Category Archive for 'United'

Fly From LaGuardia To Seattle In First Class For $762, Get Star Alliance Gold For Life

Thursday, August 14th, 2014

United has a great first class fare from LaGuardia to Seattle.  You need to book 3 weeks in advance and seats aren’t available on all dates.  You can stay in Seattle for a while or catch a flight right back, as shown below:

 

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Mileage Running:

Why would you want to catch a flight right back?

It’s called a mileage run, though that’s a dying art as the airlines have made getting elite status on the cheap progressively harder.

I’ve had my fun with mileage runs. In 2003 I took AAdvantage of American’s AVNYC promotion to fly twice between NYC and Florida or California on $69 tickets for a free systemwide ticket.  I used the systemwide ticket to fly from Sao Paulo-Dallas-JFK-Tokyo-Los Angeles-Miami-Sao Paulo.

In 2006 I spent 36 hours flying on 14 short-hops earning elite status and over 10,000 miles for each leg for less than $200.

United now requires US residents to fly 50,000 miles and spend at least $5,000 on United flights (if you spend $25,000 annually on the United Explorer card then you don’t have to spend $5,000 on flights) to earn Star Alliance Gold status for just 1 year.

And United blocks their own elites from using United Clubs when flying domestically.

Lazy? Take the Greek route to status:

Aegean, a Greek airline, is one of the 27 airlines that make up the Star Alliance.  If you signup for an Aegean account here you will get 1,000 redeemable and elite qualifying miles for free.

Aegean only requires 19,000 elite qualifying miles to get Star Alliance Gold status.

Technically you have 1 year from when you signup to the program to get at least 3,000 more flight miles to reach Silver status at 4,000 total miles.  You then have 1 year from when you earn Blue/Silver status to get up to 20,000 total miles and earn Gold status.

Once you have the Gold status it’s yours to keep.  You just need to credit a single Star Alliance flight to your Aegean account once every every 36 months to extend your Star Alliance Gold status for another 36 months.

The terms of the program can change, but lots of folks have had Aegean Gold since 2010 and continue to enjoy the benefits by just crediting 1 United flight to the account every 36 months.

Mileage Calculation:
Aegean uses a complicated table where mileage earned is based on the fare class.

Most United coach tickets only earn half the flown miles. However United First Class tickets in F or A class earn triple the miles flown.

In the LGA-SEA flight example above you’ll notice that I selected flights that connect in Houston.  By connecting there the total flight miles are 3,290 each way or 6,580 round-trip.  When you credit that flight to your Aegean account (just enter your Aegean number on United.com or give it to an airport agent) you’ll earn triple miles because the ticket is a first class ticket in A class, so you’ll have 19,740 miles.  Add that to the 1,000 miles you get at signup and you’ll have Star Alliance Gold status after the single round-trip flight!

Plus you’ll have 20,740 miles that you can use for Star Alliance award flights.

Star Alliance Gold Benefits:

-You and a companion can access over 1,000 Star Alliance lounges when departing from the airport on any Star Alliance airline.  When you have Star Alliance Gold status from United you can’t access any of their lounges when traveling domestically, but when you have Star Alliance Gold status from a foreign carrier like Aegean you can access United lounges when flying domestically.

And yes, with Star Alliance Gold status you’ll have access to the Dan lounge in Tel Aviv even if you’re flying United coach.

-You get at least 1 additional free bag over the baggage allowance for non-elites.  On Air Canada and United that even extends to each of your travel companions.  On United in coach a 2nd bag to Israel for example would be free, a value of $200 round-trip per person. On United in business or first class you and your companions will get 3 free 70 pound bags. On Air Canada in any class you and your companions will get 3 free bags, a value of $650 round-trip per person.

-Star Alliance Gold status also gets you priority baggage handling, priority checkin, priority security, priority boarding, priority waitlisting, etc.

-When flying on United having Star Alliance Gold status will allow you to make the free same-day confirmed changes to your flight when done in the online check-in process.

Caveats:
-Aegean miles aren’t worth as much as United miles, so once you get the status you want you will want to switch back to earning miles from United. You can check your bags with your Aegean Gold card and then switch your number to accumulate United miles for the flight.
-You won’t get upgrades on United like you would if you earned elite status in their program.
-You won’t get bonus miles on United like you would if you earned elite status in their programs.
-You won’t get Economy Plus seating like you would if you you earned elite status in their own program, though some gate agents and an occasional phone agent may move you there for free.
-You won’t get expanded elite award availability on United like you would if you earned elite status in their own program, however anyone who has a United Explorer card gets expanded coach saver award seats and last seat coach, business, and first class standard awards.  And United requires at least Platinum status (75K miles/year) to get expanded business/first class saver awards.  Besides once there is coach saver award space you can always do a Plan B award to sit in the front of the bus.

HT: EJB, via DDF, for finding the excellent LGA-SEA first class airfare.

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United Duplicates Delta’s Revenue Based Mileage Earning System For 2015

Tuesday, June 10th, 2014

United has once again duplicated a flyer unfriendly move initiated by Delta and will move to a revenue based fare structure effective 03/01/15.

United’s CEO Jeff Smisek has once again shown that he’s not one to ever miss an opportunity to match an unfriendly move made by Delta (though he never copies the good).  He seems to think he can deliver all of the cuts that Delta does without improving the actual product as Delta has done.  And this is all a copy-paste of what Delta already announced for 2015.

I doubt it will be too long before AA mAAtches, but boy they will get a lot of new frequent flyers if they don’t.

-Base members will earn 5 miles per dollar, Silvers will earn 7, Golds will earn 8, Platinums will earn 9, and 1K and GS members will earn 11.  Just like with Delta, there is a limit of 75K miles that you can earn per ticket, so if you are flying on an ultra-expensive ticket be sure to book it as 2 one-ways.

-Miles are earned on base airfare and fuel surcharges. They are not earned on taxes.

-Revenue based earning will apply for all United flights when credited to the United program.

-Revenue based earning will apply for all partner flights when the ticket is issued by United and the flight are credited to the United program.

-Mileage based earning will apply to partner flights when the ticket is issued by partner airlines and when the flight is credited to the United program.

-I’d presume that United flights credited to partner airlines will still earn miles based on the distance flown.

-Currently a non-elite flying round-trip between JFK and Los Angeles on a $300+tax ticket earns 4,950 miles.  Come 2015 and that flight will earn a paltry 1,500 miles.  A silver elite currently earns 6,188 miles but come 2015 and they will earn 2,100 miles. A gold elite currently earns 7,425 miles but come 2015 and they will earn 2,400 miles. A platinum elite currently earns 8,663 miles but come 2015 and they will earn 2,700 miles. A 1K elite currently earns 9,900 miles but come 2015 and they will earn 3,300 miles.

-Elite status will continue to be earned based on mileage actually flown.

-In early 2015, you will have the ability to use miles for new options such as Economy Plus one-time purchases, Economy Plus subscriptions and checked baggage subscriptions.

-Miles earned from credit card spending will remain unchanged. If anything they become more valuable as there will be fewer miles in the system earned from actual flights.

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Azul Flights Now Bookable on United.com (And A List Of Other Partners Not Yet Bookable Online); USAirways Domestic First Award Going Up As Program Integration Continues

Monday, June 9th, 2014

Azul awards now bookable on United.com:

United partnered with Brazilian carrier Azul as they lost TAM to Oneworld.  Azul’s CEO and founder is David Neeleman who also founded JetBlue and WestJet and brought that model (and his favorite color?) to Brazil.

Until now award flights had to be booked over the phone but they are now bookable on United.com and availability is incredible.  I took a gander at nonstop flights from Sao Paulo to Iguassu Falls, Manaus, Recife, Rio de Janeiro, and Salvador and availability was perfect at the 12.5K domestic award level.

Later this year Azul will announce new routes between the US and Brazil, hopefully availability will be just as good!

For those keeping score at home here is the remaining list of United partners that must be booked over the phone:
-Brussels Airlines (Can sometimes be booked online)
-Cape Air
-Great Lakes Airlines
-Jet Airways
-LOT Polish (An excellent option with great availability in coach and business for flights to Israel)
-Shenzhen
-Singapore

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

HT: Ya’alili, via DDF

USAirways award chart change:
Effective 08/01/14 you’ll need 65K miles to book a domestic first class flight on a plane with 3 classes of service.
That matches the rate that American charges.

Through 07/31 you can still snap up one of the great bargains of the USAirways chart, 50K miles for lie-flat first class on routes like:
-JFK to Los Angeles or S. Francisco on American’s A321T:
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-Miami to Los Angeles on American’s 777-200 (777 Buenos Aires Trip Report here):

-JFK to Vancouver on Cathay Pacific’s 777-300ER (Vancouver Trip Report here):

The USAirways program will be rolled into the American program in 2015, but in the meantime you can still get 40,000 miles for opening the churnable USAirways credit card before it’s discontinued.

Other USAirways bargain routes as described in this post still remain in place.

You can also transfer Starpoints to USAirways at a 20K:25K ratio or AMEX points to USAirways via Air Canada at a 1K:840 ratio.

In other news, USAirways and American will start reciprocal upgrades on June 11th.  That means free upgrades for all American elites flying on USAirways, free upgrades for USAirways Chairman’s members flying on American, and upgrades for purchase for lower tier USAirways elites flying on American.

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How To Use And Decrypt United’s Powerful Expert Mode

Wednesday, May 14th, 2014

-Find more articles like this by clicking on the “Mileage Posts” tab on top of the DansDeals banner at the top of this site.
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United.com’s Expert Mode can tell you a lot about a flight. Here’s how to use it.

Step 1: Enable it by clicking this link, logging into your United account, checking to enable expert mode, and then saving your preferences. You’ll only have to do this once though you will always have to be logged into your United account to access Expert mode results.

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Step 2: Search for a paid flight and then click on “Fare Class” which should be highlighted in blue once you enable expert mode.  In this example I searched yesterday for a flight from Newark to Tel Aviv on 08/04/14:

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Let’s zoom in a bit on those expert mode results:

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Here’s what that alphabet soup means for United flight 84:
J9: Paid bucket. There are at least 9 business seats that United is willing to sell at full fare.
JN9: Award bucket. There are at least 9 business seats that United is willing to allow elite members and United cardholders to use standard miles for.
C9, D9, Z9: Paid buckets. There are at least 9 business seats that United is willing to sell at these fare levels.
ZN9: Award bucket. There are at least 9 business seats that United is willing to allow non-elites to use standard miles for.
P0: Paid bucket. United is not willing to sell any business class seats at this discounted level.
PN0: Award bucket. On domestic flights this is the number of seats that United is willing to give to 1K/GS elites as an instant upgrade from an M class fare or to any elites an an instant upgrade from a paid Y or B class ticket. This bucket is also the upgrade bucket for GS elites for all domestic and international upgrades, in this case there are no upgrades available for GS elites either.
R0: Award bucket. United is not willing to allow non-elites to have instant upgrades using miles from coach to BusinessFirst. (Also used for complimentary elite upgrades on domestic routes.)
RN0: Award bucket. United is not willing to allow elite members to have instant upgrades using miles or upgrade certificates from coach to BusinessFirst. (Also used for complimentary elite upgrades on domestic routes.)
IN0: Award bucket. United is not willing to allow Plat/1K/GS elites to redeem Saver level miles for a BusinessFirst seat.
I0: Award bucket. United is not willing to allow non-elites/lower tier elites to redeem Saver level miles for a BusinessFirst seat. This is also the only business award bucket that partner airline miles can access.
Y9: Paid bucket. There are at least 9 coach seats that United is willing to sell at full fare.
YN9: Award bucket. There are at least 9 coach seats that United is willing to allow elite members and United cardholders to use standard miles for.
B9, M9, E9, U9, H9: Paid buckets. There are at least 9 coach seats that United is willing to sell at these non-discounted fare levels.
HN9: Award bucket. There are at least 9 coach seats that United is willing to allow non-elites to use standard miles for.
Q9, V9, W9, S9, T9, L9, K9: Paid buckets. There are at least 9 coach seats that United is willing to sell at these discounted fare levels.
G0, N0: Paid buckets. United is not willing to sell any coach seats at these discounted levels.
XN9: Award bucket. There are at least 9 coach seats that United is willing to allow elite members and United cardholders to use saver miles for.
X1: Award bucket. There is 1 coach seat that United is willing to allow non-elites or non-cardholders to use saver miles for. This is also the only coach award bucket that partner airline miles can access.

You’ll notice a few differences for the next flight, United flight 90.
1. United isn’t willing to sell any D or Z paid BusinessFirst seats, this flight will be more expensive to book in business class as the minimum fare class is C. (D0, Z0)
2. United isn’t willing to allow non-elites to use standard miles for BusinessFirst seats on this flight (ZN0)
3. United has 4 seats on this flight for elite members and United cardholders to use saver miles for (XN4)
4. United has no seats on this flight for non-elites or non-cardholders to use saver miles for. And that means no partner awards as well for this flight (X0)

 

Notes:

1. Fare classes can’t be added together.
Just because there is 1 seat in X class doesn’t mean there are 10 seats in XN class. If the X seat is booked the XN class may go down to 8 or it may stay at 9.

2. On a United flight with 3 classes of service there are more letters to know about.

F is full fare paid first class. FN is a first class standard award. A is discounted paid first class. ON is upgrade space into first class. O is a saver first class award.

3. Forget “Remember Me”
If you click “Remember Me” then it will looked like you’re logged in, but after a short period of time you will no longer have access to expert mode results.  I never use remember me as it also messes up my award searches by excluding the elite buckets from the calendar.

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4. A Plan B BusinessFirst saver award requires X or XN class availability. Read all about that awesomeness here as XN class really helps cardholders sit in front of the bus for saver miles.

5. Expert mode can only be accessed when searching for paid flights.  However you can verify the results by searching for an award flight.

I searched for awards and clicked on “Nonstop flights only.”  Note that nonstop button will only work if United.com can find nonstop awards for that day.  If it doesn’t find any for that day you need to find a day with awards and then resubmit the nonstop search with that date.

Here’s what it looks like from a cardholder’s account. As you can see, there are saver awards available on both flights.

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Here’s what it looks like from a non-cardholder’s account. As you can see, there is a saver award available on only the earlier flight, UA84:

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Of course those screens don’t give the complete picture as they don’t say how many awards are available.  As you now know from expert mode the XN (elite or cardholder) bucket has 9 seats on UA84 and 4 seats on UA90.

The X bucket has just 1 seat on UA84 and no seats on UA90.

6. A quick way to verify if United.com recognizes you as a cardholder:

If your card is properly linked you will see the following message that your miles won’t expire as long as you remain a cardholder:

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If your card isn’t properly linked then you will see the following message that your miles will expire if you don’t have activity every 18 months:

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7. Award space and fare buckets are extremely fluid. 

Those buckets chang multiple times per day based on people booking up awards and United releasing more awards as the flight gets closer when they feel they won’t sell the seats to someone else.  Newark to Tel Aviv is one of the toughest awards in United’s entire network, but by diligently checking award space and by having a United card you can vastly improve your odds of nabbing seats.

8. The Chase United Explorer card and the United Club card are the only currently available credit cards that gives you access to expanded award ticket availability.  If you have the discontinued Presidential Plus card that will work as well.

The extra availability is significant, I’ve booked saver awards to Fort Lauderdale and Los Angeles this year where there was lots of space for cardholders while there was none for non-cardholders.

The cards have other great benefits besides expanded award space:
-Your miles won’t expire as long as you remain a cardholder.
-It is one of the only cards that comes 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 Sapphire Preferred is what I use in Israel and other foreign countries, but that’s just because of the 2.14 points per dollar it awards on car rentals. In the US, the United card is the way to go.
-First checked bag free.
-Priority boarding so that you’ll have space for your carry-ons.
-No foreign transaction fees.
-2 free United passes per year.
-10K mileage bonus every year that you spend $25K, a 40% mileage bonus which means you’ll have earned 1.4 miles per dollar everywhere. Spending $25K in a year also waives the requirement to spend $2.5K on United flights to get Silver status, $5K on United flights to get Gold status, and $7.5K on United flights to get Platinum status. You only need to fly the 25K, 50K, or 75K miles like in the good old days.
-Double miles on United purchases.
-Elite members can get upgrades on coach award tickets on upgrade eligible routes if they have a United card.

The $95 annual fee is waived for the first year.

-You can also get the business version of the Chase United Explorer card.  Just click on “Are you a business owner” in the top-right of the Explorer card link.

-Want a 2nd free bag, a 50% mileage bonus per dollar spent everywhere, United club access for you and your entire family, post-security terminal access without a ticket, priority baggage handling and priority security access, and waived award expedite fees? The United Club card comes with all of that.  Just click on the MileagePlus Club tab on the right side of the Explorer card application page.

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Other Chase consumer cards you can apply for at the time as the United card using multiple browsers include the Chase Sapphire Preferred (40K signup points plus another 5K points for adding a free additional user, no fee the first year, plus 2.14 points per dollar on travel and dining with no Foreign Exchange fees), Chase British Airways (50K signup points and 10% off BA flights), Chase Southwest (50K signup points), and Chase Freedom (which gives 5 points per dollar in rotating categories and 10% bonus points if you have a Chase checking account).

The Chase Ink Plus and Chase Ink Bold business cards both give 60,000 signup points if you apply this month and offer 5 points per dollar on telecom, cable, and office supply stores, 2 points per dollar for gas and lodging, no foreign exchange fees, free lounge visits, and a waived annual fee for the first year.
The Chase Ink Cash business card gives 30,000 signup points if you apply this month and has no annual fee.

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United Plan B: Pretty Much The Most Awesome, Underutilized, And Underappreciated Thing Ever.

Tuesday, May 6th, 2014

Update: The article below was written before the massive #UnitedUnfriendly devaluation that happened on 02/01/14.  However it’s worth noting that even post apocalypse, DDF’ers are reporting that Plan B is still alive and kicking.  Plan B makes your United miles a whole lot more valuable if you take the time to understand how it works and utilize it properly.

Note that as the article below was written prior to the devaluation, the rates and examples listed were with pre-devaluation numbers that I haven’t updated.
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Originally posted on 12/12/13:

I’ve been booking Continental and United award tickets using Plan B for years. I blogged about in passing here in 2009 and here in 2011. I blogged about it still working with United last year as well.  Several DDF members have used it over the years and they have flown in business class every time!

Business class award tickets are typically a sweet spot in award redemption charts.  While you can fly to Israel for $1,000 in coach you would have to shell out 5 times that to fly in business.  Whereas with miles the difference is much smaller, United currently charges 40K miles for a one-way coach ticket or 60K miles for a one-way business ticket.  (Note that for awards booked after 01/31 those rates will go up to 42.5K in coach and 70K in United business.)

Of course that creates a lot of competition for business class award seats which is why they’re harder to find than coach award seats.  Nonstop business class awards to Tel Aviv are among the most challenging award tickets out there.  Not that it’s impossible, I recently booked a friend who is in the air right now on a USAirways business saver award to Tel Aviv and is returning in 2 weeks on a United business saver award.  But it means constantly checking to see if award seats have opened up and possibly waiting until the last minute to book.

And that’s where Plan B comes in handy.  It works as long as there is United saver coach award availability.  I find that I have the best luck booking a Plan B using this web support callback link. Ex-Continental agents staff that line and some are still familiar with this procedure that survived the merger.

Unfortunately Plan B is just the internet name for this type of ticket, there’s no easy way to describe what you want to an agent. You need to tell the agent that you found United coach saver award availability but would like to purchase and be issued a business class saver award, be seated in coach, and waitlisted for a business class seat.  I often tell the agent that I have done this in the past over the phone and was wondering if they know how to set it up.

At this point most agents will think you’re nuts and say that no such thing exists.

Indeed in preparation for this post I had the web support desk call me and the first agent just laughed at my suggestion.  She told me to book the ticket online and call in to waitlist for a business class seat. However that is NOT what I wanted as that would not have the benefits of a Plan B booking, as I’ll soon explain.

Then I called the 1K Premier line and the agent was more courteous but couldn’t help me.  Afterward I used the web support callback link again (I always take note of an agent’s name when I play HUCA (Hang up, Call again) so that I don’t bother the same incompetent agent again) and got Gary H, who turned out to be fantastic.

At first Gary said he recalled such a thing being possible in the Continental days but he hadn’t heard of it being done in years and he wouldn’t even know how to go about doing it.

Then he asked me to hang on while he was looking up documentation.  He found the exact procedure and proceeded to book my Plan B award!

He correctly debited my account the 60,000 miles needed for a one-way business class seat to Tel Aviv while he seated me in coach.  He said that I would need to call back in after the itinerary had ticketed (United itineraries can take anywhere from a minute to an hour to be ticketed with an eticket number) in order to waitlist for the business class seat.  However just 2 minutes later I actually got a call back from Gary letting me know that my reservation had ticketed and that he had waitlisted me for a business class seat!  Now that’s great customer service!

I asked him if there was anything I could tell an agent in the future so that they don’t think I have mushrooms growing out of my head.  He said they have a documentation system called CORE.  In there an agent can lookup the procedure for award waitlist guidelines and it will tell them how to manually issue a business class saver award when there is only coach saver available. If you have to refer an agent to look there I’d tell them that a previous agent who booked such a ticket for you told you to reference that system in case you have any problems in the future.

If you have correctly setup your ticket it will look something like this online:

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Notice how I was charged the full 60,000 miles, the business class rate.  However my fare class is Economy.  The letter code for a coach saver award is either X or XN.  X refers to saver coach award space for general members. XN is expanded saver coach award space for logged-in elites and people who have the Chase United Explorer credit card. (That’s an incredibly valuable benefit of having the card, especially for a Plan B award as you’ll have expanded coach, business, and first class saver award space as well.  The card also gets you free baggage, priority boarding, and it might just be the only credit card in the world that gives free primary car rental insurance in every country in the world-even in your home country and Israel.  Almost every other card only gives weak secondary coverage in your home country).

Then notice how IN class is requested.  I class refers to saver business class award space. IN is expanded saver business class award space for Platinums/1Ks/Global Services.

If you have I or IN class requested AND you were debited the miles for a business class saver award then you’ve properly setup a Plan B award!

If business saver award space opens then you may be automatically moved into business or there may be a message to call in to clear you from the waitlist.  It’s important to keep checking as it may or may not automatically clear you and when you see that it says the space is available you should call in right away.

But what happens if that space never opens up?  The system will stop checking at 24 hours before your flight for that space you need.

Because you paid for a business class seat you are considered a displaced business class passenger.  Thus you should be prioritized ahead of all upgraders trying to nab business seats on the day of departure.

Unfortunately the system is not setup to automatically give you that priority, only an airport agent can do that.  So show up at the airport as early as possible for your flight (or if possible you can go to the airport 24 hours before your flight) and explain to the agent that you are not upgrading with miles but you paid for a business class ticket and are only seated in coach.  This is true as you have paid the full business class rate already.  If the agent doesn’t understand this you should ask for a supervisor, it’s crucial they understand that you’re not a coach passenger trying to upgrade with miles but a displaced business class passenger.

The agent should give you “PR-1 status” which gives you top-priority status and moves you to the very top of the upgrade standby list, ahead of employees and everyone else trying to upgrade with miles+cash.  If one agent won’t put you on the list as a displaced Business class passenger with PR-1 status then find another one who will.  With this status the odds of you getting a business class are very high if there are still open seats (or if anybody no-shows).

If the agents in the airport are all clueless you should direct them to look up “gg onestandby” in their system (they’ll know exactly what this is) and look around lines 85-89 which spell out the details of the procedure for this award. (Parenthetically, when trying to get a gate pass to access a club as a United Club cardholder when I’m not flying I sometimes need to tell an agent to look up “gg checkpoint line 53″ which instructs agents to give you a security pass for you and your guests to access post-security United and USAirways clubs even if you aren’t flying.)

If they don’t believe that you really paid the business class award rate then have them call up the reward desk.  Like I said, it’s good to leave plenty of time at the airport for Plan B tickets.

I can’t stress enough how imperative it is to have this setup correctly: If you don’t get an airport agent to properly give you top-priority status then there is very little chance that you will be flying in business class.

With the United app or on United.com you can search for the upgrade standby list for any flight by searching under flight status.  You will see how many business class seats are still open and you should see your name at the very top of that list.  If you’re on a Plan B ticket and are at the bottom of the business class upgrade list then the agent didn’t give you the right priority status as a displaced business class passenger.

Everyone I know who has properly setup and followed through on a Plan B ticket had flown in business class.  But what if you don’t clear?  Just contact United after the flight (Again, I’d use the web support callback link) and they will refund the extra miles you paid for business class.  For EWR-TLV this means a refund of the extra 20,000 miles each way they charge to fly in business saver over coach saver.

Of course this also works on connecting flights.  If you are on a connecting flight you should be sure to be waitlisted for First Class on all of your flights.  Say you are coming from Los Angeles, even if you clear into first class on the LAX-EWR flight, as long as you don’t clear on the international EWR-TLV flight you will still get the 20,000 miles each way refund!

All of this only works with United flights, it won’t work for partner flights (partner flights can be on the same itinerary, you just can’t use Plan B for them).

This Plan B process would also work for routes with global first class that has only coach or business saver awards available (Tel Aviv does not have Global First class).

Happy flying!  And when you’re flying in a lie-flat business class seat you’re guaranteed to be a whole lot happier, especially when you’re just using the miles you got from opening a single credit card :D

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The Unique Benefits Of The United Explorer Card: Expanded Award Space, Primary CDW Insurance, And Much More

Thursday, February 27th, 2014

Update, 02/27: It’s worth making an update to this post to note that if you use United.com’s “Remember Me” button it can cause your award searches to exclude your expanded availability.

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You must be logged into your mileage account to have access to expanded award availability. If you check the “remember me” option it will look just like you are logged in, but after a short period of time it will stop searching for expanded awards.

I was searching for an award flight to Tel Aviv on 01/25/14 while logged into my account with “Remember Me” and got this goose egg:

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However after logging out and back in again that same search came up with award seats:

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Using expert mode (as described in the original post below) you can see exactly what’s going on:

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There are no award seats available for non cardholders (X class) but there are at least 9 award seats available for cardholders (XN class).

Same thing happened when I searched yesterday for an award from Cleveland to Fort Lauderdale for Pesach and expert mode shows why, 3 seats available just for cardholders or elites who are logged in without remember me:

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Moral of the story is simple, don’t have United.com remember you if you have elite status or a United credit card.

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Originally posted on 01/15/14:

The Chase United Explorer card and the United Club card are the only currently available credit cards that gives you access to expanded award ticket availability.

It also is one of the only cards that comes 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 Sapphire Preferred is what I use in Israel and other foreign countries, but that’s just because of the 2.14 points per dollar it awards on car rentals.  In the US the United card is the way to go.

How do you find expanded award availability? All you need to do is login to your United.com account before you search for award flights.

How do you know if your card is properly linked to your account? Just login on United.com and then hover over the words “Mileage Expiration”

If your card is properly linked you will see the following message that your miles won’t expire as long as you remain a cardholder:
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If your card isn’t properly linked then you will see the following message that your miles will expire if you don’t have activity every 18 months:

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Expanded saver coach example:

When logged into an account with a United Explorer card there is 40K saver award space from Newark to Tel Aviv on November 23, 25, and 30:

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When not logged in or when logged into an account without a credit card or elite status there is no space on any of those dates.

Just how much space is there?  Using this link you can click the box to enable United.com expert mode.

After enabling expert mode you can search for a paid flight from Newark to Tel Aviv on 11/23 and then click on “fare class” which will bring up the available cabins box:

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Everything in that alphabet soup stands for important stuff but all we care about right now is XN and X class availability. There are at least 9 XN seats, meaning there are at least 9 saver award seats available to someone who has a United Explorer card or who has United elite status.  It never shows more than 9, so 9 means 9 or more.

There are 0 X seats, meaning that if you don’t have a United credit card and want a seat on that flight you would have to book a standard award for 75K miles.  Those 75K coach standard seats actually come out of the HN bucket for non-cardholders, so there are at least 9 of those.

Expanded standard coach and business example:

When logged into an account with a United Explorer card there is 75K coach standard award space and 150K business standard award space from Newark to Tel Aviv on the red-eye flight on 04/12.  This is an extremely popular flight for people flying to Israel for Pesach.

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When not logged in or when logged into an account without a credit card or elite status there isn’t even standard award space available for that flight. The flight doesn’t even show up when performing an award search from such an account.

How many seats are available for cardholders and elites?

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HN class is standard coach availability for non-cardholders, no seats there.  ZN is standard business availability for non-cardholders, no seats there either.

YN is standard coach availability for cardholders and elites, at least 9 seats there. JN is standard business availability for cardholders and elites, at least 9 seats there.  In fact as long as there is a seat on the plane you can use the standard mileage award for get it if you are a cardholder.

Expanded saver business example:

Only United Platinum, 1K, and Global Services elites have access to expanded business class award availability (IN class as shown in expert mode).

However anyone can use United Plan B to book a business saver award even if there is only coach saver available. 

As United cardholders have more coach saver award space available they will automatically have more business saver award space as well thanks to Plan B.

Other card benefits:
Besides for the signup bonus of 30K miles for spending $1,000 and another 5K miles for adding a free authorized user, the primary CDW insurance, and the expanded award space, there are other nice benefits of the Explorer card:
-First checked bag free.
-Priority boarding so that you’ll have space for your carry-ons.
-No foreign transaction fees.
-2 free United passes per year.
-10K mileage bonus every year that you spend $25K, a 40% mileage bonus which means you’ll have earned 1.4 miles per dollar everywhere. Spending $25K in a year also waives the requirement to spend $2.5K on United flights to get Silver status, $5K on United flights to get Gold status, and $7.5K on United flights to get Platinum status. You only need to fly the 25K, 50K, or 75K miles like in the good old days.
-Double miles on United purchases.
-Elite members can get upgrades on coach award tickets on upgrade eligible routes if they have a United card.
-Miles don’t expire as long as you are a cardholder.

The $95 annual fee is waived for the first year.

-You can also get the business version of the Chase United Explorer card.  Just click on “Are you a business owner” in the top-right of the Explorer card link.

-Want a 2nd free bag, a 50% mileage bonus per dollar spent everywhere, United club access for you and your entire family, post-security terminal access without a ticket, priority baggage handling and priority security access, and waived award expedite fees? The United Club card comes with all of that.  Just click on the MileagePlus Club tab at the top of the Explorer card link.

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Other Chase consumer cards you can get at the time as the United card include the Chase Sapphire Preferred (40K signup points plus another 5K points for adding a free additional user, no fee the first year, plus 2.14 points per dollar on travel and dining with no Foreign Exchange fees), Chase Southwest (50K signup points), Chase British Airways (50K signup points and 10% off BA flights), and Chase Freedom (which gives 5 points per dollar in rotating categories and 10% bonus points if you have a Chase checking account).

The Chase Ink Plus and Chase Ink Bold business cards both give 50,000 signup points and offer 5 points per dollar on telecom, cable, and office supply stores, 2 points per dollar for gas and lodging, no foreign exchange fees, free lounge visits, and a waived annual fee for the first year.

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United “Cancel Without Redeposit Trick” Successful Beyond My Wildest Dreams; Having Old Awards Gives Backdoor Access To The Old Award Chart

Tuesday, February 18th, 2014

In mid-December I advised folks to beat the United devaluation by booking awards and then cancelling them without redepositing the miles.

By doing that you would be able to fly Lufthansa First Class at the old rates (135K to Europe/150K to Tel Aviv) instead of the new rates (220K to Europe/280K to Tel Aviv) by just changing the dates close to when you want to fly.  You would pay a small change fee, but save a boatload of miles. Lufthansa typically only releases their first class award space within 14 days of a flight.  Their first class is great with planes like the 747-400 that give you a seat as well as a real mattress next to it.  Plus you get access to their first class terminal where you can indulge in kosher food and rare scotches before being driven in a luxury car right up to your plane as I wrote about in my Venice trip notes a few years ago.

The advice wasn’t without controversy.

United refused to confirm or deny and their Flyertalk liaison advised that I should take a more conservative approach (ha!).

Numerous Flyertalkers ridiculed the advice, though I’d wager that most of them had probably never even used that cancel without redeposit option.

One blogger reblogged my advice to which another blogger responded, “I would bet that the odds of this working as described are near nil….Repeating bad advice doesn’t make it true.”

And yet another blogger wrote “Dan is suggesting that before the travel date you cancel the trip…He seems convinced this will work for locking in the old rates. I don’t necessarily disagree, I’m just not as confident about United’s system working that way as he is.”

I then reiterated in a later post that I stood by my advice based on my experience with United awards but cautioned that we were in uncharted territory and that nobody could say for certain what would happen.

I made several reservations myself and finally got around to playing with them and what I found was fascinating.  Not only can simple date changes be made without paying more miles (the intention of the original trick) but just about every other change can be done as well under the old award chart.

For example I have a one-way itinerary from Frankfurt to Cleveland via Newark on a Lufthansa 747-400 that was cancelled without being redeposited. It currently looks like this:

 

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And as predicted by choosing change flights I can change it without paying any additional miles.  In fact I could even change directions to have it go from Newark to Frankfurt without additional miles:

 

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But I didn’t stop there.  I tried changing my one-way into a round-trip and it only asked for an extra 67,500 miles per person for the return trip.  In other words by just having one of these itineraries I am able to book awards under the old rates (67.5K each way) instead of the new rates (110K each way).

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Compare that with the vile new award chart rates for a first class partner award for 2 passengers:

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But why stop there? Next I tried changing the one-way Lufthansa ticket into a round-trip business class ticket to Israel.  Those tickets used to cost 120K round-trip but are now 140K on United or 160K on partner airlines.

Once again, it priced it out as a ticket under the old award chart, asking for 120K per passenger:

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Want to fly in your own private Asiana suite? That’s 240K per person now, but with an old ticket you can access the old rate of 140K per person:

 

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Seemingly with any old award you can make a change online and access the old award chart.  Pretty cool if you ask me!

Best of all as I booked several one-ways each of those can be transformed into round-trips to anywhere in the world at the old rates.

Did you use the cancel without redeposit trick? Were you too afraid? Let’s hear about it in the comments!

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Flights To Or From Tel Aviv In United BusinessFirst Round-Trip For $2,371 For United Credit Cardholders

Sunday, February 16th, 2014

Update: Commenter Dov notes that you can actually get a BusinessFirst ticket to Israel for just $1,743 per passenger.  I have just tried it and it does ticket properly!  Ticketing took about 15 minutes.

To do that just search any of the valid Newark-Tel Aviv dates below and after selecting the flights click “reserve” as pictured below.

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Once you reserve the flights it will be saved in your account, except that it will be saved with a massive price drop discounting the primary fare to the price of the companion fare as pictured below:

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Just go to the saved flights in your account to book it at the lower rate!

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Related: The Unique Benefits Of The United Explorer Card: Expanded Award Space, Primary CDW Insurance, And Much More
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People often ask me to post business class airfares to Israel which can normally go for $4,000-$6,000 per passenger.  My response is usually to start building up miles.  For example 145,000 Starwood Starpoints transfer into 180,000 ANA miles which is enough for 2 business class ticket to Israel.

But for those looking for some paid ticket deals, United is offering United credit cardholders 20% off nearly all international business class fares when they book in multiples of 2 seats (so 4 passengers would also work but 3 would not work as well)

2 passengers can fly round-trip in BusinessFirst with lie-flat seating from Newark to Tel Aviv for just $4,742.64 ($2,371.32 per passenger):

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To book this fare just search for flights on United.com in BusinessFirst using offer code: Chase20
You must be logged into your United account with an attached United credit card for the promo to work.

You can also book by calling United at 800-UNITED-1 and mentioning promo code CH80 or telling them to lookup GG CH80

This offer is valid for tickets booked by May 31, 2014 for travel completed by April 30, 2015.

Valid $2,371 dates from Newark-Tel Aviv:
All valid dates:
Depart EWR-TLV: 02/16, 02/18, 02/20, 02/23, 02/24, 02/25, 03/02, 03/03, 03/20, 03/24, 03/25, 03/26.
Return TLV-EWR: 02/25, 03/04, 03/05, 03/16, 03/19, 03/24, 03/25, 03/26, 04/08, 04/17.

Tel Aviv-Newark works for $2,413 per passenger:
All valid dates:
Depart TLV-EWR: 03/04, 03/05, 03/16, 03/19, 03/24, 03/25, 03/26.
Return EWR-TLV: 03/19, 03/20, 03/24, 03/25, 03/26, 04/01, 04/07, 04/13, 04/24, 04/30, 05/06, 05/21, 05/26, 05/27, 05/28, 05/29, 06/01, 06/02, 06/17, 06/17, 06/18, 06/23, 06/24, 06/25.

Other cities work as well:
For example Los Angeles to Tel Aviv for $2,385 per passenger. Sample date: 03/02-03/19

Business class passengers get 2 free 70 pound checked bags each as opposed to 1 free 50 pound bag for a coach passenger.

Will you be booking at these rates? Do you think a night’s sleep on a lie-flat bed for a 10-12 hour flight is worth a $600 price premium each way?  Does adding in a transcon flight from LA change the math? Sound off in the comments!

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CLE News I Like To Cover And You Don’t Like Reading About: Ohio Attorney General Will Audit United, Regional Carriers Dropping United, Airlines Adding Flights To CLE, Which Hub Will Be Axed Next?

Friday, February 14th, 2014

Related posts:
-Smisek Lies Again: “Our hub in Cleveland hasn’t been profitable for over a decade”
-CLE Is Dehubbed; The Continental-United Merger Has Brought Nothing But Misery To All

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1. The state of Ohio will be auditing United’s claim that Cleveland was not profitable.

I ended off the “Smisek Lies” article asking Ohio’s attorney general to audit United’s profitability claim.  And I tweeted OH AG Mike DeWine as well.

He will do just that, though unfortunately the full details will never become public. The Plain Dealer notes the inherent dilemma in defining profitability. The merger-era agreement with Ohio makes no mention on exactly how profitability is to be determined. Accountants are all too good at shifting around costs to get the result they want.

There’s no doubt that Cleveland is completely extraneous in the merged United system. It made sense as a Continental hub because Newark was at capacity and their only other hub was in Houston which is a poor connecting option for most the US.
As soon as the merger closed I said that Cleveland’s days as an airline hub would be numbered as there’s little point in maintaining a hub located right in between powerhouses Chicago, Newark, and Washington DC.

However I showed numerous examples from the past decade through 2012 that Cleveland was a profitable hub for United. And unfortunately for United they could not fully shut down hub operation in Cleveland until 2015 if it was profitable.

Over the past couple years United has made Cleveland one of the most expensive airports in the nation to fly out of and made connections in Cleveland very hard to come by so I don’t doubt that it’s no longer currently profitable, at least for 2013. But profitable or not I do agree that it makes little operational sense for Cleveland to exist as a hub.

So why shut it down now instead of waiting until late 2015 and avoiding government scrutiny?

As I said last time, I still believe that the real reason is the double whammy of:
-Pilot qualification rules made in late 2013 that have caused a massive pilot shortage.
And
-Minimum rest periods for pilots just instituted last month that have exacerbated the pilot shortage problem.

Cleveland, more than any other United hub, is heavily dependent on regional flights. Those airlines pay their pilots as little as $21,000 per year and rely on pilots fresh out of school hungry to make their way up the ranks.

Now that these new rules came into play the major airlines have been snapping up the experienced pilots at regional carriers to keep their schedules going even with the new pilot rest directives. Additionally pilots must retire by age 65, so the major airlines are going to face a long-term crunch to keep enough qualified pilots.
The regional carriers can no longer just hire more freshman pilots as they now need 1,500 hours of experience as opposed to just 250 hours that they used to need. That sixfold increase is causing a huge crisis.

This isn’t idle speculation. Republic/Chautauqua is about to quit all United flying due to these new rules. Great Lakes suspended service to several airports due to the pilot shortage. ExpressJet told United before they announced the Cleveland hub closure that it would not longer be able to fly all of its contracted routes for United.

So United had to slash lots of regional capacity quickly. And there was no more efficient place to do that than in Cleveland with gobs of low margin regional flights that wouldn’t majorly affect the global system due to the lack of international flights from Cleveland. Taking those regional flights out of other airports would cause much more pain for the system as a whole.

Cleveland’s mainline flights are all staying intact except for the 1 daily flight to Phoenix.

Oh and the small issue of Cleveland continually being told over the past decade that it was profitable? Let’s just add some fixed network costs onto Cleveland and say it wasn’t profitable in a decade so that we don’t wind up paying a fine for closing the hub before 2015…
Riiiiiiiight. Because the same airline that removed pillows from first class to increase their profits by a few bucks would run a hub for an entire decade while it bled money the whole time.

Smisek lies. There is no decade of losses and I would love to be a fly on the wall in Columbus as they look over United’s funny math. Though my guess is that with no defined profitability metric in the agreement there will be nothing that can be done to force United to pay up or even admit playing a number’s game.
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2. In the good news department other airlines see the blood in the water and are already starting to pick up the slack:

-Delta is adding nonstops to Indianapolis and Raleigh/Durham.
-Delta is upgrading the Cleveland-NYC route from 3 daily flights to a whopping 8 daily flights. Come June there will be 3 dailies to JFK and 5 dailies to LGA.
-Frontier just started flying between Cleveland and Trenton, NJ and must like what they’re seeing. They upgrading it from 2 flights per week to 4 in May.
-Southwest will upgrade Akron-LGA from 2 to 3 daily flights. 2 of those flights will be up-gauged from a 717 to a 737.
-Delta is upgrading Cleveland-Atlanta from regional to all mainline jets. Cleveland-Minneapolis is rumored to be upgraded to mainline as well.
-Frontier is increasing Cleveland-Denver flights from 5 to 12 weekly.
-Frontier will add 4 weekly Cleveland-Orlando flights, a new route for them. Intro pricing is just $69 each way.
-Frontier will add 3 weekly seasonal Cleveland-Seattle flights, a new route for them. Intro pricing is just $119 each way.
-Southwest is in talks to beef up CLE service. Don’t be surprised to see new flights to destinations like S. Louis, Tampa, or Phoenix.
-Other good possibilities include Jetblue service to Boston, JFK, Orlando, or Fort Lauderdale and Porter service to Toronto. There may even be a outside shot of landing Virgin America service to LAX or SFO, Sun Country service to Minneapolis, American launching Phoenix service, or Spirit service to Fort Lauderdale or Phoenix.
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3. Cleveland may be unique in being dehubbed twice by the same airline, but it’s only the latest in a long line of closed hubs.

Cleveland is now the most populous metropolitan area in the nation without hub operations and it’s the only metro area of at least 3 million people without a hub airport. No doubt CLE was hurt by having 2 major airports within the metro region. Competition from CAK has been a thorn in CLE’s side ever since Airtran made Akron a focus city.

Not too many airports can lay claim to being dehubbed twice by the same airline. United closed CLE in the 80s, Continental came in and hubbed it, and United has dehubbed it once again.

But just in this century AA has ditched S. Louis, USAirways left Pittsburgh, American West axed Columbus, Delta jettisoned Cincinnati, Dallas, and Memphis, etc.

So which hub will be next to go?
United still has hub operations in Chicago, Denver, Houston, Los Angeles, Newark, S. Francisco, and Washington DC.
-An “expert” claims that United only needs hubs in Chicago, Houston, and Newark, and that all of the rest are in jeopardy.
That seems a bit much as that means shrinking down to Continental’s size, but just switching out Cleveland for Chicago.
I do think that both Denver and Los Angeles may be at risk in the coming years.

-On the American/USAirways side it’s hard to see a bright future for Phoenix. It’s days are likely numbered due to being sandwiched between hubs in Dallas and LA.
Philadelphia may also be troubled. Hard to imagine it remaining an international hub with JFK so nearby. I see it being phased out as well with long-haul flights to places like Tel Aviv being shifted over to places like JFK and Miami.

-Delta seems perfectly content to eat everyone else’s lunch as they contract.  Operationally Delta runs the best major airline operation today and is in a position of power vis-a-vis American and United.  Their mileage program is atrocious but they sure do seem to know how to run an airline.  With Cincinnati and Memphis gone they may just hang onto their niche hubs in Detroit, Minneapolis, and Salt Lake City along with their powerhouses in Atlanta and LGA/JFK.  They’re even beefing up for a new hub in Seattle to either take down Alaska or force them to merge with them or American.

Which domestic hubs do you think are at risk of closure?

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Free Entrance To National Parks Between 02/15 And 02/17

Thursday, February 13th, 2014

Free Entrance To National Parks Between 02/15 And 02/17

For all of those in Hawaii now on Delta glitch tickets you can enjoy cooling off in Maui’s Seven Sacred Pools, sunrise on top of Maui’s Haleakala, seeing volcanoes erupt on the Big Island’s Volcanoes National Park, and check out the Big Island’s City of Refuge all for free this Saturday, Sunday, or Monday.

Other free dates in 2014 include 04/19, 04/20, 08/25, 09/27, and 11/11.

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United Devaluation Clarifications

Tuesday, February 4th, 2014

1. If you booked before yesterday’s devaluation then you will have much more flexibility then United previously announced.

It’s on the confusing side though, so you’ll probably have to play HUCA (Hang Up and Call Again!) and talk to several agents to get exactly what you want.
-You won’t have to use more miles if you change the operating airline as long as you stay in the same class of service and the same region.
-You won’t have to use more miles if you change the origin, connecting, or destination cities as long as the origin and destination cities are in the same region (US, Europe, Middle East, etc) as you originally booked. However you can’t change the class of service or operating airline in this case.
-You won’t have to use more miles if you change the date as long as you stay in the same class of service and the same region.

2. At least one commenter notes that an agent was willing to change the date without charging extra miles on a ticket that he cancelled without redepositing the miles.
It took him one HUCA to find that agent.

3. If you’re flying on United or Copa in business or first class you can use the cheaper United award chart when connecting to business or first class on a partner airline as long as the partner airline’s flight is within the same region as the United flight lands in.

For example If you fly from Newark to Frankfurt in United Business and connect to Paris in Lufthansa Business you can use the cheaper United award chart.

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Smisek Lies Again: “Our hub in Cleveland hasn’t been profitable for over a decade”

Sunday, February 2nd, 2014

Related post: CLE Is Dehubbed; The Continental-United Merger Has Brought Nothing But Misery To All
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Cleveland and United have a rocky history.

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United had a hub in Cleveland in the 70s and early 80s before jumping ship in 1985.  Continental immediately filled the void by hubbing Cleveland, something that won’t happen again today due to considerable airline consolidation.  Nobody has filled the void that American left in St. Louis, that Delta left in Memphis and Cincinnati, that America West left in Columbus, or that USAirways left in Pittsburgh.  Pittsburgh just took another hit when they learned that AA would shutter their 6 year old USAirways operation center that was built with taxpayer funds.

If Cleveland is lucky perhaps we’ll get Porter flights to Toronto or JetBlue service to Boston and JFK.  And if we’re unlucky perhaps we’ll get Spirit ;)

United CEO Jeff Smisek said in a letter to CLE employees that,

Our hub in Cleveland hasn’t been profitable for over a decade.

This is just another lie from someone who has been caught in a web of lies since the merger.  He has lied about so many topics that it’s hard to keep them all straight. There’s a reason that passengers and employees alike can’t stand him and that United is bleeding cash and high value customers and corporate contracts. He has made strings of bad decisions that are hurting United in both the short and long term.

You have to love the irony that Cleveland is featured in this month’s United Hemispheres magazine and that Cleveland will host this year’s annual United shareholder’s meeting.

Gordon Bethune turned Continental around from the brink of closing shop to being considered the best airline in the country.

He turned it into a profitable well run and highly regarded airline.  He was an ex-pilot and had a great relationship with both labor and passengers.

This ad summed up the customer experience at Continental while other airlines pinched every dime:

He passed on the torch to Larry Kellner who started the culture of service cuts at Continental.  Still it was better than every other US airline.

In 2008 Kellner refused to merge with United, instead opting to ditch Skyteam and join the Star Alliance.

He said at the time rejecting the merger,

We have significant cultural, operational and financial strengths compared to the rest of the industry, and we want to protect and enhance those strengths – which we believe would be placed at risk in a merger with another carrier in today’s environment.

He was right. Continental went from being the most admired airline to becoming a part of what is now the most reviled airline.

United was shocked at Kellner’s rejection. Apparently, so was Continental’s board. Kellner was forced out less than a year later for Smisek, a Harvard educated lawyer.
Smisek immediately reached out to United and merged Continental with them.

Now here’s the rub with Cleveland. It added value to Continental’s route network as their only other hubs were Houston and overly congested Newark. The writing has been on the wall since the merger thanks to United’s more powerful hubs in Chicago and DC.

Still United had to say that Cleveland was losing tens of millions of dollars in order to close the hub without paying penalties.

Let’s look at some facts.

Continental announced an expansion at Cleveland in 2007/2008 to dozens of new cities.

When rumors of a United merger came up in 2008 retired CEO Gordon Bethune said about the prospects of Cleveland should the merger go through,


The Cleveland hub is too valuable to abandon, especially with Continental’s plans for a $50 million expansion at the airport.
Cleveland must be profitable, or Continental wouldn’t be expanding there. Why would you stop doing things that are profitable? Cleveland’s probably going to be OK.

There might be some rationalization, but I don’t see a huge shift. here would you move the Cleveland traffic to? I don’t see how Chicago could take much more.

Indeed, if CLE has been bleeding for a decade then why would they expand?

When oil prices started to soar the expansion was curtailed. However in June 2012, after the merger was finalized United’s senior vice president/network, Greg Hart, said,

Year over year, Cleveland Hopkins’ performance is better than some other hubs in terms of profitability. The hub is in a far better place than it would have been without the efforts of the team in Cleveland.

Joseph Schwieterman, a former planner United route planner said then that he thought the CLE hub could have a future.

They were making some good money in Cleveland. I would be surprised if they substantially downsize Cleveland.

Noting that the majority of United’s flights in and out of Cleveland are on smaller, regional jets, Mr. Schwieterman said it wouldn’t make sense to move that traffic to crowded O’Hare or Dulles, taking slots now filled by more profitable international and transcontinental flights.

“It’s a pretty nice niche for United that hasn’t been a drain on its bottom line,” he said.

I attended an official United MegaDo in November of 2012 and wrote up a long trip report.

At that DO I had the pleasure to attend a session given by Brian Znotins, VP of United’s network strategy. I had never before spoken to someone so intimately knowledgeable with airline route planning and I just ate it all up and wrote it up back then. He knew the profitability levels of every route and was just a fountain of incredible knowledge.

He said that,

Cleveland is actually performing well and is profitable. The only reason a hub would be closed or a route would end would be if it was not profitable and if the company did not see a path to profitability.

At that same MegaDO I spoke with Martin Hand, United’s Senior VP of Customer Experience.

Here is what I wrote back then,

Martin Hand, United’s Senior VP of Customer Experience, was a pleasure to talk to as well. Being a Cleveland guy I once again brought up the future of Cleveland, calling it United’s step-child hublette. He joked that as a former Continental guy they love Cleveland and that I shouldn’t be calling it that!

He said that Cleveland’s local business community seems to know that they need to support United to keep the hub and they have been doing a good job doing that so far. He went on to ask why Cleveland folks seem so paranoid as to the future of United in Cleveland.

I could’ve said it was because United had already de-hubbed Cleveland once before in the 1980s before Continental eventually took it over and that nearb cities like Pittsburgh, Columbus, and Cincinnati have seen recent catastrophic hub closures, but I said it’s just Clevelanders natural rejection fearing attitude, helped in no small part by LeBron.

He and his former Continental colleague loved that response and started laughing out loud and heartily agreed with me and they both said they were shocked by that episode as well.

Now I’m not saying United has it out for Cleveland. I think the real reason is that United wants to ditch most of their regional jet flying and Cleveland just has too much of that. Perhaps there is some truth behind there being a regional pilot shortage due to the new FAA rules. For now only 1 mainline jet frequency is being cut from Cleveland’s schedule so all the pain is in the regional jet routes.

But this business about not being profitable in a decade seems like an utter farce. It strains credibility to believe that an airline would run a hub operation as a charity for that long of a period of time.

Profitability for a hub is a funny thing, so it’s probably easy for United to shift some fixed costs onto Cleveland and now it’s magically not making a profit. Perhaps it’s just to avoid having to make any payment to Ohio for closing the hub?

Per the merger agreement the audit will be completely at United’s expense. I sure hope Ohio’s attorney general takes a really close look at the full story here.

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CLE Is Dehubbed; The Continental-United Merger Has Brought Nothing But Misery To All

Sunday, February 2nd, 2014

In perhaps the worst CLE news since LeBron’s decision, United will officially announce tomorrow that it is de-hubbing Cleveland.

It’s no surprise.  I said 4 years ago,

Finally, I see little hope for Cleveland to remain a hub. Continental and United currently have hubs in Chicago, Cleveland, Denver, Houston, Los Angeles, Newark, S. Francisco, and Washington DC.

There is a compelling argument to keep pretty much all of those hubs in place except Cleveland. United already abandoned their hub in Cleveland hub back in 80′s. I’ll bet that United ditches Cleveland once again if this merger is completed.

And now United will ditch Cleveland for a 2nd time.  United had agreed not to cut the hub for a few years in exchange for Ohio’s attorney general not opposing the merger but that agreement is mostly expired.  Nonstop destinations served from Cleveland will be cut from 58 to 20. The number of daily flights will be cut from 199 to 72.  Full details can be found here.

But this is hardly the first negative outcome of the Continental-United merger.

Passengers from both the pre-merger Continental and United side hate what has become of both airlines. It’s pretty much a mix of the worst policies from both.

Just a small taste of the merger pain and why mergers are never good for consumers:
-Points can no longer be transferred from AMEX to Continental like they used to before the merger.
-The AMEX Platinum card stopped allowing access to clubs like they to for Continental before the merger.
-United didn’t use to charge an award expedite fee but that came back with the merger.
-While Starnet blocking may be gone, United.com is progressively getting worse, no longer displaying award space for Brussels, LOT Polish, or Singapore.  People don’t even realize that award tickets to places like Israel are easily bookable, but that it requires doing their own research on other websites. In fact Singapore awards to the US aren’t even bookable over the phone for now. They even lied and said that it was a mutual decision with Singapore when Singapore said it was solely United’s decision.
-Clubs have lost most of the free alcohol that Continental used to offer before the merger.
-Free date changes on awards that Continental used to offer are gone.
-Continental’s backend system was kept (as it was already paid for) which have wreaked havoc on operations and has frustrated elite customers who have to split off travel companions from their itinerary in order to be upgraded. However that process causes the travel companions to lose out on the benefits of being linked to an elite member.
-United recently won a lawsuit so that they don’t have to give expressly promised benefits to million milers like a couple of annual confirmed domestic upgrades that cost United next to nothing. Talk about winning the battle but losing the war against your best customers.
-Award charts, especially around-the-world and first class awards have been devalued on a scale never seen before.  And they are now more confusing than ever before with split charts for partner airlines.
-United has been unprofitable since the merger even while other airlines turn huge profits.
-Corporate clients have been fleeing to other airlines as merger related operational issues plagued United. And speaking of being penny-wise and pound foolish United has been alienating some corporate clients by not awarding them PQDs on tickets booked through corporate travel agencies even though the tickets can still cost thousands of dollars. PQDs were added by Delta and copied by United in 2014 as a way to make sure that customers spent thousands of dollars on ticket in addition to flying tens of thousands of miles in order to earn elite status.

CEO Jeff Smisek has run two proud airlines into the ground. He’s now infamous for promising passengers changes that they’re going to like while continuing to erode passenger loyalty and operate at net losses. Can anyone explain how he is still at the helm?

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1 Day Until United Devaluation: What We Know, What We Don’t.

Sunday, February 2nd, 2014

Update: United is delaying the implementation of the new award chart until Monday.
Book what you can today!

————————————–

— DansDeals (@DansDeals) November 1, 2013

 

D-Day is upon us.  Come 02/01 and it will cost more United miles to go places. In some cases many more miles.

I made a chart within an hour of the changes being announced, so you can go there to see the details.

And I said my piece back then as well.

The pain is two fold as for the first time United will charge more to fly to may places and they will charge even more to fly on partner airlines.

The gist of the changes for departures from the US:
-US48/Canada awards don’t change.
-Alaska is broken out as its own category and will become much more expensive with coach now going for 35K instead of 25K and business going for 60K instead of 50K.
-Hawaii in coach goes up from 40K to 45K though business and first are surprisingly unchanged.
-South America is mostly unscathed.
-Europe in coach in unchanged but business on United goes up by 15K to 115K and first on United goes up by 25K to 160K. The real pain is for partner redemption with business going up by 40K to 140K and first going up by a whopping 85K to 220K
-Israel in coach goes up 5K to 85K. Business nonstop on United goes up by 20K to 140K and first on United via Europe goes up by 30K to 180K. Again, the real pain is for partner redemption with business going up by 40K to 160K and first via Europe going up by an insane 130K to 280K. That first class partner jump is the infamous 87% rate increase.
-See the chart for similar increases to Asia, Africa, and Australia.
-Round-The-World awards get really smacked with coach going up 20K to 180K, business going up 90K to 350K, and first going up 100K to 450K.

It’s worth noting that for flights from Israel to places besides North America there is actually some good news:
DDF user Drago has the entire changes wrapped up nicely in this spreadsheet
Among many other examples from his chart:
-Israel to Southern Africa in coach goes down from 70K to 60K.
-Israel to Australia or Japan in coach goes down from 90K to 70K.

So how can you fly United First class to Israel via Europe when United doesn’t fly from Europe to Israel?
United has announced that you can still use the United chart instead of the partner award chart if the partner award flight is in a lower class of service than the United flight. So if you fly United First Class from Newark to Frankfurt and then Lufthansa Business class to Tel Aviv you would pay the United First rate of 180K. If you fly United business from Newark to Frankfurt and then Lufthansa coach to Tel Aviv you would pay the United business rate of 140K.

How will changes to tickets booked before February 1st work?
Nobody knows. You can book travel now for travel over the next year to lock in lower rates.  However United is leaving this intentionally vague by just saying that their existing change policies will apply and that simple date changes will not trigger the higher mileage rate.

In other words if something would cause a ticket to be reissued then it would have to be repriced at the higher award rates.  Changing the origin or destination of a ticket will definitely require a reissue.  Changing the dates will definitely not require a reissue.

However everything else is very murky.

Will a change of airlines require a reprice?  Will a change of routing (connecting cities) require a reprice?  It may, it may not.  I guess just assume that it may and be happy if it does not.

Even more likely is that it will be YMMV with some agents doing it without requiring more miles and some asking for more miles.

In my beat the devaluation post I suggested using United.com’s often overlooked “cancel without redepositing miles” as a way to lock in Lufthansa First Class awards which are only released within 2 weeks of a flight. (For other awards you are better booking a flight that’s in a year from now and then making a simple date change.)

Some bloggers agreed that changing the dates that way shouldn’t require a reprice.  Others weren’t sure while others thought it would require a reprice.

I think that taking that route should work as it keeps the pricing information from my experience and shouldn’t need a reprice.  In other words I helped someone book a flight on United from Newark to Tel Aviv that they cancelled and wound up rebooking a few months later on USAirways and it only charged $50 for a simple change without repricing the itinerary.  But it needs to be stressed that we are in uncharted territory here and nobody really can say for sure what will happen.

Some DDF members have asked United and the answers have been everything from of course that would work to there’s no way that would work.

United’s Twitter presence was completely worthless in their response when I reached out to them.  I guess I shouldn’t be surprised, we’re talking about the same @United account that said they were excited about everyone threatening to boycott United and that they would implement said boycott ASAP!

The bottom line is that nobody can give you a definitive answer at this point, not even United themselves.

It’s worth noting that not all airlines show award availability on United.com.  Brussels, LOT Polish (which has lie-flat seating in business class on their 787s), and Singapore are notable exceptions that can only be booked over the phone with United (though can be researched on other sites like Air Canada’s Aeroplan and ANA).  So if you are looking to lock in cheaper tickets to Israel, pick up that phone and call!

And don’t forget that although United business class isn’t being hit nearly as hard as partner awards, it definitely makes sense to lock in the current rates via a Plan B redemption Best of all you can lock them in now even if there is only coach award availability!  By setting up a Plan B award today you can save yourself tens of thousands of miles.

Does this change my overall mileage strategy?
I find myself using my Starwood card more often than before but I’m not going to shy away from collecting United miles.  I’m sitting on over 5 million United miles and it stinks that they’re being devalued like this but I’m not about to burn them to the ground just because of inflation. They’re still wayyyyy better than Delta miles and you can still get an incredible value for your miles. And I don’t think we’ll see another United devaluation for quite some time.
I’d be more scared pouring miles into American and USAirways miles as their award chart is a real bargain at this point in time which makes it ripe for devaluation. So keep those Starwood points in Starwood and transfer them to American or USAirways on an as needed basis only.  Better to be safe than sorry and that’s the beauty of transferable points that aren’t locking into just one airline.

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DIRT CHEAP UNITED FARES!

Saturday, November 23rd, 2013

Update: Tickets are being charged and confirmed!

——————————————————————-

United tickets are ridiculously cheap via this link though prices are in NOK. DEAD!

To figure out the price in dollars just divide by 6.06.  So Newark-Paris is 2,745NOK or about $452.
-Use a card without foreign transaction fees to save the 3% fee.
-It takes between 3-12 hours for these tickets to confirm but people have been getting confirmations so don’t call United as it will get confirmed by itself.
-Don’t make nonrefundable hotel reservations yet as we don’t know for sure if these will be honored!
-The US country code is +1

-All United fares are refundable for 24 hours from time of booking.

-Sample round-trip fares with tax:
Newark-Milan, 01/19-01/27: 772 NOK ($127 USD)
Washington DC-Mumbai, 01/21-02/12: 1,434 NOK ($236 USD)
Los Angeles-Tel Aviv, 01/27-02/05: 1,773 NOK ($287 USD)
Chicago-Tel Aviv, 01/26-02/04: 1,773 NOK ($287 USD)
Washington DC-Tel Aviv, 01/27-02/05: 1,773 NOK ($287 USD)
Houston-Tel Aviv, 01/26-02/02: 1,773 NOK ($287 USD)
Cleveland-Tel Aviv, 02/02-02/09: 1,993 NOK ($328 USD)
Miami-Tel Aviv, 01/20-02/02: 2,139 NOK ($352 USD)
Newark-Zurich, 01/20-01/30: 2,195 NOK ($362 USD)
Newark-Tel Aviv, 01/20-01/30: 2,388 NOK ($393 USD)
Tel Aviv-Newark, 01/21-01/28: 2,418 NOK ($398 USD)
Newark-London, 01/27-02/03: 2,522 NOK ($416 USD)
Newark-Amsterdam, 02/02-02/12: 2,522 NOK ($416 USD)
Newark-Paris, 01/26-02/02: 2,745 NOK ($452 USD)
Newark-Johannesburg, 01/26-02/02: 2,972 NOK ($490 USD)
Los Angeles-Sydney, 02/02-02/11: 4,383 NOK ($723 USD)
Pesach: Newark-Tel Aviv, 04/07-04/24: 4,179 NOK ($689 USD)

HT: Drago, via DDF
——————————————————————————

Don’t miss another deal:
Join the 18,300+ 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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Chase United Mall Lounges

Wednesday, November 20th, 2013

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

November 23 – December 24, 2013, 11:00 am until mall closing
SF location: The Westfield San Francisco Centre, Dome level near Bloomingdale’s
NJ location: The Mall at Short Hills, located on the first floor near Macy’s and Guest Services

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, bottle water, and coffee, plus café-style seating and flat screen TVs.
Football Sundays: Check out live game-day action every Sunday.
Toys for Tots Tuesdays: Cardmembers may bring a new, unwrapped toy in its original packaging, on the following Tuesdays, December 3rd, December 10th and December 17th and you will receive one United Club pass. Bring two toys and receive two United Club passes.

-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 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 nice perks of the card besides for the signup bonus (30K for spending $1,000 and 5K for adding an additional user):
-Expanded saver award availability is a huge benefit of being a cardholder. I’m always finding award flights that are only available to cardholders or elites. Cardholders also get last seat standard award availability, something that is capacity controlled for non-cardholders/non-elites.
-As long as you have the card your miles will never expire.
-This is one of the only cards that gives primary car rental insurance in the US. Almost every other card provides secondary coverage which means you have to file a claim with your personal car insurance. The United card covers claims without ever notifying them. Coverage is primary in every country in the world.
-No foreign exchange fees.
-If you spend $25K in a year you get a 10K mileage bonus, meaning you will have earned at least 1.4 miles per dollar on all purchases.
-Free checked luggage and priority boarding on United.
-2 annual lounge passes
-Upgrades for elite cardholders on award tickets

HT: Moes Tavern, via DDF

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Excellent Asiana First Class Availability Now Bookable On United.com

Sunday, November 17th, 2013

AJK broke the news to the internets earlier today on DDF that Asiana had opened an unprecedented amount of first class award availability between JFK and Seoul, South Korea.  Now it’s finally bookable on United.com  It won’t last long.

If you want to fly in your own first class suite with doors that close before United devalues their miles this is a great opportunity.  You can read more about the First Class Suite experience here.

The cost to fly in first class from JFK to Asia is 70,000 United miles each way.  Come February 1st and this same award will cost 120K each way.  Though if you book now you can make date changes after 02/01 without paying more miles.

Normally it’s tough to find even 1 award seat but here is the United.com calendar for 2 seats.  Everything in blue has at least 2 award seats on the nonstop Asiana flight.  This is applicable for most months that I look at.

 

ua7

 

Of course you don’t have to go to South Korea, you can pick another destination and continue on to there.  Just search for nonstop flights only from JFK-ICN to first locate availability for your desired dates and then search for the whole trip you want to take, such as JFK-Hong Kong, JFK-Chiang Mai, etc, etc.

Worth noting that you can also use 80,000 Korean miles to fly in a Korean First suite nonstop from Seoul to Tel Aviv.  You can transfer Chase Ultimate Rewards points instantly to both Korean and United.

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United: Fly To Europe For Just 48,000 Miles Round Trip Instead Of 60,000 Miles.

Wednesday, November 6th, 2013

United Offer Linky

These are bookable now online on United.com.

View United’s route map here or United’s interactive route map here.

-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 01/19 and then back from Paris to Newark on 01/26 is 48,000 miles plus $90 tax.
Or a flight from Los Angeles to London on 01/19 and then back from Zurich to Newark on 01/26 is 48,000 miles plus $65 tax.

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

Rules:
-Book by 11/19
-Travel 01/13/14-03/11/14
-Valid only on United, not on partner airlines.
-Reduced award mileage prices apply only to travel on United- and United Express®-operated flights. Not applicable on flights operated by other airlines.
-Valid for travel to/from the US48, Alaska and Canada to/from Europe.
-Valid for coach saver award only.
-Stopovers are not permitted.
-Round-trip travel is required.
-This offer cannot be applied to previously issued tickets.

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My Thoughts On The United Devaluation

Friday, November 1st, 2013

uad

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I rushed to break the news and compile a chart of the pain in the wee-hours this morning about the United devaluation.  Here are some more thoughts that I have:

1. A devaluation was expected. The shocking part is the split partner chart and the massive increase in partner awards rates, especially in First Class.

It’s been a long time since a serious inflation for the Continental/United programs.
Inflation happens for a couple reasons:
-First of all as the value of a dollar goes down the cost to buy airplane tickets goes up. Just as the value of a dollar sitting in a bank account goes down on a daily basis, so must the miles sitting in your account. Except that it would be ludicrous to have it change daily so we’re hit with these devaluations every few years.
-Second of all we’ve seen credit card bonuses increase and with more miles chasing fewer seats something has to give.

But let’s take the Tel Aviv route for example.
In September 2008 Continental raised the cost of an award ticket to Israel from 70K coach/100K business to 90K coach/120K business. In October 2009 Continental joined the Star Alliance and actually lowered rates to 75K coach/115K business.
When Continental/United synchronized their charts the flight went up to 80K coach/120K business where it’s been for a while.
With these changes the cost to fly in coach goes up to 85K, still lower than it was 5 years ago.

For business it goes up to 140K round-trip on United and 160K on partners. This hurts. The 20K increase is something I can live with, but the 40K partner increase seems too high.  It stinks to have to deal with a separate United chart and partner chart.  If you want to fly United First and tag on a short flight on a partner it can make more sense to book a separate ticket rather than subject your whole ticket to partner rates.
For first class you’ll now need an eye-popping 280K round-trip on partners. This is just an insane 86.7% increase. The first class partner award increases are really hard to fathom.

Other uncool changes that were buried in the footnotes:
-You’ll need an extra 10K miles to fly to Alaska round-trip, which is being broken out of the US49 category for the first time.
-A Round-The-World award which lets you fly to multiple cities for as long as you want goes way up as well. And that’s on top of a huge increase from the old Continental chart in 2011.

2. It’s not a matter of if American and USAirways will devalue, it’s a matter of when.
Their charts look silly compared to United’s new chart. If you have miles with those programs the time to start planning for a nice trip is now.
Don’t shift from accumulating United miles to American/USAirways miles just because their charts look way better right now as you will be disappointed.  Transfer Starpoints to those programs on an as-needed basis.
At least you know that the United chart will probably be free from devaluations for the next few years. That can’t be said for American, Delta, and USAirways.

3. Cash-back cards need to be looked at more seriously.
Sure your dollars are also devalued, albeit more stealthily. But you can invest those dollars to hedge against inflation. You can’t do the same with your miles.
The best cash back card out there is the Barclaycard Arrival World Mastercard which earns 2.22% cash back on everything with no foreign exchange fees. It also has a sweet 40,000 point signup bonus.
You get 2 points per dollar everywhere and a 10% point rebate every time you redeem your points. People have been changing those points into cold hard cash by booking a refundable travel reservation. At that point they redeem their points to get cash for them for it before refunding the travel reservation. 2.22% cash back is pretty much as good as it gets for cash.

If you redeem for an international coach ticket you’ll usually do better with this card than with a mileage card. Last-minute coach tickets, short-haul coach tickets, one-way coach tickets, business class tickets, and first class tickets are still much better with real airline miles than with cash. But can you really justify burning 280K miles to fly First Class to Israel on a partner airline? Business class may be the sweet spot of the future.

4. Transferable currencies are a hedge against devaluations.
If you’re only earning miles on a United card you’ve been hosed today. Those miles are stuck there and come February they’re worth less.
But if you have a Chase Ultimate Rewards cards at least you have other excellent options. I’ll go over them in the coming days.

Starwood Starpoints are really shining brightly today. They have dozens of transfer partners so even when one devalues there are tons of other options.  And they give a 25% bonus for each 20K transferred. Plus unlike with other transferable currencies, your points stay alive even if you close your Starwood Preferred Guest® Credit Card from American Express.

Membership Rewards also allows you to transfer to several programs, though they’re not partners with “exciting” partners like Alaska, American, or USAirways like Starwood is. And they don’t offer good hotel options like both Chase and Starwood have. Still it’s always nice to have transferable points.

It definitely pays to diversify.

5. We don’t have to take this sitting down!
-Retweet my Tweet here and send your own tweets to @United with the hashtag: #UnitedUnfriendly
The more you post the quicker mainstream media will pick up on this story. Let’s get it trending!

-Express your displeasure to Chase (Twitter: @Chase, @Chase Support) about these changes. Chase buys billions of dollars of United miles and isn’t likely to be happy that they’ve been devalued. They’re especially not going to be happy to lose customers to cards like the Starwood AMEX. If anyone has the power to put pressure on United it’s Chase.

-Contact United CEO Jeff Smisek and let him know how these changes will affect your travel patterns and credit card spending. He can be reached at jeff.smisek@united.com

-If you feel that an 87% increase is just flat-out unfair you can also file a complaint with the US DOT.  Sure United is free to do what they want, but this devaluation simply doesn’t happen if Continental and United were still competing.  Delta and Northwest miles have gone from being worthwhile to being worthless thanks to their merger. Let the DOT know that you feel an 87% increase in the cost of some awards is unfair to consumers and that you want to see the DOT keep fighting the American-USAirways merger in court.  If that merger goes through you can be sure we’ll be seeing more painful changes like this one.

What are your thoughts? How will these changes affect what cards you spend on or where you accumulate miles? Sound off in the comments!

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United Devalues Their Miles

Friday, November 1st, 2013

So much for United’s massive “Flyer Friendly” ad campaign. This is definitely a case of #UnitedUnfriendly
Tweet that out and let your voices be heard.

United has just announced that they will be raising the rates of most awards effective 02/01/14.  Their industry leading award chart was simply too good to be true.  The only good news to be found here is that it will still remain completely free of fuel surcharges and booking fees, something no other network carrier in the world can say.

Current Award Chart PDF

New Award Chart PDF

You can book at the current rates until 01/31/14 for travel as far out as January 2015. But once February comes around you’ll have to book using the new award chart.

With the current award chart the rates are the same no matter what airline you’re flying on.
With the new award chart you will pay a significant premium to fly on a partner airline.  In some cases the rate to fly on a partner airline will be nearly double what the current rate is.

These changes will raise the value on other Star Alliance currencies like Aeroplan, ANA, Avianca, Singapore, USAirways, etc.

The USAirways and American award charts are now extreme bargains and are very likely to be devalued as soon as their merger is either approved or rejected.

Below is a chart I put together comparing the new rates.
The first rate is the current rate.
In the parenthesis is the additional miles you’ll need over the current rate and the new rate when flying on United.
In the brackets is the additional miles you’ll need over the current rate and the new rate when flying on a Star Alliance or other partner airline
The rates listed are for one-way travel at the saver level.

For example:
-A one-way ticket between the US and Israel now costs 40K in coach, 60K in business, and 75K in first on any airline.
-Starting in February a one-way ticket on United from the US to Israel will cost 42.5K in coach, 70K in business, and 90K in first. Mind you United doesn’t even fly First Class to Israel so I have no idea how you would ever wind up paying 90K.
-Starting in February a one-way ticket on a partner airline from the US to Israel will cost 42.5K in coach, 80K in business, and a whopping 140K in first. That’s an 86.7% increase if you want to fly Lufthansa First Class to Israel over the current rates. Like I said, #UnitedUnfriendly

Between the US49 or Canada and:
Coach:

Current
(New United)
[New Partner]
Business:

Current
(New United)
[New Partner]
First:

Current
(New United)
[New Partner]
US49, Canada10K Short Haul, 12.5K Long Haul.
(No change)
[No change]
25K
(No change)
[No change]
35K
(No change)
[No change]
Alaska12.5K
(+5K=17.5K)
[+5K=17.5K]
25K
(+5K=30K)
[+5K=30K]
35K
(+5K=40K)
[+5K=40K]
Hawaii20K
(+2.5K=22.5K)
[+2.5K=22.5K]
40K
(No change)
[No change]
50K
(No change)
[No change]
Mexico, Caribbean, Central America17.5K
(No change)
[No change]
30K
(No change)
[No change]
40K
(No change)
[No change]
Northern South America20K
(No change)
[No change]
35K
(No change)
[No change]
45K
(No change)
[No change]
Southern South America30K
(No change)
[No change]
50K
(+5K=55K)
[+5K=55K]
67.5K
(+2.5K=70K)
[+2.5K=70K]
Europe30K
(No change)
[No change]
50K
(+7.5K=57.5K)
[+20K=70K]
67.5K
(+12.5K=80K)
[+42.5K=110K]
Middle East40K
(+2.5K=42.5K)
[+2.5K=42.5K]
60K
(+10K=70K)
[+20K=80K]
75K
(+15K=90K)
[+65K=140K]
Africa40K
(No change)
[No change]
60K
(+10K=70K)
[+20K=80K]
75K
(+10K=85K)
[+55K=130K]
North Asia32.5K
(+2.5K=35K)
[+2.5K=35K]
60K
(+10K=70K)
[+20K=80K]
70K
(+10K=80K)
[+50K=120K]
Central Asia40K
(+2.5K=42.5K)
[+2.5K=42.5K]
60K
(+10K=70K)
[+20K=80K]
80K
(+10K=90K)
[+60K=140K]
South Asia32.5K
(+7.5K=40K)
[+7.5K=40K]
60K
(+10K=70K)
[+20K=80K]
70K
(+10K=80K)
[+60K=130K]
Japan32.5K
(+2.5K=35K)
[+2.5K=35K]
60K
(+5K=65K)
[+15K=75K]
67.5K
(+12.5K=80K)
[+42.5K=110K]
Oceania35K
(No change)
[No change]
60K
(+5K=65K)
[+15K=75K]
75K
(+5K=80K)
[+35K=110K]
Australia, New Zealand40K
(No change)
[No change]
67.5K
(+2.5K=70K)
[+12.5K=80K]
80K
(No change)
[+50K=130K]
Round-The-World180K
(+20K=200K)
[+20K=200K]
260K
(+90K=350K)
[+90K=350K]
350K
(+100K=450K)
[+100K=450K]
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United Tires Of Aegean Elites, Slashes Their Free Baggage Allowance.

Tuesday, October 22nd, 2013

United Baggage Fee Calculator

I’ve written several times about Aegean Star Alliance Gold status.

The gist is that with 19,000 miles you can earn a status that may last you a lifetime.
Until now United has given Star Alliance Gold members and everyone who travels with them 3 free 70 pound bags each.
Not only that but foreign Star Alliance Gold members have free access to domestic United lounges even if they aren’t traveling internationally. United’s own elite members don’t have that privilege.

United however isn’t amused. The letter of the law is that Star Alliance Golds must be provided with 1 additional free bag. Effective for tickets bought on or after 10/17 United is doing just that. They are slashing the Star Gold baggage allowance down to just 1 free 50 pound bag for the Gold member and their travel companions on domestic itineraries.
On most international itineraries (such as Newark-Tel Aviv) Star Golds and their companions will each get 2 free 50 pound bags.
When Star Golds are traveling in business or first class they will still get 3 free 70 pound bags.

Star Alliance Silver members will no longer get any free bags, down from 1 free 50 pound bag.

If you have a United Club card (click on the Club tab) you and a companion will continue to get 2 free bags.
United Explorer cardholders and a companion continue to get 1 free bag.

If you fly on Air Canada or USAirways with Star Alliance Gold status you and all of your companions still get 3 free 50 pound bags (for now!) I wouldn’t be surprised to see them match United soon, so if you do need the extra baggage you may want to book travel on them now before the change goes into effect.
Baggage rules always follow the date you book the ticket, not the date of travel.

Note that this doesn’t effect United elites. United Silver elites continue to get 1 free 50 pound bag. United Gold/Platinum/1K/GS elites continue to get 3 free 70 pound bags.

It’s also worth noting here that effective next year United is making it much harder to qualify for United elite status if you are based in US.

If you want Silver status not only will you need 25,000 miles but you’ll have to spend $2,500 on United flights. Gold status will take 50,000 miles and $5,000 spent on United flights. Platinum status will take 75,000 miles and $7,500 spent on United flights. 1K status will take 100,000 miles and $10,000 spent on United flights. Oh, and taxes built into the tickets dont count towards that spending.
-If you’re not based in the US the spend requirement is waived.
-If you have a Presidential Plus card the spend requirement is waived for Silver, Gold, and Platinum
-If you spend $25,000 anywhere on a United credit card in 2014 then the spend requirement is waived for Silver, Gold, and Platinum. The United Explorer card also gives a bonus 10,000 miles for spending $25,000 on it in a calendar year, earning an effective 1.4 miles per dollar spent in additional to waiving the spend requirement on United flights. The Club card earn 1.5 miles per dollar everywhere on all spend.

In unrelated United news you can register to earn double miles on United flights bought and flown within the next month, but only in non-discount fare classes. Namely: F, A, J, C, D, Z, P, Y, B, M, E, U, H, Q, V, W and S.

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United Airlines Discount Code

Thursday, October 3rd, 2013

www.united.com

Use offer code: ZNY9357515

This code seems to give a small discount for all United flights completed by 12/15/13.

For example:
-A flight from Newark to Tel Aviv from 12/04-12/11 is $1,011.97 instead of $1,047.97.
-A flight from Newark to Tel Aviv and returning from Tel Aviv to Chicago via Newark from 11/20-12/05 is $915.97 instead of $929.97.
-A flight from Chicago, Houston, or Washington DC to Tel Aviv from 11/20-12/05 is $791.97 instead of $811.97.
-A flight from Cleveland to Tel Aviv from 11/20-12/05 is $806.97 instead of $827.97.
-A flight from Miami to Tel Aviv from 11/20-12/05 is $808.97 instead of $830.97.
-A flight from Los Angeles or S. Francisco to Tel Aviv from 11/20-12/05 is $845.97 instead of $871.97.
-A flight from Newark to West Palm Beach from 11/10-11/13 is $187.09 instead of $195.80.
-A flight from LaGuardia to Chicago from 11/06-11/12 is $206.11 instead of $215.80.

HT: Chaim

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A Double Whammy From United

Wednesday, June 19th, 2013

I was traveling yesterday and by the time I got home United had released 2 separate hits to their program.

The first bit of bad news is a minimum spend requirement on United issued tickets in order to get elite (Premier in United speak) status.
This is basically a match of what Delta did to their elite program.

This goes into effect in 2014 for qualification for elite status in 2015. You do not need to meet the spend requirements in 2013 for 2014 qualification.

You will need to spend:
-$2,500 on tickets+25,000 flown miles+4 segments on United to get Silver status.
-$5,000 on tickets+50,000 flown miles+4 segments on United to get Gold status..
-$7,500 on tickets+75,000 flown miles+4 segments on United to get Platinum status.
-$10,000 on tickets+100,000 flown miles+4 segments on United to get 1K status.

Government taxes do not count towards the spend requirement though fuel surcharges and economy plus upgrades do.
Tickets are United partners will count towards the spend requirement only if they are issued by United. There will be a calculator on United.com next year to keep track of your qualified spending on United tickets.

In other words they don’t want people flying on cheap fares to get elite status.

There are several exceptions and workarounds for the time being:
-This only effects members who are based in the 50 United States and D.C. If your Mileage Plus address is outwide of the US then this won’t apply to you.
-If you spend $25,000 on a United credit card like the Chase United Explorer in 2014 than you can earn Silver, Gold, or Platinum status without having to meet any minimum spend requirement on United tickets.
The good news there is that you also earn 10,000 bonus miles for spending $25K on that card within a calendar year, so you will earn 35K miles for that spending or a minimum of 1.4 miles per dollar spend everywhere which is not bad at all. It was nice that they made both of those thresholds coincide at $25K.
-If you have multiple United credit cards they will add up the total spend accross all of those cards and it it totals $25K then the United spend requirement will be waived for Silver, Gold, or Platinum status.
-If you have a grandfathered Presidential Plus card you can earn Silver, Gold, or Platinum status without having to meet any minimum spend requirement on United tickets.
-If you have the United Club or Presidential Plus card you don’t have to meet the 4 United segment minimum.
-Million miler lifetime elites aren’t subject to spend requirements unless they are trying to reach a tier higher than what they have with their lifetime status.
————————————————————————–
The 2nd bit of bad news is that change fees on award tickets for non-elites go way up for ticket purchased on or after 06/19.

-Previously date changes were free if the new flight was more than 21 days away and you didn’t change the origin or destination. Now those changes are $75. This remains free for all elites though.

-Previously making date changes were $75 if the new flight was within 21 days away or you changed the origin or destination. Now those changes are $100 for non-elites. They remain $50 for Silvers, $25 for Golds, and free for Platinum and higher.

-Previously canceling an award and redepositing the miles was $150. Now a redeposit is $200 for non-elites. They remain $125 for Silvers, $100 for Golds, and free for Platinum and higher.

-Award close-in fees for awards booked within 21 days remain $75 for non-elites, $50 for Silvers, $25 for Golds, and free for Platinum and higher.
Award close-in fees are waived for United Club cardholders.

I definitely expect to see other domestic airlines to match the $200 redeposit fee in the days to come.  Delta and USAirways have always charged $150 for date changes, so they are both more expensive in that department though American continues to offer free date changes (for now!)

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United Will Soon Sell Annual Economy Plus And Baggage Subscriptions

Friday, May 3rd, 2013

In the next few weeks United will start selling subscriptions for travel in Economy Plus. A subscription will be good for exactly 12 months.

Economy Plus puts you at the front of coach and it gives you several extra inches of legroom and generally makes coach travel far more pleasant. Plus the odds of getting an empty seat next to you and being able to seat your family together are much greater in Economy Plus.

I’m part of the United.com beta testing program and here is the pricing that I’m seeing:
-US48 subscription: $499
-Intra-Asia subscription: $499
-North and Central America subscription: $599
-Global subscription: $699

That’s for one traveler.
For $200 extra that traveler can bring one guest on the same reservation with them into Economy Plus. Or for $400 extra that traveler can bring up to 8 guests on the same reservation with them into Economy Plus.

Economy Plus for a Newark to Tel Aviv flight normally sells for $222 to $318 round-trip per person depending on how good the seat is.
A global plan that allow up to 9 people on the reservation to have access to Economy Plus would cost $1,099.

——————————————————————————————–

United will also sell baggage subscriptions. These are not a good deal as just having a United Explorer card gives you one free bag. Plus a United Club card (click on the club card tab when viewing the Explorer card) gives you 2 free bags.  In addition those cards give other benefits like primary car rental insurance, expanded saver and last seat standard award availability, and for the Club card waived award close-in expedite fees and 50% bonus miles on all purchases.

-US48 subscription: $349 for 1 bag, $399 for 2 bags.
-Intra-Asia subscription: $399 for 2 bags.
-North and Central America subscription: $449 for 1 bag, $499 for 2 bags.
-Global subscription: $799 for 2 bags.

That’s for one traveler.
For $100 extra that traveler can allow one guest on the same reservation to have the same baggage privilege.

For reasons that I don’t understand here is the variable pricing for that traveler to allow up to 8 guests on the same reservation to have the same baggage privileges
-US48 subscription: $300
-Intra-Asia subscription: $300
-North and Central America subscription: $400
-Global subscription: $200

A global plan that allows up to 9 people on the reservation to check 2 free bags would cost $999.

Normally checking 2 bags from Newark to Tel Aviv would run $200 round-trip per person.  Though that’s free with a Club card.

Again, this is part of the beta site, so these prices are definitely subject to change.

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Possible Bonus Miles With United Credit Cards?

Sunday, December 9th, 2012

Update #2: DDF users chff and ruly101 posted this morning that their 5,000 miles had posted.  I went to my United account and lo and behold my 5,000 miles had posted as well under the description “Chase Bonus” :D
Did you get a 5,000 mile Chanukah present as well?

Don’t have a United card? Scroll to the end of this post to see how I earned 105,000 miles and $100 cashback for opening a United consumer and business card.
———————————————————————————

Originally posted on 10/07:

Update: United has updated the terms of these promos to exclude Americans.  Here are screenshots of the promotions with the original terms:

$1,000 Screenshot Linky

$3,000 Screenshot Linky

———————————————————————————

There are a couple links going around for bonus miles for spending on any United credit card.
They appear not to be targeted and I was able to register for both promotions.
It should count all spending back from August 1st, even if you register today.

According to the terms the bonus miles won’t post until mid-January, so we won’t know if this works until then, but it would be pretty sweet if I get both bonuses :D

Link 1: 5,000 bonus miles for spending $1,000+ on your MileagePlus Credit Card between August 1 and October 31, 2012. DEAD!

Link 2: 5,000 bonus miles for spending $3,000+ on your MileagePlus Credit Card between August 1 and October 31, 2012. DEAD!

Just enter your mileage number and then click on the arrow to register.

HT: Reuven, via DDF

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Trip Report: United DO 2012 In Chicago

Sunday, November 18th, 2012

-Find more articles like this by clicking on the “Trip Notes” tab on top of the DansDeals banner at the top of this site.

I flew last week to Chicago to experience the tail end of Star MegaDo 4. Hundreds of frequent flyer enthusiasts from forums like Flyertalk and Milepoint get together and fly around the world together and meet with various airline and hotel executives. Star of course refers to Star Alliance. A DO (pronounced like the word do or due) is simply a get-together while a MegaDo is a really big get together. Space to attend these events is always quite limited and there is a cost from $1,000 up to $5,000 depending on how much of the event you want to attend (domestic or international+domestic) and what class you’ll be sitting in on the plane. Participants were treated to flying a brand new United 787 Dreamliner among many other goodies.

I was invited to attend the United portion of the DO in Chicago for free so that’s what I’ll talk about. United billed it as their “inaugural” DO, so this will likely become an annual event. I’ll also cover the hotel I stayed in, the local DDF (DansDeals Forum) DO, and a small part of the local kosher scene that I experienced.

This is not my typical vacation trip report, rather it is a long and technical trip report about United Airlines. If you slog through it I’d love to hear your feedback in a comment and whether I should cover other such events in the future.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

More after the jump…
(more…)

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United: Fly To Europe For Just 48,000 Miles Round Trip Instead Of 60,000 Miles.

Thursday, November 15th, 2012

Update: Today is the final day for this promotion. Take advantage of the stopovers you can make as illustrated below and you can check out multiple cities for just 48K miles!

Originally posted on 11/06:

United Offer Linky

These are bookable now online on United.com.

You can view a list all of the cities that United serves in Europe on this Wikipedia link. Or view United’s route map here or United’s interactive route map here.

Although the rules say that stopovers are no permitted and that open jaws are only valid for airports in the same region like JFK and EWR I searched for a flight using “multiple destinations” from Los Angeles to NYC for a week and then Newark to Paris and Paris back to Los Angeles and it priced out at just 48,000 miles.

Or from Newark to Zurich for a week and then from London to Los Angeles and finally from LA back to JFK is 48,000 miles as well.

Click on the images below to enlarge and view these examples:

From LAX:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

From NYC:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Rules:
-Book by 11/15/12 at 11:59pm CST
-Travel between 01/15/13-03/13/13
-Valid only on United, not on partner airlines.
-Reduced award mileage prices apply only to travel on United- and United Express®-operated flights. Not applicable on flights operated by other airlines.
-Valid for travel to/from the US48, Alaska and Canada to/from Europe.
-Valid for coach saver award only.
-Stopovers are not permitted.
-Round-trip travel is required.
-This offer cannot be applied to previously issued tickets.

Need United miles?
You can earn them on an United credit card or you can transfer points instantly with no fees from Chase Ultimate Rewards cards including consumer cards like the Freedom Visa, Freedom Mastercard, Sapphire Preferred Visa, Sapphire Non-Preferred Visa, and Sapphire Non-Preferred World Mastercard. They can also be earned from business cards like Ink Bold, Ink Plus, Ink Classic, or Ink Cash.  You or your spouse needs a Sapphire Preferred, Ink Bold, or Ink Plus to actually transfer points to United.

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United Plan B For Business And First Class Awards Still Alive And Well!

Tuesday, September 11th, 2012

Update, 09/11/12: Just wanted to share a success story.  A friend of mine was booked on miles to fly on USAirways to Israel before Yom Kippur.  A few weeks ago I noticed that United opened up saver coach award seats and switched him over (and reported the availability in this DDF thread). After switching him over he told me that he really would like to go in business so I called back, had them deduct 20,000 additional miles from his account as if there was saver business space, and they waitlisted him for BusinessFirst on the same flight on which he was confirmed in coach.
Yesterday United emailed him to tell him that he’s now confirmed in BusinessFirst, not bad for peak holiday travel season!
20K miles to have a lie-flat bed on a a 10+ hour overnight flight? I’d take that in a heartbeat!
Have your own success story? Post a comment!

——————————————————
Originally posted on 08/20/12:

Continental had a policy informally known as “Plan B for BusinessFirst” that was simply awesome.

The way it worked is if you found coach saver award availability you could call them up and request to pay for BusinessFirst and be waitlisted for a BusinessFirst seat. For Newark to Tel Aviv that means paying 120,000 miles instead of 80,000 miles for coach.

A nonstop coach ticket that costs $1,600 for 80,000 miles isn’t a bad deal at about 2 cents per mile, but a BusiniessFirst ticket with a lie-flat bed and upgraded food that normally costs $5,000 for 120,000 miles is a much better deal at a value of over 4 cents per mile.

It’s no secret that Tel Aviv is a very hard award ticket to find nonstop availability for, especially in Business class.  While seats often open up close to the flight, most people like to plan in advance.   There are a smattering of seats available though, and they can be found by searching for nonstop flights between EWR and TLV on United.com

I was curious if the Plan B process still works, so I found award space in November and had United call me up. Most of the reps in this department used to work for Continental so I said straight out that during the Continental days I was able to pay for and be waitlisted for BusinessFirst when there is coach saver availability and was wondering if this is still possible. The agent knew exactly what I was talking about and how to set it up.

After just 5 minutes on the phone and paying 120,000 miles and $45.10 tax I had this all set up for me:

 

 

 

 

 

 

The agent said that this will work for BusinessFirst or Global First awards.

Here’s things to keep in mind:

-This only works on United operated flights, not on partner award flights.

-Be sure to request that the phone booking fee be waived as this can’t be done online.

-The waitlist will keep checking for BusinessFirst awards until 24 hours before the flight.  At that point you will be removed from the waitlist.

-If you have not cleared at 24 hours before the flight you’ll want to go to the airport as soon as you can to be added to the airport upgrade standby list.  It is crucial that you explain to the agent that you a “Displaced BusinessFirst passenger.”  This is true because you have paid the full BusinessFirst rate already.  The agent should give you “PR-1 status” which gives you top-priority status and moves you to very top of the upgrade standby list, ahead of employees and everyone else trying to upgrade with miles+cash.  If one agent won’t put you on the list as a displaced BusinessFirst passenger with PR-1 status then find another one who will.  With this status the odds of you getting into BusinessFirst are very high.

-If the agents in the airport are all clueless you should direct them to look up “gg onestandby” in their system (they’ll know what this is) and look around lines 85-89 which spell out the details of the procedure for this award. (Parenthetically, when trying to get a gate pass to access a club when I’m not flying I sometimes need to tell an agent to look up “gg checkpoint line 53″ which instructs agents to give you a security pass for you and your guests to access post-security United and USAirways clubs even if you aren’t flying.)

-If they need to verify that you are really on a BusinessFirst award then have them call up the reward desk.

-If you do not clear into BusinessFirst just contact United after the flight and they will refund the extra miles you paid for BusinessFirst.  For EWR-TLV this means a refund of the extra 20,000 miles each way they charge to fly in BusinessFirst saver over coach saver.

-If you are on a connecting flight you should be waitlisted for First Class on all of the connecting flights.  Say you are coming from Los Angeles, even if you clear into first class on the LAX-EWR flight, as long as you don’t clear on the international EWR-TLV flight you will still get the 20,000 miles each way refund!

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4 Mile Island Saga Continues…

Thursday, July 19th, 2012

Update, 7:15pm: After greater than 100 hours after ticketing, United has just unilaterally cancelled most people’s upcoming itineraries, violating their own promise to contact all passengers before cancelling any tickets.

Related:
-File a DoT complaint.
-United Refuses To Honor 4 Mile (Hong Kong) Island Awards; At Least 1 DansDeals Forum Member Already Has Flown!
-Award Tickets To Hong Kong For 4 United Miles?

United is in full meltdown mode right now. Here’s a few of my thoughts:

1. By now you’ve probably read about the Hong Kong price mistake it every major news outlet. DDF user “Mordy788″ was even quoted in the Wall Street Journal, though the author neglected to point out that he (along with so many others) learned about the deal on DansDeals. Oh well.
The DoT has came out and said that their new rule that airlines must honor mistake fares does apply to award tickets, but their investigation is still ongoing based on the complaints they have received so far.

2. United has done little up until now to inform people of their decision. They said they would be calling people up but that hasn’t happened as of yet. In fact since the DoT announced that their mistake fare regulation does apply to award tickets we’ve heard nary a word from United. That’s a long time to keep confirmed and ticketed passengers in the dark. Nearly everyone have been able to use the tickets to fly to Hong Kong in first class for just 4 miles so far.

My guess is that United doesn’t want to cancel everyone’s tickets yet lest they be slapped with a $25,000 per ticket fine, so they’ll going to bide their time until the DoT issues a ruling. That’s great news for anyone with a ticket for the near future!

3. DDF user “nd” called United to add an infant to his reservation for his flight today and likely because of that his reservation was cancelled by an agent. They cancelled his ticket unilaterally sometime after he called to add the infant without ever calling him to discuss options as they promised they would. Should’ve taken my lead and booked your infant a ticket for 4 miles as I posted on Sunday!
Rule #1: Don’t call United!

4. DDF user “E” traveled the very same day as the mistake and has returned back home. He has uploaded some pictures from his trip and typed a trip report. Gotta love that Lufthansa 747 First class seat with the full bed next to the seat, such an awesome concept!

The bottom line for him was he booked tickets that would normally cost 440,000 miles for just 8 miles from an account with just 800 miles in them. Nobody ever said a word to him about flying on the 4 mile ticket nor did United ever charge him a single mile.

Are you booked to travel soon? Hit the comments and keep us updated!


Courtesy of DDF user “E”

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United Refuses To Honor 4 Mile (Hong Kong) Island Awards; At Least 1 DansDeals Forum Member Already Has Flown!

Monday, July 16th, 2012

Sorry folks, no party in Hong Kong will be happening like there was in Las Vegas and in the Bahamas in the past when hundreds of DansDeals members nabbed price mistakes for all expenses paid vacations.

“Hi Everyone, over the weekend, we discovered a united.com programming error that allowed customers to obtain Mileage Plus travel awards to and from Hong Kong for as little as four miles roundtrip per person, substantially below published levels, which we disclose to customers. We have since corrected the error and will be in contact with customers who have tickets issued at the incorrect award amounts. Customers will be given the choice to redeem at the correct mileage amount or re-deposit their award with all fees waived. We regret any inconvenience this has caused you, and appreciate your understanding.

Shannon Kelly
Director, Customer Insights
United Airlines”

In other words: Do not pass GO. Do not collect $200.

Feeling bummed?

I’m not going to advise anyone what to do if anything at all, but if you do feel like taking some action I will be happy to inform you of your options. It’s definitely within your rights to file a complaint to the US DOT.  These complaints are big black marks for the airlines and are your way of fighting back should you so desire.  The DOT enforces penalties of up to $27,000 per incident, and says that mistake fares must be honored. United obviously thinks that they will not be found liable under the circumstances for these awards or else they would have honored the tickets.  And of course you can always file a complaint with your state’s attorney general, worst that can happen is that United may throw you a bone to go away.

I’m sure some folks will want to take this nuclear and file a claim in small claims court or maybe even try to create a class-action out of this.  I wish you luck and lots of time to burn as you’ll need both!

So long to my 3 free first class trips we had booked all over the world…I hardly knew ‘ye.  Now I’ll just have to go back to good ole’ reliable card churning to fly around the world in first class for free!

——————————————————

In the “darn it, I wish I was able to just jump on a plane at the drop of a hat” department, a longtime trusted DDF member, “E” (who was the 30th DDF member out of 4,500 members to signup for a free DDF account and whom I had the pleasure of having dinner with at the sadly closed Clubhouse Cafe at a DDF meetup last year) has posted multiple updates from his trip to Hong Kong to DDF.  Sensing opportunity he used an account with just 1,000 miles in it to book a first class flight that left yesterday on Lufthansa via Frankfurt that left with just 3 first class passengers on it (gotta love the First Class Terminal there and the Panamera ride to the plane!) and he is now in Hong Kong and even has his return boarding passes already in hand!

Congrats man!!!

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Have United Elite Status? Match It To American!

Friday, April 27th, 2012

Update: 6:30pm, The program has been pulled due to overwhelming response (from disgruntled United elites), however some AA representatives are still processing status matches. At this point you may have to make a few phone calls until you get a rep to enroll you in the match. Either way this will be dead very soon.

American normally doesn’t match elite status from other airlines. They have a challenge that grants elite status after you pay a fee and complete a flying challenge, but only for Gold or Platinum status

For a limited time they are poaching matching United elites to the following levels:
United Silver=AA Gold
United Gold=AA Platinum
United Platinum=AA Platinum
United 1K=AA Executive Platinum
United Global Services=AA Executive Platinum (or Concierge Key according to some reports)

You can call AA and ask for AAdvantage customer service by calling 800-882-8880. The elite status will be valid until 02/29/13.

Now the challenge lasts for an extra year if you complete it in July or later. Does this mean that if you wait until July do do a status match that the status will last until 02/28/14? Possibly, but then again this is a limited time offer and definitely may be pulled before then.

HT: FT

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Beware The Premier Upgrade List Of United.

Tuesday, April 3rd, 2012

What a mess…and we haven’t even left the ground yet.

As a Premier Platinum member at United I get 2 annual confirmed regional upgrades. As I was booked as part of a party of 4 to LAX, using 2 of those upgrades split us into 2 reservations. Of course I had made sure to have everyone seated in economy plus before splitting anything. The upgrade for the return flight could not be confirmed despite the empty cabin, so that confirmed upgrade is still waitlisted.

Today when I checked in for the flight it added me to the upgrade standby list. It also had the option to rebook everyone left in the reservation on another flight for free. After checking in it split the reservation once again, leaving us with 3 reservations.

Later today we realized that we could actually be ready to fly on the 9pm flight instead of the 9am morning flight. However when I went to change the other passengers it wanted to charge $75 for that change. Additionally it was now showing no free bags for everyone else in the reservation. Back when it was Continental when a reservation was split it remembered the proper baggage allowance (3×70 pound bags for everyone booked with a Star Alliance Gold member), but no longer is that true.

I spent the next 4 hours playing HUCA, or hang up, call again. That included 3 calls back from the electronic support desk, 2 calls to the Platinum desk, of which the Platinum desk punted me to an offshore support desk that kept me on hold for an hour. I heard every excuse in the book:
-I’m right, but there’s nothing that can be done once it’s split, even if I didn’t want it to be split.
-Companions of Platinum members don’t get free confirmed standby.
-Free confirmed standby doesn’t work for flights the day before even if it’s within 24 hours.

Finally I called back the Platinum desk again and got a very kind agent who agreed with me and made the changes on all 3 reservations for free. But she wasn’t able to get economy plus seating for my companions. Which led to another hour long phone call with the electronic support desk to get that fixed again.

At the airport the lead checkin agent said that the new policy is that only one companion of a Star Alliance Gold gets 3 free 70 pound bags, and everyone else had nothing. I pulled on the correct policy from United.com on my Galaxy Nexus, but she still insisted that the United.com policy is outdated, but that she’ll make a one-time exception…

I read that United was having teething pains with the merger with Continental, so I’ll cut them some slack for now. But it’s a full month since the systems merger, I sure hope this gets fixed of they’re going to have a whole lot of defecting elites members.

Wish me luck for the actual trip!

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Don’t Wait On Hold, Have Starwood Or United Call You!

Wednesday, March 14th, 2012

Why wait on hold and try to find your way around a phone tree maze when you can have companies call your phone or talk to you over the web for free?

Click here to have Starwood call you

Click here to have United call you

The United line connects to the old Continental.com support desk, which has very helpful agents who have the ability to waive the phone booking fee for itineraries that can’t be booked online.  Plus there are rarely any hold times!

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The End Of Continental Is Near, Sort Of.

Tuesday, February 21st, 2012

The final flight with a Continental flight number will be Continental 1267 which is scheduled to depart on March 2nd from Phoenix at 11:59pm and arrive in Cleveland at 5:46am.

Saturday March 3rd is the switchover date, and there’s a decent chance it will be a nightmare travel day as the systems are combined and United agents start using the Continental SHARES system.

On March 3rd your Continental OnePass and United MileagePlus accounts will be merged.  The fun part (well, at least for a Continental guy like me) is that everyone’s surviving number will be the Continental 8 digit alphanumeric number.  The United number will be history.  If you only have a United number you’ll be generated an 8 digit alphanumeric number.  So the name United MileagePlus survives, but the Continental number lives on.

If you earned Continental or United elite status in 2010 and didn’t requalify in 2011 that status will expire on March 2nd.

Continental.com will automatically forward to United.com…except that it will look exactly like Continental.com looks like it does now but with the United name and logo (which now has the Continental globe instead of the tulip).  That’s a good thing as Continental.com is far more adept and advanced than United.com.

-If you have miles in your United account transfer them to Continental now. Miles in Continental accounts won’t start expiring until 09/30/13, so you’ll get a nice extension on any possible mileage expiration.

-The Continental OnePass Plus card will be going away, probably on or before March 3rd, so now is the last chance to apply for that card, which along with the United MileagePlus Explorer card can both be matched from 30K up to 50K after you receive the card.
Both cards also give primary rental car insurance (almost all other cards only provide secondary coverage to your own personal car insurance), they make your miles never expire, give free checked luggage and priority boarding, in-flight food, drink, and TV discounts, last seat EasyPass award availability, 2 annual lounge passes, 10K bonus miles for spending $25K annually, upgrades for elite cardholders on award tickets, and double miles for Continental and United purchases.

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Get Free Miles And Prizes From United in Chicago And Washington D.C.!

Wednesday, August 31st, 2011

To celebrate the launch of the United MileagePlus Explorer Card, Chase and United are making Baggage Claim pop-up events where consumers can walk away with MileagePlus bonus miles as well as luxury travel and lifestyle rewards.

The LA and San Fran events are done already, but still upcoming is:
Chicago
Location: Pioneer Court – 401 N.
Aug. 31 – Sept. 1Michigan Ave., Chicago
Time: 11 a.m. – 6 p.m.
Team Visa Olympic athlete on-site: Dan Jansen
September 1: 2 p.m. – 4 p.m.

Washington D.C.
Sept. 19 – Sept. 20
Location: Main Hall at Union Station – 50 Massachusetts Ave. NE, Washington, D.C.
Time: 12 p.m. – 7 p.m.
Team Visa Olympic athlete on-site: Kerri Walsh
September 20: 2 p.m. – 4 p.m.

Every consumer that attends our events will walk away a winner. We’re giving away more than 45 million MileagePlus miles, cameras, eReaders and many other prizes and look forward to our next two United hub cities, Chicago and Washington, D.C.”

Prizes include:
1 Million MileagePlus Bonus Miles
100,000 MileagePlus Bonus Miles
50,000 MileagePlus Bonus Miles
25,000 MileagePlus Bonus Miles
Luxury Hotel & Resort Getaway
Fujifilm DSLR Cameras
$200 Tumi Gift Cards
eReaders

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Chase Launches New United MileagePlus Explorer Card!

Tuesday, July 19th, 2011

United MileagePlus Explorer Visa Linky
Continental OnePassPlus Mastercard Linky

Chase is now synergizing the benefits of the Continental and United cards and has added some great new benefits. If you have an older United card you can call the number on the back of the card to convert it to a MileagePlus Explorer Card. Continental OnePass Plus cardholders will be automatically converted over the the MileagePlus Explorer card next year, but you can also call to convert your card earlier if you so desire, but the benefits are now the same.

This is the last chance you will have to earn the signup bonus on both the Continental and United cards!
Miles can be transferred freely between the Continental and United programs.
With miles from either program you can book travel on any of the dozens of Star Alliance partners. They are both extremely valuable miles and they both can be used for one-way tickets now. However there are still many advantages to Continental miles, so you’ll probably want to transfer your United miles there. See below for a comparison.
Best of all neither program charges any fuel surcharges, something that most other programs can’t say.

For each card you can get 25,000 miles for signing up and making a purchase and 5,000 miles for adding an additional cardholder, so you’ll get a total of 30,000 miles for signing up!
You can add the 2nd user onto the account when applying online.
There is no fee for the first year, the fee is $95 for subsequent years.

Benefits:

-Priority boarding.
Always have room for your carry-ons because you will be able to board in the elite line. On Continental you will board together with elites for now and on United you will board right after elite members and before everyone else.
-First checked bag free.
When flying on United or Continental you will get a free checked bag for yourself and everyone else on your reservation.
You can also add other family members as free secondary users on your account so that they can get free baggage as well when they’re not traveling with you. The fee waiver for secondary users isn’t automatic as it is for the primary cardholder, but you just have to show your card to the ticketing agent and they’ll be able to waive your checked bag fee!
-Miles that never expire.
Currently Continental miles don’t expire but United miles expire after 18 months. It appears in the new program that miles will expire, but if you are a cardholder your miles will not expire!
-Primary Car Rental CDW Insurance.
Most cards have secondary DCW insurance when you rent a car. 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.
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 and Chase will have your back! This primary CDW coverage applies everywhere in the world except in Israel, Jamaica, and Ireland (blame the bad drivers there!)
-United Club passes.
You will get 2 club passes (a $100 value) on every anniversary date of your card.
-Upgrades on Reward tickets for Elite members.
When flying on Continental, elite members can now be upgraded even on a mileage ticket for upgrade eligible flights. This benefit will also be introduced to United flights for 2012.
-Last seat EasyPass availability.
Currently on Continental only elite members can redeem extra miles (typically double) for last-seat availability. This is being introduced on United as well. During peak periods (like for flight to Tel Aviv during the holiday seasons) there may not be availability for non-elites. With this benefit credit card holders will also get last seat easypass availability when they need it.
-Double miles on Continental and United tickets.
-Annual spending threshold bonus.
Get 10,000 additional bonus miles with $25,000 or more in eligible spend each calendar year.
-In-flight Discounts
By having the card you will get a $2 discount off in-flight alcoholic beverages and $2 off in-flight DirecTV service!
-Concierge Service
-Luxury Hotels & Resorts Program
-Cardholders will also be able to use Chase’s new concierge service to book from the “Luxury Hotels and Resorts Collection” When you book through the concierge you will get exclusive benefits, upgrades, and amenities.

The cards also some with ultra-premium benefits and insurances that normally only come with much more expensive cards, including:
-Price protection: If you find an ad, online or in-store, that the price of an item you bought within the past 90 days is lower than what you paid, you can get a refund of up to $500 per item and $1,500 per year!
-Return protection: Return an item up to $300 and up to $1,000 a year within 90 days if the store won’t take it back.
-Free roadside assistance: Up to $50 per event
-Delayed baggage insurance: Up to $300 of essential items covered per ticket.
-Trip delay Insurance: Up to $300 per ticket if your flight is delayed to spend on hotels, cars, etc.
-Trip Cancellation/Interruption Insurance: Up to $1,500 coverage per event.
-Lost or damaged luggage insurance: Up to $3,000 coverage per event
-Travel Accident Insurance: Up to $500,000 per event
-Emergency evacuation, transportation, and medical coverage.
-Extended Warranty Protection: Extra year warranty.
-Purchase protection: If an item you bought within the past 90 days is stolen or damaged or if you have an “involuntary and accidental parting with the item” you can get a refund of up to $10,000 and up to $50,000 per year.
-Ticket Event Protection: If you can’t attend an event ticket for a covered reason you will get a refund of up to $500 per ticket, $2,000 per event, $4,000 annually.
-Identity Theft Protection: $1,000 coverage per stolen identity event.
—————————————————————————————-
Current advantages of Continental miles over United miles:
-Continental has more lenient routing rules (you can go to Australia via Asia for example) on award tickets.
-Continental has no “maximum permitted mileage” policy. If you can find award seats be designing your own roundabout routing it can usually be booked. On United there is a “maximum permitted mileage” policy, although they have just recently been moving towards a more generous policy by allowing people to exceed the maximum permitted mileage by 15%.
-Continental allows free routing changes on award tickets.
-Continental is partners with many non-Star Alliance carriers, like Virgin Atlantic.
-Continental allows for a free stopover and open-jaw on award tickets.
-Continental “Plan B” allows you to book a BusinessFirst award even if there is only coach availability and go on a waitlist and standby for a BusinessFirst seat. If you do not get the BusinessFirst seat (even if you do get a First class seat on the domestic flight) then you will get a refund of the additional miles that you paid for it!
-Continental allows you to book travel on non-Star Alliance partner carriers on the same itinerary and at the same rate as Star Alliance carriers. United has separate award charts for non-Star Alliance partner carriers that make them much more expensive than Star Alliance partners and won’t let you book travel on alliance and non-alliance partners on the same itinerary.
-Continental gives all Elite members significantly expanded coach saver award availability (XN) and coach (YN), first (FN), and businessfirst (FN) last seat standard award availability. Continental also gives Platinum Elite members expanded first and businessfirst (O) saver award availability.
-Continental’s agents are all located in the US. If you aren’t elite on United you will be routed to their offshore agents who can be very hard to understand at times.
-Continental allows you to book many more partner airline flights online than United does, thus avoiding phone booking fees. Although a manager from either airline should be able to waive the fee if you push hard enough due to the fact that it can’t be booked online.
-Continental miles don’t expire. United miles expire after 18 months of not having account activity.
-Continental counts all elite miles towards lifetime million miler status, even if it was flown on a partner airline, purchased on Continental.com, or earned via the Presidential Plus credit card. United only counts miles that were actually earned by flying on a United flight.

Current advantages of United miles over Continental miles:
-United doesn’t charge a fee for changing a booked award flight to a flight within 21 days.
-United offers miles and money options for some flights to stretch your mileage balance with a cash supplement.

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United Airlines Award Chart Changes.

Tuesday, June 14th, 2011

Update: Today is the last day to make bookings under the current award chart for Continental and United!

Originally posted on 03/16:

Related:
-United Visa Signature: Get 30,000 Miles For Signing Up, $50 Cash Back, And First Year Free!

-Get 51,000 AMEX Membership Rewards Points After Spending $1,000 On The AMEX Platinum Charge Card!!!
-Getting To Israel Using AMEX Membership Rewards Points!

-Continental: Take Advantage While You Can…
-Click here to read about and apply for all of the benefits of the Continental OnePass Plus Card

Effective 06/15 there will be changes to the United award chart, which includes the rate charged for redeeming United miles on any of the 27 Star Alliance partner airlines.

If you book travel prior to 06/15 you will be charged the current rate, even if you are traveling after 06/15.

I’m actually surprised that the changes weren’t worse.  With ticket prices skyrocketing it makes mileage tickets even more attractive and valuable.

Important: This does not affect the rates of any other Star Alliance Carrier.  Meaning you can still book travel on United using miles from any other Star Alliance carrier for the same rate.  It’s always worth checking the rates that other carriers change for a mileage ticket as it can be significantly less.  For example transferring AMEX or Starwood points to ANA can make sense in many cases.

I’m sure we will see Continental announce the same changes as well, or else this would be pointless as you can transfer United miles to Continental. And then AA changes won’t be far behind as some of these changes, like for coach travel to Europe and South America, make their award chart underpriced.

Current United Award Chart Linky

06/15 United Award Chart Linky

Here is a summary to the changes made: (These are the rates for one-way travel from/to the US49/Canada made using saver awards.)

Routes that will get cheaper:
US49/Canada under 700 miles: Was 12.5K coach. Now 10K coach.
Europe: Was 52.5K business. Now 50K business.
Japan: Was 62.5K business. Now 60K business.
North and South Asia: Was 62.5K business. Now 60K business.
North and South Asia: Was 72.5K first. Now 70K first.
Oceania (Excluding: Australia/NZ): Was 40K coach. Now 35K coach.
Oceania (Excluding: Australia/NZ): Was 67.5K business. Now 60K business.
Oceania (Excluding: Australia/NZ): Was 80K first. Now 75K first.

Routes that will get more expensive:
Northern South America: Was 17.5K coach. Now 20K coach.
Southern South America: Was 27.5K coach. Now 30K coach.
Europe: Was 27.5K coach. Now 30K coach.
Middle East: Was 37.5K coach. Now 40K coach.
Middle East: Was 57.5K business. Now 60K business.
Middle East: Was 72.5K first. Now 75K first.
Northern Africa: Was 37.5K coach. Now 40K coach.
Northern Africa: Was 57.5K business. Now 60K business.
Northern Africa: Was 72.5K first. Now 75K first.

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Transfer Miles Freely And Elite Status Match Between Continental And United!

Plus Transfer AMEX Points To Either Airline!

Sunday, May 22nd, 2011

Updates:
-If you transfer your United miles to Continental and then back again to United you will extend the expiration date of your miles by 18 months! If you leave them in Continental they currently do not expire at all!
-Continental and United are synergizing many of their policies on 06/15 and some of the advantages of each program listed below may no longer apply after that date.

Originally posted on 03/07:

Related:
-Chase United Visa Signature: Get 30,000 Miles For Spending $1, $50 Cash Back, And First Year Free!
-Chase Continental OnePass Plus Mastercard: Get 30,000 Miles For Spending $1, $50 Cash Back, And First Year Free!
-Chase Sapphire: Get 53,210 Miles For Spending $3,000, And First Year Free!
-Get Your First Year Free, Triple Points On Airfare, And 16,000 AMEX Membership Rewards Points After Spending $1,000 On The American Express® Premier Rewards Gold Card!
-Getting To Israel Using AMEX Membership Rewards Points!
-Continental: Take Advantage While You Can…
-Click here to read about and apply for all of the benefits of the Continental OnePass Plus Card

You can now transfer miles back and forth between your Continental and United mileage accounts!  The names on both account must match exactly.
Want to know more about the differences between the programs? Scroll to the bottom and I’ll highlight some of them.

You can now for a limited time transfer AMEX points into United miles!  Just transfer to Continental and then to United!
AMEX points must be transferred to Continental no later than 09/30/11.

Transfer Miles Linky
If you get an error online you can also call Mileage Plus Customer Service at 800-421-4655 or OnePass customer service at 800-554-5522 to manually make a transfer or request a status match.

-You can transfer miles only once per day, in 1,000-mile increments with a limit of 200,000 miles per transfer. (Smaller amounts of miles can be transferred by calling United or Continental over the phone.)
-You can transfer miles only between accounts in your name.
-If you change your mind, you can wait 24 hours and move the miles back into their original account.
-Transferring miles won’t affect your elite status in either program.
-Transferring miles does not consolidate your accounts.
-You can also leave your miles in both accounts. Your accounts will not be combined until the end of 2011.

You can also match your status and combine elite miles between the 2 programs as well!

Elite Status Match/Transfer Linky
Use your Continental elite mileage number when flying Continental and your United elite mileage number when flying United to maximize upgrade benefits.
-If you’re currently an elite member of one program, we’ll match your status in the other.
-If you qualify for higher elite status or a match to equivalent elite status, please wait 7-10 days for this information to appear in your online account. Your new card will arrive in the mail four to six weeks after we update your status.
-Combine your elite activity to qualify for a higher elite status in both programs.
-When you register, you’ll make a one-time designation of either your Mileage Plus or OnePass account as your primary account for upgrades for the year. This is where the Regional and Systemwide Upgrades you earn in 2011 will be deposited. You can receive these upgrades in one account or the other, but not both.
-Registering does not link or combine your Mileage Plus and OnePass accounts. Your Mileage Plus and OnePass accounts will remain separate throughout 2011.
-Only EQM, EQS or EQP count toward your elite status. Award miles and bonus miles do not qualify.
-Registration is optional. If you do not register, you will continue to earn elite status based on qualifying activity in each separate program.
————————————————————————————————-
Each program’s miles have their own advantages. For now you can take advantage of whichever suits you better by transferring miles back and forth freely!

-Both airlines belong to the Star Alliance, so you can book travel on any of the dozens of Star Alliance airlines with either program’s miles.
-Continental has always allowed you to have a free stopover and an open-jaw. United used to allow only one but they have just recently matched Continental policy and will allow both on an itinerary, so no difference these as well.
-Be sure to compare both charts as there are some differences between rewards in some regions of travel.
Continental Award Chart Linky
Continental Interactive Award Chart Linky
United Star Alliance Award Chart Linky
United Other Partner Awards Linky

Continental OnePass advantages over United Mileage Plus:
1. Continental has more generous routing rules than United. For example Continental will allow you to travel to Australia via Asia, where availability is significantly better. United requires you to fly directly to Australia. In general Continental will allow more roundabout routings which makes finding availability much easier if you know how to search for creative routings.
2. Continental allows you to change award tickets for free if it is done over 21 days before your flight as long as you don’t change the origin or destination city. This includes changing connecting cities. On United a change to a connecting city will incur a $150 charge per ticket.
3. Continental has much lower award fees. Cancellation of an award ticket is just $75 (or significantly less if the miles came from an elite member’s account). United charges double that.
4. Continental Plan B allows you to book a BusinessFirst Saver award ticket even if there is only Coach Saver avaialbility. If BusinessFirst avaialbility opens up you will be automatically moved to BusinessFirst. If you don’t wind up sitting in BusinessFirst you will get a mileage refund. More discussion on this in the DansDeals Forums.
5. Continental has no “maximum permitted mileage” policy. If you can find award seats be designing your own roundabout routing it can usually be booked. On United there is a “maximum permitted mileage” policy, although they have just recently been moving towards a more generous policy by allowing people to exceed the maximum permitted mileage by 15%.
6. Continental allows you to book travel on any Star Alliance or partner airline if they have award avaialbility. United on occasion uses Starnet blocking and won’t let you book partner travel if they don’t feel like it.
7. Continental allows you to book travel on non-Star Alliance partner carriers on the same itinerary and at the same rate as Star Alliance carriers. United has separate award charts for non-Star Alliance partner carriers that make them much more expensive than Star Alliance partners and won’t let you book travel on alliance and non-alliance partners on the same itinerary.
8. Continental’s agents are all located in the US. If you aren’t elite on United you will be routed to their offshore agents who can be very hard to understand at times.
9. Continental charges significantly fewer miles (160K coach/220K business /280K first) for an around-the-world award than United charges (200K coach/300K business /400K first).
10. Continental gives all Elite members significantly expanded coach saver award availability (XN) and coach (YN), first (FN), and businessfirst (FN) last seat standard award availability. Continental also gives Platinum Elite members expanded first and businessfirst (O) saver award availability.
11. Continental allows you to book many more partner airline flights online than United does, thus avoiding phone booking fees. Although a manager from either airline should be able to waive the fee if you push hard enough due to the fact that it can’t be booked online.
12. Continental miles don’t expire. United miles expire after 18 months of not having account activity.
13. Continental counts all elite miles towards lifetime million miler status, even if it was flown on a partner airline, purchased on Continental.com, or earned via the Presidential Plus credit card. United only counts miles that were actually earned by flying on a United flight.

United Mileage Plus advantages over Continental OnePass:
1. United allows you to book one-way travel at half the rate of round-trip travel. (Stopovers aren’t permitted on one-way travel)
2. United doesn’t charge any expedite/close-in fees on award tickets booked within 21 days of travel. Continental charges varying amounts up to $75 for these depending on the elite status of the redeeming member’s account.
3. United offer miles and money options for some flights to stretch your mileage balance with a cash supplement.

Any other advantages/disadvantages that I missed? Hit the comments and I’ll update the post!

HT: David, via the DansDeals Forums and UAInsider via FT

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United Visa Signature: Get 30,000 Miles For Signing Up, $50 Cash Back, And First Year Free!

Thursday, March 3rd, 2011

Related:
Continental: Take Advantage While You Can…
Click here to read all of the benefits of the Continental OnePass Plus Card

United Visa Signature Linky

-Limited Time Offer:
-Get 25,000 miles for signing up and making your first purchase.
-Earn 5,000 additional miles when you add an authorized user. You can do this when you apply for the card, giving you 30,000 miles!
-Receive a $50 statement cashback credit after your first purchase
-No Annual Fee for the First Year, a $60 value.
-Earn 1 mile per $1 spent on all purchases you make with your card with no limit to the miles you may earn
-Receive a one-way upgrade certificate and a $25 travel certificate after your first purchase

United allows you to redeem for one-way award tickets at half the rate of round-trip awards, so a one-way domestic ticket is 12,500 miles and a one-way ticket to Israel would be 37,500 miles. United also doesn’t charge award expedite/close-in fees!

Sometime this year you will be able to transfer your United miles to Continental and Continental miles to United. The program will them be merged and all miles will be combined into the new program.
All elite miles earned on United and Continental this year will be combined as well at the end of the year. Lifetime flown miles will also be combined!

AMEX Membership Rewards points will no longer transfer to Continental after 09/30/11, so be sure to stock up on Continental and United miles wherever you can!

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Students: Save $40-$80 On United Tickets!

Thursday, December 9th, 2010

StudentUniverse is offering $40 off United flights booked today for travel by 12/18.

You can use the coupon on one-way flights, so you can save $80 on a round-trip!

You need a .edu email address to purchase tickets.

Use the following code on the final checkout page: United40

HT: FT

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