Final Day Before United’s 2017 Award Chart Changes: The Good, Bad, And Ugly; Should You Try To Lock In Access To The Current Chart?

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Update: Today is the last day to lock in awards under the current United award chart.


On Wednesday, 11/1, United will make major changes to their award chart:

-Current United Award Chart

-United Award Chart Effective 11/1/17

-United Award Change Announcement

The good: 

You are now able to use 8K United miles to fly on a nonstop flight within any single region outside of the US/Canada on a partner airline, as long as the flight is less than 800 miles in distance.

Here are some examples for each region that will benefit from this new award rate:

-Central America: Panama to Liberia, Costa Rica on COPA will drop from 12.5K to 8K miles.
-Northern South America: Quito to Bogota on Avianca will drop from 12.5K to 8K miles.
-Southern South America: Rio de Janeiro to Iguassu Falls/IGU on Avianca will drop from 12.5K to 8K miles.
-Europe: Zurich to Venice on Swiss will drop from 15K to 8K miles.
-Middle East: Cairo to Amman on EgyptAir will drop from 17.5K to 8K miles.
-North Asia: Seoul to Beijing on Asiana will drop from 15K to 8K miles.
-Central Asia: Bangalore, India to the Maldives on Air India will drop from 17.5K to 8K miles.
-South Asia: Ho Chi Minh City to Singapore on Singapore will drop from 17.5K to 8K miles.
-Southern Africa: Johannesburg to Cape Town on South African will drop from 17.5K to 8K miles.
-Australia/New Zealand: Auckland to Queenstown, New Zealand on Air New Zealand will drop from 17.5K to 8K miles.

See this post for more information on short-haul awards.

The bad:

Saver award rates will go up and new categories will be created. There will be higher pricing for domestic lie-flat business class between Newark-Los Angeles, Newark-San Francisco, and Boston-San Francisco. There will also be higher pricing for long-haul Hawaii flights between Hawaii and Chicago, Denver, Houston, Newark, and Washington DC. Those flights are now all lie-flat and United will now charge more for them. If you fly to Hawaii in business or first class via Los Angeles or San Francisco you’ll pay a lower rate.

Business class saver rates get hit across many regions.

In addition United will change their higher priced “Standard” awards to “Everyday” awards. These “Everyday” award rates will fluctuate by date, but United will continue to publish what the maximum rate is for an Everyday award. In other words, the award chart will show the most you’ll pay for an award ticket, but the rate may be less than the stated price depending on the route and date. It’s possible that some of this may wind up in the good category, but it’s impossible to know at this point. It’s also possible that United will feel justified to in no longer offering as many saver awards as they can offer more affordable everyday awards, and that this will wind up in the ugly category. Time will tell.

Having a Chase United Club or United Explorer card greatly expands the saver award space that you can book. United.com only shows the lowest available award rate when you’re logged in, so a cardholder will be a 42.5K rate to Tel Aviv while a non-cardholder will see the 85K standard rate which will go up to 95K in November. Cardholders will continue to have the ability to book the last seat available in any class with Standard/Everyday awards.

United will still allow a free stopover (“Excursionist perk“) if it’s within the same region that you’re flying to. In other words if you fly from NYC to Zurich you can stopover there, fly to Paris, and then fly back to NYC without paying extra for the Zurich-Paris leg.

However other airlines like ANA, Aegean, and Singapore can book travel on United for fewer miles than United charges and without paying fuel surcharges. Note that those airlines don’t offer the expanded saver availability on United even if you have a United credit card. You need to use United miles to access that space. Additionally, those airlines charge a fuel surcharge to travel on most Star Alliance airlines, while United never levies a fuel surcharge.

The ugly:

These changes are far less ugly than United’s 2014 devaluation. But there are some dark spots.

Some routes, such as South Asia-Australia/New Zealand, get slammed hard. South Asia includes Singapore, Hong Kong, Indonesia, Philippines, and Thailand. Currently a one-way flight between South Asia and Australia or New Zealand is just 17.5K United miles in coach, 30K in business, and 40K in first class. That’s a real bargain for a first class flight on Thai Airways from Bangkok to Sydney or Melbourne as it even includes an hour massage before your flight in the Thai lounge. It’s also a bargain for a business class flight on Singapore from Hong Kong or Singapore to Australia. Those rates will go up to 25K United miles in coach, 50K in business, and 65K in first class for ticket purchased on or after 11/1.

Flights between Israel and Australia/New Zealand get hit hard as well. A one-way flight is currently 35K United miles in coach, 60K in business, and 110K in first class. Those rates will go up to 45K United miles in coach, 75K in business, and 110K in first class for ticket purchased on or after 11/1.

Flights between Japan and Australia/New Zealand are currently 22.5K United miles in coach, 40K in business, and 60K in first class. Those rates will go up to 30K United miles in coach, 50K in business, and 65K in first class for ticket purchased on or after 11/1.

Avoiding the changes?

You can book an award to fly in 11 months from now and then pay a $75 fee to change or cancel it (less if you have elite status).

Or you can call United and request to cancel the award without redepositing the miles. You can then call again when you’re ready to book another award.

In 2014 I was able to access the old award chart by using these methods. I was even able to book a completely different award type under the old award chart. Of course there’s no guarantee that it will work the same way again, but simple changes like date changes should work just fine. But it’s possible that having any award booked now will allow you to change it and still access the old award chart as it did last time.

Of course if the mileage increase for your desired award is 5K miles or less, then it is probably not worth investing in a $75 change fee unless you have elite status. But the $75 fee can be a bargain on a route facing a big mileage increase.

You must complete travel within 12 months from the day you make a reservation. Don’t forget to cancel the flight (you can call to cancel it without redepositing the miles) before the flight you book and don’t forget to call to have the miles redeposited before 12 months from the day you book an award.

US award chart changes:

-The first chart below compares the current cost of saver award travel from the US and the new cost for tickets booked as of 11/1/17. The chart includes partner rates only when United charges a premium to fly on a partner airline.

-The second chart below compares the current cost of standard award travel from the US and the new maximum cost for Everyday award travel for tickets booked as of 11/1/17.

-Mileage increases have been highlighted in bold and rates listed are for one-way travel.

-Consult the current and new award chart links above for changes to flights that don’t involve travel to or from the US.

United Saver Award Chart Changes

Between the US48 and: Class of ServiceCurrent Saver RateNew Saver Rate
US48/Canada ShorthaulCoach
Business
First
10K
25K
35K
10K
25K
35K
US48/Canada Coach
Business
Lie-flat Business
First
12.5K
25K
25K
35K
12.5K
25K
35K
35K
AlaskaCoach
Business
Lie-flat Business
First
17.5K
30K
30K
40K
17.5K
30K
40K
40K
HawaiiCoach
Business
Lie-flat Business
First
Long-haul First
22.5K
40K
40K
50K
50K
22.5K
40K
50K
50K
55K
Caribbean/Mexico/Central AmericaCoach
Business
First
17.5K
30K
40K
17.5K
30K
40K
Northern South AmericaCoach
Business
First
20K
35K
45K
20K
35K
45K
Southern South AmericaCoach
Business
First
30K
55K
70K
30K
60K
80K
EuropeCoach
Business
Partner Business
First
Partner First
30K
57.5K
70K
80K
110K
30K
60K
70K
80K
110K
Northern AfricaCoach
Business
Partner Business
First
Partner First
40K
70K
80K
85K
130K
40K
70K
80K
85K
130K
Southern AfricaCoach
Business
Partner Business
First
Partner First
40K
70K
80K
85K
130K
40K
70K
80K
90K
130K
Middle East Coach
Business
Partner Business
First
Partner First
42.5K
70K
80K
90K
140K
42.5K
75K
85K
90K
140K
Central AsiaCoach
Business
Partner Business
First
Partner First
42.5K
70K
80K
90K
140K
42.5K
75K
85K
90K
140K
South AsiaCoach
Business
Partner Business
First
Partner First
40K
70K
80K
80K
130K
40K
75K
90K
95K
140K
North AsiaCoach
Business
Partner Business
First
Partner First
35K
70K
80K
80K
120K
35K
70K
80K
90K
120K
Japan Coach
Business
Partner Business
First
Partner First
35K
65K
75K
80K
110K
35K
70K
80K
90K
110K
Oceania Coach
Business
Partner Business
First
Partner First
35K
65K
75K
80K
110K
35K
70K
80K
90K
110K
Australia/New Zealand Coach
Business
Partner Business
First
Partner First
40K
70K
80K
80K
130K
40K
80K
90K
100K
130K

United Standard Award Chart Changes

Between the US48 and: Class.of.ServiceCurrent Standard RateNew Maximum "Everyday" Rate
US48/Canada ShorthaulCoach
Business
First
25K
50K
70K
32.5K
50K
70K
US48/Canada Coach
Business
Flat Business
First
25K
50K
50K
70K
32.5K
50K
60K
70K
AlaskaCoach
Business
Lie-flat Business
First
35K
60K
70K
80K
42.5K
60K
70K
80K
HawaiiCoach
Business
Lie-flat Business
First
Long-haul First
45K
90K
90K
102.5K
102.5K
45K
90K
95K
110K
115K
Caribbean/Mexico/Central AmericaCoach
Business
First
37.5K
70K
85K
40K
70K
90K
Northern South AmericaCoach
Business
First
45K
75K
90K
50K
90K
105K
Southern South AmericaCoach
Business
First
65K
150K
170K
70K
155K
190K
EuropeCoach
Business
First
65K
150K
170K
70K
155K
190K
Northern AfricaCoach
Business
First
90K
180K
200K
90K
180K
200K
Southern AfricaCoach
Business
First
90K
180K
200K
100K
190K
210K
Middle East Coach
Business
First
85K
175K
195K
95K
180K
200K
Central AsiaCoach
Business
First
85K
175K
195K
95K
180K
200K
South AsiaCoach
Business
First
85K
175K
195K
90K
180K
200K
North AsiaCoach
Business
First
80K
175K
190K
80K
175K
200K
Japan Coach
Business
First
75K
170K
190K
80K
175K
200K
Oceania Coach
Business
First
75K
170K
190K
80K
175K
200K
Australia/New Zealand Coach
Business
First
85K
175K
195K
100K
200K
230K

Which awards will you book before the rates go up on 11/1?

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20 Comments On "Final Day Before United’s 2017 Award Chart Changes: The Good, Bad, And Ugly; Should You Try To Lock In Access To The Current Chart?"

All opinions expressed below are user generated and the opinions aren’t provided, reviewed or endorsed by any advertiser or DansDeals.

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Bob

“If you fly to Hawaii in business or first class via Los Angeles or San Francisco you’ll pay a lower rate.”

And what is it? Can’t find it on the charts.

Etan G

I just bought 2 rt tix LA-TLV (via SFO) chol hamoed Pesach, for 2 weeks. 874$ each and used Chase points/dollars at 1.5 to purchase. And I plan on using 35k United miles each way (per person = 70k) + $600 pp “co-pay” each way, (1200$) to upgrade to biz. Thinking just on the return (an hour longer flight) Going there prob just upgrade to economy plus. None of what you mentioned in the post should effect the value of those miles as the post seems to address purchasing the whole flight using miles vs. for upgrades.

It should still work

Was there no better deal than this?

Etan G

The fare at 874$ pp is very good and using Chase points for it (at a 1.5 point to $ ratio) is also very good. As for upgrading, due to the ticket class (T class) they said the only way to upgrade is 600$ copay and 35000 miles pp/per leg.

I calculated using buying biz class straight out, and (using Chase points), the $ value was more (just over 4K per ticket) and transferring points to miles, at a 1:1 ratio, would be 350,000 miles (3500$ equivalent) for both (175k miles each person RT – right now the amount spent is 116k Chase points (874$ per ticket) and, I’m in the waitlist for 600$ pp and 35000 miles to upgrade on the return. I had a total of 250k Chase points (less 116k now) and 81k miles on United (Club card as well – and 50k mile bonus is forthcoming – thanks for that Dan 😉 I’m open to suggestions

Bob

I would upgrade on the eastbound overnight flight. Chasing the sun westbound may take an hour longer, but it’s much less disruptive to the body clock.

menachem

between Israel and hong kong?

harold

I do not understand what it means to “log in” with ones United Card. I have looked on the website and find no card log in. Perhaps I am not looking in the right place. Can you help?

CtownBin

All this means is, logging in to the United website with your Mileage Plus info, using the same mileage plus number the credit card is attached to. If you do this before you search, it will include the expanded saver availability in the search results.

chaya

from what I understand, if I have a United credit card, this shouldn’t affect me so much. is that correct?

uk

if you cancel an award without redepositing the miles, how long do you have to ticket, and then fly, any rebooking you do afterwards? is it 11 months to fly from the date of the original booking that was canceled, 11 months from the date of the subsequent re-booking?

Chaya

I just reread and I see that your chart shows that US48 In coach stays the same for saver – 12.5. Which is why I’m confused about your reply

Paul

Does that mean that Singapore airlines will charge cheaper then the 8k rate to book these specific short haul flights ? As they are always cheaper then ua points ?

timmy

what route has lie-flat to Alaska? Would be a great excursionist perk route 45k->0k.

Skippy

Hi Dan
If I don’t take my connection, would u advise not to use ff acct?
I u do use acct do I get full miles to destination?
United 300 miles total
Amazing huh?

dhammer53

UA now competes with BA Avios on intra-Europe flights. 8000 miles for a 1 way CPH/WAW (Copenhagen/Warsaw). B/A would be a connecting flight and cost 7500 points.

GTR

Looks like they reduced availability too. Was tracking EWR-LON for spring 2018 and unless there was a huge run on award seats there’s dozens less end of march early april. I suppose it’s possible that it’s from folks locking in the 57.5k rate… doubt it tho.

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