United

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United is offering a 25% discount on roundtrip economy awards to Brazil and Chile this Spring (their Fall.) For 45,000 United miles, you can fly roundtrip to Santiago, Rio de Janeiro, or Sao Paulo.

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Key Terms

  • Book by 11:59 p.m. on April 26, 2015.
  • Travel by June 25, 2015.
  • You must fly only United and United Express flights–no partners.
  • Discounted Saver Award is only valid for travel between the U.S. or Canada (excluding Hawaii) and Brazil or Chile.
  • Discounted Saver Award is only valid if you book roundtrip travel in Economy cabin. One-way travel is still priced as a regular, non-discounted Saver Award.
  • For this offer, a roundtrip is defined as travel from an origin city to a destination city with return travel ending at the first origin city, and with all segments on flights operated by United Airlines. A segment is defined as one takeoff and one landing. Open jaw itineraries within the same region do qualify for the discount. Stopovers do not qualify for this offer.
  • The discounted Saver Award is combinable with other award types as long as the itinerary is roundtrip (e.g., a member can book a Standard Award for the outbound portion of an itinerary and a Saver Award for the return portion, or vice versa) but only the flight segments purchased with a Saver Award will be eligible for a 25% discount.
  • A booking service charge may apply for travel booked less than 21 days before departure.

Examples, Award Space, What’s Possible

In Brazil and Chile, United flies from:

  • Houston to Santiago, Rio de Janeiro, Sao Paulo
  • Washington-Dulles to Sao Paulo
  • Newark to Sao Paulo
  • Chicago to Sao Paulo

Award space is excellent on these routes over the sale period. In the calendars below, all green and yellow dates have Saver award space for one person for 45,000 miles roundtrip. Houston to Santiago has award space almost every day in April and May.

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Blue and green dates have Business and/or First Class space available for 55,000 or 70,000 miles one way. Screen Shot 2015-03-28 at 10.00.27 AM

The return from Santiago to Houston also has award space almost every day.

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If you select a roundtrip at the Saver economy level the price is 45,000 miles + $53 in taxes to Chile. If your departure is less than 21 days away, a $75 fee is added.Screen Shot 2015-03-28 at 10.02.53 AM

You do not have to fly Saver economy both ways. You can return in Business Class and the award prices at 22,500 + 55,000 = 77,500 miles roundtrip.Screen Shot 2015-03-28 at 10.04.22 AM Screen Shot 2015-03-28 at 10.04.27 AM

Rio de Janeiro

Award space from Houston to Rio in April and May is good, but not as good as to Santiago.Screen Shot 2015-03-28 at 10.06.20 AM

Award space Rio to Houston is similar.Screen Shot 2015-03-28 at 10.06.33 AM

Sao Paulo

United has four routes to Sao Paulo. I searched Washington-Dulles to Sao Paulo. Award space is excellent in April, but less so in May.
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Award space on the return from Sao Paulo to Washington is a little better in May.

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You can fly into one Brazilian city and home from the other if you want to see both. (You can even have a second open jaw in the United States.) The award prices correctly at 45,000 miles plus taxes.Screen Shot 2015-03-28 at 10.09.59 AM Screen Shot 2015-03-28 at 10.10.04 AM

American Airlines Off Peak

While these United awards for 45,000 miles–a 25% discount sound great–American Airlines has a cheaper award to Brazil and Chile that is a lot more flexible.

Every March 1 – May 31 and August 16 – November 30, you can fly American Airlines or any of its partners like LAN and TAM to Brazil, Chile, Argentina, Paraguay, Bolivia, or Uruguay for only 20,000 American Airlines miles each way–a 33% discount.

That’s broader dates, the ability to fly partners, more countries, and a cheaper price. The American Airlines off peak awards and award chart in general is better than United’s.

Right now the Citi® / AAdvantage® Platinum Select® MasterCard® comes with 50,000 bonus miles after spending $3,000 in the first three months. The card also comes with other awesome benefits like a 10% rebate on miles used for award bookings.

The business version, the CitiBusiness® / AAdvantage® Platinum Select® World MasterCard®, also comes with 50,000 bonus miles after spending $3,000 in the first three months. This card comes with 2x miles on select business purchases and a 5% miles bonus on renewal. One person can have both cards.

Are you going to book a discounted United award to Brazil or Chile?

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

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

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

To reiterate, these are the exact same flights with vastly different prices depending on which miles you use. Singapore even 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.

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

Getting Singapore Miles

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

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

. Cards I like that earns points that transfer:

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

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

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

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

How to Interpret the Calendar

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

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How to Interpret the Itineraries

Once you select a date, the itineraries will be displayed from shortest travel time to longest travel time. Most results will have four columns of award space. You can ignore the Economy Standard Award and First / BusinessFirst Standard Award columns. Singapore miles cannot book that space.
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We’re looking for a blue button in one of the Saver columns.Screen Shot 2015-03-22 at 8.01.08 PM

The “First / BusinessFirst” column is especially interesting and potentially confusing to people unfamiliar with award terminology.

Two vs. Three Cabin First Class

The vast majority of United’s domestic flights have two cabins that are sold as Economy and First. Internationally, United’s two cabin flights are sold as Economy and BusinessFirst. Whenever United operates a two-cabin plane, the premium cabin’s awards are priced at the Business Class award price by United and by Singapore.

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

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

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Flat Beds

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

On two cabin planes, you can occasionally find flat beds in First Class. To find out if your plane has flat beds, click View Seats on the itinerary. Regular seats look like squares with rounded edges.
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Beds look like little beds.Screen Shot 2015-03-22 at 8.02.26 PM

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

Mixed Cabin Awards

Many awards on united.com in the premium cabin columns say “Mixed Cabin.” Holding your cursor over “Mixed Cabin” launches a pop up that says which cabin is available on each flight.

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

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

Whether you want to book a mixed cabin is up to you. I just booked myself one because my first flight is about 2 hours in economy, and the next is 8.5 hours in a flat bed. That seemed worth paying 30,000 Singapore miles.

Transferring Miles

Transfers from Ultimate Rewards, Membership Rewards, and Citi ThankYou Points to Singapore miles all take about 36 hours. SPG transfers take at least that long.

Once I find award space, I initiate the transfer.

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

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

How to Book Singapore Awards

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

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

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

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

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

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Picking Seats

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

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United.com will recognize the Singapore Airlines confirmation number. You can select your seats and note your United confirmation number, which will be a different six letter/number code.

Other Benefits of Singapore Airlines Awards Over United Awards

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

My Experience Booking United to Hawaii with Singapore Miles

Today, I found out that I don’t need to go to New York this week, so I’ll start my trip to Hawaii a bit early. Booking so late in the game is no problem because United offers excellent last minute award space to Hawaii.

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

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

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

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

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

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

Bottom Line

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

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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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United is offering a targeted bonus on purchasing miles through March 23, 2015 that varies from 20 to 50%. Check your email for the subject line: “Reveal your bonus: Receive up to a 50% bonus when you buy or give miles”

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When I clicked “Reveal my bonus >” in my email, I learned that my bonus is 25%.Screen Shot 2015-03-11 at 9.03.34 PM

United miles cost 3.76 cents each. With my 25% bonus, they cost 3.01 cents each. If you get a 50% bonus, your miles will cost about 2.5 cents each.

Screen Shot 2015-03-11 at 9.04.22 PMIs even 2.5 cents per United mile a good deal?

No. I value United miles closer to 1.7 cents each, so I certainly wouldn’t load up on them at 2.5+ cents per mile.

The answer is almost always the same on buy-miles promotions:

It is a bad deal to speculatively buy the miles without an immediate use. Not only are United miles not worth 2.5 cents in the abstract, but miles can always be devalued before you use them. However, if you have an immediate use of United miles where you get more than 2.5 cents of value–achievable–this is a good deal.

Better Deal: United Miles for 1.9 Cents Each

Mommy Points explains how to add Premier Accelerator to a cash ticket purchase on united.com to buy miles for as little as 1.9 cents each. Then you can cancel the cash ticket within 24 hours for a full refund if you’d like. The miles purchase is non-refundable.

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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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In July and August 2015, United will put one of its p.s. 757-200s, configured with flat beds up front, on the Los Angeles to Boston route. These planes fly every flight between New York and both Los Angeles and San Francisco. Occasionally they are put on other routes on a one-off basis like Los Angeles to either Boston or Newark.

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The premium cabin on the 757-200 features flat beds in a 2-2 configuration meaning that window seats do not have direct aisle access. While the normal p.s. routes have special service and catering, non-p.s. routes that use p.s. planes like Boston to Los Angeles just feature the improved seat/bed without corresponding increases in service.

Which Boston to Los Angeles Flights Have Flat Beds

From July 2 to August 17, one of the two daily frequencies between Los Angeles and Boston will feature the 757-200 with flat beds up front:

  • Los Angeles to Boston, departing 8:30 AM and arriving 5:01 PM (UA528)
  • Boston to Los Angeles, departing 6:00 OM and arriving 9:11 PM (UA717)

The other daily frequency on the route does not feature a 757-200 with flat beds up front.

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United.com lists the aircraft for each flight. You can double check that your flight has beds by clicking “View Seats” and looking for the orange bed icon.

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Award Space

I checked award space during the entirety of the 757-200’s run on the Boston to Los Angeles route. From Los Angeles to Boston, there is no First Class award space on any flight in July or August at the moment. In fact, there is only one day with economy award space during the run.

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From Boston to Los Angeles, there is also no award space in First Class during the 757-200’s time on the route.

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Just because there isn’t space now on the route doesn’t mean it won’t open up later though.

United is notorious for opening up a lot of last-minute award space, especially in premium cabins. The best way to estimate the likelihood that such award space will open up is to search a route for the next few days and weeks to see how much space it currently has at the last minute.

That method doesn’t make me too excited about the chances to fly in a flat bed from Los Angeles to Boston this summer. In the next week, only 3/7 days have First Class award space.

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From Boston to Los Angeles, zero days in the next week and 3 in the next month have First Class award space.Screen Shot 2015-03-03 at 2.23.32 AM

This method for estimating award space in July may be less useful than usual though because the 757-200 has a much higher percentage of its seats in First Class than the A320 that normally flies the route. That might mean more unsold First Class seats opened as award seats. At least, that’s what we can hope.

(HT View from the Wing)

Further Reading

Just this week I published:

AMERICAN VS. UNITED VS. DELTA: BEST FLAT BED TRANSCON AWARD SPACE

It analyzed the routes, the products, the prices, and the award space offered by the three legacy carriers on flat bed flights across the country.

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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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American Airlines, United, and Delta fly flat beds on their daily flights between New York-JFK and San Francisco and Los Angeles. Delta also flies its flat beds between New York-JFK and Seattle.

All three airlines compete in San Francisco and Los Angeles. Only Delta flies between Seattle and JFK with flat beds.
All three airlines compete in San Francisco and Los Angeles. Only Delta flies between Seattle and JFK with flat beds.
  • Which has the best flat bed award space on the routes?
  • What are the prices? 
  • What are the products?

The Products & Prices

Delta

Delta throws 757s and 767s configured with flat bed seats at its transcontinental routes. Like all Delta planes, there are only two cabins–in this case sold as economy and BusinessElite. The 767s (on the right) are more comfortable in Business because their 1-2-1 layout gives full aisle access to every seat. The 757’s (on the left) 2-2 layout means climbing over your neighbor.

Screen Shot 2015-02-27 at 1.10.49 PM Screen Shot 2015-02-27 at 1.11.07 PM

For Business Elite at the Saver level, Delta charges 32,500 miles one way. Here’s Delta’s page on what to expect on its transcontinental service.

United

United has a dedicated fleet of 757-200s for all of its transcontinental service that it sells as p.s. Premium Service. The fleet has two cabins, and Business Class is laid out 2-2 as on Delta’s 757s, meaning no direct aisle access from every seat.

United charges 25,000 miles each way in Business Class at the Saver level.

American

American’s transcontinental fleet is the newest and best. Its A321s have five rows of 1-1 First Class and five rows of 2-2 Business Class. All 30 seats convert to flat beds.

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AA Transcon First Class

American charges 25,000 miles one way in Business Class and 32,500 in First Class. Here’s AA’s page on what to expect from the service.

Award Space

All of that, especially the Saver award prices, is just theoretical if the airlines don’t consistently release award space on their flights at the Saver level.

From my searches, I found that Delta doesn’t release much–if any–Business Class award space on its transcontinental flat beds. Between Seattle and New York, the space is mainly 45,000 mile Level 2 space. Between California to New York, it is 67,500 mile Level 4 space. United releases some award space in Business Class at the last minute but has none released over the summer. American releases little Business Class space, but a lot more First Class space.

American Airlines

For one passenger, there is award space in Business Class from New York to Los Angeles three times next week. That’s it for the next month.
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But in First Class, there is space six days in the next week and 13 days in the next month.Screen Shot 2015-02-26 at 2.42.24 PM

This pattern repeats. In June and July, there is only one day with Business Class space from San Francisco to New York.Screen Shot 2015-02-26 at 2.43.22 PM

The same time period has 17 days with First Class award space.Screen Shot 2015-02-26 at 2.43.26 PM

From Los Angeles to New York, I searched for two passengers. There’s one day in the Fall with award space in Business Class.

Screen Shot 2015-02-26 at 2.43.59 PMBy contrast, First Class space for two is available most Saturdays.

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The bottom line on American Airline space: way more First Class than Business Class award space, way more award space for 1 passenger than for 2, and award space is released at the last minute.

Delta

Here’s the next month from Los Angeles to New York. No award space even close to the Saver price of 32,500 miles one way. The best I find is Level 4 space for more than double that price.
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Here’s the month after that. Still none.

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In fact, I didn’t find 32,500 mile space between California and New York in either direction.

Nor did I find any between New York and Seattle, though it is widely available for the Level 2 price of 45,000 miles one way. Here’s a calendar of July dates. Every single day has 2+ award seats on multiple flights from Seattle to JFK for 45,000 miles per person.

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We get the same view from New York to Seattle in the Fall.

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The bottom line on Delta Saver space on transcontinental flights is that there basically is none.

United

United is coasting on its reputation from a few years ago of having the best award space. Right now its space on its transcontinental service is bad.

There is some space for one person from Los Angeles to New York in the next two weeks–six out of 14 days.

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New York to Los Angeles shows a similar pattern for one person: 12 days in the next month with space.Screen Shot 2015-02-26 at 2.51.31 PM

But other than the next month, there is basically no space. New York to Los Angeles in June and July has zero Business Class award space.

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Los Angeles to New York in the Fall has one day with award space in Business Class: Thanksgiving day.Screen Shot 2015-02-26 at 2.52.54 PM

San Francisco to New York has one day too: the day after Thanksgiving.Screen Shot 2015-02-26 at 2.53.50 PM

For two people, award space is even worse. One day in the next month from San Francisco to New York.

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Three days between New York and San Francisco.Screen Shot 2015-02-26 at 2.55.55 PMThe bottom line on United transcontinental Business Class award space: almost all of it is in the next month on flights with only one award seat.

Bottom Line

United, Delta, and American put fully flat beds on 5-6 hour flights because there is a demand for such premium products that rich people are willing to pay. Either because most of the flat beds are being sold or because the airlines just want to protect the products, award space on these routes is very hard to find.

The best space is for one person within a month of departure in United Business Class and American Airlines First Class.

Getting the Miles

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

Getting the Miles

American Airlines miles are super easy to get.

Right now the Citi® / AAdvantage® Platinum Select® MasterCard® comes with 50,000 bonus miles after spending $3,000 in the first three months. The card also comes with other awesome benefits like a 10% rebate on miles used for award bookings.

The business version, the CitiBusiness® / AAdvantage® Platinum Select® World MasterCard®, also comes with 50,000 bonus miles after spending $3,000 in the first three months. This card comes with 2x miles on select business purchases and a 5% miles bonus on renewal. One person can have both cards.

We also know that The US Airways® Premier World MasterCard® will no longer be offered to new applicants as soon as the US Airways and American Airlines frequent flyer programs integrate, some time by June 2015. That means that the chance to earn 50,000 bonus miles after first purchase on this card will disappear soon. Check out all the places you can go with just the sign up bonus.

All US Airways miles not redeemed on the US Airways chart by the time of integration will become American Airlines miles, and American Airlines has committed to not devaluing its award chart at the time of combination. The two types of miles are roughly equal in value. Getting all three cards now and meeting their spending requirements means you will have at least 156,000 American Airlines miles by June.
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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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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.
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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:

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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.

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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.

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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.
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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.

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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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Never miss a post again! Follow MileValue on Twitter and Facebook. And sign up to receive one free daily email every morning with all of the day’s posts!

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

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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

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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.

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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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Never miss a post again! Follow MileValue on Twitter and Facebook. And sign up to receive one free daily email every morning with all of the day’s posts!

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

Screen Shot 2015-01-08 at 8.29.19 PM

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