Category Archive for 'United'

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


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

Friday, August 5th, 2016

I’m traveling for most of this month, so excuse me for running a little bit behind, but United announced yesterday that 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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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


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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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United Will Add Nonstop San Francisco-Tel Aviv Service!

Thursday, October 8th, 2015

Update: United confirms the new SFO-TLV route and also announced nonstop service between San Francisco and Auckland, New Zealand.

SFO-TLV tickets will go on sale 10/10 for travel starting 03/30/16 and SFO-AKL tickets go on sale 10/17 for travel starting 07/01/16. The Auckland flights will start off 3x weekly and move to daily service on 10/28/16.

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American announced in August that they would completely pull out of the Tel Aviv market on 01/05/16. Allegedly the flight had never been profitable, despite statements from USAirways’s president Scott Kirby calling the route among the most lucrative in their network.

Even more bizarrely, they announced they would not try the route from their JFK and Miami hubs which seem like more natural fits for Tel Aviv service, especially considering that Miami has no nonstop service to the holy land despite its huge Jewish population. After all, Delta successfully launched JFK-Tel Aviv service despite the Atlanta-Tel Aviv route not working out for them. However American said that they saw “no route to profitability for Tel Aviv service.” So much for the benefits of the being the world’s largest airline…

But American’s loss is their competition’s gain.

Delta announced last month that they would pick up much of the slack by bumping JFK-Tel Aviv nonstop service from 7 flights/week to 11 flights/week as of next May.

And now YNet (Hebrew) is reporting that United will be adding nonstop service from San Francisco-Tel Aviv with 3 flights/week effective 03/30/16 on their 787-900 Dreamliner.

YNet says that the SFO-TLV flight will depart at 8pm on Wednesdays, Fridays, and Sundays and arrive at 8:10 pm the next day (14:10 flight duration). The TLV-SFO flight will depart at 12:55am on Tuesdays, Fridays and Sundays and arrive at 6am the same day (15:05 flight duration).

The 787-900 has 48 lie-flat business class seats, 88 economy plus seats with 35 inches of pitch, and 116 economy seats with 32 inches of pitch. (The 777-200 that operates from Newark has 50 lie-flat business class seats, 72 economy plus seats with 35 inches of pitch, and 145 economy seats with 31 inches of pitch.)

This effectively fulfills what Brian Znotins, United’s head of network, told me at the United DO in Chicago 3 years ago would happen when United picked up their 787-900 aircraft:

-The Newark-Tel Aviv route is an anomaly. While most international routes survive or die by their premium class passengers the TLV route is extremely successful in coach but less so in Business, where it is full of upgraders. While the route was once Continental’s most profitable the introduction of Delta service to Tel Aviv eroded the profits on the route. When Continental ordered 787s many years ago it was widely though that they would operated a 3rd daily Tel Aviv flight but now that route has been pushed down the list as there are bigger fish to fry. While it seems unlikely for the 787-800 to do a Tel Aviv run it’s possible we’ll see Tel Aviv flights with the coming of the 787-900 in 2014.

-While on most flights 1 business seat is more profitable than having 3 more economy seats Tel Aviv seems to be an exception and if they had a plane heavier in coach seats it could make more sense for Tel Aviv.

On DDF we’ve had some lively discussions about a 3rd United TLV flight from Chicago or S. Francisco. There’s actually a lot of internal debate on that very topic as the revenue guys think there’s going to be a lot of business class travel between San Francisco and Tel Aviv while the network planning guys think Chicago would make more logical sense as more traffic from across the country can feed into it. Of course a 3rd daily flight out of Newark can also make sense as that grabs traffic from NYC as well as the entire country.

 

I do find it interesting that San Francisco won the internal debate over Chicago, but premium traffic is king I suppose and Silicon Valley and tech traffic will supply it. The only question is will their be enough traffic from west coast connections to fill up the back of the bus.

I’m not surprised Newark didn’t get a 3rd flight due to the increased NYCcompetition from Delta.

I won’t be surprised to see Chicago pickup nonstop service from El Al or United in the future though.

In North America El Al flies nonstop from Boston, JFK, Los Angeles, Newark, and Toronto to Tel Aviv. Air Canada flies from Toronto, Delta flies from JFK, and United will fly from Newark and San Francisco to Tel Aviv.

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United: Newark To Eugene, Oregon Via Denver Or San Francisco In First Class For $195 Each Way

Thursday, September 24th, 2015

Update: DEAD!

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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.

Bookable on Priceline or on Orbitz.

-This fare is fully refundable.

-Limited seats are available on each date. Always search one-way for 1 seat and then work your way up to the number of seats you need in order to book as many seats on sale as you can.

United has an excellent first class fare from Newark to Eugene, Oregon for just $195 each way.

Eugene is 1.5 hours from Sea Lion Caves on the Oregon coast and 2.5 hours from stunning Crater Lake, where I was during the great Northeast Blackout of 2003, just a year before I started blogging here.

The fare is valid in either direction on most dates from now through August 2016 and you can use this Google Flights link to help find valid dates.

Through 10/24 you can even route Newark-San Francisco-Eugene for a dirt-cheap hidden city first class ticket to San Francisco, though you wouldn’t be able to bring checked baggage.  The fare rules don’t allow routing on a plane with lie-flat first seats though.

You’ll want to credit these flights to a partner airline like ANA, Aeroplan, Aegean, or Singapore where you will earn 150% of the flown miles. A round-trip flight via San Francisco would earn 9,050 miles on those airlines.

After 10/24 the only connecting option is in Denver as that’s when all of the Newark-San Francisco flights transition to p.s. lie-flat service in first class.

 

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HT: SF

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United’s Jeff Smisek Is Out!

Tuesday, September 8th, 2015

Update: Bloomberg posits that Smisek was likely doomed due to performance issues even before the current corruption investigation that appears to have been the nail in the coffin.

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Effective immediately, United’s Jeff Smisek is stepping down from his positions as chairman of the board, president, and chief executive officer, Oscar Munoz is now United’s president and chief executive officer and he will also continue to serve on United’s board of directors. A shareholder conference call is expected at 5:30pm EDT.

It’s no secret that I’m not a Smisek fan.  Even if he did give me a framed photo of me sitting at his desk.

-He created a United flight called the Chairman’s flight for Chris Christie’s top Port Authority official in exchange for projects that United wanted in Newark. This seems to be what has caused his sudden departure, though it’s not what has made him one of the most vilified airline CEOs of all time.

-He lied about the Cleveland hub not being profitable in a decade when the real reason was pilot shortage.

-He’s done everything in his power to chase away and anger elites. Not a good idea to refer to your best customers as over-entitled…

-The merger brought misery to both Continental and United flyers by combining the worst aspects of both airlines.

-Innovation at Smisek’s United has become just copying whatever Delta is doing.

-Smisek’s United devalued the once industry leading MileagePlus program, which was the only excuse for many for sticking to a substandard airline.

-The new United.com is a hot mess. It’s been down for much of the day today, it’s very slow, and it has been full of bugs and errors causing people to book elsewhere. It stripped out vital functionality from the old site. And it has security holes.

-He retreated from JFK rather than provide a competitive product.

-Mr. Smisek claims that an airline can’t do anything to create demand but can only react to it. This despite the fact that the man who hired him, Gordon Bethune, wrote in his excellent book “From Worst to First” exactly how that kind of reactionary thinking is what nearly drove Continental out of business is the early 90s. Or as he put it, “You can make a pizza so cheap, nobody will eat it. You can make an airline so cheap, nobody will fly it.”

Gordon is revered as one of the best airline CEOs of all-time. I only wish United would have been able to coax him out of retirement just to right their ship. Then again Mr Bethune once caught flak for calling United “HIV-Positive”…

Bethune’s successor Larry Kellner ran a tight ship as well, but was forced out of Continental for not wanting to merge with United. And that’s what brought us Mr. Smisek, a merger that has benefited noone, and a sorry excuse for an airline:

 

Smisek promised “changes we were going to like” when he merged Continental with United. After years of devaluing both mileage programs, worsening the flying experience on both airlines, getting rid of free meals at mealtimes and special meals on almost all domestic routes in all classes, stripping free premium drinks out of clubs, closing hubs, and single-handedly ruining 2 once proud airlines, this is the first change that all Continental and United flyers can finally get behind. Good riddance Mr. Smisek!

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United: Discounted Awards To Brazil And Chile

Wednesday, August 19th, 2015

-Bookable on United.com

Promo rules:
-Award travel on United from the US49/Canada to Brazil or Chile is normally 60K miles round-trip.
With this discount it will be 45K miles if both dates fall within the promotion or 52.5K miles if one date falls within the promotion. In other words even if you return after the promotion ends you can still get the discounted 52.5K rate as long as you depart by 11/30.
-Book and travel by 11/30.
-Travel only valid on United and in coach. This effectively limits the promotion for travel to Santiago, Sao Paulo, or Rio de Janeiro.
-You are allowed to have an open jaw, so you can fly into Rio and back from Sao Paulo or Santiago for 45K miles for example.

Flying between the cities with Avios for an open-jaw award:

Sao Paulo and Rio both have great kosher restaurant options. Brazil’s currency is at 10 year low versus the dollar, making this a great time visit.

-From Sao Paulo you can fly nonstop to Iguazu Falls for just 4.5K BA Avios to experience the most awe-inspiring waterfalls in the world. Rio to Iguazu nonstop is 7.5K BA Avios.
-From Sao Paulo you can fly nonstop to Rio for just 4.5K BA Avios to experience one of the most beautiful cities in the world.
-From Sao Paulo or Rio you can fly nonstop to Santiago for just 10K BA Avios.
-From Santiago you can hop over to Easter Island for 12.5K BA Avios in coach or 25K in business on LAN. LAN even continues on from Easter Island to Papeete, home base for the stunning islands of Moorea and Bora Bora, for another 12.5K Avios.

Visas:
-Brazil charges a $160 reciprocity fee for American citizens that don’t hold other citizenship. The visa lasts for 10 years.
-Chile no longer charges a fee for Americans.

Earning BA and United miles with their credit cards:
-The Chase BA card offers 50K Avios for signing up with the annual fee waived for the first year for applications received by 08/31.
-The Chase United card offers 35,000 miles for signing up and adding a free additional user with the annual fee waived for the first year. The United card also offers significantly expanded saver award availability, priority boarding, and free checked baggage.
HT: RWM

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Here’s What United Really Meant To Say Regarding United Club Access Changes

Tuesday, August 18th, 2015

Several people have emailed me, posted on DDF, and posted on DDFB with an incorrect interpretation of an admittedly confusing email that United sent out today.

The email said,

“We’ve been working on a variety of improvements to our United Club program. To provide a more productive and relaxing experience, we’re investing more than $100 million in renovating existing locations and building new spaces with expanded seating areas, more power outlets and upgraded Wi-Fi. We’re also investing in a brand new complimentary food menu that you can now find at our hub locations across the U.S. and will be available soon at the rest of our locations.

To maintain and further improve the United Club experience, we’re announcing the following change to our program:
-Effective August 18, 2016, a same-day boarding pass for all United Club customers, including members, will be required for United Club access.”

Never mind that they eliminated most free alcoholic drinks less than 2 years ago…

Many people were under the impression that a United boarding pass will be required for entry as of 08/18/16, but that’s not the case.

1. You can use a same-day boarding pass on any carrier to access the club.
2. You can use a red-eye boarding pass from the previous day to access the club.
3. You can use a boarding pass from an early morning flight (e.g. 1am) to access the club the day beforehand.

So you’ll still be able to use your 2 annual club passes from the Chase United Explorer card even if you’re not flying United. (A must-have card for anyone who collects United miles as it greatly expands your access to both saver and standard award availability.

Same things goes for Club members/United Club cardholders.

So what is being changed?

United is unique in that they allow Club members and their guests to obtain a gate pass to access the club.

It’s extremely rare for club members to do that. I’ve been told that by agents at several airports where I’ve done that. And that was before the free drinks benefit was gutted. Most agents don’t even know about the gate pass benefit for club member, though you can tell them to look at “GG Checkpoint Line 65” for the proper protocol.

Why have I done it? Because it’s a great way to get past security without a ticket.
-It’s always appreciated when you pick up a loved one directly at their gate. Especially when they’re not expecting it!
-I have fond memories of going to the airport as a child and watching the planes take off. It’s nice to be able to pass that on to my own kids.

The real question is why is United making this change? This will do nothing to solve overcrowding in United’s clubs as odds are that at any given moment there are exactly zero people who are in the club without a same-day flight.

Does the TSA want United to stop issuing as many gate passes?
Are there actually employees who are taking advantage of a membership to get free snacks?

I’d love to hear other theories as it seems hard to fathom that members like myself taking advantage of an obscure benefit by getting an occasional gate pass warranted making this change.

Of course there are workarounds:
-You can purchase a refundable ticket on any airline to get access to the gate and to the club. More annoying than getting a gate pass, but they can’t take that option away.
-Lifetime club members get 4 free hours of conference room reservations per day and all conference attendees will still be able to get gate passes.

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United: Philadelphia To/From Las Vegas (Or Other Hidden Cities Like Denver, Houston, Los Angeles, Or S. Francisco) From $40 Each Way

Sunday, August 16th, 2015

Update: DEAD!

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.

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

-Limited seats are available on each date. Always search one-way for 1 seat and then work your way up to the number of seats you need in order to book as many seats on sale as you can.

Flights connect in Chicago, Denver, Houston, Los Angeles, S. Fransisco, or Washington DC.

You can always get off in the connection city if you aren’t checking luggage, so a one-way flight from PHL to LAS on November 10 can be purchased for $44 with a connection in Houston or S. Fransisco and nobody will stop you from getting off the plane there.

A one-way flight from PHL to LAS on November 12 via Los Angeles can be had for $68, effectively a nonstop Philadelphia-Los Angeles flight, but you’ll just have to UPS your luggage there or send it with another family member on a regular ticket there.

Philadelphia-Las Vegas $40-$48 Valid Dates
August 24, 25, 26, 31
September 1, 2, 6, 9, 15, 16, 30
October 6, 7, 13, 14, 20, 21, 27, 28
November 2, 3, 8, 9, 10, 11, 15, 16, 17, 18

Philadelphia-Las Vegas $54-$64 Valid Dates
August 27, 28, 29
September 26
October 3, 10, 24, 30, 31
November 6, 7, 12, 13, 14

Las Vegas-Philadelphia $40-44 Valid Dates
August 25, 26, 27
September 1, 2, 3, 9, 10, 12, 15, 16, 29, 30
October 3, 6, 7, 13, 14, 20, 21, 23, 27, 28, 29, 30, 31
November 3, 4, 5, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14, 17, 18

Las Vegas-Philadelphia $59 Valid Dates
August 31
October 19
November 9, 16

HT: CRONY, via DDF and TFD

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United Adds Ferry Flight From Tel Aviv To Newark Tomorrow, Wide Open For Awards

Monday, August 10th, 2015

United’s evening departure last night from Tel Aviv to Newark was cancelled due to aircraft maintenance.

During off-peak times United might have cancelled one of their Newark-Tel Aviv flights so that they don’t have a stranded airplane in Tel Aviv, but those flights are operating at full capacity, leaving no slack to cancel them.

Instead United has added a rare 3rd flight from Tel Aviv to Newark.  It departs at 9:30am, arriving into Newark at 2:25pm. As the flight wasn’t being sold it’s wide open:

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Expert mode tells us that there are at least 9 saver award seats available in both coach and in BusinessFirst class, an extraordinarily rare sight during the summer.

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With United miles the flight costs 42.5K in coach or 70K in business. If you have Singapore miles though you can nab that flight for just 37.5K in coach or 57.5K in business without any close-in fees.  You can normally transfer points to Singapore from AMEX, Chase, Citi, and Starwood, but those transfers wouldn’t post until about 3AM EDT the next day at the earliest, which won’t work in this case.

Post a comment if you book and let us know what the empty flight is like!

HT: ar, via DDF

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The Tax Consequences Of Helping United Fix Bugs On Their Site

Thursday, August 6th, 2015

Last month the news that United handed out millions of miles as part of their bug bounty program went viral.  CNN Money, Fox, Business Insider, the BBC, and many more outlets covered the story of domestic white hat hackers that won at least 1,000,000 miles each for reporting remote code execution bugs on United.com.

Surprisingly none of the news outlets covered the tax implications of being awarded 1,000,000 miles.

Many companies offer cash bounties, but the tax implications of that aren’t as critical. After all, you can just take part of the cash winnings to pay the tax bill. Not so with miles that officially can’t be sold.

The IRS considers miles earned from flights and from credit cards to be purchase rebates which are non-taxable. However I’ve received 1099s for miles earned from opening checking accounts in the past, so miles earned from other sources are definitely taxable.

I reached out to United asking about the tax implications and they responded that they will be sending out 1099s at a value of 2 cents per mile for domestic participants.

So the 1,000,000 mile prize comes with a tax bill equivalent to $20,000 of income. The marginal tax rate for a NYC based household that has $91,000 of total income is 28% federal+3.65% local+6.45% state=38.1%. For that household, winning the miles will result in an out of pocket cost of $7,620. That cost could rise further if the additional “income” also knocks out any other tax deductions due to the higher overall income level.

To be sure, that’s still a decent price for obtaining miles (0.76 cents per mile), but it sure puts a damper on the program. Perhaps not quite as bad as how I imagine the contestants on Wheel of Fortune feel after they realize the real cost of their “free” trip to Jamaica when they get hit with a 1099 for $11,500. But a damper nonetheless.

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No, you won’t get a tax bill for telling United to fix a crucial award searching bug, but you will have my thanks. Read this post for how to provide feedback to United about their new site and click on the retweet and favorite buttons in the tweet below to make the issue heard by United:

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United’s New Website Will Replace Continental’s Legacy Site This Month And Is Set To Remove Critical Award Searching Features; Provide Your Feedback Now Before It’s Too Late!

Wednesday, August 5th, 2015

Continental last redesigned their website in 2006. It’s not pretty, but even 9 years later it still offers more functionality than any other airline’s website. That’s a real testament to just how far ahead of its time it was. When United merged with Continental it was a no-brainer to keep Continental.com over the site that was derided as United.bomb for its failure to correctly perform basic tasks.

In 2012 at the United DO I sat in a fascinating Q&A session with Mark Nasr, who came from the Continental side and was in charge of United.com up until a few months ago. He guesstimated that the new United.com would be up and running by the 2nd half of 2013. And he swore to get rid of the notorious blue screen while waiting for flight results:

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He was 2 years off, but the new United.com site is out of beta and is now up and running. And the blue screen is gone. The legacy Continental site will only be operational “for a few weeks” longer. During the rest of this month people will be transitioned over to the new site while still being allowed to switch back to the old site while it exists.

Unfortunately the new site represents a massive setback in award searching functionality from the old site.

Both the home pages of the old site and new site allow you to search for award flights and select nonstop flights only.

But the old United.com site gives an accurate look at which dates have nonstop flights with saver award availability. Dates in yellow have nonstop saver award space, dates in white only have standard award space:

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Even if you didn’t originally search for a nonstop flight you can just click “nonstop flights only” and you’ll see a calendar that shows which dates have nonstop saver award availability.

On the new United.com even when you select nonstop only it still returns a calendar that shows dates that only have connecting flights with saver award space.  In the example below a search for a nonstop flight from Newark to Tel Aviv on 01/11/16 the calendar shows saver award seats, but in reality those are only available on connecting flights.  If you look at the calendar on the old United.com as shown above you can easily tell that there are no saver award seats on nonstop flights from Newark to Tel Aviv on 01/11/16 but on the new site it’s impossible to figure that out from the calendar, so you’re left having to manually check every single day to find nonstop saver award space:

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To make matters even worse, the new United.com has eliminated the Economy Saver and Standard award columns that the old site has.  Now there’s just a column that’s called “Economy (lowest)”.  In order to know whether you’re getting saver or standard award pricing you’ll have to look at the award chart!  The cynic in me says that is exactly their intention. I won’t be surprised to see United copy Delta’s lead in deleting their award charts and moving to dynamic pricing so that you never know if you’re really getting a saver award.  But then why would they still have saver and standard columns for business and first class on the new site?

I always break down my award searches to identify nonstop flights with award space.  There may be saver award space from NYC to Los Angeles on May 18 and from Los Angeles to Sydney on May 22nd.  United.com won’t show saver space for that itinerary, but after finding both of those nonstop awards you can use the multi-destination award search to piece together an award with a 4 night stopover in LA before flying down under.  It won’t even cost you more miles to take advantage of that stopover.  Without the ability to quickly view nonstop award space on the calendar view this technique becomes far more time-intensive.

Let’s make ourselves heard:

There’s no reason that United can’t add 2006 technology into their 2015 site, but the time to get it fixed before the old site dissapears is running out.

Please go now to the new United.com site and click on the green “site feedback” button on the right-side of every page (I highlighted it in a red box in the screenshot above).

And ask them:

1. Please fix the award calendar on the new United.com site so that when you select “nonstop” the calendar only shows dates with nonstop saver award availability, just like the old United.com currently does.

2. Please add a separate Economy Saver Award and Economy Standard Award column to the new United.com, just like the new site has for business and first class awards and just like the old United.com has for economy, business, and first class awards.

In addition you can favorite and Retweet this:

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United: Los Angeles To/From Baltimore, Boston, Fort Lauderdale, LaGuardia, Miami, Or Philadelphia For $74.60 Each Way

Monday, August 3rd, 2015

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.

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

-Limited seats are available on each date. Always search one-way for 1 seat and then work your way up to the number of seats you need in order to book as many seats on sale as you can.

Flights connect in Chicago.

Valid $74.60 LaGuardia-Los Angeles dates:
September 2, 8, 15, 22, 29
October 6, 13, 31
November 4, 11, 14, 17, 18

Valid $74.60 Los Angeles-LaGuardia dates:
September 2, 29
October 6, 13, 14, 20, 21, 27, 28, 31
November 3, 4, 7, 10, 11, 14, 17, 18

Valid $74.60 Boston-Los Angeles dates:
September 2, 22, 23, 29
October 6
November 4, 11

Valid $74.60 Los Angeles-Boston dates:
September 2, 23, 29
October 6, 13, 20, 21, 27, 28
November 3, 4, 7, 10, 11

Valid $82.60 Baltimore-Los Angeles dates:
September 1, 2, 8, 15, 22, 23, 29
October 6, 13
November 4, 7, 11, 14, 17, 18

Valid $82.60 Los Angeles-Baltimore dates:
September 1, 2, 16, 22, 23, 29
October 6, 7, 13, 14, 20, 21, 27, 28, 31
November 3, 4, 7, 10, 11, 14, 17, 18

Valid $74.60 Philadelphia-Los Angeles dates:
September 2, 8, 9, 12, 22, 26, 30
October 3, 7, 13, 14, 17, 20, 21, 24, 27, 31
November 3, 4, 7, 10, 11, 14, 17, 18

Valid $74.60 Los Angeles-Philadelphia dates:
September 2, 9, 16, 29
October 3, 6, 13, 14, 17, 20, 24, 27, 28, 31
November 3, 4, 7, 10, 11, 14, 17, 18

Valid $92.60 Fort Lauderdale or Miami-Los Angeles dates:
September 2, 19, 22, 30
October 6, 20, 21
November 3, 4, 10, 11, 17, 18

Valid $92.60 Los Angeles-Fort Lauderdale or Miami dates:
September 12, 19, 26, 29, 30
October 3, 6, 7, 13, 14, 17, 20, 27, 28, 31
November 3, 4, 7, 10, 11, 17, 18

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Join the 59,600+ 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: Los Angeles To/From Baltimore, Boston, Fort Lauderdale, LaGuardia, Miami, Or Philadelphia From $74.60 Each Way

Thursday, July 30th, 2015

Update, 07/30: A current roundup of valid dates has been added below.

Related: Roundup Of Dirt Cheap Airfare Posts From $40 Each Way!

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Originally posted on 07/29:

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.

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

-Limited seats are available on each date. Always search one-way for 1 seat and then work your way up to the number of seats you need in order to book as many seats on sale as you can.

United has matched American’s $74 fares from earlier today!

Flights connect in Chicago.

Valid $74.60-$98.60 LaGuardia-Los Angeles dates:
August 25, 26, 29
September 1, 9, 15, 16, 22, 29, 30
October 13, 14, 20, 26, 27, 28, 31
November 2, 3, 4, 9, 10, 11, 14, 16, 17, 18

Valid $74.60-$98.60 Los Angeles-LaGuardia dates:
August 26
September 1, 2, 9, 14, 15, 16, 21, 22, 28, 29, 30
October 5, 6, 7, 12, 13, 14, 19, 20, 21, 24, 26, 27, 28, 31
November 2, 3, 4, 7, 9, 10, 11, 14, 16, 17, 18

Valid $74.60-$98.60 Boston-Los Angeles dates:
August 25, 26
September 1, 16, 22, 23, 29, 30
October 14, 20, 27, 28, 31
November 2, 3, 4, 9, 10, 11

Valid $74.60-$98.60 Los Angeles-Boston dates:
August 24
September 9, 14, 15, 16, 21, 22, 28, 29, 30
October 5, 6, 7, 12, 13, 14, 19, 20, 21, 24, 26, 27, 28, 31
November 2, 3, 4, 7, 9, 10, 11

Valid $74.60-$98.60 Baltimore-Los Angeles dates:
August 25, 26, 29
September 1, 2, 9, 15, 16, 22, 23, 29, 30
October 13, 14, 20, 27, 28, 31
November 2, 3, 4, 7, 9, 10, 11, 13, 14, 17, 18

Valid $74.60-$98.60 Los Angeles-Baltimore dates:
August 24, 26
September 1, 2, 9, 14, 15, 16, 21, 22, 23, 28, 29, 30
October 5, 6, 7, 12, 13, 14, 17, 19, 20, 21, 24, 26, 27, 28, 31
November 2, 3, 4, 7, 9, 10, 11, 14, 16, 17, 18

Valid $74.60-$98.60 Philadelphia-Los Angeles dates:
August 25, 26, 31
September 1, 2, 9, 12, 15, 16, 22, 23, 29, 30
October 3, 6, 13, 14, 20, 21, 24, 26, 27, 28, 31
November 2, 3, 4, 7, 9, 10, 11, 14, 16, 17, 18

Valid $74.60-$98.60 Los Angeles-Philadelphia dates:
September 1, 9, 14, 15, 22, 28, 29, 30
October 5, 6, 7, 12, 13, 14, 17, 19, 20, 21, 24, 26, 27, 28, 31
November 2, 3, 4, 7, 9, 10, 11, 14, 16, 17, 18

Valid $87.60-$102.60 Fort Lauderdale or Miami-Los Angeles dates:
August 25, 26, 31
September 1, 16, 29, 30
October 6, 10, 13, 14, 20, 21, 27, 28, 31
November 2, 3, 4, 7, 9, 10, 11, 14, 16, 17, 18

Valid $87.60-$103.60 Los Angeles-Fort Lauderdale or Miami dates:
August 25, 26, 29
September 1, 9, 15, 16, 21, 22, 28, 29, 30
October 3, 5, 6, 7, 12, 13, 14, 17, 19, 20, 24, 26, 27, 28, 31
November 2, 3, 4, 7, 9, 10, 11, 14, 17, 18

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Join the 59,400+ people who follow @DansDeals on twitter and you’ll get a tweet when a deal is posted on DansDeals.com!
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United: Chicago To/From Baltimore, Boston, Fort Lauderdale, LaGuardia, Los Angeles, Miami, Or Philadelphia From $40.10 Each Way

Wednesday, July 29th, 2015

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.

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

-Limited seats are available on each date. Always search one-way for 1 seat and then work your way up to the number of seats you need in order to book as many seats on sale as you can.

United has matched American’s $40 fares from earlier today!

The lowest fares are available on most Tuesdays, Wednesdays, and Saturdays between 08/18 and 11/18.

You can also use Google Flights to search one-way flights find valid dates for other cities and then use Priceline to purchase tickets on those valid dates.

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Have A United Flight Today? Reschedule For Free!

Wednesday, July 8th, 2015

United made the news this morning when their SHARES system went down yet again, grounding their entire mainline fleet.

If you have a ticket to travel on United today you can reschedule to fly anytime until Friday with no change fees and no difference in fare. That means if you have an award ticket you can even switch to a flight without award availability anytime until Friday. So who’s going to try booking a ticket for today now 😉

You can also change a ticket for today to anytime after Friday (up to a year from ticketing) and the change fee will be waived, however if there is a difference in fare it will be collected.

Click here to have United call you.

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20%-25% Off United Awards To Hawaii

Monday, July 6th, 2015

Update 2: Today is the last day to book travel with this promotion.

Update: United has finally gotten around to publishing the rules for this award discount.  The rules are pretty much exactly what I figured out via brute force, but there are some blackout dates that I didn’t notice:
-Blackout dates for travel from the U.S. or Canada to Hawaii: November 19 through November 22, 2015.
-Blackout dates for travel from Hawaii to the U.S. or Canada: November 27 through November 30, 2015.

-Discounted award tickets must be booked by July 6th.
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Originally posted on 06/18:

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

I couldn’t find an offer page for this award, so I manually tested things out to come up with these rules.

The promotion is currently bookable on United.com. I do not know how long the promotion will last.

There is a 25% discount that is only available to Chase United cardholders and United elite members. Non-cardholders get 20% off.  Cardholders also always get significantly expanded saver and standard award availability, free checked baggage, and priority boarding. Cardholders with elite status are also eligible for upgrades on award tickets.

-Award travel on United from the US49/Canada to Hawaii is normally 45K miles round-trip.
With this discount it will be 33,750 miles for United cardholders or elites (36K for non-cardholders) if both dates fall within the promotion or 39,375 miles (40.5K for non-cardholders) if one date falls within the promotion and one date is not within the dates of the promotion.
-Travel valid on Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, or Thursday.  (Booking on Sunday, Friday, or Saturday for one direction will increase the cost from 33,750 to 39,375 for United cardholders/elites or from 36K to 40.5K for non-cardholders)
-Travel between 08/18-12/15 (Booking before or after these dates for one direction will increase the cost from 33,750 to 39,375 for United cardholders/elites or from 36K to 40.5K for non-cardholders)
-Travel only valid on United.
-Travel only valid in coach.
-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.

HT: ah, via DDF

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HURRY! Unprecedented United Transcontinental Lie-Flat Business Class Award Space For Your Entire Family!

Friday, June 26th, 2015

Update: I reached out to United and they responded that the Newark to Los Angeles and S. Francisco flights will have kosher meals in business class effective 10/25 when the p.s. service shifts from JFK to Newark.

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United announced last week that they will be abandoning JFK after 10/24.

They have now loaded the Newark to Los Angeles and S. Francisco routes exclusively with 757 aircraft that have lie-flat business class seating with the shift of the United p.s. flights from JFK to Newark. This change takes effect on 10/25. 

Typically lie-flat business class saver award availability on these routes are hard to come by, but it’s wide open right now.

Here is a award search from Newark to Los Angeles for 1 passenger with the calendar limited to showing nonstop flights only. The availability is surprisingly good:

 

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Here’s the same search for 8 passengers on nonstop flights only.  This level of availability for 8 passengers on the same nonstop transcontinental flight in a lie-flat seat is completely unprecedented.

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Same story for the return and for the EWR-SFO route.

You can book a one-way flight in United business class for 17.5K Lufthansa miles (an SPG transfer partner, not-instant), 20K Singapore miles (AMEX, Chase, Citi, and SPG transfer partner, none of which are instant), 25K Air Canada miles (transfers instantly from AMEX or non-instantly from SPG) or 25K United miles (transfers instantly from Chase).

You can connect stopover for as long as you want in LAX or SFO on the way to Hawaii for 30K Singapore miles, 35K Lufthansa miles, or 40K Air Canada or United miles each way.

United has yet to announce whether you’ll be able to order kosher meals when flying business class on the new p.s. flights from Newark. Currently the p.s. flights are only operated from JFK and they do offer kosher meals. Regardless, I’ve never had an issue having a United flight attendant warm up my own double-wrapped kosher meal that I brought onboard.

Grab a seat while it lasts!

HT: 12HRS, via DDF and TPG

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United Will End All Flights From JFK Later This Year; Grab Lie-Flat Award Seats Now…

Tuesday, June 16th, 2015

Amid heavy competition from American, Delta, JetBlue, and Virgin America on transcontinental flights from JFK, United is raising the white flag.

Effective 10/25 there will no longer be any United service from JFK. The p.s. service from JFK to Los Angeles and S. Francisco will transition to Newark and eventually all LAX and SFO flights from Newark will feature lie-flat business class seating.

Last year United ended service from JFK to Washington D.C.  In 2006 United ended flights from JFK to Tokyo and London and with the end of the LAX and SFO flights United will no longer have any JFK service.

United is giving Delta their JFK slots in exchange for Delta’s Newark slots.

Currently United doesn’t offer kosher meals on transcontinental routes from Newark, though presumably that will be added back with the transition of p.s. service to Newark as p.s. flights currently do offer kosher meals in business class.

If you are already booked on a p.s. flights departing on or after October 25, United will be rebooking you on a Newark-based p.s. flight. Those changes will happen over this weekend. Once the change is processed, if the schedule or route doesn’t work for you, you can contact United for other flight options or to request a refund.

Update: 2pm: United has pulled all JFK-LAX/SFO flights after 10/24 from their website.

In the meantime you can book award tickets on the p.s. flights from JFK and you’ll be guarenteed a p.s. seat from Newark after this weekend when the new schedule is published.

BusinessFirst lie-flat seats can be booked one-way for 17K Lufthansa miles, 20K Singapore miles, or 25K United miles.

If you book one of these JFK awards now you’ll receive notice of your new flight to/from Newark over the weekend.  If the new flight doesn’t work you’ll be able to call to choose another flight or get a refund.  If you book 2 people on separate flights on the same day (or an adjacent day if you’re a good talker 😉 ) you should be able to merge them both onto the same flight to/from Newark.

After 10/25, there are currently BusinessFirst saver awards from JFK to LAX on:
11/23: 2 seats
11/24: 1 seat
01/06: 1 seat
01/17: 2 seats
01/20: 1 seat
02/16: 1 seat on 2 flights
02/17: 1 seat
03/23: 1 seat
03/29: 1 seat on 2 flights
03/30: 1 seat

After 10/25, there are currently BusinessFirst saver awards from LAX to JFK on:
11/26: 2 seats
01/07: 1 seat
02/04: 1 seat
02/13: 2 seats for top-tier elites, 1 seat for gold elite and lower.
02/17: 1 seat on 2 flights
02/18: 1 seat

After 10/25, there are currently BusinessFirst saver awards from JFK to SFO on:
11/23: 3 seats on 1 flight, 1 seat on a 2nd flight.
11/26: 3 seats on 1 flight, 2 seats on a 2nd flight.
11/27: 1 seat
12/25: 1 seat
01/06: 1 seat on 2 flights
01/12: 1 seat
01/17: 3 seats on 1 flight, 2 seats on a 2nd flight.
01/18: 1 seat
01/20: 1 seat
02/17: 1 seat
02/17: 1 seat
03/28: 1 seat

After 10/25, there are currently BusinessFirst saver awards from SFO to JFK on:
11/26 2 seats on 1 flight, 1 seat on a 2nd flight.
12/25: 1 seat
01/06: 2 seas
01/07: 1 seat
01/17: 2 seats on 1 flight, 1 seat on a 2nd flight.
01/20: 1 seat
02/14: 2 seats on 1 flight, 1 seat on a 2nd flight.

HT: mocha, via DDF

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Brussels Airlines Awards Are Bookable On United.com Once Again

Monday, June 15th, 2015

In the past, I’ve spent several slides at DansDeals seminars instructing people to use websites like ANA and Air Canada to find award space that United.com won’t find.

For more advanced award bookers it’s been a blessing in disguise. It meant that fewer people knew how to book that award, which meant better award availability. Just last week I was able to find plenty of award space to Europe this summer on dates that when United.com came back with a goose egg.

For Israel that included flights on Lot Polish and Brussels. LOT came back to United.com late last year and now Brussels is back on United.com as well:

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United.com is much more adept at finding partner award space than AA.com or Delta.com is.  Whether that’s a good thing or bad thing depends on your perspective.

United still offers a free stopover on award tickets.  If you’re willing to stopover in Brussels you can find even better award space by searching for NYC-Brussels separately from Brussels-Tel Aviv.  After searching for each of those segments separately as a one-way award you can use the multiple destination award search to book an award by specifying NYC-Brussels and then Brussels-Tel Aviv, or you can call to stitch together an award.

United has dozens of partner airlines which means lots of award opportunities. However not all of them are currently bookable online, you’ll have to call (or use the Aeroplan or ANA sites) to get the full picture:

United partners that currently must be booked over the phone:
-Air Dolomiti
-Cape Air
-Great Lakes Airlines
-Jet Airways
-Shenzhen
-Singapore

And here’s the list of partners currently bookable on United.com:
-Adria Airlines
-Aegean Airlines
-Aer Lingus
-Aeromar Airlines
-Air Canada
-Air China
-Air India
-Air New Zealand
-ANA
-Asiana Airlines
-Austrian Airlines
-Avianca Airlines
-Azul Brazilian Airlines
-Brussels Airlines
-Copa Airlines
-Croatia Airlines
-Egyptair
-Ethiopian Airlines
-EVA Air
-Germanwings
-Hawaiian Airlines
-Island Air
-LOT Polish
-Lufthansa
-Scandinavian Airlines
-Silver Airways
-South African Airways
-Swiss International Airlines
-TAP Portugal
-THAI
-Turkish Airlines

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United’s Beta Site Is Now Open To The Public; Provide Feedback To Get Vital Award Search Features Restored

Tuesday, May 12th, 2015

In February I shared screenshots from United’s beta site that is scheduled to replace the current United.com this summer.

The beta site is now open to the public, it can be reached at beta.united.com

As usual, this is United playing catch-up with Delta:

 

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I noted that the beta site made it very hard to view the aircraft type, that has been fixed.

I still have 2 big pet peeves that haven’t been addressed.

1. The current United.com allows you to change the award calendar to show dates with nonstop saver award space.  The new site’s award calendar has no such functionality, you can’t make it show nonstop dates only.

That’s a massive downgrade and hindrance to finding saver award space.  I always break down my award searches to identify nonstop flights with award space.  There may be saver award space from NYC to Los Angeles on May 18 and from Los Angeles to Sydney on May 22nd.  United.com won’t show saver space for that itinerary, but after finding both of those nonstop awards you can use the multi-destination award search to piece together an award with a 4 night stopover in LA before flying down under.  Without the ability to quickly view nonstop award space on the calendar view this technique becomed far more time-intensive.

2. The current United.com’s award search is far clearer in showing when saver award space is available. The new site just shows Economy (lowest) making it hard to understand if the award is saver or standard. Mixed into that “lowest” column is saver and standard awards.

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The cynic in me says that is exactly their intention. I won’t be surprised to see United copy Delta’s lead in deleting their award charts so that you never know if you’re really getting a saver award.  I saved Delta’s deleted charts and I’ll do the same for United. Though that won’t help when they decide to change pricing without having to announce it as there is no award chart to change…

I’d strongly recommend that you leave feedback for the new site (located on the right-hand side of the beta site under site feedback) to let them know that you want those features back on the new United.com site.

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United’s April 2015 Elite Devaluation Made Even Worse By Overcharging Their Elites For Award Redeposits; Emblematic Of Larger Problems That United Has Suffered Since The Continental Merger?

Monday, May 11th, 2015

Last November I covered the news of several downgrades that AA, Delta, JetBlue, and United were going to implement in 2015.

United matched Delta in slashing the miles earned for flying. That came after United gutted their award chard earlier last year. United has been great at copying Delta’s devaluations. Not so great at copying Delta’s improvements.

But the United elite benefit downgrade was particularly painful for me. United inherited Continental’s shares system that assigned elite benefits to passengers that an elite member booked an award for.

As a United 1K I was able to book awards for people and they would be able to get free economy plus seating and 3 free 70 pound checked bags even if I wasn’t traveling with them.
As I also have a United credit card they were even eligible for upgrades starting 4 days before the flight.

It wasn’t uncommon for myself, my wife, and my 2 kids to all get free upgrades from coach awards.

This change even affected non-elites. If you had a United credit card previously the passenger would inherit your free bag. Now the passenger needs to have their own card to get a free checked bag.

As of April 15th United stopped applying those benefits to non-elite passengers. If the elite member isn’t traveling with them, passengers booked from an elite member’s account now have to pay for economy plus seating and for baggage. And upgrades are gone as well of course.

However elites are still supposed to get discounted or free redeposits even when they use their miles for others.

That hasn’t happened. Since the change Platinum and 1K members trying to redeposit an award on United.com for a non-elite passenger booked from the Platinum/1K account have been charged $200 even though there shouldn’t be any fee:

 

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I noticed this right away and was able to redeposit an award over the phone for free. The agent said he had been getting calls all day from others in the same situation and he filed several reports to get the problem fixed.

Dozens of people on Flyertalk have reported the same issue over the past month.

Finally last week United’s Flyertalk liaison responded,

“A relatively small number of our Premier members have been incorrectly charged redeposit fees for award tickets they’ve elected to cancel.”

That response was disingenuous at best. There isn’t a single report of an elite member not getting charged the non-elite rate when redepositing an award for a non-elite passenger when the elite member isn’t flying together with them.

The only reasons that it would be a “relatively small number” is that most elites probably called United to do the redeposit rather than risk the website charging them incorrectly.  Or they’re waiting for the United.com to be fixed.

The irony here is that if this mistake was United.com not charging non-elites a redeposit fee you can bet that bug would be fixed the same day.  A airfare price glitch would be fixed within minutes.

And yet, here we are nearly a month into this bug and nothing had changed. The cynic in me isn’t surprised that glitches in the airline’s favor rarely get fixed in a timely fashion. You would think that a glitch that affected top-tier elites would be a priority.  At the very least they ought to roll back last month’s elite devaluation until they can implement the changes properly and stop overcharging their elite members.

While on the topic of errors on the passenger vs. the airline side of things, one of the worrying aspects of the DoT price mistake rule change is that a passenger only has 24 hours to let an airline know about their mistake (0 hours if you book on AA.com). Yet the DoT doesn’t hold the airlines to that same standard.  At the very least the airline should have to let a passenger know about a mistake within the same 24 hour window.  Otherwise we’ll have folks finding out that they don’t have a ticket when they get to the airport…

The new United.com launches this summer. I have zero faith in United being able to fix the problems with it that I identified in this post.  Be prepared for it to be a lot more difficult to search for nonstop award flights.

It’s time to bring Gordon Bethune out of retirement.  It’s as if Jeff Smisek read his former boss’ excellent “From Worst to First” book on his turnaround at Continental and then did everything he possibly could to bring the merged Continental-United back to worst. The comments from United employees left on Gordo’s facebook page are telling.

 

The data doesn’t lie. Smisek does.

 

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