Category Archive for 'United'

HURRY! Fly On United Nonstop From Newark To Tel Aviv For $616 (Or 30.8K Hybrid Points) Round-Trip!

Thursday, May 18th, 2017

Update, 6:30PM: DEAD!

Update, 11:25AM: This incredible nonstop airfare is still alive. Dates that are sold out have been crossed off.


Originally posted on 5/17:

American Express is a DansDeals.com advertiser.

-Earn 5 points per dollar on the AMEX Platinum Card or 3 points per dollar on airfare with the AMEX Premier Rewards Gold Card or the AMEX Business Gold Rewards Card.

Get free checked baggage, significantly expanded award availability, club passes, 55K miles, and much more with the United Explorer Card

Bookable on Priceline. Tickets purchased from Priceline today are refundable until 11:29pm EST tomorrow. Please see this post for directions on how to cancel these tickets.

-Also Bookable on Orbitz.


Limited seats are available on each date! Please post a comment if a date listed below sells out.

United responds to WOW’s entry into the Tel Aviv market! Except that unlike WOW, United provides all passengers with a free checked bag, 2 free carry-ons, frequent flyer miles, kosher meals, drinks, in-flight entertainment, WiFi, and assigned seats.

This S class earns full flown miles if you credit the flight to Singapore. You’ll earn 11,384 Singapore miles round-trip. Non-elites will earn just 2,650 United miles round-trip.

Valid Newark-Tel Aviv $616 outbound dates:
November 11, 13, 14, 16, 17, 18, 19, 20, 21, 23, 24, 25, 26, 27, 29
December 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 11

Valid Tel Aviv-Newark $616 return dates:
November 18, 19, 22, 23, 24, 25, 27, 28, 29, 30
December 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14, 15, 16, 17, 18, 19, 20, 21, 22, 23, 24, 25, 26, 27
January 8, 10, 12, 13, 16, 17, 18, 19, 20, 22, 23, 24, 25, 26, 27, 29, 30, 31
Additional return dates available in February and March

HT: Y. Breuer


These fares are not on sale with miles, but you can pay for the ticket with “hybrid points” if you have AMEX or Chase points and a Business Platinum or Sapphire Reserve card.

Using AMEX points:

If you have The Enhanced Business Platinum® Card from American Express OPEN you can get a 50% rebate on the airline of your choice

You can switch airlines by chatting with AMEX, though it will be easier to switch before you have used the $200 airline spending credit that year.

This benefit is being reduced to a 35% rebate on June 1st. However if you open or upgrade to a Business Platinum card by 5/31/17 or if you have opened or upgraded to a  Business Platinum card since 10/1/16 you will get a full year of 50% rebates from the date your card was opened or upgraded.

You can login to your account and redeem AMEX points for travel here.

A $616.58 flight will be 61,658 points and you would get a 50% rebate making the effective cost just 30,829 points, a value of 2 cents per point. That includes all taxes and you can still earn miles for flying!

 


Using Chase points:

If you have a Chase Sapphire Reserve card you can redeem points for 1.5 cents each towards travel.

A $616.58 flight flight will be 41,105 points. That includes all taxes and you can still earn miles for flying!

You can login to your account and redeem Chase points for travel here.

 


Join the 82,200+ people who follow @DansDeals on Twitter and you’ll get a tweet when a deal is posted on DansDeals.com!
You can even have Twitter send you a text message whenever a new deal is posted.

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A First Glimpse Of United Polaris From Newark-Tel Aviv

Thursday, May 11th, 2017

As I reported a few months ago, United started flying their brand new 777-300ER (77W) airplanes on one of their 2 daily flights between Newark and Tel Aviv less than a week ago.

The afternoon flight is still operated by a pre-merger Continental 777-200 (772) aircraft with subsidiary Continental crew members, but the evening flight is operated by the 77W with subsidiary United crew members.

DDF member Moishebatchy and his wife were booked to fly on United from Newark to Zurich last night and then on Swiss from Zurich to Tel Aviv.

There was no business class availability with miles, so he used “hybrid points,” which is an excellent way to get to Tel Aviv in coach or business class. Traditional airline mileage seats are very hard to find on Tel Aviv routes and awards are expensive. Paid coach and business class tickets are relatively inexpensive, making Hybrid points a good deal.

Luckily for Moishebatchy, he provided his cell to United and opted into text notifications for flight issues. That way he found out right away that their Newark to Zurich flight was delayed and that was going to cause them to misconnect in Zurich.

The most critical thing to do in that situation is to find an agent to help you out and get accommodated before alternate options fill up.

 

One of the nice perks of elite status and premium class travel is lounge access, especially during irregular operations. Club agents will often go the extra mile for you and lucky for him, he was in the club when he got the text message.

The United Club agent was having trouble finding alternate flight options so she called an internal help line to see what could be done.

The nonstop flight to Tel Aviv flight would have been a good option, but it was showing as fully booked:

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It turned out that despite United.com showing that business class was booked full, there were actually 2 seats that were booked but not ticketed. The help desk agent cancelled that reservation and rebooked them into the new United Polaris business class. The lounge agent also made sure that their bags were properly rerouted and that they had kosher meals on the flight. Now that’s impressive service!

 

Another DDF member, srf60, was also on the flight and the story gets even crazier. The person sitting behind him in Economy Plus said that his travel agent was holding the last 2 business class seats for him, but that someone else wound up getting them. Oh the irony!

As previous flights to Tel Aviv have always been operated by subsidiary Continental crew members, this was the first time that the United crew members were flying to Tel Aviv.

And being a flight to Tel Aviv, things can get a little crazy. Most of the passengers were going to Israel for Lag B’Omer and had kosher meals. One flight attendant told srf60 that he just wanted to go home in middle of the meal service. Flying the route for the first time is probably quite the learning experience.

The Wi-Fi on the flight did not work and of course everyone complained about that.

And then comes the minyanim taking over the galleys…all quite an experience for the first time a crew is working a Tel Aviv flight!

Moishebatchy’s seat adjustment buttons stopped working and the crew had to get out the manual to learn how to fix it as they had never flown on the 77W before, but on the plus side it still had that new plane smell. And they had the Saks pillows, mattress pad, gel cooled pillow, etc. There were even Pajamas available, despite the flight being under 12 hours.

srf60 notes that he sat in the exit row with a lot of extra legroom, but people kept congregating there and talking for the entire flight. So he got lots of legroom, but not much sleep. The seat was also very tight, exacerbated by the tray table being in the exit row armrest. On the plus side though, he was able to get a set of Pajamas from a friend who was in business class.

The 77W has 60 all-aisle access seating in business class:

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Coach is less pretty. United has crammed 10 seats across throughout the 102 Economy Plus and 204 Economy Minus seats. Better to fly on the 772 if you have the choice.

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Moishebatchy shared a few pictures that he took on DDF:

Here is a look at the D/G seats in odd-numbered rows. They are the best business class seats for passengers traveling together. There is a middle divider that can go up or down.

 

 

In this picture you can see the difference between the D/G seats in odd numbered rows that are together and the D/G seats in even numbered rows that are apart from each other:

 

 

The best seats for solo passengers will be the A/L seats in odd numbered rows that are near the window and have more privacy from the aisle:

 

 

Whereas the A/L seats in even numbered rows are angled towards the aisle and have less privacy, though they are better option for solo passengers than the D/G seats in even numbered rows:

 

Have you flown on the United 77W yet? Share your thoughts on the plane in the comments!

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United’s Official Report On Flight 3411 Raises More Questions Than It Answers; Plus, The Excellent Customer Service Changes That United Will Make Going Forward

Thursday, April 27th, 2017

Update: In a surprise to nobody, United has settled with Dr. Dao, effectively bringing the matter to a close. The settlement amount will remain confidential…anyone care to take a guess as to how much United contributed to Dr. Dao’s retirement fund in order to avoid dragging the case out in court?


United has released their official report on what happened on flight 3411 earlier this month when Dr. Dao was dragged off the plane by Chicago aviation police officers.

I wrote my original thoughts on the incident here.

You can read United’s report above, but allow me to cut through some of the corporate speak and add some of my own research:

United flight 3411 from Chicago to Louisville on 4/9 was operated by an ERJ-170 with 70 seats (6 first, 16 economy plus, 48 economy minus). It was scheduled to depart at 5:40pm and was overbooked by 1 seat. All of the passengers refused to volunteer their seats, so one passenger without a seat assignment was involuntarily denied boarding at the gate and handed a check on the spot. That left 70 passengers to board the flight.

Meanwhile, United flight 4448 (United fails to mention the flight number in the report) from Chicago to Louisville on 4/9 was operated by an ERJ-145 with 50 seats. It was scheduled to depart Chicago at 2:55pm and was carrying 4 deadheading United crew members on their way to Louisville to work on United flight 3658 from Louisville to Newark, scheduled to depart on 4/10 at 6:55am. That flight was experiencing mechanical issues and United was unsure that they were going to be able to fix the plane. The crew left flight 4448 and went to flight 3411 after it was already boarded. United had to get the crew to Louisville or else the flight to Newark and more flights afterward would have been cancelled. Thus United wound up needing to find 4 more volunteers to give up their seats from flight 3411, after it had already boarded.

The United report completely fails to mention United flight 4771 from Chicago to Louisville on 4/9 which was operated by an ERJ-135 with 37 seats. Flight 4771 departed on time at 9pm. It’s unclear if this flight was full as the flight is not even mentioned in the report.

-It’s not clear from the report why the crew didn’t switch from flight 4448 to flight 3411 before flight 3411 had boarded, which would have spared the entire incident.

-It’s also unclear from the report as to why the passengers onboard United flight 3411 were told that they wouldn’t be able to fly to Louisville until the next day, when several seats aboard flight 4448 were apparently just vacated by the crew. Why weren’t they offered the ability to fly on flight 4448, with the caveat that it was undergoing maintenance and might be cancelled?

-And why couldn’t the passengers onboard United flight 3411 be offered travel on flight 4771? Even if that flight was full and there were zero no-shows, United could have tried to find other people to volunteer their seats from that flight.

In 2008 I was bumped off of 7 United flights over a 2 day span from Chicago to Cleveland while I racked up vouchers and kept getting reaccommodated in first class on the next flight, despite the next flight being oversold. So United agents are definitely able to move volunteers onto another flight, even if it is oversold.

 

Flight 4448 did get its mechanical issues fixed and wound up departing Chicago at 9:42pm. It’s unclear how many passengers were aboard as the report glosses over that issue.

 

Back to flight 3411. The gate agent was only authorized to offer $800 in United funny money, a hotel for the night, and a flight to Louisville on 4/10. Nobody accepted. If the gate agent would have offered a flight later that day it’s very likely that they would have found volunteers, but the gate agent did not offer a same day flight.

The computer generated the names of 4 passengers to involuntarily remove from the flight based on who was in the cheapest fare class, who checked in the latest, and who wasn’t an elite member, an unaccompanied minor, or a disabled traveler.

2 couples were chosen. The first couple deplaned and were presumably given an involuntary denied boarding check for 4 times their airfare (capped at $1,350). Dr. Dao and his wife were also chosen and of course he refused and the police were called. He was physically abused and removed from the flight by Chicago aviation police officers who lied about what happened and are now on administrative leave. Dr. Dao subsequently ran back onto the flight and then had to be removed for a 2nd time. The entire flight was then deplaned and reboarded, with the 4 deadheading crew members taking the seats of the 4 bumped passengers. Flight 3411 departed Chicago at 7:42pm.

 

United admits to 4 shortcomings. Calling the police when nobody’s safety was in jeopardy, rebooking the crew members after the flight was boarded, not offering enough compensation for people to volunteer their seat, and not training their employees to properly deal with a situation like this.

United is clear to note that none of those were the fault of the gate agent or flight attendants. United’s policy about calling the police was vague, United policy allowed for deadheading crew members to bump paying passengers off a plane, United didn’t allow the gate agent to offer more than $800, and United didn’t train the agent for the situation.

United steers clear of blaming the crew for not intervening when they saw how the Chicago aviation police officers were treating Dr. Dao. Then again they were likely just as in shock as most passengers were about what was going on.

United is frustratingly vague about the other flights and whether the gate agent should have offered to at least try to accommodate passengers on the other 2 flights going from Chicago to Louisville that night, despite the mechanical issues that one of the flights was having.

 

At any rate, good things will come out of all of this:

1. As of 4/12, United will no longer call on police to remove customers from a flight, unless there is a safety issue.

Then again, Delta just kicked someone off a plane for using the bathroom under the guise of it being a security threat, so pretty much everything on a plane can be construed to be a safety issue.

2. Effective today, United will no longer involuntarily remove a passenger once they are seated, unless there is a safety issue.

3. Effective tomorrow, United will authorize gate agents to offer up to $10,000 in United travel vouchers to get people to volunteer their seat. This should effectively eliminate the need to ever involuntarily deny boarding.

I doubt United will ever have to offer nearly that much money, but it makes for good clickbait titles which will surely go viral. In practice people will grab the offer when it’s much lower than $10,000.

4. By June, United will make a team to assist gate agents with creative rebooking solutions, such as flights on other airlines, other airports, and ground transportation when needed.

This is something that savvy travelers already do. Gate agents often don’t see options that Google Flights make easy to see. They’re typically more than willing to listen to suggestions if you tell them your desired alternate routing options. But it’s good that even non-savvy passengers should benefit from this.

5. As of 4/14, United requires that deadheading crew members heading to work on another flight be booked for travel at least an hour before departure.

I have to wonder if this will really be enforced. Will United really be willing to cancel a flight from another airport if the only way to get crew there is by booking them within an hour onto a full flight? Truthfully, with the new compensation levels they can still book them and find people more than willing to volunteer their seat.

6. Training will begin in August for gate agents and flight attendants to deal with situations like the one on flight 3411 without involving the police.

7. Later this year, United will allow passengers checking into oversold flights to enter how much compensation, if any, that they would accept to be bumped off of the flight. United will take the lowest bids and give the bumped passengers the compensation they requested.

While you might think you’re clever by entering $10,000, there’s likely someone else willing to get bumped for $500.

8. United will reduce overbooking on flights with low volunteer rates. That is beneficial for United, especially with the new higher compensation levels. United says this reduction in overbooking will focus on the last flights of the day to a destination, when an overnight stay would be required. That seems to me to imply that flight 3411 was the last flight of the day, though as we know, it was not.

The last 2 items are general customer service improvements, which are both excellent:

9. Later this year, United gate agents and flight attendants will be empowered to award passengers miles, travel credit, or other forms of compensation when things go wrong.

You shouldn’t need to email customer service to get compensated for a problem. Once this system is rolled out, United will be able to deal with issues on the spot.

10. As of June, United will stop asking for proof of what was in your checked luggage when they lose your luggage. Instead they will cut a check for $1,500 cash per lost bag, no questions asked. You can still file proof of loss if there was more than $1,500 of covered items in the bag.

This is long overdue as well. There’s no reason for an airline to force you to find documentation of items purchased when they lose your bag.

 

All in all these are some very customer friendly changes, it’s just a shame that it takes a horrific incident for them to be implemented. I just wish United was a bit more forthcoming about the other flights that operated that evening from Chicago to Louisville…

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All About United Basic Economy And How United Determines Their Basic Economy Buyout Fee

Wednesday, April 26th, 2017

United hasn’t had enough bad press of late, so on May 9th they will launch Basic Economy class on hundreds of domestic routes. That’s sure to lead to plenty of exciting news coverage for them next month when most passengers start experiencing them…

With a Basic Economy ticket United won’t allow full size carry-ons, won’t award elite qualifying miles, won’t allow seat assignments, won’t allow any changes to Basic Economy fares (after the 24 hour free cancellation period), and they will board Basic Economy passengers last. You are able to bring a personal item up to 9 inches x 10 inches x 17 inches. If a Basic Economy passengers tries bringing a larger carry-on item, the bag will be checked under and be hit with a $25 fee on top of the regular checked bag fee.

However if you or anyone on your reservation has a United Explorer or Club card or has elite status then you can all board early and each bring a free full size carry-on bag, even if you are on Basic Economy fares. You will also get a free checked bag, just as when traveling on a regular economy ticket. Elite members won’t get economy plus seats, upgrades, or elite qualifying miles.

The main “punishment” for cardholders on a Basic Economy fare is that they won’t be able to assign seats. Commenter “CtownBin” asked yesterday if he might be separated from his 3 year old if they buy $58 Basic Economy fares from Cleveland to Los Angeles.

Now 99% of people won’t want to sit next to a 3 year old and will be more than happy to trade seats so that you can sit together. Of course there’s still the 1% chance that you get 2 middle seats and that you are both seated next to crazy people who would rather spend a flight next to a 3 year old seated away from their parent, than trade for a middle seat.

My advice to raise that to 99.99% odds of sitting together was to bring a car seat for the 3 year old. Federal law requires that the carseat be placed in a window seat. Even if United were to give you say, 22F window and 25E middle, it will not be hard for you to trade either 22E for 25E or 25F for 22F. You won’t run into a situation of having to find someone to trade you their aisle for a middle with that strategy. I’d also highly reccomend a GoGoBabyz Travelmate, which we use to make it easy to push Rafi in an Evenflo Maestro travel carseat and Talia in a Cosco Scenara travel carseat.

 

While some people claim that all Basic Economy fares are just the previous lowest fares, I have not found that to always be the case. Before Basic Economy fares a one-way ticket between Cleveland and San Francisco on United would cost hundreds of dollars. Now it’s available for just $48.20, by far the lowest price I’ve ever seen.

The upcharge between Cleveland and San Francisco to go from basic economy to economy is $25 each way.

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While the upcharge between LaGuardia to Chicago to go from basic economy to economy is $15 each way.

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In researching the upcharge required to buy out of Basic Economy and into regular economy I quickly noticed the pricing logic pattern. Of course it’s subject to change, but it applied in all scenarios that I searched for.

Flights that were up to 1,199 miles in distance according to GCMap.com had a $15 upcharge, flights that were 1,201-1,874 miles in distance had a $20 upcharge, and flights that were 2,052 miles or more had a $25 upcharge.

Sample $15 routes:
Washington DC-Detroit: 383
Washington DC-Atlanta: 534
LGA-Chicago: 733
Chicago-Dallas: 802
Chicago-Houston: 925
Newark-Miami: 1085
Cleveland-Houston: 1091
Pittsburgh-Houston: 1117
Chicago-Fort Lauderdale: 1185
Chicago-Miami: 1197
Atlanta-Denver: 1199

Sample $20 routes:
Cleveland-Denver: 1201
Baltimore-Houston: 1235
Houston-Las Vegas: 1222
Houston-Los Angeles: 1379
LGA-Denver: 1620
Newark-Houston: 1400
Chicago-Phoenix: 1440
Chicago-Los Angeles: 1744
Minneapolis-Los Angeles: 1535
Chicago-San Diego: 1722
Houston-Seattle: 1874

Sample $25 routes:
Cleveland-Los Angeles: 2052
Cleveland-San Francisco: 2161
Baltimore-Los Angeles: 2329

Sample routes without basic economy:
LGA-Houston
Washington DC-Houston
Washington DC-Los Angeles
Newark-Los Angeles
Newark-Orange County
Newark-San Francisco
Newark-San Diego
Newark-Seattle
Chicago-San Francisco
Chicago-Seattle
Chicago-Cleveland

United Basic Economy still beats an airline like Spirit.
-United gives free snacks and drinks, has better seats, offers more legroom, has WiFi/TV/streaming entertainment, etc.
-If you have a United Explorer or Club card you still get free checked and carry-on bags.
-United has more frequent flights and interline partners to accommodate passangers in case of irregular operations, whereas on Spirit you can wait days for a new flight if yours is cancelled.
-United has far more valuable miles than Spirit does.

Will you fly on a Basic Economy fare or will you pay the upcharge? Hit the comments!

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If I Have To Give A Few Thoughts On The United Incident…

Friday, April 14th, 2017

I’m currently on “vacation” until next Wednesday at a Pesach program at the Four Seasons in Whistler, Canada. Though my vacation consists of giving 4 lectures/presentations here at the program, the out-of-this-world food, service, and entertainment make it an awesome experience.

At any rate several people have asked why I haven’t written about United incident with Dr. David Dao. There are even conspiracy theories on DDF and people asking why I bashed Delta and not United.

1. I’ve been enjoying some time offline this week.

2. Obviously the videos were horrific.

I am definitely sympathetic towards Dr. Dao. Nobody should be treated as he was. There is no excuse for that. But while some blogs have had dozens of breathless posts on the topic with flip-flopping opinions, I don’t find it all that interesting from an aviation perspective.

At the end of the day the Delta meltdown was a systemwide failure and was exacerbated by their own arrogance and greed while the United incident was a single isolated incident. Obviously the United videos were painful to watch and generated much more coverage, but the Delta meltdown impacted hundreds of thousands of people…does that make me callous?

3. United could have avoided this entire situation by empowering their employees to hand out higher value travel vouchers. It makes zero sense to limit voluntary denied boarding compensation to $800 in travel vouchers when they will have to pay out $1,350 in cash in an involuntary denied boarding situation.

There is no excuse for this. This incident doesn’t happen with employees that are properly empowered to fix situations like this by raising the compensation to a level that would entice volunteers to leave the plane.

4. I do think that one good thing from this incident is that all airlines will increase their gate agent’s ability to offer higher denied boarding compensation when the situation calls for it.

When I was single I’d spend days in airports getting bumped from flight to flight and wind up with thousands of dollars in vouchers and an upgrade to first class. But when traveling with small children it would take an awful lot to get me to give up my seat.

5. The memes making fun of United are hysterical, but for the 2nd time in a month, United winds up on the short-end of the reporting. Last month social media went nuts that girls in leggings were denied boarding by United. But as they were flying on employee buddy passes they would have known that they needed to follow the dress code if they wanted to fly for free and that means you can’t wear spandex as pants. Is that a fair rule? I don’t know, but if you’re trying to travel on an employee pass then you don’t have much choice in the matter. Violating those rules will cause headaches for the employee.

Every airline involuntarily denies boarding, and yes, sometimes that happens on the plane. Most people know that if you don’t follow crew instructions on a plane that you’re going to be arrested. Obviously you don’t expect to be knocked unconscious and lose 2 teeth in the process, but I’m not sure that United is worthy of all the hate sent their way. Pretty much every airline would do and have done the exact same thing by getting the authorities involved.

6. Many people seem to think that it was United agents that directly caused bodily harm to Dr. Dao, but it was the Chicago Aviation police force agents that did the real dirty work here. Why isn’t there more outrage directed at the Chicago Aviation police force for how they dealt with the situation?

7. Pro tip if you don’t want to wind up being kicked off a flight: Check-in to your flight online 24 hours in advance and make sure you have an assigned seat. If you aren’t an elite member, traveling on a full fare ticket, or traveling with small children, then United will likely prioritize who they deny boarding to based on their time of checkin. Last to checkin, especially if they don’t have a seat assignment, will be the first to lose their place on the plane.

8. We will see fewer cases of involuntary denied boardings because of this incident, and that’s a very good outcome. So we all owe some thanks to Dr. Dao, who will likely get a nice retirement nest egg settlement from United very soon so that they can bury this story without a drawn out court case.

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Enroll Your United Credit Card In A Red Cross Benefit Program And Get 100 Miles

Monday, March 13th, 2017

Enroll Your United Credit Card In A Red Cross Benefit Program And Get 100 Miles

If you have a United credit card you can enroll via the link above to have United donate 100 miles to the American Red Cross for every $1,000 that you spend between 3/15-4/15. There is no cost to you.

As a bonus for enrolling, United will also give you 100 miles without any spending required. The free miles will post by 5/31/17.

Don’t have a United card? You should and this post explains why. Aside from free checked baggage on all fares, free carry-on bags on economy basic fares, and priority boarding on all fares, you also get significantly greater saver and standard level award availability. It also waives the flight spend requirement to get elite status, gives 2 free annual club passes, and allows elites to get upgraded on award tickets. Plus the signup bonus is currently 55,000 miles instead of 35,000 miles!

You can view credit card offers by clicking on the “Credit Card Offers” tab on top of the DansDeals banner to view links for card offers. You can click on the link that says “View all card offers by issuing bank” and scroll down to view all card offers from the bank of your choice. Here’s How To View Credit Card Offers On This Site.

HT: yyonah, via DDF

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Schedule Change On A Partner Airline Award Ticket? It’s Going To Take A Whole Lot Of HUCA, But Don’t Give Up!

Sunday, February 26th, 2017

I book dozens of trips a year, but have never had quite the experience like this one.

But I live by my HUCA motto. Hang Up and Call Again until you get the answer you need. I needed every bit of that motivation to solve this case.

I’ll be spending this Pesach in Whistler and have been looking for the best tickets to Vancouver for some time.

Back in 2012 I flew with Mimi and Rafi for zero miles out of pocket in Cathay Pacific First Class from JFK to Vancouver and in Cathay Pacific Business Class from Vancouver to JFK thanks to BMI handing out free miles for opening accounts and allowing free Avios transfers to BA.

Last August Mimi and I flew from JFK to Vancouver and back in Cathay Pacific First Class again, not free, but still a bargain with Alaska miles. Cathay Pacific’s first class is easily the best seat and bed in the sky.

I love Vancouver and it doesn’t hurt to have an amazing flight:

#TonightsRide #GoFirstOrGoHome

A post shared by @dansdeals on

 

Amazing food:

It's #HardToBeat #Steak on #GarlicBread

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And an amazing hotel in the Fairmont Pacific Rim, made even better thanks to my lifetime free suites, bottles of scotch, and massages at Fairmont hotels:

#SoakingUpTheView in the #SignatureOfuroRoom at #FairmontPacificRim

A post shared by @dansdeals on

However Cathay typically opens award space closer to the flight, and I needed to have confirmed flights for Pesach.

Read about the pickle I got myself in and the HUCAs it took to resolve everything after the jump:

 

(more…)

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Starting May 5th There’s One United Flight From Newark To Tel Aviv You’ll Want To Avoid In Coach And Another You’ll Want To Avoid In Business

Saturday, February 25th, 2017

Effective May 5th United will start flying their new Boeing 777-300ER (77W) aircraft between Newark and Tel Aviv.

The 77W will be operated by subsidiary United crew members on the late night flight 90 from from Newark to Tel Aviv and the late night flight 91 from Tel Aviv to Newark.

United will continue to operate their pre-merger Continental 777-200 (772) aircraft with subsidiary Continental crew members for the afternoon flight 84 from Newark to Tel Aviv and the afternoon flight 85 from Tel Aviv to Newark.

The 77W offers United’s new Polaris business class with a 1-2-1 seating configuration that allows direct aisle access for all business class seats. It’s a big improvement over the 772 which has a 2-2-2 configuration that requires jumping over your seatmate or being jumped over by your seatmate if you select the window side seats.

The configuration is denser than business class on most airlines with a 1-2-1 business class, but reports are mostly quite positive so far and the middle seats in every other row offer a good option for couples traveling together. Plus with a whopping 60 business class seats, upgrades may be slightly easier than on other airlines with fewer seats:

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The good news ends in business class though. United has decided to cram 10 seats across throughout the 102 Economy Plus and 204 Economy Minus seats. By all accounts, it will be a tight squeeze for larger people in coach with seat width dropping from about 18 inches to just 17 inches.

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The old pre-merger Continental 772 aircraft will eventually be converted to have Polaris business class 1-2-1 seating, but for now is 2-2-2. It will also eventually be converted to have 3-4-3 seating in coach, but for now it still has 3-3-3 seating.

Bottom line: Starting from May 5th for the near future, United flight 84/85 will offer a better experience for coach passengers and United flight 90/91 will offer a better experience for business class passengers.

It’s worth noting that both flights already have the new Polaris branded bedding and pillows. Mattress pads and gel cooled pillows are even available upon request. However neither Newark-Tel Aviv flight will offer Pajamas in business class, though United’s Dreamliner operated nonstop flight from San Francisco to Tel Aviv is long enough to qualify for business class Pajamas, which are given out upon request.

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Discounted United Awards To Mexico

Thursday, February 16th, 2017

Related: 55K Miles For Signing Up For A United Explorer Card; On Expanded Awards, Excursionist Perks, And Why The United Card Is My Favorite Airline Mileage Card


Discounted United Awards To Mexico

United awards to Mexico are on sale for 30K miles round-trip instead of 35K miles.

-Travel valid between Canada or the US49 and Mexico.

-Book by 2/24

-Travel between 4/29-5/26

-Travel valid only valid on United in coach.

-Round-trip or Open-Jaw travel is required, but you can get the discount on half the trip (2.5K miles) if one of the dates falls within the promo period.

Double open-jaw example for 30K miles:

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HT: SOS, via DDF

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United Lowers The Price Of Hawaii Awards!

Monday, February 13th, 2017

Related:

55K Miles For Signing Up For A United Explorer Card; On Expanded Awards, Excursionist Perks, And Why The United Card Is My Favorite Airline Mileage Card

The Ultimate Hawaii Mileage Award Chart And Everything You Need To Know About The Hawaiian Islands


Until today United has always charged 6K miles per Hawaii interisland leg.

The meant that if you booked an award from Newark to Maui via Honolulu you would pay:
-22.5K miles coach or 40K miles first from Newark to Honolulu
-6K miles coach from Honolulu to Maui
-6K miles coach from Maui to Honolulu
-22.5K miles coach or 40K miles first from Honolulu to Newark.

The round-trip award would be 57K miles in coach or 92K miles in first.

Singapore Airlines only charges 17.5K miles in coach or 30K miles in first to fly one-way on United between the US49 and Hawaii.
With the ability to transfer AMEX, Chase, Citi and Starwood points to Singapore, that was the way to go unless United only offered expanded XN saver award availability to Hawaii on your desired flights, which requires having a United credit card and using United miles.

However Singapore can’t redeem for travel on interisland flights, and separate tickets typically meant having to recheck baggage in Honolulu. That’s not much fun as Honolulu is a horrendous airport for rechecking baggage as you need to bring your bags to the interisland terminal to do that. Still, it was worthwhile to do the price differential.

However United has stopped charging extra for interisland legs! This makes the value proposition of using United miles to Hawaii much greater.

Plus you can even tag on a 3rd interisland leg as a free excursionist perk!

Just use the multi-city award search on United.com to piece it together. For example:

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And you can visit 2 Hawaiian Islands on one trip with 3 interisland flights for just 45K miles in coach:

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Or visit 2 Hawaiian Islands on one trip with 3 interisland flights for just 80K miles in first:

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Now that’s the Aloha spirit!

If only we could get United to bring back their Halfway to Hawaii in-flight contest…

HT: AJK, via DDF

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55K Miles For Signing Up For A United Explorer Card; On Expanded Awards, Excursionist Perks, And Why The United Card Is My Favorite Airline Mileage Card

Sunday, February 12th, 2017

Related:
-Building Credit And Credit Card FAQs: Your Questions Answered
-On The Topic Of Chase 5/24: Here’s What You Need To Know About Additional User Cards


You can view credit card offers by clicking on the “Credit Card Offers” tab on top of the DansDeals banner to view links for card offers. You can click on the link that says “View all card offers by issuing bank” and scroll down to view all card offers from the bank of your choice.

For a limited time only you can earn 50,000 bonus miles for opening a Chase United Explorer card and spending $3,000 within 3 months. The normal bonus is 30,000 miles. Plus you’ll earn an additional 5,000 miles for adding a free additional user card and making a purchase within 3 months. There is a $95 annual fee.

Here’s How To View Credit Card Offers On This Site.

This offer is available on the consumer and business card.  For the business card just click on the consumer link and then click on  the link under “Are you a business owner?”

It can be difficult to get approved if you have been approved for 5 or more consumer cards in the past 24 months.

Spend $3,000 on a new card and add an additional user and you’ll have at least 58,000 miles.

A short-haul United domestic award under 700 miles in distance is just 10,000 miles.  That’s more than the BA 7.5K short-haul, but availability is much better, it allows for a longer flight distance, and you are allowed to have connections for the same rate, something that BA doesn’t allow.

 

Best of all United never charges any fuel surcharges. Other airlines like American collect massive fuel surcharges to fly on British Airways. Delta charges fuel surcharges to fly on some partners and if you originate in Europe and other regions. United will never collect a fuel surcharge and they have access to awards on 36 partner airlines which means better availability on more awards.

The United card is easily my favorite of all of the airline cards. Here’s why:
View all the reasons why after the jump:

(more…)

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United: Fly Nonstop From Newark To London For $404 (Or 20.2K Hybrid Points) Round-Trip!

Tuesday, January 3rd, 2017

Update: DEAD!


American Express is a DansDeals.com advertiser.
-Earn 5 points per dollar on the AMEX Platinum Card or 3 points per dollar on airfare with the AMEX Premier Rewards Gold Card or the AMEX Business Gold Rewards Card.
-Earn 3 points per dollar and get $300 in airfare automatically refunded every calendar year with Chase Sapphire Reserve.


Bookable on Priceline. Tickets purchased from Priceline today are refundable until 11:29pm EST tomorrow. Please see this post for directions on how to cancel these tickets.

Bookable on Orbitz. Orbitz tickets are refundable until 11pm EST tomorrow.

-Valid for outbound travel on most dates from Newark to London Heathrow from 1/31 through 11/14.
-Valid for return travel on most dates from London Heathrow to Newark from 2/7 through 11/27.

-A 7 night minimum stay is required. In other words if you depart on July 2 from Newark (arriving on July 2 or July 3 in London) you can’t return until July 9 (arriving the same day into Newark).

-This United fare books into K class which would earn 6,930 Singapore miles (compared to a paltry 1,010 United miles). Just give United your Singapore mileage number at any time before departure.


These fares are not on sale with miles, but you can pay for the ticket with “hybrid points” if you have AMEX or Chase points and a Business Platinum or Sapphire Reserve card.

Using AMEX points:

If you have The Enhanced Business Platinum® Card from American Express OPEN you can get a 50% rebate on the airline of your choice

The 50% rebate will go back into your account the day after redeeming points.

You can login to your account and redeem AMEX points for travel here.

A $404.86 flight will be 40,486 points and you would get a 50% rebate making the effective cost just 20,243 points, a value of 2 cents per point:

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Using Chase points:

If you have a Chase Sapphire Reserve card you can redeem points for 1.5 cents each towards travel. The card comes with 100,000 signup points and $600 in travel spending in your first cardmembership year!

A $404.86 flight will be 26,990 points. That includes all taxes and you still earn miles for flying!

You can login to your account and redeem Chase points for travel here.

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Join the 78,800+ people who follow @DansDeals on Twitter and you’ll get a tweet when a deal is posted on DansDeals.com!
You can even have Twitter send you a text message whenever a new deal is posted.

HT: Meir W.

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Rare United Polaris Dreamliner Award Space Between Tel Aviv And San Francisco; United Now Has 747s Masquerading As 777s

Friday, December 16th, 2016

1. Business class award space between North America and Tel Aviv is notoriously scarce. So it’s news when non-Shabbos dates have business class award space from Tel Aviv.

United launched San Francisco-Tel Aviv nonstop service earlier this year and it has been wildly successful.

It’s operated by United’s 787-8 Dreamliners.

This Sunday there are 3 business class saver award seats from Tel Aviv to San Francisco and this Tuesday there are at least 9 business class saver awards seats.

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You can book those with 70K United miles one-way, but if you have Singapore miles (AMEX, Chase, Citi, and Starpoints can all be transferred there) you can book it for just 57.5K miles!

The only other non-Shabbos dates with nonstop business class saver award space from Tel Aviv to San Francisco is on September 4 and 11, which each have at least 9 seats available.

These business class seats include United’s newly launched Polaris business class service with Saks Fifth Avenue bedding and pillows. Smart travelers will also request a Saks Fifth Avenue mattress pad, gel cooled pillow, and Pajamas, as those are not offered proactively by flight attendants. The Pajamas are officially only offered on routes that are 12 or more hours.

2. There are also at least 9 business class class saver awards from San Francisco to Tel Aviv on Wednesday, 12/28.

That is currently the only business class class saver award from San Francisco to Tel Aviv that is not on Shabbos or Yom Tov until November 14th, though saver award space can change frequently.

It can also be booked for 70K United miles or 57.5K Singapore miles.

That’s a value of 13.4 cents per mile!

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3. I previously wrote about United having 747s masquerading as A320s on the Chicago-San Francisco route.

Well now they have 747s masquerading as 777s on the same route:

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United discontinued regular 747 domestic flying earlier this year, but you can find them occasionally making their way between Chicago-San Francisco. The problem is that unless you look at the seat map it can be very hard to tell that it’s a 747. If you search using ITA Matrix for 747s or if you click flight details or flight status on the United.com search page you won’t find a thing. United is discontinuing 747 service altogether in 2018.

I found them operating from Chicago-San Francisco and vice versa today, tomorrow, and Sunday.

I flew with Rafi on the upper deck on that route earlier this year and he had the time of his life. 8 months later and he still talks about all the time. Now that was a good use of miles!

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United 25% Transfer Bonus: Transfer 18,667 Starpoints Into 31,250 United Miles, 75K SPG Into 152K Miles, Or 90K SPG Into 152K Miles And 7 Nights In A Marriott Hotel!

Wednesday, November 30th, 2016

Update: Today is the last day for the 25% United transfer bonus!

You can buy Starpoints on sale here.

You must call Marriott at 800-321-7396 if you want to book a miles+nights package.


Originally posted on 10/14:

You can register here for 25% bonus when you transfer hotel points to United miles.

United just massively devalued their miles by eliminating stopovers and eliminating the ability to select your own award routing. Either you like what United.com shows you or you’ll need to pay more. But that’s not to say there isn’t still value left in the program.

-The promotion runs through 11/30. It is run by United, so you won’t see any mention of it on the hotel’s points site or during the transfer process.

-United will add 25% bonus miles for all transfers from hotel programs made between 10/12-11/30. (Transfers from Club Carlson will be multiplied by 40%, and transfers from Choice Privileges will be multiplied by 50%, all other chains will be multiplied by 25%.)

-You can earn up to 20K bonus miles with this promotion per United account.

-United will add the bonus miles by 1/31/17.

You won’t want to transfer Starpoints directly to United. While 20K Starwood points can transfer into 25K airline miles with dozens of airlines it only transfers into 12.5K United miles.

However you can transfer 56K Marriott Rewards points into 25K United miles. United will add 25% more miles, leaving you with 31,250 miles.

You can transfer 19K Starwood points into 57K Marriott Rewards points, which will give you 25K United miles and you’ll have 1,000 Marriott Rewards leftover. You can convert those leftover points back into 333 Starpoints. Effectively you can transfer 18,667 Starpoints into 31,250 United miles, an effective 56.3% bonus compared Starwood’s normal 25% bonus!

The maximum you can earn is 20K bonus United miles. You can transfer 56K Starpoints into 168K Marriott points which will earn 75K United miles before the bonus and 93,750 miles after the 25% bonus.

-Don’t forget that if you have Starwood Platinum Status you can match it to Marriott Platinum which will also get you United Silver status!

-An even better deal is with Marriott’s miles+nights packages. 90K Starpoints transfers into 270K Marriott Rewards points. That can be used for 152K United miles and 7 nights in a Marriott category 1-5 hotel with the 20K bonus miles from this United promotion. Even if you don’t use the 7 night hotel certificate being able to transfer 90K Starpoints into 152K United miles is an effective 68.9% transfer bonus!

-Alternatively about 83,333 Starpoints becomes 250K Marriott points which is enough for 130,000 United miles and 7 nights in a Marriott category 1-5 hotel with the 20K bonus miles from this United promotion. Even if you don’t use the 7 night hotel certificate being able to transfer 83,333 Starpoints into 130K United miles is an effective 56% transfer bonus!

-The 7 night hotel certificate expires in 1 year, though Marriott currently will extend them for 1 additional year if you contact them. You don’t need to choose the hotel at the time of a nights+miles redemption.

-Some agents will refund 45K Marriott points (15K Starpoints) if you return the 7 night stay certificate, but not all agents will do that. If you find an agent to do that you can effectively use 75K Starpoints for 152K United miles, an effective 102.7% transfer bonus.

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-If you wanted 7 nights at the tier 3 Ritz-Carlton Herzliya you would need 420K Marriott or 140K Starpoints for that stay and 152K United miles.

-If you wanted 7 nights at the category 7 Renaissance Tel Aviv Hotel you would need 330K Marriott or 110K Starpoints for that stay and 152K United miles.

American Express is a DansDeals.com advertiser

-The Starwood Preferred Guest® Credit Card from American Express offers 25K points for spending $3,000 in 3 months.

-The Starwood Preferred Guest® Business Credit Card from American Express offers 25K points for spending $5,000 in 3 months.

Will you be transferring Starpoints to United with this promotion?

HT: yelped, via DDF

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United Will Mimic Delta Basic Economy, But With More Amenities Stripped Out

Tuesday, November 15th, 2016

Before all the airlines decided to merge in order to avoid competing, the network carriers decided they needed to launch low cost carriers to compete with airlines like AirTran, JetBlue, Southwest, and Spirit.

Continental Lite, Delta Song, United Ted, and USAirways MetroJet were airlines within an airline. They all failed miserably and shut down within a few years. Airlines with high cost structures can’t compete on price with airlines that have ultra-low cost structures. It also created brand confusion as former Continental CEO Gordon Bethune put it, “You can make a pizza so cheap, nobody will eat it. You can make an airline so cheap, nobody will fly it.” Airlines (except for El Al which recently launched “Up”) learned that lesson long ago.

Of course after that the airlines realized that they didn’t have to offer free checked baggage and started charging for the privilege unless you held elite status or their co-branded credit card.

Then Delta launched “Basic Economy” fares. They took a cautious approach to it. They would still award redeemable miles and elite qualifying miles. But they wouldn’t be eligible for seat assignments, economy comfort, flight upgrades, changes, cancellations, or standby. If you need to make a voluntary change you have to throw away your ticket and start again.

Of course that’s even worse then the low cost carriers that allow you to pick a seat if you’re willing to pay for it.

Today United announced they will start selling their own Basic Economy fares starting in 2017 Q1 for travel starting in Q2.

They will match Delta’s restrictions and add some more of their own.

United Basic Economy tickets will award redeemable miles, but they won’t award elite qualifying miles or lifetime miles.

Once you’re assigned a seat at checkin you will not be allowed to change it, so this fare won’t be a good idea for people needing to be seated together.

United Basic Economy tickets will also be ineligible to bring a large carry-on bag on the plane. United will accomplish that by making Basic Economy ticketholders board in the last group and everyone in that group will be forced to check their large bags and pay for them. Checked bag fees will be the same as they are for regular ticketholders.

The real question is if the process of charging for bags winds up delaying flights, which will cost United far more than they’ll take in.

The good news is that if you are eligible to board in an earlier group you will be allowed to have a free large carry-on, even if you have a Basic Economy ticket. That includes any Star Alliance Gold members, United elites, United primary cardholders, and anyone on the same reservation as one of those travelers.

Basic Economy ticketholders will be allowed to have a carry-on that will fit underneath the seat in front of them that is 9 inches x 10 inches x 17 inches or less.

I’d expect American to match United’s approach, or perhaps make it even more stingy than United’s such as getting rid of miles earned, in the very near future. And if Delta likes what they see I’d expect them to match the stingier aspects as well.

Will you book a United Basic Economy tickets if the fare is right?

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Confirmed: Massive Devaluation For United Miles #UnitedUnfriendly

Tuesday, October 11th, 2016

Yesterday I posted that award tickets booked on United.com or via United phone agents were pricing very strangely. The exact same flights could cost 80K, 92.5K, or 110K miles depending on if United.com found them automatically or how you searched for them.

It turns out that it’s not a bug. It’s #UnitedUnfriendly rearing its ugly head again. Gary writes that he assumed it had to be a glitch as such a change without sufficient prior warning would constitute an unfair and deceptive practice worthy of a DoT complaint. United told him that,

“There is not a glitch on the new site for multi-city — that functionality is working as we previously announced. The new MileagePlus award changes are designed to make multi-city searches easier, give our customers greater flexibility, offer the Excursionist Perk, and provide efficient options that meet their travel needs. Selecting the multi-city option will break up the search into separate awards. We believe our multi-city pricing is consistent with the industry.”

Except nothing is easier, the Excursionist Perk is a massive downgrade from a stopover, and more flexibility just means pay us more miles.

There was a nice run of improvements from when Smisek was fired. United started improving their clubs, business class, in-flight snacks and coffee, free snacks for elites, and more. Employee morale went way up which made for far more pleasant and on-time flights.

American fired their President, Scott Kirby in August. United immediately hired him and named him their President. Scott Kirby is the man who said in a press conference that the Philadelphia-Tel Aviv route was “extremely lucrative” before canceling the route due to the route “always being a money-loser.” He came over with Doug Parker from America West to destroy USAirways and obliterate American’s operational performance and AAdvantage in record time.

And now United has removed the ability the manually pick your own saver award flights. If you take United.com’s suggestions then it will give the saver award rate for the route, but if you try specifying valid saver award flights you’ll pay a separate rate for each flight. That applies whether you select the flights on United.com or with a phone agent, though there are a couple reports of rare agents that are willing to sell tickets from the old system where you can string together your choice of saver award flights without paying additional miles.

United claims this is in line with industry practices, but that’s a farce.
Even American still allows you to combine saver flights on a single saver award as long as the routing is legal and you don’t have a stopover of more than 24 hours on an international flight and most carriers allow you to do the same.

Let United know how you feel by Tweeting your thoughts to @United with hashtag #UnitedUnfriendly or email them.

You can also retweet

If you feel deceived by MileagePlus’ lack of proper notification of the change you can file a a DoT complaint as well for their deceptive and unfair practices.

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Is United’s Devaluation Significantly Worse Than Promised Or Is It Just A Bug?

Monday, October 10th, 2016

Last week United eliminated most award stopovers, free one-ways, and round-the-world awards.

Tough pill to swallow, but that’s the way the industry has gone and United generously introduced an Excursionist Perk that allows for a stopover as long as it occurs in the same region as the destination and doesn’t occur in the region of origin.

Despite some rumors to the contrary, they also didn’t eliminate XN, YN, or JN expanded award availability for cardholders or a seminar tip.

And they even fixed Expert Mode, which now shows up on award searches once again.  When it was eliminated I contacted the 1K email support team who told me that it had been disabled permanently. I followed up explaining why I found it so useful to know how many award seats were available without having to do an award search for the award calendar and then having to do a revenue search to view how many award seats were actually available and they let me know back in June that it was fixed. When I told them it was still not showing they said they would bring it back and it’s good to see it finally make its return. This saver award nonstop from Tel Aviv to Newark on March 1st has at least 9 seats for cardholders and elites but no saver awards seats for non cardholders.

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However since the update I can’t login to my account details page in Chrome, though it still works in Firefox.

But worse than the stopover elimination is that when using the multi-city search on the website or by phone the system now prices every segment separately. You can no longer create a routing even if it falls within the award rules.

In the past you were able to use multi-city search to string together award flights that United.com didn’t come up with. In other words if you search for an award from NYC to Tel Aviv you’ll find many routing options on United.com, but you can find many more by searching from NYC to Europe and Europe to Tel Aviv. In the past you were able to manually select flights and they priced at the same rate as a regular award.

Now United.com and phone agents are charging separately for each leg when manually requested. That means you’re stuck with what United.com finds, if you use the multi-city option you are penalized even if you select the same flights that United.com does find!

United.com successfully found a flight from Tel Aviv to JFK via Munich for 42.5K:

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However when I select those exact flights via multi-city search it now prices each leg separately:

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United.com was unable to find a business class flight from NYC to Sydney on December 6th:

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It was able to find an 80K business class option from Los Angeles to Sydney:

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By using multi-city search I easily added the NYC-LAX flight to that itinerary by searching NYC-LAX and LAX-SYD. But instead of the 80K miles it should have cost, it shows 92.5K due to the new pricing logic:

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How bad is the new pricing logic? If I search for NYC-AKL and AKL-SYD then the same exact flights come back at 110K:

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If United.com comes up with NYC-LAX-AKL-SYD it’s 80K in business class. If I use multi-city search it can be 92.5K or 110K depending on how I input the search.

Is this #UnitedUnfriendly or a#UnitedBug?

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United *Enhancing* Award Booking Fees And Rules; 14 Examples Of United Stopover Awards You’ll No Longer Be Able To Book In 2 Months

Wednesday, October 5th, 2016

Update, 10/5: Today is the final day to book a free one-way or stopover award with United miles.


Originally posted on 8/5:

Effective 10/6 you will no longer be able to book stopovers on United awards as has been allowed in the past.

Most insultingly, the email they sent out says that the changes are for “More flexible award booking and streamlined fees” and that “Starting in the fall, we are enhancing the way you book MileagePlus award travel on united.com”

Nothing good has ever come out of an airline enhancement. I’d rather be told how it is than have their marketing team try to work their spin. #UnitedUnfriendly is rearing its ugly head once again.

United writes that “Many members found the stopover policy to be confusing. Our goal is to keep the benefit while making the process of booking your multi-city trip easier, so we are introducing the Excursionist Perk, which is a free one-way award within select multi-city itineraries.”

I have no idea how Excursionist Perk is any less confusing than stopover, but I’ll try to explain what the difference is in this post. But in short, stopovers are awesome, and the “Excursionist Perk” removes all of the awesome from stopovers.

The new stopover rules are downright awful, as is the new Excursionist Perk name for the stopover. But quite frankly, the only surprise is that they are still offering some sort of stopover option at all. American and Delta no longer offer any stopovers, though many foreign carriers still do.

Stopovers allow you to add a free segment to your itinerary and the techniques of them is something that I spent a lot of time at DansDeals Seminars discussing (though it was also when I noticed the eyes glazing over on most novices as they started to get confused). For example if you book a round-trip from NYC to London in August you can “stopover” after your London trip for 6 months and then get a free one-way to Miami in February. You can then use miles or find a cheap one-way ticket back home after that, or you can book a trip from Miami to Paris the following summer with the Miami-NYC leg in February and NYC-Paris and back the following August.

You can book a stopover award here, just click multi-city. I generally search for 3 one-way awards and when I find saver award space for those 3 legs I’ll then use the multi-city option to book it. If you initially search via multi-city it often gives errors and shows fewer options that when you search for one-way awards.

United is also eliminating round-the-world awards. Those awards were a good deal before the 2014 devaluation at 180K coach, 260K business, and 350K first. With that devaluation those rates shot up to 200K coach, 350K business, and 450K first. The last day to book a round-the-world award is 10/5.

United is also updating their award fees. Here is the new award fee structure and here is the current fee structure. Currently non-elites pay $75 for changes more than 21 days in advance of a flight, $100 for changes within 21 days of the flight, or $200 to cancel an award. As of 10/6 non-elites will pay $75 for any changes or cancellations more than 60 days in advance of the flight and $125 within 60 days of the flight, so that’s actually a nice improvement for when you need to cancel an award. However Platinum elites are very unhappy as they go from not paying any award change or cancel fees to paying $50 for any changes made within 60 days.

You can still book traditional stopover awards until 10/5 for travel through the end of schedule. If you keep the first flight of your award ticket then you’ll be able to change the rest of a traditional stopover ticket, but if you change the first flight of your award ticket you will lose your traditional stopover.

Stopover rules after 10/5:
1. Free stopovers will no longer be allowed to occur in the region of origin.
2. Free stopovers will no longer be allowed to include a flight that spans 2 regions.
3. Free stopovers will no longer be allowed if the origin and destination of the trip are in different regions.
4. Stopovers will no longer be allowed on a wholly domestic ticket for an additional 10K miles.

You can view a list of regions here.

Here are examples of what all this means in the real world:

1. Intra-Hawaii coach with stopover: Currently 12K, will be 18K:
A. Honolulu-Kauai in coach on 1/15.
B. Kauai-Maui in coach on 1/22.
C. Maui-Honolulu in coach on 1/29.
This will no longer be a valid stopover award as the stopover leg B occurs within the region of origin.

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View more examples after the jump:

(more…)

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Transfer 18,667 Starpoints Into 25K United Miles Or 90K Starpoints Into 132K United Miles And 7 Nights In A Marriott Hotel!

Friday, September 23rd, 2016

20K Starwood points can transfer into 25K airline miles with dozens of airlines.

That used to include Continental and United, but as the AMEX and Chase co-brand battles heated up, the Starwood transfer ratio to those airlines was chopped to a measly 20K:12.5K transfer ratio.

Marriott and United both have co-brand relationships with Chase and have a much cozier relationship. That means you can now take advantage of those relationships even if you’re an SPG loyalist.

-If you have Starwood Platinum Status you can match it to Marriott Platinum which will also get you United Silver status!

You can transfer 56K Marriott Rewards points into 25K United miles. That’s more miles than any other airline Marriott partners with.

You can transfer 19K Starwood points into 57K Marriott Rewards points, which will give you 25K United miles and you’ll have 1,000 Marriott Rewards leftover. You can convert those leftover points back into 333 Starpoints. Effectively you can transfer 18,667 Starpoints into 25K United miles, an effective 33.9% bonus compared Starwood’s normal 25% bonus.

-An even better deal is with Marriott’s miles+nights packages. 270K Marriott Rewards points would give you 132K United miles and 7 nights in a Marriott category 1-5 hotel.

A transfer of 90K Starpoints into 270K Marriott Rewards points will make that happen.

-Even if you don’t use the 7 night hotel certificate being able to transfer 90K Starpoints into 132K United miles is an effective 46.7% bonus!

-The 7 night hotel certificate expires in 1 year, though Marriott currently will extend them for 1 additional year if you contact them.

mr1

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

-If you wanted 7 nights at the tier 3 Ritz-Carlton Herzliya you would need 420K Marriott or 140K Starpoints for that stay and 132K United miles.

-If you wanted 7 nights at the category 7 Renaissance Tel Aviv Hotel you would need 330K Marriott or 110K Starpoints for that stay and 132K United miles.

American Express is a DansDeals.com advertiser

-The Starwood Preferred Guest® Credit Card from American Express offers 25K points for spending $3,000 in 3 months.

-The Starwood Preferred Guest® Business Credit Card from American Express offers 25K points for spending $5,000 in 3 months.

Will you be transferring Starpoints to United?

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United Has 747s Masquerading As A320s

Thursday, September 15th, 2016

Delta and United are retiring their 747 fleet as airlines continue to move away from gas guzzling 4 engine airplanes.

My son Rafi has been on over 100 flights and is obsessed with airplanes and especially the Queen Of The Skies, the 747.

I took him to San Francisco the month before United discontinued their Chicago-San Francisco 747 route in May. And of course I used miles to fly on the upper deck where he could walk up the stairs and spend time in the cockpit. His joy was contagious even to the checkin agents and he still talks about the trip all the time.

 

 

 

 

 

#CaptainRafi #QueenOfTheSkies #United #747 #FatherSonTrip #WhichButtonShouldIPush?

A photo posted by @dansdeals on

 

 

What's the appropriate compensation for being #Downgraded from #747 #Captain to #CoPilot?

A photo posted by @dansdeals on

 

But apparently United still flies 747s on the Chicago-San Francisco route. They just don’t advertise it.

A Flyertalker wrote that he was booked on a United 747 today from Chicago-San Francisco. I looked but couldn’t find it on United.com when booking a ticket or when looking at the flight status page for that route.

I went to ITA Matrix and searched with advance routing code “UA / aircraft t:747” and it too confirmed that there were no 747 flights for sale on the route.

ITA did get some hits when searching “DL / aircraft t:747” with 747 flights on Delta from Detroit to Atlanta, Settle to Atlanta, and Atlanta to Seattle on 11/26. Seattle to Atlanta and Atlanta to Seattle on 11/27. And Atlanta to Detroit on 11/28. I used my list of airports that comes in handy for hidden city fares lower than Skiplagged’s to find those.

Upon looking closer I did find the 747, it was just hiding.

Searching for a flight from Chicago-San Francisco this morning showed a flight advertised as an A320:

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But clicking on the seat map showed the largest A320 known to mankind. Or a 747 masquerading as an A320:

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Same story for the return flight from San Francisco to Chicago showing as an A320:

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Until you open the seat map and see that it’s a 747:

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Flight Aware confirms that it’s indeed a 747, with an apparent identity crisis. Perhaps it figures that posing as an A320 will save it from this fate? 

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Save 20% On United Saver Awards Within The US48, Alaska, Hawaii, And Canada

Tuesday, August 23rd, 2016

Update: This sale ends today!

Related:
-HUCA To Save With United’s Award Sale
-Save 17,776 Miles On United Saver Awards To Asia


Originally posted on 8/9:

I haven’t seen this sale advertised anywhere, so I don’t know the full terms, but from trial and error it seems that the award sale is as follows:

-US/Canada short-haul saver round-trips (under 700 miles) will be 16K instead of 20K miles.

-US/Canada saver round-trips will be 20K instead of 25K miles.

-Alaska saver round-trips will be 28K instead of 35K miles.

-Hawaii saver round-trips will be 36K instead of 45K miles.

-Travel must be booked 14 days in advance.

-Book travel by August 23.

-Travel is valid between August 23-December 15. If you fly one leg within the promo timeframe and one leg outside of that timeframe you will still save 20% on the leg that falls within the promo timeframe. In other words, a domestic award from December 15-19 would be 22.5K miles.

-Blackout dates: November 22, 23, 26, 27, 28

-Not valid for one-way travel or stopover travel.

-Valid for coach travel only.

Be sure you are logged into United.com if you are elite or if you have select United cards with an annual fee like the Chase United Explorer card, as that gives you greatly expanded saver coach award space and last-seat standard award space in every class. It will only be reflected in the award calendar if you are logged in and you will only get free checked bags and priority boarding if you use that card.

If you find other regions or dates on sale, or if you find the sale terms page, please post a comment!

HT: sruly, via DDF


Join the 73.6K+ people who follow @DansDeals on twitter and you’ll get a tweet when a deal is posted on DansDeals.com!
You can even have Twitter send you a text message whenever a new deal is posted.

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Save 17,776 Miles On United Saver Awards To Asia

Monday, August 22nd, 2016

Update: This sale ends today!


Related:
-HUCA To Save With United’s Award Sale
Save 20% On United Saver Awards Within The US48, Alaska, Hawaii, And Canada


Originally posted on 8/11:

Save 17,776 Miles On United Saver Awards To Asia

-United normally charges 70K miles round-trip to North Asia (China, South Korea, Mongolia, and Taiwan). With this sale it will be 52,224 miles.
-United normally charges 80K miles round-trip to South Asia ( Bangladesh, Bhutan, Brunei, Cambodia, Hong Kong, Indonesia, Laos, Macau, Malaysia, Myanmar, Philippines, Singapore, Thailand, and Vietnam). With this sale it will be 62,224 miles.

-Book by August 22.

-Travel is valid between August 29-April 30, 2017.

-Blackout dates: December 9-February 3, 2017

If you fly one leg within the promo timeframe and one leg outside of that timeframe you will still save 8,888 miles on the leg that falls within the promo timeframe. In other words, an award from February 1-8 would be 61,112 or 71,112 miles.

-Not valid for one-way travel or stopover travel.

-Valid for coach travel only.

Be sure you are logged into United.com if you are elite or if you have select United cards with an annual fee like the Chase United Explorer card, as that gives you greatly expanded saver coach award space and last-seat standard award space in every class. It will only be reflected in the award calendar if you are logged in and you will only get free checked bags and priority boarding if you use that card.

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HUCA To Save With United’s Award Sale

Friday, August 12th, 2016

Several DD readers have posted that they have had United call them and gotten refunds for award tickets that are now on sale with the US award sale and the Asia award sale.

My brother had a more interesting dilemma. He’s booked in September on a one-way 12.5K award from Cleveland to my alma mater, YOEC, in LA. Usually there’s no need to book a round-trip mileage ticket on domestic flights, but the award sale is only valid for round-trip tickets.

He called several times but didn’t get anywhere, so I took over.

I fully expected to have to play the HUCA lottery. That’s not something you smoke, that’s when you Hang Up and Call Again until you get the answer you want.

The first agent told me that it was a targeted promotion. Which is false of course, but I find that when an agent starts making things up it’s better to say thanks and hang up rather than try to correct them and be met with an “I’ve been doing this for 30 years sir, I think I know my job!”

The 2nd agent was happy to add a return segment to fly home for just 7,500 miles, but insisted on charging the $75 change fee as the ticket would have to be reissued.

The 3rd agent wasn’t able to find a saver award flight for the flight he wanted, despite it being clearly available. I just assume these people are grossly incompetent, are too lazy to be bothered to search, or get paid based on how quickly they process each phone call.

Finally the 4th agent was willing to book the return segment for 7,500 miles and waive the change fee as no flights were actually being changed.

All in all it took me about half an hour. Was it worth it? I suppose that depends on how you value your time, but I will say that the feeling of success feels just as good as the miles and money saved.

Have you had success having your existing United award repriced with the award sale?

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United Billion Mile Giveaway

Monday, August 1st, 2016

United Billion Mile Giveaway

I don’t usually write about giveaways, but we’re talking about a billion miles here 🙂

Every time you use your Chase United card in August and September you’ll get a raffle entry, but you can also enter as many times as you want even if you don’t have a card or make a purchase by entering your information here.

Winners will be drawn on 10/15.

-100 people will win 1 million United miles and $7,500 cash. The miles are valued at 2 cents each, so winners will also get a 1099 for $27,500. If you have a combined marginal state and federal tax rate of 33% you would owe some $9,000 in taxes if you win, so it’s a good thing the prize comes with cash and points 🙂
Even if you wind up having to pay a couple thousand dollars in taxes it’s still not a bad deal for enough miles to fly around the world in first class several times.
-10,000 people will win 25,000 United miles. The ARV is $500, as the ARV is less than $600, you shouldn’t get a 1099.
-130,000 people will win 5,000 United miles. The ARV is $100, as the ARV is less than $600, you shouldn’t get a 1099.

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Do You Love Or Hate The New United Award Calendar?

Friday, July 29th, 2016

United and I have had our issues with their award calendar. When they launched their new site they decided to exclude the ability to limit award searches to nonstop award flights only.

I beta tested their site and provided feedback and blogged about my disappointment. Later I campaigned to get United to reconsider and bring back that functionality. And to their credit, they did indeed bring it back.

United launched a new award calendar today and I’m not sure how I feel about it:

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The lines means there are saver coach awards, the dots mean there are saver business/first awards.

At first glance it seems to be harder to process than the old one. I think I’d rather see a color difference than lines and dots. But perhaps that’s just because I’m so used to using the old calendar:

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What do you think about the new United award calendar?

View Results

Loading ... Loading ...

 

If you feel strongly about it either way then be sure to provide your feedback. There is a site feedback button on the right side of United.com where you can provide instant feedback on any page of the site.

 

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United: Philadelphia To/From Los Angeles For $129-$134 Round-Trip!

Thursday, July 14th, 2016

American Express is a DansDeals.com advertiser.
-Earn 3 points per dollar on airfare with the AMEX Premier Rewards Gold Card or the AMEX Business Gold Rewards Card.
-Get free checked baggage and priority boarding on United if you have the Chase United Explorer


Bookable on Priceline. Tickets purchased from Priceline today are refundable until 11:29pm tomorrow. Please see this post for directions on how to cancel these tickets.

-Limited seats are available on each date and dates listed below will sell out quickly! Please post a comment with exactly which dates and route didn’t work for you and I will update the post.

-A Saturday night stay is required and the max stay is 30 days.

-Fare is valid in either direction.

-Flights connect in Chicago, Denver, Houston, San Francisco or Washington DC.

Sample itinerary:

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Valid Philadelphia to Los Angeles dates:
August 23, 27, 30, 31
September 3, 6, 7, 10, 13, 14, 17, 20, 21, 24, 27, 28
October 1, 4, 5, 8, 11, 12, 15, 18, 19, 22, 25, 26, 29
November 1, 2, 5, 8, 9, 12, 15, 16

Valid Los Angeles to Philadelphia dates:
August 30
September 6, 7, 10, 13, 14, 17, 20, 21, 24, 27, 28
October 1, 4, 5, 8, 11, 12, 15, 18, 19, 22, 25, 26, 29
November 1, 2, 5, 8, 9, 12, 15, 16

HT: TFD


Join the 73,000+ people who follow @DansDeals on twitter and you’ll get a tweet when a deal is posted on DansDeals.com!
You can even have Twitter send you a text message whenever a new deal is posted.

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United: Fly Between The US And Europe For 45,000 Miles Round Trip Instead Of 60,000 Miles.

Monday, June 27th, 2016

Update, 6/27: This sale ends tomorrow!


Update, 6/20: This sale is now open to all members!


Originally posted on 6/17:

Chase United cardholders and United elite members can book travel between the US and Europe for as low as 45K miles round-trip on United.com.

I’ll bump this post when the sale is open to the general public.

Not the most exciting sale as it’s only valid on United and only in coach, but this might be useful for some.

If you see dates showing 22.5K in coach, then you’ve found saver award space.

-You can book a round-trip or an open jaw with the discounted rates.
Examples of an “open jaw” include a flight from Newark to London on 9/11 and then back from Amsterdam to Newark on 9/18 is 45,000 miles plus $49 tax.
A flight from Los Angeles to London on 01/25 and then back from Zurich to Newark on 02/08 is 45,000 miles plus $59 tax.

You can still use 4,500 BA Avios for a one-way flight in Europe.

Rules:
-Round-trip travel is required.
-Book by 6/28.
-Travel 8/23/16-3/31/17
-Blackout dates: 12/15/16-1/8/17.
-Discounted Saver Award is valid only for travel between the U.S. (excluding Hawaii) or Canada, and Europe.
-Valid only on United, not on partner airlines.
-Valid for travel to/from the US48, Alaska and Canada to/from Europe.
-Valid for coach saver awards only.
-Stopovers are not permitted.

If you have 1 segment that falls within the promo dates it will be discounted, even if the outbound or return segment doesn’t fall within the promo window.

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Download Prosper Daily And Get 500 United Miles, Plus Extend The Expiration Of Your Miles

Thursday, June 9th, 2016

Download Prosper Daily And Get 500 United Miles

Register for the promotion via the link above and then follow the instructions to download and register for the app and you’ll get 500 United miles within 2 months.

I registered and downloaded the app when it was offering 1,000 miles a few weeks ago and the miles already posted. I created an account from the app, but I did not enroll any bank accounts or credit cards to get the miles.

United miles require activity every 18 months, so this will extend the life of your miles for another 18 months. Chase United Explorer cardholder’s miles never expire for as long as they remain a cardholder. They also get excellent benefits including vastly expanded saver and standard award availability, free checked bags, priority boarding, United Club passes, primary car rental insurance, and elites also get upgrades on award tickets as a benefit of having the card.

HT: ah giten, via DDF

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United Rehauls Their Business Class Experience

Thursday, June 2nd, 2016

Continental eliminated first class in the 90s and leapfrogged their domestic competition by improving their business class and renaming it BusinessFirst.

United kept that moniker after the merger, but their business class has lagged behind the competition. They’re also in the process of eliminating first class, which will leave American as the only domestic carrier with international first class service.

Today United announced that United business class will soon be known as United Polaris. It will feature Zodiac 1-2-1 direct aisle access 6’6″ lie-flat seating and will launch when they receive their first Boeing 77W in December. Existing 767, 777, and 787s  will be retrofitted and new A350s will also feature the new seating.

United is also adding Saks Fifth Avenue bedding, memory foam pillows, and will provide pajamas on Polaris flights longer than 12 hours. That would unfortunately exclude the Newark-Tel Aviv route, but would include the San Francisco-Tel Aviv route for example.

United will also open Polaris lounges for Polaris class passengers starting with Chicago in December and then in Los Angeles, San Francisco, Houston, New York/Newark, Washington Dulles, Tokyo Narita, Hong Kong, and London Heathrow next year. The lounges will have sleeping rooms, spa showers, and premium drinks.

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Check To See If You’re Targeted For Bonus Miles For Flying United

Thursday, May 26th, 2016

Click here and enter your United MileagePlus number to see if you’re targeted for bonus miles for flying United.

Personally I’m not targeted for this promotion, but several DDF members were targeted. Their offers have varied, but a few reported offers on DDF have been:

Offer 1 (appears to be the most common offer):
-Spend $500 and earn 8K bonus miles
-Spend another $500 and earn another 11K bonus miles ($1K total spend for 19K bonus miles)
-Spend another $1,500 and earn another 19K bonus miles ($2.5K total spend for 38K bonus miles)

Offer 2:
-Spend $500 and earn 8K bonus miles
-Spend another $500 and earn another 12K bonus miles ($1K total spend for 20K bonus miles)
-Spend another $1,000 and earn another 20K bonus miles ($2K total spend for 40K bonus miles)

Offer 3:
-Spend $8,000 and earn 32K bonus miles
-Spend another $2,000 and earn another 47K bonus miles ($10K total spend for 79K bonus miles)
-Spend another $4,000 and earn another 78K bonus miles ($14K total spend for 157K bonus miles)

Offer 4:
-Spend $10,500 and earn 13K bonus miles
-Spend another $1,000 and earn another 20K bonus miles ($11.5K total spend for 33K bonus miles)
-Spend another $1,500 and earn another 33K bonus miles ($13K total spend for 66K bonus miles)

To get those bonus miles you need to register for the offer and buy tickets for United flights that are completed by 11/30. Tickets purchased before registering don’t count towards the total. Only the base fare+fuel surcharges count towards the spend threshold, taxes and government mandated fees don’t count.

The bonus miles will post in January 2017.

Were you targeted for one of these offers or another offer? Hit the comments!

HT: SearchGuy, via DDF

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Download Prosper Daily And Get 1,000 United Miles, Plus Extend The Expiration Of Your Miles

Monday, May 23rd, 2016

Update: DEAD!


Download Prosper Daily And Get 1,000 United Miles

Register for the promotion via the link above and then follow the instructions to download and register for the app and you’ll get 1,000 United miles within 2 months.
The terms of the offer state that you just need to download and register, you don’t have to actually enroll any bank accounts or credit cards to get the miles.

United miles require activity every 18 months, so this will extend the life of your miles for another 18 months. Chase United Explorer cardholder’s miles never expire for as long as they remain a cardholder. They also get excellent benefits including vastly expanded saver and standard award availability, free checked bags, priority boarding, United Club passes, primary car rental insurance, and elites also get upgrades on award tickets as a benefit of having the card.

HT: DoC, via DDF

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DDFB Question Of The Day: Have Expanded Award Seats For United Cardholders Gone Away?

Tuesday, May 17th, 2016

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:

(more…)

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Book Today And Save 10K Miles Off United Awards To Hawaii

Friday, May 6th, 2016

Related post: The Ultimate Hawaii Mileage Award Chart And Everything You Need To Know About The Hawaiian Islands


-This promotion is currently bookable on United.com

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-Book by 5/6
-Travel 6/1-11/18
-Award travel on United between the US49/Canada to Hawaii is normally 45K miles round-trip.
With this discount it will be 35K miles if both dates fall within the promotion or 40K if one date falls within the promotion and one date is not within the dates of the promotion.
-Travel valid for saver coach awards only.
-Travel only valid on United. Tickets with Hawaiian air segments will not be discounted, so be sure to book those segments separately if needed.
-Valid on round-trip or on open-jaw (e.g. Newark-Kauai/Maui-Los Angeles) awards.
-Not valid on one-way awards.
-Not valid on stopover awards.
-United flies into Hilo (ITO), Honolulu (HNL), Kauai (LIH), Kona (KOA), and Maui (OGG).

Be sure you are logged into United.com if you are elite or if you have select United cards with an annual fee like the Chase United Explorer card, as that gives you greatly expanded saver coach award space and last-seat standard award space in every class. It will only be reflected in the award calendar if you are logged in and you will only get free checked bags and priority boarding if you use that card.

HT: normathej, via DDF

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4 Weeks Left To Fly Upstairs Or In The Nose Of United’s Queen Of The Skies On A Domestic Route

Wednesday, April 27th, 2016

2 weeks ago I went on a quick 2 day father-son trip to San Francisco. Rafi is obsessed with airplanes, and having taken him on over 100 flights I suppose that’s my fault. He had been begging for quite some time to fly upstairs on a 747 or A380 and United’s upcoming retirement of the 747 was a good impetus for the trip.

We got business saver awards from Cleveland to San Francisco and back via Chicago to catch a ride upstairs on the Queen of the skies, a rightfully deserved title for a beautiful airplane.

We had the time of our lives, words can’t come close to describing the experience. I’ll try to cover it in a future trip report and you can peruse a few pictures from the trip on my Instagram account.

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View which miles to use, the award availability day by day, and more after the jump:

(more…)

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United Listens: The Nonstop Award Calendar Is Back And Other Award Calendar Errors Have Been Fixed!

Friday, February 12th, 2016

United is undergoing massive improvements all-around. I just got back from a 2 week trip that included several flights on United and was really blown away by the changes, but more on that in a future trip report.

I do think that new CEO Oscar Munoz has done wonders to eliminate the poisonous culture that existed under Jeff Smisek. Some people thought it was odd that I was so happy when Smisek was forced out, but I mean there was impromptu cheering in the terminals from customers and parties in the employee crew lounges when the news broke, as reported in this great article from Bloomberg.

At any rate, in May of last year I was invited to preview and beta test the new United site. I wasn’t a fan.

In August I detailed some of the biggest issues and asked for your help in providing feedback and letting United know about them. There was no response from them and United went forward with ditching the old Continental site. Keeping the old Continental site was one of the only good moves they made in the merger, and then it was gone for good.

The new site gives United more ability to upsell during the booking process, so I understand why they wanted to move to it. But for the life of me I couldn’t figure out what they gained by eliminating the nonstop award calendar. After waiting this long and reaching out to every contact at United I figured there must be some reason why they got rid of it.

Finally today United fixed the nonstop award button. Previously if you clicked nonstop all it did was eliminate connecting flight options from the search results, but the calendar still displayed connecting availability. That meant you had to click on each individual date to see if nonstop saver awards were available, an incredibly time consuming process. I went through that process for every date when I reported several weeks ago about the amazing award space in all cabins on the 777 operating between Newark/Washington DC and LAX/SFO.

They still have coach saver and standard awards in the same column which is confusing for many folks, but I can live with that. Though I do wish they would bring back the Paypal hold or phone order hold options that the new site also got rid of 😀

 

EWR-TLV calendar showing connecting options:

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But as of today you can click nonstop on the home page or on the award results page and the calendar will only display dates with nonstop saver award space.

The button on the award results page seems a bit buggy still. It doesn’t always properly limit the calendar to nonstop. And it always defaults the calendar back to the original dates rather than change the current calendar dates that you’re looking at. So you may want to stick with the nonstop button on the home page for now, but be sure to report any bugs using the site feedback button. The site feedback button is located in the middle of the right-side of United.com.

 

EWR-TLV new nonstop only calendar:

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EWR-LAX showing connecting options:

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EWR-LAX new nonstop only calendar:

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Be sure you are logged into United.com if you are elite or if you have select United cards with an annual fee like the Chase United Explorer card, as that gives you expanded saver coach award space and last-seat standard award space in every class. It will only be reflected in the award calendar if you are logged in.

Another persistent bug has been that if you change the award search parameters on the search results page and then click another date on the calendar it has resulted in an error message forcing you to go back to the home page. I’ve reported that numerous times to United and that has finally been rectified as well.

Way to go United!

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United 3-Class 777 From Newark To LA And San Francisco With Wide Open Business And First Award Space; Book The Entire First Class Cabin With Miles!

Tuesday, January 26th, 2016

United typically serves their transcontinental routes with narrow-body 2 class aircraft, but they are operating an international 777 with coach, business, and first class on several routes for limited dates:

-Newark-San Francisco: 1 daily flight from April 5-May 4
-San Francisco-Newark: 1 daily flight from April 6-May 4
-Washington/IAD-San Francisco and San Francisco-Washington/IAD: 1 daily flight (except Saturdays in March) from March 3-May 4
-Washington/IAD-Los Angeles: 1 daily flight from April 5-May 4
-Los Angeles-Washington/IAD: 1 daily flight from April 6-May 4

I’ll break down the exact award availability on the Newark-Los Angeles and Los Angeles-Newark routes below. There’s first class award space on every date that the flight operates. In fact there are just 8 first class seats, so you can book out the entire first class cabin with saver awards on many dates!

We flew to Brazil on TAM by booking out the entire first class cabin with miles, though granted that cabin just had 4 seats so it worked perfectly for our family. It was an unforgettable experience.

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View which miles to use, the full availability between Newark and Los Angeles day by day, and more about the seats after the jump:

(more…)

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This Snapshot Of United’s Saver Award Availability Between Newark And Tel Aviv Shows Just How Much Having Their Credit Card Can Help

Wednesday, December 9th, 2015

United is the only airline that gives expanded award availability to their credit cardholders. Officially that availability is for last seat standard award availability (which comes out of the FN, JN, or YN fare buckets for first, business, and coach awards respectively).

However it also gives availability to expanded coach saver award availability. When you have a consumer or business United Explorer, Presidential Plus, or Club card and you are logged into your account it will automatically display the expanded coach saver award availability (which comes out of the XN fare bucket).

United doesn’t charge the lowest rates for their own awards, but if you have a United credit card the availability will be much greater. To show exactly how much more space is available I took a look at the Newark-Tel Aviv route from now through January.

-United charges 42.5K miles for a one-way saver award between the US48 and Tel Aviv in coach and 70K in business class.
-Singapore can book the same award on United for 37.5K one-way in coach or 57.5K one-way in business class. Plus Singpaore has no close-in fees and only charges $20 to change an award or $30 to cancel and redeposit an award. However Singapore won’t have access to expanded award space or Plan B awards.
-ANA can book the same award on United for 65K round-trip in coach or 105K round-trip in business class. ANA doesn’t book one-way awards. ANA has no close-in fees, allows free date changes, and only charges 3,000 miles to cancel and redeposit an award. However ANA won’t have access to expanded award space or Plan B awards.
-You can also redeem 70K United miles for business class even when there is only coach available. Read this post for how to do that.
-The Chase United Explorer card gives expanded saver and standard award space. After clicking apply now you can also click to view the business Explorer card which offer 50K miles for signing up, and the Club card, which gives a full club membership, 2 free checked bags, and waives close-in booking fees.
-Read about how to use and decrypt United’s powerful expert mode here.

It used to be easy to view dates with nonstop saver award availability. Unfortunately United killed their legacy Continental website, and with it the ability to actually see which of these dates actually have nonstop award space. Now you need to click through eevery date to see if there is nonstop saver award space on that date…

 

Summary of saver award space on United’s Newark-Tel Aviv nonstop flights from now through January:
-Flights with business saver awards: 3
-Flights with coach saver awards for cardholders or elites: 44
-Flights with coach saver awards for non-cardholders or elites or for partner awards: 12

Summary of saver award space on United’s Tel Aviv-Newark nonstop flights from now through January:
-Flights with business saver awards: 7
-Flights with coach saver awards for cardholders or elites: 53
-Flights with coach saver awards for non-cardholders or elites or for partner awards: 35

View the full availability day by day and more benefits of being a cardholder after the jump:

(more…)

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Wide Open United Business Class Saver Award Space Nonstop From Tel Aviv To Newark In The End Of December For You And Your Entire Family

Wednesday, November 25th, 2015

The nonstop routes between Tel Aviv and North America are some of the hardest for business saver awards.

Earlier this year I took my family to Israel on USAirways business class when they had a glitch and opened up their entire schedule for business saver awards while they were converting their fare classes to match American’s. That was actually the 2nd glitch of the year. It happened the day before but I slept through it while DDF’ers were having all the fun. And then it happened a 3rd time a couple of weeks later. But aside from those glitches it’s a tough award.

Even finding 1 business saver award seat requires hunting, but DDF user D93 notes that United has at least 9 business saver award seats available on December 21, 22, 23, 24, and 25 on their Tel Aviv-Newark morning flight. There are also at least 9 coach saver awards, but the coach award seats aren’t rare.

Unfortunately there doesn’t appear to be the same kind of business saver award space from Newark to Tel Aviv, though you can fly nonstop in United coach, in partner business class with a stop, or if you’re feeling adventurous you can give Plan B a try for United business saver award when there’s only coach saver availability.

Unfortunately United killed their legacy Continental website, and with it the ability to actually see which of these dates actually have nonstop award space.

Consider that Smisek’s last hurrah.

United’s biggest downgrade? The new website’s award calendar’s lack of ability to show nonstop saver award availability:

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So what’s the best way to book?

It’s 70K miles with United and you can transfer points from Sapphire Preferred or Ink Plus to United. Those points transfer instantly and United never charges fuel surcharges.

However United will charge you $200 should you need to cancel and redeposit the miles.

Alternatively you can transfer points from AMEX, Chase, Citi, or Starwood to Singapore, however that transfer isn’t instant. From AMEX, Chase, or Citi it can take anywhere from a 2-48 hours while transfers from Starwood can take 2-6 days. In the meantime the award space may dry up.

But if you want to risk it Singapore charges just 57.5K miles for the same flight with no fuel surcharges. And should you need to cancel and redepsoit the miles you’ll pay just $30.

The same story applies in coach, United charges 42.5K miles while Singapore charges just 37.5K miles for the same United flight.

You need to call Singapore to book travel on United.

It’s also worth noting that while United miles can stay alive forever if you have their credit card or account activity, Singapore miles expire 36 months after they’re transferred in, regardless of activity. And Singapore charges a fuel surcharge for travel on most airlines besides for United.

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United Cardholders And Elites: Fly Between The US And Europe For 45,000 Miles Round Trip Instead Of 60,000 Miles.

Thursday, November 19th, 2015

Related: United: Discounted Awards To Brazil And Chile
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Chase United cardholders can book travel between the US and Europe for as low as 45K miles round-trip on United.com.

Not the most exciting sale as it’s only valid on United and only in coach, but this might be useful for some.

-You can book a round-trip or an open jaw with the discounted rates.
Examples of an “open jaw” include a flight from Newark to London on 01/25 and then back from Amsterdam to Newark on 02/08 is 45,000 miles plus $51.90 tax.
A flight from Los Angeles to London on 01/25 and then back from Zurich to Newark on 02/08 is 45,000 miles plus $59.10 tax.

You can always use 4,500 BA Avios for a one-way flight in Europe.

Rules:
-Round-trip travel is required.
-Flights on Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday will price at 22.5K miles each way.
-Flights on Friday, Saturday, and Sunday will price at 25.5K miles each way.
-Book by 12/08.
-Travel 01/11/16-03/10/16
-Discounted Saver Award is valid only for travel between the U.S. (excluding Hawaii) or Canada, and Europe.
-Valid only on United, not on partner airlines.
-Valid for travel to/from the US48, Alaska and Canada to/from Europe.
-Valid for coach saver awards only.
-Stopovers are not permitted.

If you have 1 segment that falls within the promo dates it will be discounted, even if the outbound or return segment doesn’t fall within the promo window.

HT: menachem_m, via DDF

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Chase United Mall Lounges Are Back

Monday, November 16th, 2015

For the holiday season Chase United cardholders can access lounges while shopping in malls in S. Francisco and Short Hills, NJ.

-NJ location: The Mall at Short Hills, located on the first floor next to Macy’s and adjacent to Guest Services. November 27 – December 24, 11:00 am until mall closing.
-SF location: The Westfield San Francisco Centre, Dome level near Bloomingdale’s. November 27 – December 24, 11:00 am until mall closing.

-The VIP Lounge is open to all Chase United Credit Card members and features complimentary gift-wrapping, coat and bag check, and snacks and beverages, including fresh baked goods, packaged snacks, soda, bottled water, and coffee, plus café-style seating and flat screen TVs.
-Football Sundays: Check out live game-day action every Sunday. All TVs in the VIP Lounge will be tuned to local and national pro football games on Sundays.
-Visa Checkout Mondays: Stop by for gifts and treats from Visa Checkout.
-Toys for Tots Tuesdays: Cardmembers may bring a new, unwrapped toy in its original packaging, on the following Tuesdays: December 1st, December 8th and December 15th and you will receive one United Club pass. Bring two toys and receive two United Club passes. Minimum retail value of the toy must be $15.

-For entry, present your valid Chase United Credit Card and a valid ID.
-Each Cardmember may bring up to three guests.
-If you have recently applied for a United Card you may bring your application confirmation page to the lounge, and you will be granted access for the entire duration of the VIP Lounge.

It’s obviously not worth getting a United Explorer card for a mall lounge but there are some really nice perks of the card besides for the signup bonus (30K for spending $1,000 and 5K for adding an additional user on the consumer card, 50K for spending $2,000 on the business card after clicking “Are you a business owner” on the card landing page):

-It is the only card that gives expanded award ticket availability. Cardholders have access to expanded saver coach award availability (XN class), last seat standard coach award availability (YN class), and last seat standard business/first class award availability (JN class). You can read about examples of expanded availability in this post. You can learn more about searching for those classes in expert mode in this post.

-As you have better access to saver coach awards you’ll also have better ability to do Plan B awards. Plan B allows you to redeem for saver business and first class awards when there’s only saver coach available. Based on DDF reports and my own experience people have better than 95% odds of being seated in business class on a Plan B redemption. Read more about Plan B in this post. No airline besides United offers a Plan B redemption.

-The United and Chase Sapphire Preferred cards are among the only cards that come with primary rental car CDW insurance. Almost every other card only has secondary coverage when you rent a car in your home country. This means that if you damage your rental vehicle you must file the claim with your own personal insurance policy first, and only if they won’t cover the damage will the credit card cover the damage. Even additional cardholders get primary coverage when they rent.

With primary rental car CDW insurance you will not have to file anything with your own insurance company. Chase will cover the entire bill for any damage to your rental car. Just be sure to decline the rental agency’s CDW coverage.  This primary coverage applies in every country in the world.

-The United Explorer card gives 2 free United Club passes every year for being a cardmember.

-The United Explorer card gives a 10K mileage bonus every year in which you spend $25K.  That means you’ll earn at least 1.4 miles per dollar spent everywhere if you spend $25K in a year. Spending $25K in a year also waives the requirement to spend $3K on United flights to get Silver status, $6K on United flights to get Gold status, and $9K on United flights to get Platinum status. You only need to fly the 25K, 50K, or 75K miles like in the good old days.

-Your miles will never expire as long as you are a United cardholder even if you don’t have any activity.

-A massive benefit for United elite members is that they can get free upgrades on coach award tickets on upgrade eligible routes if they have a United card.

Other card benefits:
-No foreign exchange fees
-Double miles on United purchases.
-Priority boarding so that you’ll have space for your carry-ons.
-First checked bag is free.

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