Category Archive for 'United'

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

Wednesday, April 27th, 2016

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

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

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

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

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

Friday, February 12th, 2016

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

EWR-TLV calendar showing connecting options:

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

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

 

EWR-TLV new nonstop only calendar:

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EWR-LAX showing connecting options:

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EWR-LAX new nonstop only calendar:

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

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

Way to go United!

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

Tuesday, January 26th, 2016

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

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

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

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

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

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

Wednesday, December 9th, 2015

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

Wednesday, November 25th, 2015

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

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

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

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

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

Consider that Smisek’s last hurrah.

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

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So what’s the best way to book?

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

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

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

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

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

You need to call Singapore to book travel on United.

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

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

Thursday, November 19th, 2015

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

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

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

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

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

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

HT: menachem_m, via DDF

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Chase United Mall Lounges Are Back

Monday, November 16th, 2015

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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United Will Add Nonstop San Francisco-Tel Aviv Service!

Thursday, October 8th, 2015

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

Thursday, September 24th, 2015

Update: DEAD!

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

Bookable on Priceline or on Orbitz.

-This fare is fully refundable.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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HT: SF

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United’s Jeff Smisek Is Out!

Tuesday, September 8th, 2015

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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United: Discounted Awards To Brazil And Chile

Wednesday, August 19th, 2015

-Bookable on United.com

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Tuesday, August 18th, 2015

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

The email said,

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

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

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

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

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

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

Same things goes for Club members/United Club cardholders.

So what is being changed?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Sunday, August 16th, 2015

Update: DEAD!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

HT: CRONY, via DDF and TFD

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

Monday, August 10th, 2015

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

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

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

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

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

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

HT: ar, via DDF

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The Tax Consequences Of Helping United Fix Bugs On Their Site

Thursday, August 6th, 2015

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

—————————————————————————————

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!

———————————————————————–

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.
———————————————————————-
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.

————————————————————————————-

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.

————————————————————————————————-

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

————————————————————————————————————————

-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.

—————————————————————————–

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!

—————————————————————————–

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:

 

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

 

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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:

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ORD-MCI:

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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:

 

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

 

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

 

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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:

 

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OK, so that has to be isolated, right?

Let’s just try the next day.

Nada for CLE-MCI:

 

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Plenty of CLE-ORD space:

 

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And a flight from ORD-MCI:

 

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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:
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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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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.

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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.

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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.

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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:

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NYC to Paris via Toronto on an Air Canada Dreamliner:

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Boston-Zurich on Swiss:

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NYC-Frankfurt on Lufthansa:

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NYC-Vienna on Austrian:

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Chicago-Copenhagen on SAS:

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NYC-Warsaw on a LOT Dreamliner:

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NYC-Lisbon on TAP:

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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
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-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.
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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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