United miles are being devalued on 02/01
Book by 01/31 to beat the devaluation.
Don’t have dates set in stone yet? You can make date changes for just $50-$100 even after 02/01 and you won’t have to use additional miles. (Officially changes within 21 days are $100 though most people report being charged just $50 online or via the United Callback number) If you change the routing though you’ll probably need to pay the new rate.
The harshest part of the devaluation is for partner first class awards. These tickets typically cost $20,000 and represented a ridiculously good value, which is precisely why we’re seeing big increases in the required miles.
Lufthansa typically only releases first class awards within 2 weeks of a flight. So how can you lock in current pricing if you want to fly in 10 months from now and try out their sweet First Class Terminal?
You can actually book a Lufthansa First class award on the route that you want and then cancel the award without redepositing the miles!
Within a year from the date of ticketing you can rebook the award for a different date on the same route and just pay a $50-$100 date change fee, you won’t have to use more miles. Don’t wait until 01/31 to book something though as lots of people will have that same strategy.
For example below is the cancellation screen for a one-way ANA First Class Suites award to South Asia for 70K miles. Come 02/01 and it will be 130K miles. But just use the change ticket later option to pay a date change fee later without having to use more miles:
It’s also worth noting that not all airlines show award availability on United.com. Brussels, LOT Polish (which has lie-flat seating in business class on their 787s), and Singapore are notable exceptions that can only be booked over the phone with United (though can be researched on other sites like Air Canada’s Aeroplan and ANA).
Finally don’t forget that although United business class isn’t being hit nearly as hard as partner awards, it definitely makes sense to lock in the current rates via a Plan B redemption. Best of all you can lock them in now even if there is only coach award availability!
Hyatt points are being devalued on 01/07.
Book by 01/06 to beat the devaluation.
Don’t have dates set in stone yet? You can make date changes over the phone until 02/15 and you won’t have to use additional points. After 02/15 you would have to rebook at the higher rate. It may be possible to make a change directly with the hotel after 02/15 instead of calling Hyatt without paying the higher rate…YMMV.
Note that Hyatt is making some improvements like adding a cash and points option on 01/07.
Additionally some hotels will get cheaper on 01/07 like the Hyatt Regency Maui, Lake Tahoe, and Huntington Beach.
Southwest points are being devalued on 03/31.
Book by 03/30 to beat the devaluation.
You can always book speculative trips with Southwest points at the current rates as there is no fee to cancel and redeposit your points later on. Southwest award trips are best booked when there is a sale as they are based on the current fare, so wait for a good sale and lock in several trip options without being locked into any of them.
Among other airlines, Air Canada, Alaska, Delta, and Korean also have upcoming devaluations. And you can take it to the bank that a combined American/USAirways will have one very soon as well. Other hotel programs like Hilton and Starwood have already been devalued recently, so I don’t anticipate major changes there.
A trip to Paris in Lufthansa First Class with 4 nights at the Park Hyatt is currently 135K United miles plus 88K Hyatt points. Soon it will be 220K United miles plus 120K Hyatt points. That’s still better than using millions of Capital One points for the same trip but it definitely stings badly. Luckily business class tickets weren’t hit nearly as badly and only 6 Hyatt hotels got elevated to the new category 7 redemption level.
What will you be locking in before the devaluations?