Category Archive for 'United'

United: Discounted Awards To Brazil And Chile

Wednesday, August 19th, 2015

-Bookable on United.com

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Tuesday, August 18th, 2015

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

The email said,

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

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

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

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

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

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

Same things goes for Club members/United Club cardholders.

So what is being changed?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Sunday, August 16th, 2015

Update: DEAD!

American Express is a DansDeals.com advertiser.
Earn 3 points per dollar on airfare with the AMEX Premier Rewards Gold Card or the AMEX Business Gold Rewards Card.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

HT: CRONY, via DDF and TFD

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

Monday, August 10th, 2015

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

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

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

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

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

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

HT: ar, via DDF

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The Tax Consequences Of Helping United Fix Bugs On Their Site

Thursday, August 6th, 2015

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Wednesday, August 5th, 2015

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Let’s make ourselves heard:

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

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

And ask them:

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

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

In addition you can favorite and Retweet this:

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

Monday, August 3rd, 2015

American Express is a DansDeals.com advertiser.
Earn 3 points per dollar on airfare with the AMEX Premier Rewards Gold Card or the AMEX Business Gold Rewards Card.

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

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

Flights connect in Chicago.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Thursday, July 30th, 2015

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

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

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Originally posted on 07/29:

American Express is a DansDeals.com advertiser.
Earn 3 points per dollar on airfare with the AMEX Premier Rewards Gold Card or the AMEX Business Gold Rewards Card.

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

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

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

Flights connect in Chicago.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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United: Chicago To/From Baltimore, Boston, Fort Lauderdale, LaGuardia, Los Angeles, Miami, Or Philadelphia From $40.10 Each Way

Wednesday, July 29th, 2015

American Express is a DansDeals.com advertiser.
Earn 3 points per dollar on airfare with the AMEX Premier Rewards Gold Card or the AMEX Business Gold Rewards Card.

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

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

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

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

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

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Have A United Flight Today? Reschedule For Free!

Wednesday, July 8th, 2015

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

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

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

Click here to have United call you.

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20%-25% Off United Awards To Hawaii

Monday, July 6th, 2015

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

HT: ah, via DDF

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

Friday, June 26th, 2015

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

Grab a seat while it lasts!

HT: 12HRS, via DDF and TPG

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

Tuesday, June 16th, 2015

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

HT: mocha, via DDF

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Brussels Airlines Awards Are Bookable On United.com Once Again

Monday, June 15th, 2015

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Tuesday, May 12th, 2015

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Monday, May 11th, 2015

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

Finally last week United’s Flyertalk liaison responded,

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

The data doesn’t lie. Smisek does.

 

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Chase United Explorer: 50,000 Miles For Spending $3,000 Plus 5,000 More Miles For Adding An Additional User

Wednesday, April 29th, 2015

Currently posting from Palau, follow the trip on Instagram!

The Chase United 50K+5K signup bonus has long been a targeted offer (and also available for matching via a secure message request) but is now available publicly once again. The $95 annual fee is waived for the first year.

You’ll earn 50,000 bonus miles for spending $3,000 within 3 months and an additional 5,000 miles for adding a free additional user card and making a purchase within 3 months.

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

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

A short-haul United domestic award under 700 miles in distance is just 10,000 miles.  That’s a lot more than the BA 4.5K short-haul, but it allow for a longer distance and you are allowed to have connections for the same rate, something that BA doesn’t allow.  And if you’ve been to a DD Seminar you know how to maximize that!

A round-trip ticket to 2 European or South American cities is just 60,000 miles round-trip thanks to a free stopover.  You’re even allowed a free open jaw on the same itinerary as a free stopover to really maximize your travel.

A ticket to Israel is 85K miles round-trip, though a flight to Israel and Japan for example is just 75K miles. More on hacks like that in this post and at DD seminars 😉

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

The United card is easily my favorite of all of the airline cards:

-It is the only card that gives expanded award ticket availability. Cardholders have access to expanded saver coach award availability (XN class), last seat standard coach award availability (YN class), and last seat standard business/first class award availability (JN class).

-You can read about examples of expanded availability in this post.
-You can learn more about searching for those classes in expert mode in this post.

-As you have better access to saver coach awards you’ll also have better ability to do Plan B awards. Plan B allows you to redeem for saver business and first class awards when there’s only saver coach available. Read more about Plan B in this post.

No airline besides United offers a Plan B redemption.

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

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

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

-The United Explorer card gives a 10K mileage bonus every year in which you spend $25K.  That means you’ll earn at least 1.4 miles per dollar spent everywhere if you spend $25K in a year. Spending $25K in a year also waives the requirement to spend $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.

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

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

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

United has 36 partner airlines which means lots of award opportunities. However not all of them are currently bookable online, you’ll have to call (or use the Aeroplan or ANA sites) to get the full picture:

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

Brussels is an excellent option for Israel flights with great award availability, but you usually won’t find those flights on United.com.

And here’s the list of partners currently 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
-LOT Polish
-Lufthansa
-Scandinavian Airlines
-Shenzhen Airlines
-Silver Airways
-South African Airways
-Swiss International Airlines
-TAP Portugal
-THAI
-Turkish Airlines

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“Hacking” United’s Mobile Site To Find Out If Your Plane Will Have Wi-Fi, DirecTV, And Other Amenities

Wednesday, April 22nd, 2015

Related post: The Ultimate Hawaii Mileage Award Chart And Everything You Need To Know About The Hawaiian Islands
Related United “hacks”:
United Plan B: Pretty Much The Most Awesome, Underutilized, And Underappreciated Thing Ever.
How To Use And Decrypt United’s Powerful Expert Mode
-United.com’s “Remember Me” Blocks Expanded Saver Award Availability That Cardholders/Elites Have Access To.

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United has great close-in award availability in lie-flat first class seats on their 11 hour nonstop flight to Newark to Honolulu:

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Of course you’re a DansDeals reader, so you’ve studied the ultimate Hawaii award chart and know that the best way to get there in first class is with 30,000 Singapore miles. No close-in fees, just $20 to make a date change or $30 to redeposit your miles. And you can transfer AMEX, Chase, Citi, or Starwood points over to Singapore.

And what better time to fly off to paradise than now?

But 11 hours without internet? There’s nothing better than 25 hours of shabbos where you spend quality offline time with the family, but when stuck in a metal tube, that can be considered a form of 21st century torture.

The only question is do you fly Thursday or Sunday?

Alas United.com won’t let you check the flight details and amenities for a flight more than 2 days in advance, so it makes things hard to compare :

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You jump over to the unofficial United fleet site and confirm that while most of the 767-400s (764) that operates the route do have WiFi, there’s a couple pesky ones flying around that still don’t.

United’s mobile site can be accessed at mobile.united.com.  So you click flight status and check for flights from EWR to HNL tomorrow, select the nonstop, click on amenities, and then in-flight entertainment.

No-mention of WiFi:

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And just to confirm things you double-check the exact aircraft, #3065:

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Which indeed has no Wi-Fi:

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So, Thursday is out.  But how about Sunday?

Here is the URL that you will have at the top of your screen after clicking on amenities for that flight.

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All you need to do is manually change the URL to the date you want, here’s the link to the page for 04/26.

And sure enough it has Wi-Fi:

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And just to be double-sure, you confirm that aircraft 3066 does have Wi-Fi on the fleet site.
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Who knows…maybe you’ll even bump into someone hopping onto the wackiest trip you’ll ever hear about?

Of course the aircraft is subject to change, so it does pay to watch it, after all it’s just $20 to change the date on your award ticket.  United’s mobile site and app also provide excellent info on incoming aircraft so you know about any changes or delays before they’re even posted for your flight.

This same system will work to see if your aircraft has DirecTV, lie-flat seats, in-flight power, etc.

This won’t work for flights too far in advance as they don’t have a specific aircraft assigned to them yet, but it’s dead useful in situations like this.

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United: Washington DC-Tel Aviv Via Newark For $692.96 Round-Trip

Monday, April 20th, 2015

American Express is a DansDeals.com advertiser.

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

Bookable on Priceline. Priceline tickets are refundable until 11:29pm ET the day after purchase. Just click on “view full itinerary” in your email confirmation and then click on cancel flights.

FAQ:
-Flights can originate from DCA or IAD and connect in Newark.
-Not valid for travel originating in Tel Aviv.
-You can’t skip the first DCA/IAD-Newark leg or else the rest of the ticket will be cancelled.
-You can use 4.5K BA Avios to fly from JFK or LGA to DCA or IAD or 10K United miles to fly from EWR or LGA to DCA or IAD to pick up the first flight.
-You can skip the final segment from Newark to DCA or IAD even if you check luggage as all bags must be claimed in Newark and brought past customs. You can recheck your bags at that point or just leave the airport.
-It is possible to book a multi-city from Newark-Tel Aviv-Newark-Washington DC for about $850 where you can effectively travel nonstop from NYC to Tel Aviv by just not flying on the final segment from Newark to Washington DC.
-Limited seats are available on each date. Always search for 1 seat and then work your way up to the number of seats you need in order to book as many seats on sale as you can.
-Below are all valid travel dates for this sale. This sale is valid for travel in 2016 only.

Valid Washington DC-Tel Aviv outbound travel dates:
January 16, 17, 20, 21, 22, 23, 24, 25, 26, 27, 28, 29, 30, 31
February 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 12, 13, 14, 15, 19, 20, 21

Valid Tel Aviv-Washington DC return travel dates:
January 23, 24, 25, 26, 27, 28, 29, 30, 31
February 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 14, 15, 16, 17, 19, 21, 22, 23, 24, 25, 28, 29
March 1, 2, 6, 7

HT: Einstein, via DDF and TFD

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United: Discounted Awards To Hawaii, Brazil, And Chile

Monday, March 30th, 2015

Bookable on United.com

-Award travel on United from the US49/Canada to Hawaii is normally 45K miles round-trip.
With this discount it will be 36K miles if both dates fall within the promotion or 40.5K miles if one date falls within the promotion.
-Book by 04/19
-Travel on Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, or Thursday.
-Travel between 04/14-05/19
-Travel only valid on United and in coach.

In other words even if you travel one-way on a Sunday or before or after the promotion ends you can still get the discounted 40.5K rate if one-way falls within the promo rules.

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

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-Award travel on United from the US49/Canada to Brazil or Chile is normally 60K miles round-trip.
With this discount it will be 45K miles if both dates fall within the promotion or 52.5K miles if one date falls within the promotion.
-Book by 04/26
-Travel between now and 06/25
-Travel only valid on United and in coach. This effectively limits the promotion for travel to Santiago, Sao Paulo, or Rio de Janeiro.

In other words even if you travel one-way before or after the promotion ends you can still get the discounted 52.5K rate if one-way falls within the promo rules.

Sao Paulo and Rio both have great kosher restaurant options. Rio is one of the most beautiful cities in the world. From Sao Paulo you can fly to Iguazu Falls for just 4.5K BA Avios to experience the most awe-inspiring waterfalls in the world.

From Santiago you can hop over to Easter Island for 12.5K BA Avios in coach or 25K in business on LAN, though you may have to call BA to get that booked. LAN even continues on from Easter Island to Papeete, home base for the stunning islands of Moorea and Bora Bora, for another 12.5K Avios.

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

-The Chase BA card offers 50K Avios for signing up with the annual fee waived for the first year for a limited time.
-The Chase United card offers 35,000 miles for signing up and adding a free additional user with the annual fee waived for the first year. The United card also offers significantly expanded saver award availability, priority boarding, and free checked baggage.

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It’s Back: Discounted United Partner Business Awards To Europe And Asia

Saturday, February 28th, 2015

Update 2, 02/28: This offer officially must be booked by tonight, 02/28.

I think United is realizing that they overpriced some of the partner award rates during their devaluation last year, so I won’t be surprised to see this sale return again.

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Update, 02/05: We’ve seen this offer come and go since last year without any official announcement, but United has finally made it official and published this list of 10 zones with discounted partner award pricing.

They’ve also published an end date. You have to ticket your award by 02/28/15.

While it says that previously booked travel isn’t eligible for a refund, people have reported success calling to have it repriced and have had miles refunded without paying any fee!

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Originally posted on 02/01:

These discounted partner awards were previously only valid until 03/31/15. They were bookable in December and the first half of January before they stopped working.

Apparently must have been happy with the results as they are back and can be booked for travel all the way through 12/31/15!

Discounted awards:

1. Fly one-way between the US and Europe on a partner airline in business class for the United rate of 57.5K (normally 70K)
2. Fly one-way between the US and Central Asia on a partner airline in business class for the United rate of 70K (normally 80K)
3. Fly one-way between the US and North Asia on a partner airline in business class for the United rate of 70K (normally 80K)
4. Fly one-way between the US and South Asia on a partner airline in business class for the United rate of 70K (normally 80K)
5. Fly one-way between Europe and the Middle East on a partner airline in business class for the United rate of 35K (normally 45K)

See the full details after the jump:

(more…)

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A Peek At The New United.com

Friday, February 13th, 2015

United is redesigning their website. Until now they’ve been using Continental’s circa-2006 site, which is functional if not a bit dated.

See a sneak peek of what’s coming after the jump:

(more…)

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On Married Segments And Expanded Award Availability

Wednesday, February 4th, 2015

Married segments are one of the most complicated topics in air travel.

In short, every flight has an alphabet soup of available paid and award fare classes. I’ve written about them in this United.com Expert mode post. You’ll want to read that post before reading further.

When you join 2 segments together sometimes the married segments will have more availability in lower classes. And sometimes the opposite occurs.

For a paid flight that means that 2 individual flight segments may have availability in an inexpensive “G” class, but if you put those 2 segments together onto 1 itinerary it may only be available in a more expensive “S” fare class.  Other times 2 individual flight segments may only have availability in expensive fare classes, but when you put them together both segments are available in an inexpensive fare class.

The same applies on award tickets.

A few months ago I helped my parents book their first ever major trip without the kids for their 31st anniversary. They used their miles to fly first class in Singapore suites to Paris (57K AMEX points), first class on Cathay Pacific to Hong Kong and Beijing (70K AA miles), business class on El Al to Israel (30K AA miles), and first class on BA back home (90K AA miles).

One of the issues I encountered was with married segments. While some nonstop segments didn’t show first class award availability, they were available by booking that nonstop flight when adding a leg to somewhere else.  The married segments had award availability, but those same flights individually didn’t have award space.  In essence it’s a hidden-city ticket, except that you can hold an award and just chop off the extra leg afterwards.

On their award I also ran into the opposite problem, when 2 individual flights had award space, but when combined into one itinerary there was nothing that could be done to book it.

And now I’m encountering this domestically. I was looking for award tickets from Cleveland to Kansas City. In the past this was a gimme, I was always able to book a 10K United nonstop short-haul award.
Alas that flight no longer exists, which means we’ll have to connect in Chicago.

 

In order to search the most possibilities I did a one-way search using the United.com advanced search page and changing the displayed results to 50:

 

mci13

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

United.com shows there is no saver award space on the 3:34pm-6:45pm flight from CLE to MCI:

 

mci7

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

So as I always advise, I broke the trip down further and searched for CLE-ORD and ORD-MCI separately.

Lo and behold both of those flight segments showed saver coach award space:

 

CLE-ORD:

mci9

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

ORD-MCI:

mci8

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

So I fired up the expert mode results and they confirmed that the award calendar wasn’t mistaken.  There were no X or XN saver award space when those flights are combined:

 

mci10

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

However the CLE-ORD flight had at least 9 saver award seats in X/XN class:

 

mci11

 

 

 

 

 

 

The ORD-MCI segment showed 3 XN saver award seats:

 

mci12

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Of course you don’t want to book those segments separately as you would pay 20K instead of 10K miles.

So I figured I’d outsmart United.com and use the multiple destination award search and force those 2 segments onto 1 itinerary.

It did everything as I hoped it would until the final page. Then after clicking purchase I got this lovely screen:

 

mcierror

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

OK, so that has to be isolated, right?

Let’s just try the next day.

Nada for CLE-MCI:

 

mci3

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Plenty of CLE-ORD space:

 

mci1

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

And a flight from ORD-MCI:

 

mci2

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Same story. Verified the results in expert mode, when those segments are married the award space disappears.

Tried to book via multiple destinations and got the error after clicking purchase.

So I booked the CLE-ORD flight that I wanted and a ORD-MCI flight that had a very long stopover on United.com. Then I used the invaluable United.com callback line to see what they could do about getting me on a better flight.

At first the agent claimed that there was nothing available, but she had patience and saw that both flights individually has saver award space.  From there she tried putting it together but kept getting blocked.

She was ready to give up and I pushed once more and she put me on hold. When she came back she said she had gone into another system to string the flights together and it worked!

Find more examples of this happening? Hit the comments!

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Can’t Find Saver Award Availability? There’s One Must-Have Credit Card That Can Help You Out

Sunday, January 11th, 2015

The Chase United MileagePlus Explorer Visa is the only card that gives expanded award availability. As long as there is 1 seat on the plane you can redeem standard level miles for it.

But more important than that is the incredible amount of additional saver award space it gives you access to.

While throwing together the Chicago DDF DO last week I found a flight option for AJK from NYC using 10K United miles (the 7.5K Avios flight options didn’t work for him)

Alas he had just cancelled both his and his wife’s consumer and business United cards. And the flight I found only had saver award availability for cardholders.

The United card is crucial for anyone who collects United miles.  If you have elite status you can only get elite upgrades on award tickets if you have a United card.  If you don’t have elite status then the expanded award availability alone makes the card an absolute must.

While the card doesn’t directly help with business class saver award availability (only Platinum, 1K, or GS status helps for that), it does make Plan B business class saver award availability easier as that award requires there to be coach saver availability. Read more about Plan B here.

So, just how much extra saver award availability is there?

Below is a look at the saver award space for 2 popular routes through March (Saver awards typically become available within a couple months of the flight).  Flight results are shown from one flight on the date listed.

For example on March 22nd United is willing to sell a cardholder up to 9 coach saver award seats for 42.5K miles but there are no saver awards available for non-cardholders, so they would have to swing for the 85K standard level award. Cardholders can redeem those saver award seats for anyone, even if they don’t have a United card.  Additionally United will be willing to sell a cardholder a 70K Plan B business class award but would not sell that award to a non-cardholder as there would be no saver award space to book at all.

Availability for a cardholder:

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Availability for a non-cardholder:

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(Want to learn how you can see how many seats are bookable for cardholders and non-cardholders on United.com? I explained it all on this post about United.com Expert Mode)

Note that saver award availability is very fluid, the results below are accurate as of 12:30am this morning.

Newark-Tel Aviv (Number of available saver award seats):
01/12: Cardholders: 8, Non-cardholders: 6
01/18: Cardholders: 3, Non-cardholders: 0
01/23: Cardholders: 9, Non-cardholders: 5
01/24: Cardholders: 9, Non-cardholders: 7
01/27: Cardholders: 4, Non-cardholders: 0
01/29: Cardholders: 7, Non-cardholders: 0
02/02: Cardholders: 9, Non-cardholders: 0
02/03: Cardholders: 9, Non-cardholders: 0
02/05: Cardholders: 9, Non-cardholders: 6
02/05: Cardholders: 2, Non-cardholders: 0
02/09: Cardholders: 9, Non-cardholders: 3
02/10: Cardholders: 4, Non-cardholders: 0
02/15: Cardholders: 9, Non-cardholders: 3
02/17: Cardholders: 9, Non-cardholders: 4
02/18: Cardholders: 8, Non-cardholders: 0
02/19: Cardholders: 6, Non-cardholders: 0
02/20: Cardholders: 7, Non-cardholders: 0
02/21: Cardholders: 6, Non-cardholders: 0
02/23: Cardholders: 9, Non-cardholders: 6
02/24: Cardholders: 6, Non-cardholders: 0
02/25: Cardholders: 9, Non-cardholders: 0
02/28: Cardholders: 9, Non-cardholders: 0
03/01: Cardholders: 3, Non-cardholders: 0
03/02: Cardholders: 9, Non-cardholders: 0
03/03: Cardholders: 9, Non-cardholders: 0
03/04: Cardholders: 9, Non-cardholders: 0
03/09: Cardholders: 2, Non-cardholders: 0
03/17: Cardholders: 9, Non-cardholders: 0
03/22: Cardholders: 9, Non-cardholders: 0

JFK-Los Angeles (Number of available saver award seats):
01/12: Cardholders: 6, Non-cardholders: 4
01/13: Cardholders: 8, Non-cardholders: 6
01/14: Cardholders: 5, Non-cardholders: 3
01/17: Cardholders: 4, Non-cardholders: 0
01/18: Cardholders: 2, Non-cardholders: 0
01/20: Cardholders: 3, Non-cardholders: 0
01/21: Cardholders: 6, Non-cardholders: 2
01/22: Cardholders: 4, Non-cardholders: 0
01/23: Cardholders: 9, Non-cardholders: 5
01/24: Cardholders: 9, Non-cardholders: 5
01/29: Cardholders: 9, Non-cardholders: 3
02/01: Cardholders: 8, Non-cardholders: 1
02/05: Cardholders: 9, Non-cardholders: 4
02/06: Cardholders: 9, Non-cardholders: 5
02/11: Cardholders: 5, Non-cardholders: 0
02/19: Cardholders: 9, Non-cardholders: 6
02/20: Cardholders: 9, Non-cardholders: 2
02/21: Cardholders: 9, Non-cardholders: 1
02/25: Cardholders: 9, Non-cardholders: 7
02/26: Cardholders: 9, Non-cardholders: 0
02/27: Cardholders: 9, Non-cardholders: 1
02/28: Cardholders: 9, Non-cardholders: 4
03/01: Cardholders: 7, Non-cardholders: 0
03/05: Cardholders: 9, Non-cardholders: 0
03/06: Cardholders: 4, Non-cardholders: 0
03/12: Cardholders: 9, Non-cardholders: 0
03/16: Cardholders: 9, Non-cardholders: 1
03/18: Cardholders: 9, Non-cardholders: 2
03/23: Cardholders: 9, Non-cardholders: 7
03/30: Cardholders: 9, Non-cardholders: 1
03/31: Cardholders: 9, Non-cardholders: 0

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. Never use the United.com remember me option when logging in.

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:
ua1

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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:

 

ua2

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

If you have a United card but don’t see the non-expiring message just add the card to your United.com account here and it should be linked within 48 hours.

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 and the expanded award space, there are other really nice benefits of the Explorer card:
-Primary CDW insurance in every country in the world.
-First checked bag free.
-Priority boarding so that you’ll have space for your carry-ons.
-No foreign transaction fees.
-2 free transferable United lounge 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 $3K on United flights to get Silver status, $6K on United flights to get Gold status, and $9K on United flights to get Platinum status. You only need to fly the 25K, 50K, or 75K miles like in the good old days.
-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 which also qualifies for expanded saver award space. 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 right side of the Explorer card link.

The Explorer business, Club, and the now defunct Presidential Plus card also give expanded saver award availability.

——————————————————————————-

Other Chase cards you can apply for at the same time include the Chase British Airways (50K signup points, 1.25 Avios per dollar, an annual companion award ticket if you spend $30K+ in a year and the annual fee is waived for a limited time only), the Chase Freedom (which has no annual fee, gives 5 points per dollar in rotating categories, and 10% bonus points in 2015 if you have a Chase checking account), the Chase Sapphire Preferred (40K signup points plus another 5K points for adding a free additional user, no fee the first year, free primary car rental insurance including in the US and Israel, plus 2-2.14 points per dollar on travel and dining with no Foreign Exchange fees), the Chase Marriott (with 50K signup points plus a free night upon signup and a free night every subsequent year upon renewal),the Chase Ink Plus (50K signup points, 5 points per dollar on telecom/office supplies, 2 points per dollar on hotels and gas) and the Chase Ink Cash (which has no annual fee and gives 5 points per dollar on telecom/office supplies and 2 points per dollar on dining and gas).

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United: Discounted Coach Awards Within North America And To Japan, Discounted Business Class Awards To Europe, Middle East, And Asia!

Sunday, December 28th, 2014

Update: Discounted awards between the US and Japan and between Europe abd the Middle East have been added.

—————————————————————————————-

Originally posted on 12/09:

Roundup of current United discounted awards (Travel valid from any city in the US48)

1. Fly round-trip to select destinations within the US in coach for 20K miles (normally 25K)
2. Fly round-trip to Hawaii in coach for 36K miles (normally 45K)
3. Fly round-trip to Canada in coach for 20K miles (normally 25K)
4. Fly round-trip to Mexico in coach for 28K miles (normally 35K)
5. Fly one-way to Europe on a partner airline in business class for the United rate of 57.5K (normally 70K)
6. Fly one-way to Central Asia on a partner airline in business class for the United rate of 70K (normally 80K)
7. Fly one-way between Europe and the Middle East on a partner airline in business class for the United rate of 35K (normally 45K)
8. Fly round-trip between the US49/Canada and Japan in coach for 56K miles (normally 70K)

See the full details after the jump:

(more…)

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JetBlue: Cleveland-Boston For $38 Round-Trip!

Tuesday, December 9th, 2014

Yes, Clevelanders you read that right. JetBlue is finally making its way to C-Town.

JetBlue is joining the low-cost carrier parade that arrived in Cleveland with the United dehubbing and is launching twice daily service from Cleveland to Boston effective 04/30/15.

As an intro rate for tickets purchased today, you can fly between Cleveland and Boston on Tuesday, Wednesdays, and Satudays between 04/30-06/17 for just $19 each way!

Dave Clark, VP of JetBlue network planning said, “We consider this to be our first route in Cleveland. We’ve started with Boston. We certainly have other plans for Cleveland in mind.”

That makes it sound like Fort Lauderdale and JFK may be in the cards, though both of those have tough competition from Cleveland. United recently announced that they’re ceding the Fort Lauderdale route to Frontier and Spirit. And NYC is already served 27 times daily from Northeast Ohio.

Boston is served 4 times daily from Cleveland by United and daily by Southwest from nearby Akron/Canton. It will be interesting to watch if United fights back or raises the white flag as they did last week to Dallas, Fort Lauderdale, Fort Myers, and Tampa. I’d guess they pull the route within a year.

HT: Sam K.

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United: Fly Partner Airlines In Business Class To Europe For 115K Round-Trip

Friday, December 5th, 2014

Update: A list of all 7 discounted United awards can be found in this post.

——————————————————————————-

I don’t know if this is a glitch or a promotion, but partner airline award flights are showing up on United.com for 57.5K miles each way instead of the 70K miles each way that it normally costs for a partner airline saver business award to Europe.

Of course you can always fly United business class for 115K round-trip, but it’s usually 140K round-trip to fly superior business class cabins on partner airlines, so this is a 25K mile discount per person for travel on partner airlines.

It’s only pricing that way for travel in January, February, or March and there’s no telling when it will be fixed or when the promotion will end.

As best as I can tell this is only working for flights to Europe.  Though you can always use 10K BA Avios to fly from Vienna, Berlin, Munich, or Dusseldorf to Tel Aviv.

United miles can be earned on cards like the  Chase United Explorer, Chase Freedom , Chase Sapphire Preferred , Chase Ink Cash , and Chase Ink Plus.

Sample uses:

Toronto to Paris on an Air Canada Dreamliner:

ua7

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

NYC to Paris via Toronto on an Air Canada Dreamliner:

ua8

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Boston-Zurich on Swiss:

ua3

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

NYC-Frankfurt on Lufthansa:

ua2

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

NYC-Vienna on Austrian:

ua1

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Chicago-Copenhagen on SAS:

ua6

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

NYC-Warsaw on a LOT Dreamliner:

ua5

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

NYC-Lisbon on TAP:

ua4

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

HT: Dav, via DDF

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United: Newark To Tel Aviv Nonstop For $798 Round-Trip

Sunday, November 30th, 2014

Related: Roundup Of Valid Dates For Nonstop El Al Flights From NYC To Tel Aviv For $798 Or Los Angeles To Tel Aviv For $1,048
———————————————————————–
-Earn 2-2.14 points per dollar and get free insurance for trip cancellation, trip interruption, trip delay, lost luggage, delayed luggage, and travel accident with Chase Sapphire Preferred.

Bookable on Priceline. Priceline tickets from the USA are refundable until 11:30pm ET the day after purchase.
And Bookable on Orbitz. Orbitz tickets from the USA are refundable until 11pm ET the day after purchase.

-Prices are valid for flight departing from the USA only.

-Delta has not yet matched, but I would expect them to shortly.

-Flights flown in January or February will earn full 11,384 flown miles on United.  After February you can credit these flights to Singapore for full flown mileage credit.  Flights in March and onward credited to United will only earn 5 times the base fare, which in this case is $709 round-trip x 5=3,545 miles or 1,773 miles one-way.

Note that even if Delta matches, they switch to a revenue based program on January 1st, so you would only earn 3,545 miles with them.

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

Newark-Tel Aviv valid outbound dates:
January 19, 23, 26, 27, 28
February 1, 2, 3, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 15, 16, 17, 18, 19, 21, 22, 23, 24, 25

Tel Aviv-Newark valid return dates:
January 26, 27, 28, 29, 30, 31
February 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14, 16, 17, 18, 19, 20, 21, 23, 24, 25, 27, 28
March 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 10, 13
April 4, 9, 17, 18, 19
May 2, 12, 15

HT: Moishebatchy

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Chase United Mall Lounges Are Back

Monday, November 24th, 2014

Update: The mall lounges are now open.
Please write about your experience if you check one out or if you trade toys for airport club passes!

Originally posted on 11/11.
—————————————–

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

-NJ location: The Mall at Short Hills, located on the first floor next to Macy’s and adjacent to Guest Services. November 22 – December 24, 11:00 am until mall closing.
-SF location: The Westfield San Francisco Centre, Dome level near Bloomingdale’s. November 24 – December 24, 11:00 am until mall closing.

-The VIP Lounge is open to all Chase United Credit Card members and features complimentary gift-wrapping, coat and bag check, and snacks and beverages, including fresh baked goods, packaged snacks, soda, bottled water, and coffee, plus café-style seating and flat screen TVs.
-Football Sundays: Check out live game-day action every Sunday. All TVs in the VIP Lounge will be tuned to local and national pro football games on Sundays.
-Toys for Tots Tuesdays: Cardmembers may bring a new, unwrapped toy in its original packaging, on the following Tuesdays, December 2nd, December 9th and December 16th and you will receive one United Club pass. Bring two toys and receive two United Club passes. Minimum retail value of the toy must be $15.

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

It’s obviously not worth getting a United Explorer card for a mall lounge but there are some really nice perks of the card besides for the signup bonus (30K for spending $1,000 and 5K for adding an additional user):

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

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

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

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

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

-The United Explorer card gives a 10K mileage bonus every year in which you spend $25K.  That means you’ll earn at least 1.4 miles per dollar spent everywhere if you spend $25K in a year. Spending $25K in a year also waives the requirement to spend $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.

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

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

Plus United is the only airline that assigns elite benefits to people that you redeem awards for.  That means people you book for have access to benefits like Economy Plus, lounge access, and more.

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

HT: Marco Polo, via DDF

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

Wednesday, November 12th, 2014

United Offer Linky

These are bookable now online on United.com.

Not the most exciting sale as it’s only valid on United and only in coach.  After all you can use 38,000 ANA miles (transferable from AMEX or Starwood) for a round-trip United flight from Newark-London.  But this might be useful for some.

-You can book a round-trip or an open jaw with the discounted rates.
Examples of an “open jaw” include a flight from Newark to London on 01/19 and then back from Paris to Newark on 01/26 is 48,000 miles plus $89.60 tax.
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 $60.70 tax.

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

Rules:
-Fly to Amsterdam (AMS), Brussels (BRU), Frankfurt (FRA), Geneva (GVA), Hamburg (HAM), London (LHR), Munich (MUC), Paris (CDG) and Zurich (ZRH).
-Book by 12/04/14
-Travel 01/12/15-03/12/15
-Discount is valid only for travel on Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday. It is not valid for travel on Friday, Saturday or Sunday.
-Discounted Saver Award is valid only for travel between the U.S. (excluding Hawaii) or Canada, and Europe.
-Valid only on United, not on partner airlines.
-Valid for travel to/from the US48, Alaska and Canada to/from Europe.
-Valid for coach saver award only.
-Stopovers are not permitted.
-Round-trip travel is required.
-This offer cannot be applied to previously issued tickets.

HT: menachem_m, via DDF

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LOT Polish Awards Bookable Once Again On United.com, Availability From NYC To Tel Aviv Is Excellent!

Tuesday, September 30th, 2014

LOT Polish awards haven’t been bookable on United.com for quite some time.

For more advanced award hackers that has been a blessing in disguise. It meant that fewer people knew how to book it, which meant better award availability.

But for better or worse you can once again book LOT awards on United.com and availability is excellent.

Searching random dates for 2 award seats came up with LOT award space in coach and in business.  The connection times aren’t great, but you can always leave the airport and explore Warsaw.  You can also get a free stopover to stay in Warsaw for as long as you wish. This itinerary can be booked for 85K United miles in coach or 160K United miles in business:

lot

 

LOT flies from Chicago, JFK, and Toronto to Warsaw on the 787 Dreamliner and they have a pretty decent looking business class seat:

lot1

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

To help find availability you may want to search for JFK-Warsaw separately from Warsaw-Tel Aviv.  Once you find dates that work you can just search for JFK-Warsaw, or you can use the multiple destination award search to book an award by specifying JFK-Warsaw and then Warsaw-Tel Aviv, or you can call to stitch together an award.

To search for just LOT Polish flights start by searching for the sample date in the picture above where you know there is availability from JFK-WAW and then click nonstop flights only. If you search for a date without nonstop availability then the calendar will show connecting availability instead of nonstop availability only.

lot4

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The calendar below is only displaying nonstop award flight availability from JFK to Warsaw for 2 passengers. Scroll through the months to see what’s available. Green dates mean saver coach and business award space is available:

lot2

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Same goes for WAW-TLV:

lot3

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

As always, if you’re willing to spend a night at a connection point it will always be easier to find award availability. Of course the award search engine won’t know you’re willing to do that, so you need to search for each segment separately before attempting to stitch them together onto one itinerary.  You are allowed to stay up to 24 hours as a connection, plus stay as long as you want as a stopover in addition to the destination you’re trying to reach on an award ticket.  That makes for lots of options if you’re willing to make longer connections than the computer would normally price out.

For those keeping score at home here is the remaining list of United partners that must be booked over the phone:
-Air India
-Brussels Airlines
-Cape Air
-Great Lakes Airlines
-Jet Airways
-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
-LOT PolishIsrael)
-Lufthansa
-Scandinavian Airlines
-Shenzhen Airlines
-Silver Airways
-South African Airways
-Swiss International Airlines
-TAP Portugal
-THAI
-Turkish Airlines

Need more United miles? You can earn them on cards like Chase Ink Plus, Chase United Explorer, Chase Sapphire Preferred, Chase Freedom, and Chase Ink Cash.

HT: KidOOO, via DDF

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With Frontier And Spirit Launching Focus City Operations In Cleveland How Long Will United’s Focus City Operations Last?

Wednesday, September 24th, 2014

Related posts:
3 Weeks Until United Closes Cleveland Hub; Roundup Of New CLE Flight Options
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?
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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United downgraded Cleveland from a small hub to a large focus city in June.  They went from about 60 destinations to 19.  A big downgrade, but Cleveland is still by far their largest non-hub operation.  They kept service to all 7 other hubs (Chicago, Denver, Houston, Los Angeles, Newark, San Francisco, and Washington/IAD.) as well as 12 other cities (Boston, Cancun, Dallas, Fort Lauderdale, Fort Myers, Las Vegas, Milwaukee, NYC/LGA, Orlando, S. Louis, Tampa, and Washington/DCA)

I said back in February right after the announcement,

“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 ;)

Spirit announced today that they will make Cleveland a focus city.

It will be phased in next year with daily nonstop service from Cleveland to Dallas, Fort Lauderdale, Las Vegas, Los Angeles, and Orlando. There will also be 3x weekly service to Tampa in the winter, 4x weekly service to Fort Myers in the winter, and daily service to Myrtle Beach in the summer.

Cleveland has become a major focus city for the nation’s ultra-low-cost carriers.

Frontier was the first to dive into Cleveland after United’s departure. They fly nonstop to Atlanta, Cancun, Chicago, Dallas, Denver, Fort Lauderdale, Fort Myers, Las Vegas, NYC/LGA, Orlando, Phoenix, Punta Cana, Raleigh/Durham, Seattle, Tampa, Trenton, and Washington/IAD.

Other flight additions after the dehubbing include USAirways service to Phoenix, Southwest service to Las Vegas and Phoenix, Delta service to Hartford, Indianpolis, Raleigh/Durham, as well as expanded Delta service to Atlanta, JFK, and LGA. Southwest has also added service to Washington/DCA and beefed up LGA service from nearby Akron/Canton airport.

I don’t see how United can sustain their focus city operations at Cleveland in light of this massive influx of low-cost carrier flights. Nor do I think the onslaught is over. I still think JetBlue and perhaps others will join the party.

I definitely expect to hear about further cuts to United’s flight operations at Cleveland.  Within a couple years Cleveland will probably just be a large spoke city with service to United’s hubs and very little else.

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

Tuesday, September 2nd, 2014

Update: A commenter says he was told by an agent that they will no longer do this process.

Luckily I can confirm that isn’t true as can several DDF’ers.  I recently helped a couple of family members setup a Plan B award to Israel.  They were able to get saver awards on United thanks to having expanded saver class award availability as they had a Chase United Explorer card.

We held the 85K coach saver award online and used the callback line to setup the 140K business saver award with all segments waitlisted for business class.

Their return trip from Tel Aviv cleared into BusinessFirst automatically.

They were nervous about their outbound trip to Tel Aviv as the domestic portion of the flight cleared into first class in advance while the Newark-Tel Aviv segment was still in coach. United.com was showing that BusinessFirst was completely full with several passengers standing by. Luckily United.com is explicit that if the domestic first class portion clears but the BusinessFirst portion doesn’t clear you can still get a full refund after the flight.

They had the agent waitlist them for BusinessFirst at their departing airport but I noticed that the United.com flight status page showed them at the bottom of the BusinessFirst waitlist.  So in Newark I told them to go to find another agent and explain clearly that they paid for BusinessFirst and were displaced business class passengers and therefore they deserved top priority “PR-1” status.  They referenced the GG code listed below as well.

They found a competent agent, 3 people in business no-showed for the flight, and they both got their lie-flat business class seats to Israel!

Truly the hidden gem of United miles.
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Note that as the article below was written prior to the 02/01 devaluation, the rates and examples listed were with pre-devaluation numbers that I haven’t updated.

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:

ua1

 

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 81 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 😀

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Chase United Explorer: 50,000 Miles For Spending $2,000 Plus 5,000 More Miles For Adding An Additional User

Tuesday, September 2nd, 2014

Update: This 50K+5K increased bonus offer will expire at some point in middle of the day today, 09/02. Afterward the bonus will return to 30K+5K.
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Originally posted on 08/01:

Chase United Explorer Linky

This has long been a targeted offer but is now available publicly. The $95 annual fee is waived for the first year.

You’ll earn 50,000 bonus miles for spending $2,000 within 3 months and an additional 5,000 miles for adding a free additional user card and making a purchase within 3 months.

Spend $2,000 on a new card and add an additional user and you’ll have 57,000 miles.

A short-haul United domestic award under 700 miles in distance is just 10,000 miles.  That’s a lot more than the BA 4.5K short-haul, but it allow for a longer distance and you are allowed to have connections for the same rate, something that BA doesn’t allow.

A round-trip ticket to 2 European or South American cities is just 60,000 miles round-trip thanks to a free stopover.  You’re even allowed a free open jaw on the same itinerary as a free stopover to really maximize your travel.

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

The United card is easily my favorite of all of the airline cards:

-It is the only card that gives expanded award ticket availability. Cardholders have access to expanded saver coach award availability (XN class), last seat standard coach award availability (YN class), and last seat standard business/first class award availability (JN class).

-You can read about examples of expanded availability in this post.
-You can learn more about searching for those classes in expert mode in this post.

-As you have better access to saver coach awards you’ll also have better ability to do Plan B awards. Plan B allows you to redeem for saver business and first class awards when there’s only saver coach available. Based on DDF reports and my own experience people have better than 95% odds of being seated in business class on a Plan B redemption.
-Read more about Plan B in this post.

No airline besides United offers a Plan B redemption.

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

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

No airline card besides United offers primary CDW insurance.

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

-The United Explorer card gives a 10K mileage bonus every year in which you spend $25K.  That means you’ll earn at least 1.4 miles per dollar spent everywhere if you spend $25K in a year. Spending $25K in a year also waives the requirement to spend $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.

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

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

Plus United is the only airline that assigns elite benefits to people that you redeem awards for.  That means people you book for have access to benefits like Economy Plus, lounge access, and more.

Last Friday morning I flew with my family from Los Angeles to Cleveland on 12.5K saver award tickets and all 4 of us were upgraded thanks to my elite status and having a United card!

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

United has 36 partner airlines which means lots of award opportunities. However not all of them are currently bookable online, you’ll have to call (or use the Aeroplan or ANA sites) to get the full picture:

United partners that currently must be booked over the phone:
-Air India
-Brussels Airlines
-Cape Air
-Copa Airlines
-Great Lakes Airlines
-Jet Airways
-LOT Polish
-Shenzhen
-Singapore

LOT and Brussels are excellent options for Israel flights with great award availability, but you usually won’t find those flights on United.com.

And here’s the list of partners currently 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
-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
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Other Chase consumer cards you can simultaneously include the Chase British Airways (50K signup points, 1.25 Avios per dollar, and an annual companion award ticket if you spend $30K+ in a  year), 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), and the Chase Freedom (which has no annual fee, gives 5 points per dollar in rotating categories, and through 12/31/15, 10% bonus points if you have a Chase checking account increasing earnings up to 5.5 points per dollar).

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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:

 

sea2

 

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:
aa7

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

-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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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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