United

16

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.

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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.

1

In the Spring, United is moving its internationally configured 777-200 onto one daily flight on these three domestic routes:

  • Newark to San Francisco: April 5 – May 4
  • San Francisco to Newark: April 6 – May 4
  • Washington-Dulles to San Francisco: March 3 – May 4
  • San Francisco to Washington-Dulles: March 3 – May 4
  • Washington-Dulles to Los Angeles: April 5 – May 4
  • Los Angeles to Washington-Dulles: April 6 – May 4

The 777-200 has eight beds per row in Business and 4 per row in First.

Screen Shot 2016-02-03 at 10.28.10 AM

I reviewed United Business Class here and First Class here.

Search

Search as you normally would on united.com. Click “Details” on the results to find the daily flight operated by a 777.

Screen Shot 2016-02-03 at 10.27.59 AMAward space is fantastic on these routes. Here is the calendar for award space for four people from San Francisco to Newark in April.

Screen Shot 2016-02-03 at 10.27.49 AMIf you have United Expert Mode turned on, you can get the exact number of First or Business Class seats available for awards on each flight by clicking “Details.” First is fare class O, Business is fare class I. For instance, this April 8 flight from San Francisco to Newark has 7 First Class award seats available.

Screen Shot 2016-02-03 at 10.45.28 AM

Booking the Award

If you are booking with United miles, you can book right on united.com. However, I do not recommend using United miles. Here are the prices that three Star Alliance carriers charges for this award space:

  • United: 25k/35k one way in Business/First
  • Singapore: 20k/30k
  • Lufthansa: 17k/25k

To book with Lufthansa or Singapore miles, call Lufthansa or Singapore after searching award space. They will have access to all Business Saver (I) and First Saver (O) space.

Lufthansa miles offer the cheapest awards in United domestic Business and First Class. Lufthansa is a 1:1 transfer partner of SPG Starpoints and issues a credit card to Americans with an occasional 50,000 mile sign up bonus.

Singapore miles offer awards that are cheaper than United. Singapore is a partner of every transferable points program, and points transfer in about 36 hours. Cards I like that earns points that transfer:

  • Citi Prestige® Card: 50,000 bonus ThankYou Points after $3,000 in purchases made with your card in the first 3 months the account is open. The card also comes earns 3x points on airfare and hotels and has a host of benefits like lounge access and $250 in free airfare per year.
  • Sapphire Preferred: 50,000 bonus points after spending $4,000 in the first three months. 2x on dining and travel.
  • Ink Plus (business card): 60,000 bonus points after spending $5,000 in the first three months. 5x on office supplies and telecom bills.
  • Whichever Membership Rewards card (Platinum or Gold, personal or business) is offering a big 50,000, 75,000, or 100,000 point sign up bonus

Bottom Line

United is putting an internationally configured 777 onto three routes this Spring, which means there is extra award space on a fancier product. Book now with Lufthansa or Singapore miles.

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.

11

Starting June 1, 2016, United will fly daily nonstop between San Francisco and Singapore.

Screen Shot 2016-01-29 at 8.02.17 AM

This will be the first nonstop flight between Singapore and the United States since Singapore Airlines dumped routes to Los Angeles and Newark in 2013.

  • UA1 (flight #1? they must be proud): Depart San Francisco at 11:25 PM, arrive in Singapore at 6:45 AM +2 days
  • UA2: Depart Singapore at 8:45 AM, arrive in San Francisco at 9:15 AM (the same day)

That’s 16:20 westbound and 15:30 eastbound.

You can already search award space on united.com. The flight is operated by a 787-9 Dreamliner, so ignore the First Class columns, since the plane only has economy, Economy Plus, and Business.

Screen Shot 2016-01-29 at 7.19.10 AM

United 787-9 Dreamliner

The United 787-9 Dreamliner has 48 beds in Business class in a 2-2-2 configuration. In 2-2-2 configurations, I always choose a middle seat, since both have direct aisle access. If you choose a seat on either side of the plane, you’ll either need to climb over your seatmate or be climbed over during the flight.

Screen Shot 2015-05-11 at 10.14.20 PM

Each seat converts to a fully flat bed with 6’6″ of sleeping space.

Screen Shot 2015-05-11 at 10.14.40 PM

Award Space

Currently there is good award space in economy on the route, but I haven’t seen any Business Class award space. (I haven’t searched every day because United made that 30 times slower last year.)

For instance, July 1st, there is economy Saver award space, but only Business Standard space.

Screen Shot 2016-01-29 at 7.19.59 AM Even when the calendar shows a lot of space between San Francisco and Singapore in Business Class (green and blue days), that space is not on the direct flight. I checked every day in November 2016 and came up completely empty.Screen Shot 2016-01-29 at 7.30.43 AM

How to Fly Business Class on the Dreamliner to Singapore

Since no Saver Business Class is being released yet to Singapore, if you really want to fly it, I’d recommend using United Plan B.

The basics of Plan B are that:

  1. You book United-operated flights with United miles. In this case, you can book from your home airport to Singapore in economy for 40,000 United miles one way or 80,000 United miles roundtrip. I repeat: Plan B only works when redeeming United miles for United-operated flights.
  2. You call United and ask to be waitlisted for a higher cabin on the flights you booked.
  3. The agent takes extra miles from your account as if you were confirmed in the higher cabin. In this case, that would be an extra 30,000 miles each way, since United Business Class to Singapore is 70,000 miles.
  4. You are given top priority on the waitlist as if you were a displaced Business Class passenger. That means you have higher priority than attempted upgraders.
  5. Since United will rarely (ever?) sell all 48 beds on its Dreamliner to Singapore, and you are at the top of the upgrade list, you are very likely to fly Business Class.
  6. If you don’t fly Business Class, you are refunded the extra miles (30,000 each way in this case) that you paid at the time of being waitlisted.

This is an ideal route for a Plan B award because economy award space is so wide open, the Business Class product is good quality and fairly priced, and the Business Class cabin is so large that an upgrade seems very likely.

Here are the first hand experiences of other people who have booked Plan B awards.

How to Get United Miles

The United personal, business, and Club cards plus the Sapphire Preferred and Ink Plus all earn United miles.

Bottom Line

United is launching a direct flight to Singapore with its newest plane the 787-9 Dreamliner. Economy award space is fantastic, but Business Class space is not yet available.

Screen Shot 2015-09-02 at 1.21.16 PM

Use United Plan B awards to turn an economy award magically into a flat bed.

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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.

Updated 1/29/16 to reflect new Aeroplan award prices effective for awards booked 12/15/15 or later.
Updated 10/6/15 to reflect new ANA award prices effective for awards booked 10/15/15 or later.

In the last few weeks, I have published some comparative charts of Star Alliance award charts. I’m putting all of those charts into this post for easier reference.

You can use any type of Star Alliance miles to book almost any Star Alliance flight. (Swiss, Lufthansa, and Singapore hold back some premium cabin award space for their own members. United gives extra award space to elites and United cardholders.) The 27-member alliance has more than a dozen frequent flyer programs, many of which offer good or great deals on some routes.

Screen Shot 2015-05-20 at 9.14.50 PM

I’ve taken the time to make a comprehensive spread sheet of eight programs’ award prices from North America:

  • United (on United flights and on partner flights)
  • Copa
  • Asiana
  • Singapore (on Star Alliance partner flights)
  • Avianca LifeMiles
  • Air Canada Aeroplan
  • Lufthansa Miles & More
  • ANA

These programs were chosen because they all have at least some awards that are really cheap. And other than Copa and LifeMiles, Americans can easily get all these miles through transferable points programs:

  • United: Ultimate Rewards
  • Copa: no easy way to get the miles yet, but the program is brand new
  • Asiana: SPG
  • Singapore: ThankYou Points, Ultimate Rewards, Membership Rewards, SPG
  • LifeMiles: buy miles for 1.5 cents each
  • Aeroplan: Membership Rewards, SPG
  • Lufthansa: SPG
  • ANA: Membership Rewards, SPG

There are other Star Alliance programs into which Americans can transfer miles–Citi ThankYou Points transfer 1:1 to EVA and Thai miles–but their charts don’t offer any value compared to the eight I’ve selected.

Of course, the charts below only captures one part of an award: its mileage price. The routing rules and fuel surcharges matter too. Here are a few big things that applies to all charts:

  • United, Copa, and LifeMiles never collect fuel surcharges. All the others collect fuel surcharges on most awards.
  • All programs allow one way redemptions for the prices listed on the charts except ANA. It only allows roundtrip redemptions for double the price on the chart. I used its fictitious “one way price” that you can’t actually book just to more easily compare to the programs that do allow one way bookings.

For specific information on fuel surcharges to each region and other important routing rules, click on the individual posts where I really analyzed awards to each region.

Searching and Booking the Awards

A truism of miles is that–with few exceptions–award space is equally available to all partners. One corollary is that you can search any award search engine that displays an airline’s award space, and if space is there, you can book it with any partner.

All Star Alliance partner award space is searchable on aeroplan.com. Here’s how to search for award space on aeroplan.com. All the award space you find there is bookable with all the miles discussed in this post. Ignore the price quoted on aeroplan.com. You will pay the price on the award chart of the miles you’re using.

To book, call the airline whose miles you’re using (or go to their website to book online if you can.) Feed the agent the award space you found on aeroplan.com.

The Charts

Below the award charts show the one way price in thousands of miles from the United States mainland to the region listed for the eight types of miles listed. For information on slashes, click the links above to get more information.

Within Mainland United States and Canada

Screen Shot 2015-09-06 at 3.42.55 PM

Alaska

Screen Shot 2015-09-06 at 3.44.14 PM

Hawaii
Screen Shot 2015-09-06 at 3.44.25 PM

Mexico, Central America, and the Caribbean

Screen Shot 2015-10-06 at 12.29.00 AM

Northern South America

Screen Shot 2015-10-06 at 12.29.12 AM

Southern South America

Screen Shot 2016-01-28 at 9.30.52 AM

EuropeScreen Shot 2016-01-28 at 9.31.05 AM

Middle East

Screen Shot 2015-09-10 at 4.28.47 AM

Africa

Screen Shot 2015-09-10 at 4.29.08 AM

North Asia

Screen Shot 2015-09-14 at 7.41.47 AM

Southeast AsiaScreen Shot 2015-10-06 at 12.30.44 AM

Indian SubcontinentScreen Shot 2015-10-06 at 12.30.58 AM

Australia and New Zealand

Screen Shot 2016-01-28 at 9.33.06 AM

Oceania

Screen Shot 2016-01-28 at 9.33.16 AM

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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

Updated 1/27/16 because the offer ends tomorrow.

United has announced a 20% to 25% discount on economy class awards from the United States to Sydney, Australia:

Screen Shot 2016-01-06 at 11.09.57 PM

  • Roundtrip awards booked between now and January 28, 2016
  • for flights flown between February 2 and June 22, 2016
  • on itineraries wholly operated by United and United Express flights
  • will cost only 60k to 64k miles roundtrip, depending on the days of travel

United has run nearly identical promotions for travel to Europe and South America for the last several years.

United’s Current Promotion

I did a few dummy bookings to test out what’s possible. I learned:

  • Discounts apply to roundtrips and open jaws.
  • Discounts do not apply to one way awards or awards with a stopover.
  • If one direction flies Sun-Thurs and the other flies Fri-Sat, the total price is 62,000 miles.
Examples

Roundtrip Los Angeles to Sydney both travel days Sunday through Thursday: 60k miles

Screen Shot 2016-01-06 at 11.17.38 PM Screen Shot 2016-01-06 at 11.17.42 PM

Roundtrip Los Angeles to Sydney with one travel day Sun-Thurs and one Fri-Sat: 62k milesScreen Shot 2016-01-06 at 11.19.30 PMScreen Shot 2016-01-06 at 11.19.38 PM

Open jaw (Los Angeles to Sydney, returning to Newark): 60k milesScreen Shot 2016-01-06 at 11.24.32 PMScreen Shot 2016-01-06 at 11.24.38 PM

Double open jaw (Los Angeles to Melbourne, returning Sydney to San Francisco): 70k miles because the discount only applies to Sydney, not to Melbourne
Screen Shot 2016-01-06 at 11.22.40 PMScreen Shot 2016-01-06 at 11.22.46 PM

Bottom Line

United has introduced a sale on its economy award inventory to Sydney for travel booked by January 28 and flown February 2 to June 22.

The discount does not apply to one ways or to United’s partners’ award inventory.

Discounted awards cost 60,000 to 64,000 United miles roundtrip instead of the normal 80k.

If you can handle economy for 15 hours, the number of miles you need for a trip to Europe can take you to Australia instead during the heart of the summer down under.

Hat Tip Mommy Points

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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.

The three best uses of ThankYou Points are:

  1. Transferring to Singapore miles to book Singapore Suites
    Screen Shot 2015-06-23 at 6.56.37 PM
  2. Transferring to Singapore miles to book United First Class to Hawaii
  3. Transferring to Etihad miles to book American Airlines flights
Singapore Suites

Singapore Suites is inarguably one of the nicest First Class in the world. It is the only First Class where the two middle seats can have their barrier removed to form a single double bed, pictured above.

From the United States, you can book it from Los Angeles to Tokyo or Singapore and New York to Frankfurt or Singapore. Or you can book it within Asia/Pacific as part of a larger trip.

106,000 ThankYou Points transferred to Singapore miles are enough for over 20 hours in Singapore Suites on two flights for one person or for two people to fly 6.5 hours from Singapore to Beijing in Suites together.

United First Class to Hawaii

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

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.)

What’s the catch? For bookings to Hawaii, there really isn’t one. See Guide to Booking United Flights to Hawaii with Singapore Miles for full details.

106,000 ThankYou Points transferred to Singapore miles are almost enough for two roundtrips in First Class (120k) to Hawaii.

American Airlines Flights with Etihad Miles

The Etihad chart for flying American Airlines flights is almost exactly the same as American Airlines’ own chart for American Airlines flights including for off peak awards:

Screen Shot 2015-12-15 at 2.31.05 PM
EO = Off Peak Economy, EP = Economy, B/F = Business, P = First

That means you could use 106,000 ThankYou Points for two roundtrips to Japan or Korea or a roundtrip in Business Class to Europe.

Last year we even saw a transfer bonus from ThankYou Points to Etihad miles that made these deals even better. For more info on booking American Airlines flights with Etihad miles and that transfer bonus, click here.

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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.

I just booked myself an award from Los Angeles to Santiago, Chile in Business Class for 35,000 Asiana miles + $24. United would have charged 55,000 miles for the same flights!

Screen Shot 2016-01-18 at 8.47.54 AM

Why Asiana Miles

Asiana has really cheap awards to Europe and South America and really expensive awards elsewhere. Asiana does collect fuel surcharges on awards when similar cash tickets have them, which is why Asiana awards to South America are so awesome: none of Asiana’s partners to South America have fuel surcharges on their flights within the Americas.

I already had exactly 35,000 Asiana miles in my account from previous Starpoint transfers. Starpoints transfer 1:1 to Asiana miles with the standard 5,000 bonus miles from transferring 20,000 Starpoints. That means 35,000 Asiana miles equals 30,000 Starpoints.

Searching

I plan to spend February through May in South America, mostly in Buenos Aires, but I can only spend 90 days there on a single visit, so I was looking to fill a few weeks with other stops first. I considered grand adventures in Guatemala, Colombia, and Brazil, but eventually settled on a first trip to Santiago, Chile.

I decided to book a two week trip there, though I may leave the capital for a few days or a week in the middle.

I have very little flexibility for the Los Angeles to Santiago trip; I need to leave on one of two days. I searched on united.com for award space between Los Angeles and Santiago because any Copa, Avianca, or TACA space on united.com and any United Saver space on united.com can be booked with Asiana miles. I found pretty good space.

Screen Shot 2016-01-18 at 12.11.48 AM

On the search results, I clicked the Business Saver award column, so itineraries with Business Class award space would show up at the top.

Screen Shot 2016-01-18 at 12.12.13 AM

On the days I need to travel, the only Business Class award space is on one stop itineraries on Copa through Santiago. (Humorously, the itineraries don’t have Saver economy space, so a Business Class award is cheaper than an economy award with United miles.)

Screen Shot 2016-01-18 at 12.11.42 AMThe flight times and route are great, but Copa Business Class stinks. It is just a regular recline seat like you’d find in domestic First Class.

Booking and Seat Selection

Still I decided to book the Copa space since I don’t have date flexibility.

Booking the award is straightforward though not as streamlined as it should be. Always call the airline whose miles you’re using, so I called Asiana at 800-227-4262.

Here’s where it gets weird:

  1. First you need to reserve the ticket with reservations.
  2. Then you need to pay for the ticket with Asiana Club.

I followed automated prompts to reservations. I gave the agent the date, cabin, and flight number of each segment that I had found on united.com.

The agent put the award together and gave me a confirmation number, which was the last eight digits of my phone number, then transferred me to Asiana Club. I gave them the confirmation number and my credit card. They ticketed the award for 35,000 Asiana miles + $24 in taxes. (There is no phone fee, there are no fuel surcharges, and there is no charge for booking at the last minute.) I got an email receipt a few hours later.

To confirm that everything ticketed correctly, I tried to select seats from Copa. I didn’t have the Copa confirmation number to select seats on copaair.com, so I called Copa and read the ticket number from my Asiana receipt to get my Copa reservation number. Then I went back to copaair.com and could pull up my reservation.

Screen Shot 2016-01-16 at 6.43.30 PM Oddly, the flights are listed as “Economy Class (I)” even though I is the booking code for Business Class award space. I was able to select Seat 1A on each flight, further easing my worries that Copa will put me in economy.

I am not going to investigate “Economy Class” farther. I expect I will be flying Business Class, and if not, I will probably get a nice refund from Asiana.

Future Changes

As mentioned, Copa Business Class stinks. I would much rather fly from Los Angeles to Houston to Santiago with the last leg in United flat bed Business Class on the 787-9 Dreamliner.
Screen Shot 2016-01-18 at 12.14.58 AM

United is very stingy with this award space but opens some in the last few weeks before departure. As of yesterday, there was award space on the flight on January 18, 19, 22, 26, 27, and 28. That makes me hopeful that the days I want to fly will soon have flat bed Business Class award space. If that happens, I expect to be able to change the award for free based on my previous experience changing an Asiana award.

Bottom Line

I paid 35,000 Asiana miles for Business Class award space to Chile. To put in context how cheap that is, let me compare it to United’s award prices to Chile, which I consider eminently reasonable:

  • 30,000 United miles each way in economy
  • 55,000 United miles each way in Business Class

I will spend two awesome weeks in Chile and then fly my British Airways Avios award to Buenos Aires.

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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.

7

Award space is wide open in Turkish Airlines Business Class between the United States and Europe for four people per flight over the heart of the Summer.

This is amazing news because normally award space over the summer is the toughest to find, finding four seats on the same flight in Business Class is almost unheard of, Turkish flies to more countries than any other airline, and you can book the space for as cheap as 40,000 miles one way with no fuel surcharges.

Turkish Routes

These are Turkish’s routes to the United States.

Screen Shot 2016-01-19 at 8.33.44 PMFrom Istanbul, there are great connections within Europe, to Africa, to the Middle East, and to the Indian Subcontinent.

Award Space

Unfortunately, United made united.com worse, so I can’t isolate the direct award space.

All these calendars show award space for four people. Green and blue days have four Business Class seats, not necessarily on the direct Turkish flight (but probably.)

Boston to Istanbul

Screen Shot 2016-01-19 at 5.34.26 PM Screen Shot 2016-01-19 at 5.34.43 PMLos Angeles to IstanbulScreen Shot 2016-01-19 at 5.51.51 PM Istanbul to New YorkScreen Shot 2016-01-19 at 5.56.07 PM Screen Shot 2016-01-19 at 5.56.11 PM

Check the route that most interests you for award space. I think you’ll be pleasantly surprised.

Product

Here is the “catch.” Turkish’s Business Class is 2-3-2 across each row. That’s a terrible configuration. You could get a middle seat in Business Class (although you almost certainly won’t if you select a seat soon after booking.) Seat Guru describes the seats as having 177 degrees of recline, which is basically flat.

Here is a recent video of Turkish Business Class.

Other than the seats, Turkish Business Class looks top notch, including having an onboard chef.

Searching, Connections, Booking

Search Turkish award space on united.com. Any Turkish award space you find there, you can book with any Star Alliance miles.

Screen Shot 2015-05-20 at 9.14.50 PM

If you don’t live in a city served by Turkish, that’s no problem. You can hook up any United Saver award space in economy or first class to get to a Turkish gateway for no extra miles. If you want to connect to somewhere else in Europe or to Africa or Asia, you can definitely do that too, though other continents will cost extra miles.

Book online on the website of the airline whose miles you want to use, or if that’s not possible, by calling the airline whose miles you want to use. I’d recommend booking with:

Bottom Line

No excuses for not taking your whole family to Europe this summer in Turkish Business Class.

Hat Tip View from the Wing

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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.

7

United 903
Honolulu (HNL) – Tokyo (NRT)
Depart: 11:50 AM on Saturday December 26, 2015
Arrive: 4:00 PM on Sunday, December 27, 2015
Duration: 9:10
Aircraft: Boeing 747-400
Seat: 13J BusinessFirst (United confusingly calls Business Class “BusinessFirst.” The real First Class is called “Global First.”)

Because I was flying international Business Class, I had free access to the United Club, which is right above Gate 8, the gate we were using, at Honolulu International Airport.

Screen Shot 2015-12-28 at 7.00.24 AM

I left the United Club at about 11:15 AM, ten minutes after boarding started. Because United has dedicated lanes for Premier Access passengers and because the 747 has a dedicated boarding door for First and Business Class, I was able to skip past the crowds and board easily.

While a nice international airline would greet premium cabin passengers at the door (and escort First Class passengers to their seats), the United flight attendant at the door stood silently as I walked past. I headed for the stairs in the middle of the Business Class cabin. This would be my first flight flying upstairs on a 747!

I chose to fly upstairs for the novelty and because the Business Class cabin on the main deck has an ultra-crowded 2-4-2 layout. Upstairs is just 2-2.

Screen Shot 2015-12-28 at 7.00.35 AM
Main Deck Business Class on United 747-400

I was very happy I chose to fly up top. The 2-2 layout felt much less crowded, and I had a view into the cockpit while we were on the ground.Screen Shot 2015-12-28 at 7.00.42 AM Screen Shot 2015-12-28 at 7.00.50 AMUnfortunately, the overhead bins upstairs are tiny. My laptop bag barely fit.

Screen Shot 2015-12-28 at 7.01.11 AMMy backpack definitely didn’t fit, so I stored it in the closet near the top of the stairs with several other carry ons.
Screen Shot 2015-12-28 at 7.01.02 AM

If you have a window seat, there is some additional storage between your seat and the window, but I had an aisle seat, specifically seat 13J, a rear-facing aisle seat.

Screen Shot 2015-12-28 at 7.01.28 AM

Every seat in Business Class was taken, so I was in close quarters with a stranger for the entire flight, who had to climb over or past me whenever he needed to access the aisle. United Business Class is not the most private Business Class out there.

At my seat when I boarded were slippers, headphones (not noise-canceling), a pilow, and a blanket. Before takeoff, I was also brought an amenity kit, a menu, and immigration forms. I was impressed by the flight attendants working the upper deck. They were the most polite of any flight attendants I have encountered in Business Class on an American airline.

The menu read as follows:Screen Shot 2015-12-28 at 7.01.37 AM Screen Shot 2015-12-28 at 7.02.01 AM Screen Shot 2015-12-28 at 7.02.10 AM Screen Shot 2015-12-28 at 7.02.23 AM Screen Shot 2015-12-28 at 7.02.38 AM

Oddly, the wines were not listed on the menu, just long descriptions of what Old World and New World wines are. I ordered Tamale-filled Chicken Breast.

The amenity kit was very nice. I liked its size and feel. If I didn’t already carry Emirates and Avianca amenity kits filled with my toiletries, I would have kept this one for permanent use.

Screen Shot 2015-12-28 at 7.04.01 AMThe contents of the kit were standard with Cowshed branded lotion and lip balm.Screen Shot 2015-12-28 at 7.04.13 AMBefore take off, I reclined the seat and selected a movie from the long list of available movies and shows. I love when the entertainment system is available on the ground.
Screen Shot 2015-12-28 at 7.02.49 AM

I don’t love the little cubby where your feet go when relaxing or sleeping in United Business Class. It feels very cramped.

Finally before take off, the flight attendants served a pre-departure beverage in the classiest way possible. Instead of a tray with pre-poured water, juice, and champagne as is standard on many airlines in Business Class, the flight attendant took our orders and brought them two people at a time. I appreciated the personal touch, and the larger drink selection that this method makes possible.

Once we took off, I used the intuitive seat controls to put the seat into bed mode, which is how I watched my movie until lunch was served 45 minutes after take off.

Screen Shot 2015-12-28 at 7.03.00 AM

The meal service started with warm nuts and a drink of our choice.Screen Shot 2015-12-28 at 7.03.07 AM

Next the appetizers came out. The salad was pre-plated, but the flight attendant offered two types of dressing that she ladled on and optional crutons that she poured on. A bread basked was offered, and I chose garlic bread. The other appetizer had a Japanese feel with sushi and sashimi.Screen Shot 2015-12-28 at 7.03.14 AM

The salad was fine, the garlic bread was great, and I don’t eat seafood.

For the main course, I was very happy with my tamale-filled chicken. It is an inventive take on the classic tamale.

Screen Shot 2015-12-28 at 7.04.28 AM

While my plates were cleared quickly, I couldn’t really eat at my own pace, as I had to wait for the whole cabin for the next course to start. After the main course came the cheese and fruit course with port.
Screen Shot 2015-12-28 at 7.04.35 AM I enjoyed the plate of cheese and also partook in the sundae cart.Screen Shot 2015-12-28 at 7.04.46 AM I went with chocolate sauce, whipped cream, and cookie crumbs. Nom nom nom!Screen Shot 2015-12-28 at 7.04.55 AM After the meal, I was ready for a nap, so I put the seat back into bed mode.Screen Shot 2015-12-28 at 7.05.17 AMScreen Shot 2015-12-28 at 7.05.06 AM

I slept for two-and-a-half hours, so the bed was a success. It could stand to be wider that 20″, longer than 6’4″, and have more foot room than the cubby. But I did get a good nap on a plane at 6’4″ tall, so I have no complaints.
Screen Shot 2015-12-28 at 7.03.25 AMWhen I awoke, the flight attendants had put a snack cart in the cabin with fruits, candy, chips, sandwiches, and fruit/cheese plates. The turkey sandwich was delicious.Screen Shot 2015-12-28 at 7.03.45 AMI continued to watch television shows until 90 minutes before landing when breakfast was served. This is a very odd thing to serve at 2:30 PM in Japan/7:30 PM in Hawaii.Screen Shot 2015-12-28 at 7.03.53 AM

We landed thirty minutes early, got to the gate 15 minutes early, and I got through immigration and customs in 15 more minutes. I was in Tokyo at my hostel about two hours after landing and made it to Shibuya Crossing on my first night.

Bottom Line

Bed

Very tall people will be cramped, and many may find the foot cubby uncomfortable, but overall it is a comfortable enough flat bed.

Entertainment

Large selection of movies and TV shows on demand. Noise-canceling headphones would be fancier, but I can’t say I noticed the difference.

Service

The friendliest, most service-oriented flight attendants I have found in Business Class on an American airline. Maybe the service culture of the East Asian airlines has rubbed off on this route.

Food

Edible and plentiful. You’ll generally get better meals on the ground, but I can’t complain about solid, free, unlimited food that ends with a sundae bar.

Suggestions

Fly upstairs to feel less crowded. Grab an aisle seat if you get up a lot and a window seat if you get up rarely because unfortunately one person in each pair of seats always has to climb over his seatmate to reach the aisle.

Overall

This is flight is an amazing value for 40,000 United miles + $5.60 in Business Class. (Economy is 25k miles.) I wouldn’t splurge for First Class, which is 62,500 miles each way because United First Class is barely better than United Business Class.

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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.

American Airlines, United, and Delta all release several co-branded credit cards with various benefits, bonuses, and fees.

I have attempted to summarize the following cards on one table for easy comparison:

I consider these to be the “basic” personal card for each of the three legacy carriers in the United States. Each airline also has a lower-tier cards which earn miles at a lower rate and come with no sign up bonus. And several of the airlines have higher tier cards that come with gigantic annual fees and even better benefits. But these are the four basic cards.

  • Which cards have the best sign up bonus?
  • Which have the best benefits?

The chart below is slightly color-coded. Red indicates something particularly excellent. Blue indicates something bad. (Click to enlarge.)

Screen Shot 2015-12-18 at 8.41.59 AM

Sign Up Bonuses

The Citi® / AAdvantage® Platinum Select® MasterCard® offers 50,000 bonus American Airlines miles after spending $3,000 in the first three months.

You can spend those miles on American Airlines’ amazing award chart, which features some absolute steals like 67,500 miles one way in Cathay Pacific First Class to Southeast Asia. (The American Airlines chart gets a lot worse March 22, 2016.)

IMG_0052
Cathay Pacific First Class

The United card’s public bonus is 30,000 miles after spending $1,000 in the first three months. Log into your United account here to see if you are offered the 50k/$2k offer. If not, go to a Chase branch and apply in person for the 50k/$2k offer.

The Delta frequently has targeted 50k bonus offer, and every few months has a public one. Skip it at 30k unless you are desperate for Delta miles.

Annual Fees

The American Airlines, United, and Delta cards all waive the annual fee for 12 months, then charge $95.

Elite Dollar Waivers

United and Delta have added a requirement that you spend a certain amount of money each year with those airlines to get elite status, in addition to the classic requirement of flying a certain number of miles or segments.

Spending $25,000 on your United card in a calendar year waives that year’s Premier Qualifying Dollar requirement for statuses up to Platinum, but not for 1K. In addition, you’d get 10,000 bonus award miles for spending $25,000 on the card in a year.

Spending $25,000 on your Delta card in a calendar year waives that year’s Medallion Qualifying Dollar requirement for all statuses.

American has not imposed a dollar requirement to get status, so its card doesn’t need or have this feature.

Extra Features

My favorite extra feature is that the United card offers cardholders extra award space on United flights that is normally set aside for elites.

Bottom Line

Airline cards offer attractive sign up bonuses, benefits that mimic lower tier status like priority boarding and a free checked bag, and other perks like lounge passes.

I have had or currently have every card in this post for these reasons.

However, airline co-branded cards are generally not the cards to put all your daily spending on because they only earn 1 mile per dollar. Focus on these cards for the bonuses and perks, and put your big monthly spending on cards with category bonuses.

CKANbanner_300x250_v6b

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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

Update: Below is my bonus offer. This is a targeted bonus, so yours may be different.

Through December 18, 2015, United is offering a 100% bonus on purchased miles. The size of the bonus depends on the number of miles you buy, with the largest 100% bonus kicking in at 30,000 miles purchased.

Screen Shot 2015-12-15 at 11.49.13 AM

United miles normally cost 3.5 cents per mile plus a 7.5% tax, bringing the full price to 3.76 cents each. During the sale, the prices are:

  • Get 1,000 – 9,000 miles: 3.76 cents per mile
  • Get 15,000 to 43,500 miles: 2.51 cents per mile
  • Get 60,000 to 150,000 miles: 1.88 cents per mile

Buying 30,000 miles–the fewest you need to purchase to get the biggest bonus–costs $1,129, which is 1.88 cents each for the 60,000 United miles you get.Screen Shot 2015-12-15 at 11.50.27 AM

Is This a Good Deal?

No, this is a bad deal for speculative purchases. Since United’s huge devaluation in 2014, I value United miles at around 1.6 cents. The bottom line on all mileage sales is that they’re a good deal if you have an immediate, high-value use and not a good deal otherwise.

There are a few United awards for which you’ll get more than 1.88 cents of value per mile, but even in those cases, you’d probably be better off buying LifeMiles for 1.32 each and redeeming them for the exact same award.

Math

To figure out if you have a high-value use, use this simple expression:

(A – B) / (C + D)

  • A: Value of the award. Important: this is the lesser of the cash price and your subjective value.
  • B: Taxes on the award
  • C: Miles used on the award
  • D: Miles you would earn if you purchased the award ticket with cash

This will spit out the dollar value you are getting for your miles. If that number is greater than 0.0188, and you can book the dream award now, and LifeMiles somehow is offering a worse deal, buy during this promotion. Otherwise, don’t buy.

Bottom Line

You can buy 150,000 United miles for 1.88 cents each until December 18, 2015. That’s way too high to buy speculatively.

United sales are processed by points.com, so you do not get category bonuses on cards that bonus airline or travel purchases like the Citi Prestige® Card, which offers 3x on purchases from airlines.

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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

United is releasing an unusual amount of award space to Europe for Summer 2016. A lot of flights have 9+ award seats in Business Class on the same flight. Book now before it disappears!

United award space can be searched on united.com, and the Saver award space can be booked with any Star Alliance miles. A check on Comprehensive Spread Sheet of 8 Star Alliance Award Charts: Cheapest Awards to Europe shows that the best options are:

  • 40,000 Asiana miles each way
  • 88,000 ANA miles roundtrip
  • 45,000 Aeroplan miles one way to Western Europe, 52,500 to Eastern
  • 57,500 United miles one way
  • 63,000 LifeMiles one way

None of those programs collect fuel surcharges on United flights to Hawaii.

Asiana, ANA, and Aeroplan miles are SPG transfer partner. ANA and Aeroplan are also AMEX Membership Rewards partners. United is an Ultimate Rewards transfer partner. LifeMiles can be purchased for 1.32 cents each.

Award Space

The unbelievable award space is out of Washington and Chicago.

Unfortunately there is no free way to get a calendar that shows direct award space on the United flights, since United made the calendars on united.com less useful with the recent site redesign. These calendars show all Star Alliance options for one person instead. But they should give some idea of what is available, so you can go search united.com yourself. Green days have Business Class award space.

Washington-Dulles to Rome

Screen Shot 2015-12-11 at 9.05.19 PM

Signing in and clicking on a date let me see the breakdown of all fare classes available on the daily United flight. This flight has “I9″, which means there are at least nine Saver award seats in Business Class that anyone can book with United or other Star Alliance miles.
Screen Shot 2015-12-11 at 9.07.58 PM

Washington-Dulles to Paris
Screen Shot 2015-12-11 at 9.09.20 PM
Washington-Dulles to Brussels
Screen Shot 2015-12-11 at 9.13.48 PM
Chicago to Munich
Screen Shot 2015-12-11 at 9.15.15 PM
Chicago to Rome
Screen Shot 2015-12-11 at 9.16.44 PM

Connections

This space is useful even if you live in, say, Little Rock, Arkansas and want to go to, say, Amsterdam.

You can connect in United domestic First Class or United economy to these award flights for zero extra miles if you find Saver award space. You can often connect in Europe for zero extra miles, though flying another carrier will open you up to fuel surcharges if using Asiana, Aeroplan, or ANA miles.

Here is how to search and book an award like that using Segment-by-Segment searching.

Booking the Award

Search on united.com for Saver award space, and book on the website of the miles you are using or by calling the airline whose miles you are using.

You can book United award space on united.com, lifemiles.com, or aeroplan.com. The other miles mentioned would require a call to those airlines.

Bottom Line

United.com has award space for as many nine passengers on many flights to Europe this Summer in Business Class. Award space like this doesn’t last, so book it with your favorite Star Alliance miles now.

Hat Tip Mile Cards

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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.

I tweeted this deal first from @MileValueAlerts. Follow @MileValueAlerts on Twitter and follow these directions to get a text message every time I tweet from that account. I tweet from @MileValueAlerts only a few times a month because it is designed to be used only for the best and most limited-time deals–like mistake fares–so that you aren’t bombarded by text messages.

Travel to Bogota, Colombia roundtrip for $303+ on American Airlines and United Airlines from:

  • New York
  • Dallas
  • Miami
  • Chicago
  • Washington DC
  • Phoenix
  • Charlotte
  • Philadelphia

The fares are mostly available in January and February

Contents:

  1. When are the $303 fares?
  2. Why Bogota?
  3. Other Colombia Options
  4. Mileage Earning
  5. Best Credit Card to Buy the Ticket

$303 Roundtrip from USA to Colombia

These fares are mostly on American Airlines flights from United hubs or United flights from American Airlines hubs. Search on your favorite online travel agency with flexible dates to find them. I’ll list some here.

New York: $338 Roundtrip

Screen Shot 2015-12-11 at 11.20.43 AM

Dallas: $328 Roundtrip

Screen Shot 2015-12-11 at 11.22.50 AM Screen Shot 2015-12-11 at 11.23.41 AM

Miami: $303 RoundtripScreen Shot 2015-12-11 at 11.25.02 AM Screen Shot 2015-12-11 at 11.25.27 AM Chicago: $388 RoundtripScreen Shot 2015-12-11 at 11.27.34 AM
Washington: $337 RoundtripScreen Shot 2015-12-11 at 11.28.16 AM
Charlotte: $327 RoundtripScreen Shot 2015-12-11 at 11.28.52 AM Screen Shot 2015-12-11 at 11.29.31 AM Philadelphia: $328 RoundtripScreen Shot 2015-12-11 at 11.30.14 AM
Phoenix: $328 RoundtripScreen Shot 2015-12-11 at 11.31.13 AM

Why Bogota?

I’ve spent a little over four weeks there in the last year. Other than the weather, which is generally brisk, cloudy, and rainy, I love the city.

Hike Monserrate, hit the Gold Museum, go to the restaurant/nightclub Andres Carne de Res (all ages), and eat at El Corral and Sipote plus more sophisticated places. If you like nightlife, stay in Zona Rosa (AKA Zona T) or Rosales.

Most importantly, on any Sunday or holiday, rent a bike and participate in the original ciclovia, which has spawned worldwide imitations. You can bike on 121 km of roads closed to cards. I took the opportunity to roll through the South of the city which would otherwise be far too dangerous to visit alone.

Screen Shot 2015-09-01 at 3.34.04 AM

Other Colombia Options

Here are other places I like or want to go in Colombia:

  • Medellin
  • Cali
  • Parque Tayrona
  • El Camino a La Ciudad Perdida
  • Cocora Valley
  • Cartagena

All of these can be reached with Avios on LAN Colombia from Bogota or on low cost carriers. This fare is a gateway to all of Colombia.

Mileage Earning

On American Airlines flights, you’ll earn one American Airlines mile per mile flown, which are worth about 1.8 cents each to me. Starting in the second half of 2016, American Airlines will copy United’s revenue-based program for earning award miles from flights.

For the United flights, you’ll earn 5 United miles per dollar of the base fare, very few miles in this case, or more if you have status.

Best Way to Buy the Ticket

Your top choice should be the Citi Prestige® Card, since it comes with a $250 Air Travel Credit every calendar year that will cover the purchase of this ticket. If you haven’t used the credit yet, buy this fare with your Prestige, and you will receive an offsetting credit on your next statement: a completely free ticket!

Even if you’ve already used your $250 credit for this year, the card offers 3x on all airfare purchases.

See my review of the Citi Prestige Card which explains its many benefits like it annual $250 Air Travel Credit, 50,000 point sign up bonus, access to the American Airlines Admirals Clubs and Priority Pass lounges, 3x points per dollar on air travel and hotels, and a $450 annual fee.

My second choice would be the Barclaycard Arrival Plus™ World Elite MasterCard®, which comes with 40,000 bonus Arrival miles after spending $3,000 on purchases in the first 90 days.

Screen Shot 2015-10-22 at 5.54.18 PM

Make the purchase with the Barclaycard Arrival Plus™ World Elite MasterCard®, and you can redeem Arrival miles to remove the charge. A $303 flight would be 30,300 Arrival miles, and you’d earn airline miles for flying, since the airline would see your ticket as a cash flight.

Hat Tip Secret Flying

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

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 one of the cities serviced by Allegiant, don’t mind a middle seat for five 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 are also a reasonable option for anyone who lives close to one of the airports mentioned in this section, since a short hop flight only adds 4,500 Avios to the price each way. That means Tucson to Los Angeles to Lihue roundtrip would be 34,000 Avios and $11.

Avios can be used for oneway 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 oneway 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.

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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.

9

In October, I booked what might have been my favorite award ever: a Three One Way award that would allow me to see Pohnpei, Palau, and the Philippines while flying the Island Hopper. Read about it here.

Screen Shot 2015-10-14 at 4.51.50 PM

Alas, something came up, so I can’t fly it. I decided to just fly directly to Japan instead, but that still left the thorny issue of how to turn my old award into an award to Japan.

United charges $200 to cancel an award and re-credit the miles. (You do get the taxes back, so you end up paying less than $200 at the time of cancellation.)

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But there’s two ways to save big on that fee.

  1. If there is a schedule change, you can call up and tell the agent the new flight schedule doesn’t work for you. They will cancel and fully refund the ticket. How big of a schedule change? I don’t know United’s rule. American Airlines requires a 60+ minute change.
  2. Instead of canceling, you can change your award and pay the much lower change fee.

Unfortunately there had been no schedule change since I booked my ticket, so I went with the second plan.

You can make any change to the ticket and pay the lower $75 fee ($50 in practice).

To change an award, sign in to your United account, click “My trips,” and click “Change flight.”

Screen Shot 2015-11-30 at 9.13.43 PM

Check all segments of the award, and then continue.
Screen Shot 2015-11-30 at 9.14.04 PM

As I mentioned, I just wanted to book a simple one way award from Honolulu to Tokyo to see Japan for the first time and start a month in Asia.Screen Shot 2015-11-30 at 9.14.32 PM There was economy award space on the day I want to fly, which costs 25,000 United miles + $5.60. My old award cost 47,500 miles + $18.20. I get refunded the difference but have to pay a $50 change fee. (Why that is not a $75 change fee as United’s website says it should be is beyond me but for at least 2.5 years, United has been under-collecting this fee online.)Screen Shot 2015-11-30 at 9.17.19 PM

I made the change, paying with my Citi ThankYou® Premier Card to earn 3x points, and got instant confirmation that I am booked on my new flight. I signed out of my United account and back in and saw that my 22,500 mile refund had already posted.

Bottom Line

I’m missing Pohnpei and Palau for now. I hope to see them later in 2016 or in the more distant future.

You should never pay a $200 cancellation fee on a United award. Hope for a schedule change for a free cancellation. Failing that, just change the award for a $50 fee.

The new award does NOT need to have anything in common with the old one. I could have changed the award to any award flight. As far as I know, the cheapest United award is 6,000 miles for a one way award within Hawaii. In a pinch, it is better to pay a $50 change fee and eat 6,000 miles by changing to an intra-Hawaii flight that you never plan to fly than to pay $200 to cancel an award and get all your miles back.

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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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