DDFB Question Of The Day: Have Expanded Award Seats For United Cardholders Gone Away?

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In 2008 the DansDeals Forums (DDF) was launched for people to be able to discuss deals, miles, and destinations at length and the DansDeals Facebook group (DDFB) was founded to provide email alerts about hot deals. Facebook took away the ability to send out email alerts, so Twitter took over that feature and the Facebook group has remained as an alternate, far messier version of DDF. Eventually I also made a Facebook page for people looking for Facebook notifications of new deals and finally opened an Instagram account where I post some pictures from my travels.

I spend hours ever day browsing DDF and DDFB looking for tips and trying to help people out. I’ve occasionally featured questions here that are relevant to a wide audience, and perhaps I should do that more often.

Today this question on DDFB caught my eye,

“Seeing comments that the extra XN award seats reserved for United elites and Chase United cardholders isn’t available to United Explorer cardholders anymore. Can anyone confirm that?”


I’ve been blogging about the topic ever since I discovered in 2005 that the Continental OnePass card secretly bestowed the ability to access expanded saver award availability. That benefit carried over to United when they merged with Continental and kept their mileage program as the survivor.

Officially the  Chase United Explorer card is only supposed to give cardholders access to last seat availability at the standard award level. I can count the number of times I’ve redeemed awards at the standard level on one hand compared to the thousands of award flights I’ve flown at the saver level. These seats are coded as YN class and you can read more about the meaning of fare classes in this post on United Expert Mode.

The real benefit is the one that’s never been advertised by Chase or United, but has withstood the test of time. While regular United members require X class availability in order to book a saver award, United cardholders get access to XN class, which means expanded saver award availability.

It’s an amazing benefit from a credit card and it makes it well worth paying the card’s $95 annual fee. The card’s benefits are very nice (2 free club passes per year, free checked bags, priority boarding so that you don’t need to gate check your bags, primary CDW rental car insurance, premier upgrades on award tickets, 10K bonus miles for spending $25K in a year, no foreign exchange fees, and your miles will never expire if you’re a cardholder), but it’s the access to expanded saver award space that has made the card worth its weight in gold.

View the rest of this post and the current status of expanded saver awards after the jump:

You can hover over your “mileage expiration” on your account management page to see your account is linked to a United credit card.

If you have a credit card linked to your account you will see this message about miles not expiring by hovering over mileage expiration:

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If you don’t have a credit card linked to your account you will see this message by hovering over mileage expiration:

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After reading the DDFB post I immediately went to see if the rumor was true. The most popular award route for DansDeals readers is from Newark to Tel Aviv.

Availability on the nonstop flight for non-cardholders is rather scarce. Not American or Delta style scarce, but not available for most dates.

Newark-Tel Aviv award calendar, filtered to show nonstop availability for non-cardholders from November-December (4 dates with saver award space):

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Newark-Tel Aviv award calendar, filtered to show nonstop availability for non-cardholders from January-February (3 dates with saver award space):

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And then I logged into an account with a United Explorer card.
(Be sure to logout and login again before performing an award search for accurate results if you are a cardholder.)

Newark-Tel Aviv award calendar, filtered to show nonstop availability for cardholders from November-December (22 dates with saver award space):

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Newark-Tel Aviv award calendar, filtered to show nonstop availability for cardholders from January-February (39 dates with saver award space):

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A look at United Expert Mode shows exactly what’s going on here:

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If you click on the image above you’ll be able to see that both flights shown have at least 9 seats available for cardholders with access to XN saver award space and both flights have 0 seats available for non-cardholders that only have access to X saver award space.

And another rumor bites the dust.

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28 Comments on "DDFB Question Of The Day: Have Expanded Award Seats For United Cardholders Gone Away?"

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username

OMG, you scared me!

Ephraim

Dan, when United is selling tickets all day long for every month out until past December BOS-TLV in P class for $986 each way, how can there be any left over for awards? I myself bought 2 RT tickets to visit my son in Yeshiva yesterday. I also bought for my neighbor and his boss. These are tickets that go into EWR and connect on flights that United is selling for $2800 each way if you start in EWR.

mechayamom

I can tell you that by having two accounts, one with the card and one without..I was able to see non stop availability with my card account and not for the other account.
I therefore, could not book a round trip ticket for the non cardholder account as it couldnt see the nonstop. So you can book one ways instead.

Can somebody please tell me how I can see if that same flight is available for Singapore Air redemption?
Thanks.

Dan

@username:
I purposefully added DDFB Question Of The Day to the post title for that reason.

@Ephraim:
Yup, posted that here, http://www.dansdeals.com/archives/87955

@mechayamom:
Can always get the card for the other account.
Partners only have access to X class space, so it will mirror what you see when you search from a non-cardholder account.

@Yehuda

What do you mean by this, “premier upgrades on award tickets?” Does it mean that UA Premiers get upgrades on award tickets?

Dan

@@Yehuda:
They do only if they are a cardholder.

A

IME If the flight is shown in saver then it will be available through Singapore as well.

Dan

@A:
As the post says, there are 2 classes of saver awards.
Singapore has access to X class but not XN class.

mechayamom

I was under the mis-impression that if it was showing on UA it would be available on Singapore. However, I saw availability on my non card holder account, and Singapore said it wasnt showing availability for that. And that after I initiated a miles transfer all excited that I had availability. In the end was able to get what I needed from United. But now miles are stranded in Singapore with the mileage going up May 24…Oh well.
Maybe I should have HUCA another rep? Next good bonus will sign hubby up for United card.

Gary

I just want to say this is absolutely an opinion based on evidence presented by one flyer. I have been a Chase United Presidential Card holder for years and I find with almost 100% certainty that saver fares are never available for the routes I travel. In fact for Israel they are never available unless I want to connect in another country and not travel United through. For example there seems to be always Saver fares for Turkish Air.

Carol Schottenstein

I have a ticket from Cleveland to tel Aviv through Newark for miles and a return ticket from tel Aviv through Newark to Chicago. How would I get an upgrade?

Dan

@mechayamom:
HUCA is a mantra to live by.
Most award reps are incompetent. If UA showed the sea and you weren’t logged in, then Singapore could have booked it.

@Gary:
The images in this post are readily searchable by anyone.

@Carol Schottenstein:
Pray for a miracle 🙂
Upgrades are very expensive with miles. Sometimes though you might get a decent upgrade for cash offer at checkin.

Sam

Dan – I am planning to downgrade United MP card to no fee version. Would I still see extra award availability with the no fee card?

Toni

I am confused. When I search for award flights I just use my Frequent Flyer number. It’s the same number linked to my explorer card and also my other Chase United Card. Isn’t it automatic? Do I need to enter something else to receive more options.

Yitzy

I have a United no fee CC, how do I link it to my United account?
does it also give the access to the XN class?

David refson

Does anyone know if Global services status entitle one to the same rights as an explorer card

eli

I am a UA card holder but by my miles it says they will expire, how do I link my card to the account?

eli

forget my previous question, but just to point out, on the home page it says my miles will expire when I hover over the question mark symbol. But when I click view account it says that since I’m a card member, they won’t expire.

Mo

@Gary:
You mean that you fly one route, and Dan flies all over the world (and for every united ticket he flies, he probably books and cancels ten, just because that would’ve cost money if he wasn’t 1K =P ,JK), yet his experience is an anomaly and an opinion, while you know for a fact that saver space on united doesn’t exist? You’re funny, bro. Better break the news to the tens of thousands flying united saver awards that they’ve been living a dream; there’s really no such thing as united saver space.

Anonymous

@Toni:
Dan pointed out very clearly on his post how to see if you’re united card is linked to your united account. Hover over the milage expiration date, and see if it says “Your miles will never expire as long as you maintain your united card”.

Moish

You sure about those saver awards.
I’m seeing increased availability but not for saver awards.

Dan

@Sam:
No.

@Toni:
It’s automatic if it’s properly linked and if you are newly logged in, see the post for how to check for that.

@Yitzy:
Only the cards with a fee gives XN access.

@David refson:
All elites get XN space.

@eli:
Hence why I included the link in the post.

@Moish:
Did you see the screenshots in the post??

points99

Anyone know United’s policy on sameday standby for a flight booked using Singapore miles? United had 2 flights on the day I want to travel, but only the second flight is available for saver rewards. I checked the seat map for the first flight and almost every seat is available.

username

@Dan:
I was still scared…

Michael

Can I combine my united points with my wife’s united points?

Oleg

I am guessing United MileagePlus Club Card also have access to it since it is paid card?!

Moish

Looks like there just isn’t any availability for the flights I wanted, the whole day was XN0.
Do you think CS would let me book at the reduced rate?

tassojunior

My recent experiences match yours. AA rewards have become as scarce as Delta SkyPesos. Doug Parker- champion airline wrecker.

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