Tuesday, May 17th, 2016, 4:43 pm
In 2008 the DansDeals Forums (DDF) was launched for people to be able to discuss deals, miles, and destinations at length and the DansDeals Facebook group (DDFB) was founded to provide email alerts about hot deals. Facebook took away the ability to send out email alerts, so Twitter took over that feature and the Facebook group has remained as an alternate, far messier version of DDF. Eventually I also made a Facebook page for people looking for Facebook notifications of new deals and finally opened an Instagram account where I post some pictures from my travels.
I spend hours ever day browsing DDF and DDFB looking for tips and trying to help people out. I’ve occasionally featured questions here that are relevant to a wide audience, and perhaps I should do that more often.
Today this question on DDFB caught my eye,
“Seeing comments that the extra XN award seats reserved for United elites and Chase United cardholders isn’t available to United Explorer cardholders anymore. Can anyone confirm that?”
I’ve been blogging about the topic ever since I discovered in 2005 that the Continental OnePass card secretly bestowed the ability to access expanded saver award availability. That benefit carried over to United when they merged with Continental and kept their mileage program as the survivor.
Officially the Chase United Explorer card is only supposed to give cardholders access to last seat availability at the standard award level. I can count the number of times I’ve redeemed awards at the standard level on one hand compared to the thousands of award flights I’ve flown at the saver level. These seats are coded as YN class and you can read more about the meaning of fare classes in this post on United Expert Mode.
The real benefit is the one that’s never been advertised by Chase or United, but has withstood the test of time. While regular United members require X class availability in order to book a saver award, United cardholders get access to XN class, which means expanded saver award availability.
It’s an amazing benefit from a credit card and it makes it well worth paying the card’s $95 annual fee. The card’s benefits are very nice (2 free club passes per year, free checked bags, priority boarding so that you don’t need to gate check your bags, primary CDW rental car insurance, premier upgrades on award tickets, 10K bonus miles for spending $25K in a year, no foreign exchange fees, and your miles will never expire if you’re a cardholder), but it’s the access to expanded saver award space that has made the card worth its weight in gold.
View the rest of this post and the current status of expanded saver awards after the jump:
You can hover over your “mileage expiration” on your account management page to see your account is linked to a United credit card.
If you have a credit card linked to your account you will see this message about miles not expiring by hovering over mileage expiration:
If you don’t have a credit card linked to your account you will see this message by hovering over mileage expiration:
After reading the DDFB post I immediately went to see if the rumor was true. The most popular award route for DansDeals readers is from Newark to Tel Aviv.
Availability on the nonstop flight for non-cardholders is rather scarce. Not American or Delta style scarce, but not available for most dates.
Newark-Tel Aviv award calendar, filtered to show nonstop availability for non-cardholders from November-December (4 dates with saver award space):
Newark-Tel Aviv award calendar, filtered to show nonstop availability for non-cardholders from January-February (3 dates with saver award space):
And then I logged into an account with a United Explorer card.
(Be sure to logout and login again before performing an award search for accurate results if you are a cardholder.)
Newark-Tel Aviv award calendar, filtered to show nonstop availability for cardholders from November-December (22 dates with saver award space):
Newark-Tel Aviv award calendar, filtered to show nonstop availability for cardholders from January-February (39 dates with saver award space):
A look at United Expert Mode shows exactly what’s going on here:
If you click on the image above you’ll be able to see that both flights shown have at least 9 seats available for cardholders with access to XN saver award space and both flights have 0 seats available for non-cardholders that only have access to X saver award space.
And another rumor bites the dust.