then book the other direction in economy since economy space is plentiful with United miles to and from Europe this summer. The age old question is which direction to book in Business Class? If it’s the eastbound, you get better use of the bed. If it’s the westbound, you get more out of the service and experience. There is no right answer.
  2. Book economy now and look to change one or both directions to a premium cabin in the last few days before departure.

Both United and Lufthansa, the German Star Alliance carrier, are pretty famous for opening last minute award space in Business and First Class.

Check a few weeks before departure to see if space has opened up on your flight and then every day after that. Space can open up as late as the day of your flight.

Unfortunately changing an award within 21 days of departure does cost $75 per ticket, but weirdly, sometimes this fee is forgotten by phone agents and not charged online.

How Many United Miles?

United charges:

  • 30,000 miles one way in economy
  • 57,500 miles one way in United Business (and for a limited time in partner Business)
  • 70,000 miles one way in partner Business Class normally
  • 80,000 miles one way in United First
  • 110,000 miles one way in partner First

You’ll need at least 60,000 United miles per person for the roundtrip to Europe. United awards do not require a payment of fuel surcharges, but you will be on the hook for government taxes associated with your flights. These vary based on the countries you transit, arrive in, and depart from.

The highest taxes are on roundtrip Business or First Class awards to the United Kingdom (about $300). For most European itineraries, the roundtrip taxes will be in the $100 to $150 range. Lower taxes are available to some countries also. If the taxes matter a lot to you, play around with awards to different countries on united.com.

Add up the number of miles you need for the passengers and cabins you have in mind.

How to Get United Miles

The easiest way to get United miles is from credit card sign up bonuses on cards that offer United miles or Ultimate Rewards, the proprietary points Chase offers with some cards that transfer 1:1 instantly to United miles.

All the relevant cards are offered by Chase. In my experience, you can get one Chase personal and one Chase business card on the same day. Between such days, I like to wait 91 days until I apply for more Chase cards. I’ve also noticed that many people who are brand new to Chase can get two personal cards (and a business card) on the same day.

Once you get your cards, you will have to meet a minimum spending requirement to get the promised bonus miles. Once you meet the requirement, your miles should post the same day or maybe a day after the day on which your next statement closes.

Because of this lag between credit card application and getting your miles, unless you are planning a very late summer trip, you only have time for one relevant application day before summer. Make it count.

Here are the best two personal and one business card:

  • United personal card: 50,000 bonus miles after spending $2,000 in the first three months, 5,000 bonus miles for adding an authorized user

Sign into your United account. Do you see a banner for this offer? If not, apply for the “standard” 30,000 miles offer. Then when approved, send a secure message from chase.com asking to be matched to the 50,000 mile offer. Something like this has worked for 2+ years:

“I recently applied for the 30,000 mile offer on the United card. Heading through the airport the other day, there was a 50,000 bonus mile offer after spending $2,000 in the first three months that was open to everyone. Can you match me to that offer?”

Your mileage may vary.

About the extra 5,000 miles for adding an authorized user: the authorized user card does NOT stop that person from getting their own United card account with the bonus miles, does NOT require inputting that person’s social security number, and is sent to you.

This card should be 57,000 miles after spending $2,000.

  • Sapphire Preferred personal card: 40,000 bonus points after spending $4,000 in the first three months, 5,000 bonus points for adding an authorized user.

This card should be 49,000 points (which transfer 1:1 instantly to United) after spending $4,000.

  • United business card: 50,000 bonus miles after spending $2,000 in the first three months (limited time offer)

If you can get a business card, this card should be an easy 52,000 miles after spending $2,000.

One person getting all three cards would be 158,000 United miles after spending $8,000 in the next three months.

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Future Cards

In 91+ days, you could get the Freedom for 10,000 bonus points after spending $500 in the first three months and the Ink Plus business card for 50,000 bonus points after spending $5,000 in the first three months. That’s about it in the short term for how many United miles one person can get.

I’d also save hotel cards for the future unless you can meet their spending requirements at the same time. The reason? Award flights at the Saver level are heavily capacity controlled. Get them first. Free hotel nights are generally available whenever there is a standard room for sale at that hotel. Get them later.

The hotel cards I like in Europe are:

The Club Carlson Premier Rewards Visa Signature Card comes with 85,000 bonus points after spending $2,500 on the card in the first 90 days & the last night free on all award stays of 2+ nights.

My Review of the Club Carlson Premier Rewards Visa Signature Card explains how meeting the minimum spending requirement equals up to 20 free hotel nights.

The Citi® Hilton HHonors™ Reserve Card comes with Two Free Weekend Nights (Fri, Sat, or Sun) worldwide at top tier Hiltons after spending $2,500 in four months. The card also comes with free Gold Status.

The Club Carlson card gets you more free nights, and the Hilton Reserve gets you fancier nights. Check that locations of participating Club Carlson and Hilton properties coincide with your travel plans before getting either card.

Of course, hotels are only one option for lodging. I actually prefer airbnb because they are cheaper, have more space and multiple bedrooms if you want, include a kitchen, and are often in more interesting parts of the city. Here are Three Ways to Save Money on Airbnb.

The Barclaycard Arrival PlusTM World Elite MasterCard® comes with 40,000 bonus miles after spending $3k in the first 90 days. You can redeem Arrival miles for airbnb stays (or the taxes on your flight award.)

Do You Really Have Enough Miles?

Transferring United miles between accounts is very expensive, so one account with 45,000 miles and one account with 15,000 miles is very different than a single account with 60,000, which is enough for a roundtrip to Europe.

You can book United awards as one ways, so two accounts with 30,000 miles can be great to book one direction of the trip from each account. Anyone’s United miles can be used to book anyone else a ticket.

Ultimate Rewards can be perfect to top off accounts, but the points can only transfer to your United account or your spouse/domestic partner’s.

When you’re planning how many miles you need and which cards to get, keep these limitations in mind.

What Can You Do On Your Award?

One way United awards can’t have anything fancy. No stopovers, only connections of up to 24 hours.

Roundtrip United awards can have two open jaws at the end points, one stopover, and the destination, plus any connections up to 24 hours.

On a roundtrip award, you can do something like this:

  • Home to European city A (stopover)
  • European city A to European city B (destination)
  • European city C (open jaw) to home

And feel free to throw a few 23 hour connections in there in European cities D and E.

Note the open jaw between cities B and C. This would be filled in with a train or low-cost carrier flight.

Any questions?

Get started now, so you can have your miles in place as soon as possible and your flights booked shortly thereafter. At that point, worry about hotels and lodging if you haven’t already.

You can use your miles to see up to three European cities (plus more on 23 hour connections) on a single roundtrip award.

Award space is wide open, Europe is unusually cheap at the moment, and miles and points can pay for most of your trip. What are you waiting for?

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Pay your award taxes and fees with the Arrival Plus then redeem Arrival miles to remove the charge.

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United.com is offering cheaper prices for partner Business Class award award bookings than what United’s chart says the price is. This sale is unannounced and could end at any time.

In February 2014, United went to two charts: a cheaper one for flights on United and a more expensive one for partner flights–way more expensive in Business and First Class.

Last month, there were unannounced sales in partner Business Class to Europe, the Middle East, and India. These sales were restricted to off peak times though–January, February, and March. Last sale:

March 31 from JFK to Delhi, India: 70,000 United miles in Lufthansa Business Class (discount in March)

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April 1 from Newark to Delhi, India: 80,000 United miles in Air India Business Class (no discount in AprilScreen Shot 2015-01-04 at 11.53.53 PM

These new unannounced sales are to more regions and can be booked for all of the current schedule–basically until the end of 2015. One way partner Business Class is pricing out at the United prices:

  1. Between the US and Europe for 57,500 United miles (normally 70k)
  2. Between the US and North Asia for 70,000 United miles (normally 80k)
  3. Between the US and Central Asia for 70,000 United miles (normally 80k)
  4. Between the US and South Asia for 70,000 United miles (normally 80k)
  5. Between Europe and Middle East for 35,000 United miles (normally 45k)

Example 1: Boston to Zurich in Swiss Business Class this summer for 57,500 United miles

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Example 2: Los Angeles to Bangkok in Asiana Business Class on the A380 this summer for 70,000 United milesScreen Shot 2015-02-01 at 12.41.21 PM

Combined, the three Asia regions on sale from the United States include all of Asia except Japan, which costs 75,000 miles one way in partner Business Class, and the Middle East. The Middle East is Azerbaijan, Bahrain, Egypt, Iran, Iraq, Israel, Jordan, Kuwait, Lebanon, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Syria, United Arab Emirates, Yemen. The Middle East is on sale from Europe.

What is United Thinking with this Sale?

I have no idea. Its on-again-off-again nature and the fact that only some regions are affected tells me this is not a glitch. United is intentionally holding this sale.

It seems to indicate that they overreached with their partner award devaluation, and they know it.

But why the secrecy? Why is this sale not trumpeted in a press release? As it is, the only people who will take advantage are lucky people who were just searching for an award to these regions and people who read miles blogs.

I’d love theories on why United is having these sales–and having them secretly at that–in the comments.

How Long Will the Sale Last?

Probably not long. The last secret sales lasted about a month. Book now if you want to take advantage.

Hat Tip Dan’s Deals

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Thai Airways First Class on its 747 operates daily between Bangkok and Sydney. Thai Airways First Class is luxurious with renowned Thai service, awesome Thai food, and free hourlong Thai massages for First Class passengers departing Bangkok.

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The price for 9+ hours in Thai First Class: only 40,000 United miles!

For whatever reason, when United jacked up the prices of flying Business and First Class on partners in February 2014, it dropped the premium-cabin prices between Southeast Asia and Australia/New Zealand.

I flew First Class on the Thai A380 in September 2013–unfortunately I lost my camera, so I never wrote a trip report–and I was sufficiently impressed by the bed, food, massage, and service that I would happily fly Thai First Class again. On that trip, I even got an hour in First Class on a Thai 747 from Phuket to Bangkok, and I found this specific seat/bed combo to be very comfortable as well.

The Massage

Most international First Class, at least on Asian airlines, is going to have a great bed, great service, and delicious food. What sets Thai apart is the ground experience.

I connected in Bangkok and was met at the plane door by a Thai employee who escorted me to the lounge. Once there, I was handed off to another employee who took my food, drink, and massage order.

First Class passengers departing Bangkok get a free massage. You have four options, and I went with the hourlong Touch of Silk oil massage. I’m not much of a massage guy, but the time flew by, and I came out feeling relaxed and fantastic.

All else equal, you really want to fly Thai First Class out of Bangkok instead of into Bangkok to take advantage of Thai’s ground service.

Award Space

Award space is very good from Bangkok to Sydney for two passengers in Thai First Class. You can search on united.com. Here’s a search for November and December for only the direct Thai flights.

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There’s premium cabin award space several days a week. There’s no way to distinguish from the calendar which days have Business and which have First Class, but my experience is that a lot more of the space is First Class than Business Class.

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From Sydney to Bangkok, there is even better award space in February and March for two passengers.

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Some days feature two flights between the cities on Thai. On February 4, there is award space on both flights in all three cabins for two people!

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THINK BIG Options

In Bangkok, you can connect throughout United’s South Asia regions for zero extra miles:

  • Bangladesh
  • Bhutan
  • Brunei
  • Cambodia
  • Hong Kong
  • Indonesia
  • Laos
  • Macau
  • Malaysia
  • Myanmar (Burma)
  • Philippines
  • Singapore
  • Thailand
  • Vietnam

In Sydney, you can connect to New Zealand on Air New Zealand for zero extra miles.

Thai First Class could connect SE Asia and Australia into one trip. I’d look to fly to Australia in Etihad First Class on its A380,  Qantas First Class on its A380, or Virgin Australia Business Class with Delta miles. I’d look to fly to SE Asia in Cathay Pacific First Class with American Airlines miles.

Bottom Line

I mainly use my United miles these days for economy awards and United Business awards, but there are a few gems left on the chart for partner First Class. Thai First Class, nine hours in luxury preceded by a one hour massage, is available between Bangkok and Sydney for only 40,000 United miles. Award space is excellent in both directions.

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ANA’s “First Square” is one of the nicest First Classes in the world.

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The fully enclosed suite featured on ANA’s 777-300ERs is a top of the line hard product, including a fully flat bed.

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In addition, it comes with–from the reports I’ve read–typical, excellent service you would expect from a top Asian airline and fancy touches like caviar.

ANA has announced schedule changes that put the 777-300ER on new routes this year.

  • Tokyo-Narita to Houston starting June 12
  • Tokyo-Narita to Singapore starting March 29
  • Tokyo-Narita to Seattle starting May 6
  • Tokyo-Narita to Frankfurt starting May 7

The only one of these flights that I consider accessible with miles is Tokyo to Singapore. On that route, you can get seven hours of one of the world’s nicest First Class products for 60,000 United miles + $22.

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Award space is wide open on the flight with many dates having two First Class award seats.

 

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United charges more for partner First Class than its own mediocre offering, but in this case, not much more. United’s First Class on the route is 55,000 miles.
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You can even get the Tokyo to Singapore leg for only 50,000 AviancaTaca LifeMiles or 25,000 LifeMiles + $375.

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Unfortunately LifeMiles are not easy to earn and basically need to be purchased for 1.65 cents each.

United States to Asia

Of course, you can fly from the United States to Asia on the 777-300ER, but that starts to get prohibitively expensive.

United charges 110,000 miles one way in First Class from the United States to Japan and 130,000 to Singapore.

LifeMiles charges 90,000 miles one way in First Class from the United States to Japan and 99,000 miles one way to Singapore.

Air Canada charges 105,000 miles one way to either in First Class, plus fuel surcharges.

For these reasons, I’d be inclined just to book the seven-hour daytime flight from Tokyo to Singapore with United or LifeMiles. You’d get to enjoy all the service and relax in luxury for a manageable 50,000 to 60,000 miles.

I’d probably make the flight part of a much larger trip hopping around East Asia, and I’d consider using American Airlines miles for the flights to and from the United States. The AA award chart is much cheaper, and they partner with Cathay Pacific, which has just as nice of a First Class product.

Bottom Line

ANA’s schedule changes make getting in the First Square affordable for 50,000 to 60,000 miles one way.

Hat Tip One Mile at a Time

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Singapore miles are fantastic for booking domestic awards on United flights. Singapore has access to all the exact same Saver award space on United flights that United miles have access to (except extra space set aside for elites), and Singapore charges fewer miles on some routes.

Singapore miles are also easier to get than United miles. Singapore miles are a 1:1 transfer partner of Chase Ultimate Rewards, Citi ThankYou Points, AMEX Membership Rewards, and SPG Starpoints. (And 20,000 Starpoints transfers to 25,000 Singapore miles automatically as with all 1:1 SPG partners.)

Last week I needed to book myself a one way ticket from Washington-Dulles to Houston, and Singapore miles were perfect for the task.

Why Singapore Miles?

I have to fly from Washington-Dulles to Houston on a Sunday in April. I have no date flexibility. Because that’s two United hubs, and they are the only carrier with a direct flight, the convenient direct flights are very expensive at $277. Even one-stop flights are $174, and I hate to connect when I don’t have to.

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United and Singapore charge the same amount for an economy award within the continental United States: 12,500 miles each way. Singapore is much cheaper on other awards.

  • 20,000 Singapore miles vs. 25,000 United for a one way in First Class within continental US
  • 17,500 Singapore miles vs. 22,500 United for a one way in economy to Hawaii
  • 30,000 Singapore miles vs. 40,000 United for a one way in First Class to Hawaii

But for the award I had in mind, Singapore miles and United miles were the same price. I chose to use Singapore miles instead of United miles to use some orphan miles balances and because United miles are more versatile overall, so I’d rather save them.

I had 625 Singapore miles, 7,200 ThankYou Points, and plenty Ultimate Rewards. I was able to use almost all my Singapore miles, almost all my ThankYou Points, and just 5,000 Ultimate Rewards for the ticket.

Transferring, Searching, Booking, Timing

The timing of the aspects of a Singapore award are very important and are dictated by the fact that transfers into Singapore miles take about 36 hours. Here are the steps:

  1. Search for Saver space on united.com
  2. If found, transfer points to Singapore miles.
  3. Wait 24-48 hours and hope space doesn’t disappear.
  4. Book your award with Singapore miles.
1. Searching on United.com

I headed to united.com to search from Dulles to Houston. I selected “Nonstop Flights Only” because that was my strong preference. (Don’t sign in before searching. Signing in may show you extra award space Singapore miles can’t access.)

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Despite sky-high cash fares, the award availability on direct flights between the two hubs is wide open. There is economy award space every day and First Class space around half the days.Screen Shot 2015-01-27 at 12.31.43 PM

Here are the results for a typical day. I’ve highlighted the Saver Award column because that is the only space that Singapore miles can access.
Screen Shot 2015-01-27 at 12.31.58 PM

Ignore the miles prices listed. Since we’ll use Singapore miles, we pay the prices on Singapore’s chart. In this case, that would be 12,500 miles in economy and 20,000 in First Class. Even that modest premium is not worth paying for a three-hour flight in my estimation. (The one exception is that I might pay it for First Class on the 5 PM flight. It is operated by a 767-300 with fully flat beds in First Class. You can check that out by clicking View Seats and seeing the bed icon.)

 

Screen Shot 2015-01-27 at 12.32.56 PM

The perfect flight time had economy award space, so I noted the date, cabin, and flight number.

2. Transferring the Points

Since award space existed on my preferred flight, it was time for me to transfer my points. Transfers from all the transferable points programs take about 24-48 hours.

There is nothing you can do in the interim except hope space doesn’t disappear. I was never worried because my route has so much award space.

On some routes, during some transfers, space will disappear. That stinks, but the good news is that Singapore miles are pretty valuable and have a decent number of uses, so even if your plan falls through in one instance, you can still use the Singapore miles later.

I went into my thankyou.com account and transferred 7,000 ThankYou Points to Singapore miles. ThanYou requires transfers in multiples of 1,000, so that was the most I could transfer from my account which had 7,200 points. I quickly got a confirmation email of my transfer.

 

Screen Shot 2015-01-27 at 12.36.01 PM

Then I went to ultimaterewards.com and transferred 5,000 Ultimate Rewards to my Singapore account. I got another confirmation email.
Screen Shot 2015-01-27 at 12.35.39 PM

Both of the transfers posted about 36 hours later on January 18. The date in my Singapore account reflects the transfer date, not when they actually posted.Screen Shot 2015-01-27 at 12.37.03 PM

3. Hoping Space Stays

Once the points transfers posted, I checked united.com, and Saver space was still present on the flight I wanted.

4. Booking the Ticket

I called Singapore at (213) 404-0301 to book the award. I fed the agent the date, cabin, and flight number of the flight I wanted. He priced it at 12,500 miles and 7.5 Singapore dollars ($5.60.)

I ticketed the award.
Screen Shot 2015-01-27 at 12.37.40 PM

I went to united.com and typed in my confirmation number from Singapore, and I was able to get my United confirmation number and select a seat on the flight.

Getting Singapore Miles

Getting Singapore miles is extremely easy now.

Citi ThankYou Points transfer 1:1 in 22-36 hours to Singapore miles. If I had all four types of points in this section, transferring ThankYou Points would be my first choice. This is the best ThankYou Points transfer partner, and the other options like redeeming the points for 1.25 cents each toward any flight aren’t nearly as valuable.

To get 55,000 ThankYou Points after spending $5,000 over 15 months, start with the Citi ThankYou® Premier Card.

My Review of the Citi ThankYou® Premier Card

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  • Earn up to 50,000 bonus ThankYou® Points. Bonus points are redeemable for up to $500 in gift cards, up to $625 for airfare or other great rewards
  • Earn 20,000 points after $2,000 in purchases within the first 3 months of account opening
  • Earn an additional 30,000 points after another $3,000 in purchases within the first 3 months of your second year of being a cardmember
  • Annual Fee: $125 (fee waived for the first 12 months). On  4/19/2015, this fee will be reduced to $95 on all accounts
  • Points do not expire and earn unlimited Thank You Points
  • Travel with ease and enjoy chip based technology

The card also offers 3x points on dining and entertainment and 2x points on travel. (These categories flip flop on April 19.)

Application Link: Citi ThankYou® Premier Card

SPG Starpoints transfer 1:1 to Singapore miles in about a week. Like all SPG 1:1 transfer partners, for every 20,000 points transferred, you’ll get 5,000 bonus miles. Try to transfer in exact 20,000 Starpoint increments to maximize this 20,000:25,000 transfer ratio.

You can earn Starpoints from the Starwood Preferred Guest personal and business credit cards from American Express.

Chase Ultimate Rewards earned from the Ink Plus and Sapphire Preferred transfer to Singapore KrisFlyer miles in a day or two. Points from the Freedom can transfer to any of those three cards‘ accounts and from there on to Singapore.

Ultimate Rewards are the only one of the four points that also transfer 1:1 to United miles, so people with Ultimate Rewards should definitely bookmark this post that compares awards using United and Singapore miles.

American Express Membership Rewards transfer to Singapore KrisFlyer miles in a day or two. Any Gold, Platinum, Green, EveryDay, or corporate card will earn Membership Rewards.

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My friend just booked a Singapore Airlines award with two stopovers, one destination, and one open jaw. He’ll be hopping through the Americas for six weeks for 60,000 miles and $123.

Screen Shot 2015-01-22 at 2.12.41 AM

I’m especially keen to highlight this award because:

  • it’s interesting
  • easy to copy
  • similar to awards I’ve written about theoretically
  • Singapore miles are the easiest to amass. Singapore KrisFlyer is a 1:1 transfer partner of American Express, Chase, and Citi points. SPG points transfer 20,000 points to 25,000 Singapore miles.

Singapore Routing Rules

The type of miles you use determine the rules your award has to follow. He chose to use Singapore miles because of their great stopover rules. Unfortunately, it meant he was limited to six segments total.

Full Singapore Award Routing Rules

Relevant rules:

  • Singapore Airlines allows six segments per award.
  • Singapore allows one free stopover per roundtrip award and up to three additional stopovers for $100 each.
  • Singapore does not allow a stopover on one way awards.
  • Singapore allows one open jaw per roundtrip award.
  • Singapore Airlines is a member of the Star Alliance with access to Saver award space on all 27 airlines.

The Plan

My friend spends the South American summers in Buenos Aires. He wanted to visit family in Los Angeles over Christmas. He briefly toyed with heading to Hawaii, which is very possible on an award like this, and it even drops the price, but decided instead to focus on breaking up his journey with a stopover in each direction.

Since you probably don’t live in Buenos Aires, just imagine he lives in Los Angeles and wants to go to Buenos Aires with a stopover in each direction to make this more analogous to an award most Americans would want to book.

This award between the United States and South America costs 60,000 miles roundtrip in economy and 100,000 in business according to the Singapore award chart. United charges the same 60,000 miles roundtrip in economy, but 110,000 roundtrip in business.

In addition to the destination Los Angeles, my friend wanted a stopover in each direction. The first one is free, the second is $100 on a Singapore award. United would just allow one stopover.

Singapore awards usually include fuel surcharges, but none of Singapore’s partners to South America–United, TACA, Avianca, or Copa–have fuel surcharges on their award flights booked with Singapore miles.

Routing

Copa Airlines offers a ton of award space from its hub in Panama City to 10 American cities and throughout Central and South America.

Screen Shot 2015-01-22 at 11.29.30 AM

My friend decided to stopover in Panama City in one direction.

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For the other direction, he got even more creative, checking all the direct flights out of Los Angeles on Star Alliance carriers on Wikipedia.

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One that caught his eye was United’s flight to Cancun.

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Unfortunately because of the six-segment limit on roundtrip Singapore awards, he’d probably need a direct flight on Copa from Cancun to Panama City to keep his segments total low. Wikipedia confirms there is such a flight.

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Finally, he decided to return to Montevideo instead of Buenos Aires. Montevideo is just a short ferry ride away from Buenos Aires.

That left his routing like this with the minimum segments possible in parentheses:

  • Buenos Aires to Panama City (1 segment) stopover 1
  • Panama City to Los Angeles (1 segment) destination
  • Los Angeles to Cancun (1 segment) stopover 2
  • Cancun to Montevideo (2 segments) open jaw between origin and destination

This award is valid with one segment to spare (that he’d end up using because of less than ideal search results.) It should cost 60,000 Singapore miles total in economy plus government taxes plus $100 for the second stopover in Cancun.

The Execution

All the Star Alliance partners that fly in the Americas are searchable on united.com. Here’s how to search united.com.

The idea is to search all four “parts” of the award–separated by bullet points above–separately. If he found Saver economy award space, he would note the date and flight number, and later feed that to a Singapore phone agent. Singapore Airlines can book all the Saver award space of Star Alliance carriers found on united.com.

I’d strongly recommend performing these searches one way at a time instead of trying to save time by cramming them into a multi-city award search on united.com. You will just get error messages at worst and see fewer search results at best.

Searching one way at a time several months ago, he had success finding economy award space on all legs. His only hiccup was that he didn’t find direct award space from Panama City to Los Angeles, instead he’s connecting in Las Vegas on a combination of Copa and United flights.

Screen Shot 2015-01-22 at 12.44.50 AM

I just did a quick award search of the four parts of his award, and you can see there is excellent Business Class award space and good economy award space.

Buenos Aires to Panama

I limited the search to direct flights. Business Class award space (blue days) is widely available, while only February 23 has economy award space. My friend found economy award space when he searched, so the pattern of availability may have changed, or he may have been lucky.

Screen Shot 2015-01-22 at 11.51.42 AM

Panama to Los Angeles

This is the calendar for Copa’s three direct flights only. There is plenty of space in both cabins. Possibly because this leg is on Christmas Eve, he didn’t find economy award space on the direct flight. There are connections available in El Salvador and Guatemala plus the one he chose in Las Vegas.Screen Shot 2015-01-22 at 11.53.01 AM

Los Angeles to Cancun

Los Angeles to Cancun has a lot of award space in both cabins on the direct United flight if you fly Friday to Monday.

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Cancun to Montevideo

These results are mostly with one stop in Panama. For whatever reason, February only has Business Class award space, while March has plenty Business and economy. He booked economy.Screen Shot 2015-01-22 at 11.54.27 AM

After finding the award space, he called Singapore Airlines at (213) 404-0301. He fed the agent the date, cabin, and flight number of each segment he had noted from united.com. The agent quickly pieced together the award.

This is the confirmation email that Singapore sent him.

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He is spending:

  • 6 days in Panama
  • a month in Los Angeles including Christmas and New Year
  • 9 days in Cancun
  • returning to Montevideo instead of Buenos Aires

The award priced at 60,000 miles + 154 Singapore dollars ($123).

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That is all taxes. He was not charged $100 for his second stopover in accordance with the written rules of the KrisFlyer program. Sweet! Maybe you’ll get lucky too.

I’m not sure which points he transferred to his Singapore account, but in my experience Ultimate Rewards and ThankYou Points both post in 24-48 hours.

Getting the Miles

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

Bottom Line

My friend booked an incredible award with two stopovers, an open jaw, and a destination for only 60,000 miles and $123 in taxes. He’ll get to spend Christmas with his family, explore Panama and Cancun en route, and end up in a different city than where he started.

Singapore miles’ fantastic stopover rules and access to award space on all 27 Star Alliance carriers make this award possible. The best place to book an award like this is to South America because Singapore doesn’t collect fuel surcharges on Copa, TACA, Avianca, or United award space, and the carriers have great award space throughout the Americas.

Singapore miles are easy to get because they are a transfer partner of every transferable points program!

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United is offering award sales, several of them unannounced, to destinations all over the world at the moment.

United’s unannounced sale on Business Class awards to Europe is ongoing And now, via Dan’s Deals, United is offering three more discounts:

  1. Business Class between the United States and Central Asia for 70,000 miles each way on partner airlines for awards flown by March 31, 2015. The normal price is 80,000 miles each way on partners.
  2. Business Class between Europe and the Middle East for 35,000 miles each way on partner airlines for awards flown by March 31, 2015. The normal price is 45,000 miles each way on partners.
  3. Roundtrip economy class on United flights between the United States and Japan for 56,000 miles. The award must be booked by January 11 and flown between January 13 and March 11, 2015. The normal price is 70,000 miles roundtrip.

United States to Central Asia

The sale between the continental United States, Alaska, and Canada and Central Asia is exactly like United’s unannounced sale on Business Class awards to Europe.

You can book now for travel through March 31 and get partner Business Class for the United Business Class price (70,000 miles each way) instead of the normal 80,000 miles each way price.

March 31 from JFK to Delhi, India: 70,000 United miles in Lufthansa Business Class

Screen Shot 2015-01-04 at 11.53.06 PM

April 1 from Newark to Delhi, India: 80,000 United miles in Air India Business ClassScreen Shot 2015-01-04 at 11.53.53 PM

Central Asia includes Afghanistan, India, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Maldives, Nepal, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan.

Since this sale is completely unannounced by United, no one knows when it will end.

Europe to Middle

The sale between Europe and the Middle East follows the same rules.

You can book now for travel through March 31 and get partner Business Class for the United Business Class price (35,000 miles each way) instead of the normal 45,000 miles each way price. Oddly, of course, United doesn’t fly between Europe and the Middle East, so the “United price” on this route is imaginary.

March 31 from Frankfurt to Dubai: 35,000 United miles in Egyptair Business Class

Screen Shot 2015-01-04 at 11.57.43 PM

April 1 from Frankfurt to Dubai: 45,000 United miles in Austrian Business ClassScreen Shot 2015-01-04 at 11.58.15 PM

The Middle East includes Azerbaijan, Bahrain, Egypt, Iran, Iraq, Israel, Jordan, Kuwait, Lebanon, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Syria, United Arab Emirates, Yemen.

United States to Japan

The third sale between the United States and Japan is advertised, and follows the pattern of United economy award sales:

  • Must book a roundtrip award
  • Must fly United planes (not partners)
  • Book by January 11
  • Fly January 13 to March 11, 2015

Follow the sale rules for 20% off roundtrip awards.

Screen Shot 2015-01-05 at 12.07.21 AM

Japan’s aviation taxes are low, like ours, so a roundtrip prices out at 56,000 miles + $44.70.
Screen Shot 2015-01-05 at 12.09.13 AM

Bottom Line

United is currently running unannounced sales to Central Asia, Europe, and the Middle East during which you can fly partner Business Class for the United Business Class price.

There is also a sale to Japan: 20% off economy roundtrips on United flights.

None of these four sales will make me take a trip I otherwise wouldn’t, but all of them are nice automatic savings if you were looking to go to one of these regions.

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