Two weeks ago, I wrote that United had ended free holds online for award bookings.
Luckily, JB from the MileValue Award Booking Service came up with an extremely simple hack to regain all of the lost award-hold functionality.
The ability to hold awards is crucial when booking a trip has many moving parts–hotels, flights for more than one person, several awards booked with different types of miles, etc–that you want to lock in completely before booking any part of the trip. That means it is great news that we can hold United awards so broadly!
Award holds on United are possible again under two circumstances:
- You have enough miles in your United account to book the award. (PayPal trick)
- You do NOT have enough miles in your United account to book an award AND the award contains a partner segment. (DoNotTrackMe trick)
That means there is only one time when you cannot hold an award on united.com:
- You do NOT have enough miles in your account and the award contains only segments on United airplanes.
And even here, there’s a workaround.
How do you hold a United award when you have enough miles in your account? What about when you don’t have enough miles? What’s JB’s hack?
Last week without warning, United took away the ability to hold any award with a partner segment if your account didn’t have the miles to ticket right away.
Before disappearing, it was a great hold to make if you needed to transfer Ultimate Rewards into your United account or if you justed want to give yourself an extra day or two to make a decision. I was sad to see it go.
Luckily my friend JB emailed me to say that he had found a workaround that I’ve been able to replicate.
How to Hold an Award that Includes a Partner Segment when Your Account is Short (DoNotTrackMe trick)
The workaround is to download something called DoNotTrackMe. I’m not sure why it works, but it does.
Step 1: Go to www.abine.com and click Get DoNotTrackMe.
Note that you download things onto your computer at your own risk. I am telling you how I’ve been able to hold United awards, not insisting that you download anything. Copying me is at your own risk.
Step 2: Create an Account.
Step 3: Inside your account, activate Tracker Blocker and install it on your browser, which will require a browser restart.
Now when you go to united.com and search for an award that includes at least one segment on an airline other than United, and you don’t have enough United miles to ticket the award right away, the Reserve button will appear–exactly where it used to appear–once you’ve selected your flights!
You are required to give a credit card to hold the award, but if you do nothing, the award hold will lapse and your credit card will NOT be charged.
The award is held until 11:59 PM the next day in the time zone of the departure city.
You can find the award and its confirmation number by clicking Change/View Existing Reservations in your United account.
There’s the award I held:
How to Hold Any Award When You Have Sufficient Miles to Book (PayPal Trick)
Step 1: Select any award–with flights operated by any airline–and go through the screens to purchase the award. First you click “Continue to traveler information.”
The hold is now in place, and if you want to see it, you can do so by selecting Change/View Existing Reservations from any united.com page.
How Do You Hold United-Only Awards When You Are Short Miles?
If your account has zero miles and you select an award with only United-operated flights, United wants you to pay to hold the award with its Fare Lock product.
For instance, here is an award from Los Angeles to New York for 12,500 miles and my account only has 6,500 miles in it. Fare Lock costs $10-$15 depending on how long I want to hold the award.
To save that money, I would simply add a partner segment to the award and then–after downloading DoNotTrackMe–I’d have the chance to hold the award for free since:
- the award would include a partner segment
- and my account wouldn’t have enough miles to book the award
Here’s the same Los Angeles to New York flight with a dummy leg from Phoenix to Los Angeles beforehand. As you can see, I’m offered the Reserve button, which means I can hold the award for free.
If you do this, you just have to call to book the award and have the agent remove the dummy leg before booking. Make sure to tell her you put the award on hold online, but couldn’t make the change you wanted online, so you had to call to ticket the award. This will get her to waive the $25 per person phone ticketing fee.
When it comes to holding United awards, there are three types of awards:
- Awards that cost less than your United account balance.
- Awards that cost more than your United balance and include a partner segment.
- Awards that cost more than your United balance and don’t include a partner segment.
If you have enough United miles to ticket an award–type 1 above–use the PayPal trick to hold the award.
If you are short the miles you need, and the award has a partner segment–type 2 above–use the DoNotTrackMe trick to hold the award.
If you are short and don’t have a partner segment–type 3 above–add a dummy partner segment, then use the DoNotTrackMe trick.
If you are confused or your time is better spent on things other than award booking, hire the MileValue Award Booking Service to book your dream award.
Getting the Miles
I’m still bullish on United miles. They’re fantastic for economy awards. They’re also reasonable for United Business awards, and I consider United Business to be a very comfortable bed with solid food and entertainment options. See reviews here and here.
Plus there are a lot of options to get United miles. When you can rack them up very quickly, a lot of awards are in reach.
There are United co-branded credit cards. There are also cards that earn Ultimate Rewards like the Sapphire Preferred, Ink Plus, and Ink Bold that allow 1:1 transfers of their Ultimate Rewards to United miles.