OUCH! United’s Devaluation Continues: Saver Award Pricing Jumps To Central America, South America, Middle East, India, And More

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Last month United hired a new CEO of MileagePlus from Comcast with no airline experience.

On May 1st, the airline raised saver award pricing on coach flights to Europe. On May 17th they raised saver business class flights to Europe, though on the 18th they lowered some of them that were priced too high.

I warned then to lock in current pricing for other destinations.

Today, United has raised pricing to several more regions.

You can see the May 18th hidden award chart pricing here.

Here is United’s May 28th hidden award chart pricing, as best as I can tell for now after searching dozens of routes today:

United flightsPartner flights
Mainland US5K-15K Coach
25K-30K Business
30K-35K Premium Business
Canada10K-14K Coach
25K-30K Business
16.5K Coach
33K Business
Alaska15K-17.5K Coach
30K-35K Business
35K-40K Premium Business
Hawaii15K-25K Coach
40K-50K Business
50K-60K Premium Business
Mexico5K-20K Coach
30K Business
20K Coach
38K Business
Central America10K-20K Coach
30K Business
22K Coach
38K Business
Northern South America20K-30K Coach
35K Business
22K-33K Coach
51.2K Business
Southern South America41K-45K Coach
80K Business
49.5K Coach
88K Business
Europe30K-40K Coach
80K Business
33K-44K Coach
88K Business
121K First
Africa45K Coach
80K Business
49.5K Coach
88K Business
143K First
Middle East40K Coach
80K Business
44K Coach
88K Business
154K First
Central Asia31K-40K Coach
80K Business
49.5K Coach
88K Business
154K First
South Asia40K Coach
75K Business
44K Coach
99K Business
154K First
North Asia35K Coach
70K Business
38.5K Coach
88K Business
132K First
Japan and Oceania35K Coach
70K Business
38.5K Coach
88K Business
121K First
Australia and New Zealand40K Coach
80K Business
44K Coach
99K Business
143K First

Flights within a month of booking are still subject to a mileage surcharge ranging from 0-4,000 miles each way. In general you should always book one-way travel to lower those surcharges and maintain maximum flight flexibility.

Here is what appears to have changed today. The Southern South America changes are particularly brutal.

  • Saver flights to Central America on partner airlines have gone from 20K to 22K in coach.
  • Saver flights to Northern South America on United have gone from 20K to as high as 30K in coach and from 22K to as high as 33K on partner airlines in coach. Saver business on partner airlines has gone from 38.5K to 51.2K in business.
  • Saver flights to Southern South America on United have gone from 30K to as high as 45K in coach and from 33K to as high as 49.5K on partner airlines in coach. Saver business on United has gone from 60K to 80K and on partner airlines business has gone from 66K to 88K in business.
  • Saver flights to Africa on United have gone from 40K to 45K in coach and from 44K to 49.5K on partner airlines in coach. Saver business on United has gone from 70K to 80K.
  • Saver flights to Israel and the Middle East on United have actually gone down from 42.5K to 40K in coach and from 47K to 44K on partner airlines in coach. Saver business on United has gone up from 75K to 80K, but saver business on partner airlines has gone down from 93.5K to 88K.
  • Saver flights to India and the Central Asia on United have actually gone down from 42.5K to 31K-40K in coach and up from 47K to 49.5K on partner airlines in coach. Saver business on United has gone up from 75K to 80K, but saver business on partner airlines has gone down from 93.5K to 88K.

For now, regions like Japan and Australia/Oceania don’t appear to have changed, but I’d expect those to be devalued in the coming weeks as well.

Of course it’s worth noting that you’re often much better off using other partner award miles for booking flights.

There are exceptions of course, as expanded saver award space for United cardholders and elites can only be booked with United. Plus while United’s awards are refundable for free at any time before departure, other airlines can charge up to $200 for award changes or cancellations.

US airlines still have internal award charts, but they no longer publish them so that they can devalue without needing to provide any notice.

For that reason, I have been writing for well over a decade to accumulate bank points and not airline miles whenever possible.

That way when an airline devalues, you aren’t stuck with that airline’s miles and have other options to choose from. You can open airline cards for the signup bonus, but you everyday cards should earn flexible points over an airline card.

If you do use a United card for everyday spending, you should stop now. The card is fine for free bags and benefits, but is a poor value for spending.

The much bigger devaluation post-COVID is that there are fewer saver awards available across the board and that standard award pricing continues to climb to absurd levels, but that’s the case for all airlines.

To their credit, United does make many more saver awards available to their cardholders and elite members.

Like I showed last time for flights to Europe, partner airlines like Turkish, Air Canada, and Lifemiles can save you a bundle of miles!

See this ultimate transfer guide to know where you can transfer your points to.

For example, 47K Turkish miles to fly United business class one-way between the US and Israel, versus 80K United miles:

 

60K Air Canada miles to fly United business class one-way between the US and Brazil, versus 80K United miles:

 

55K ANA miles to fly United economy class round-trip between the US and Brazil, versus 90K United miles:

 

88K ANA miles to fly United business class round-trip between the US and Brazil, versus 160K United miles:

 

AMEX cards with transferable Membership Rewards points include:

If you, a member in your household, or an authorized user has one of the following Chase cards, you can transfer points into miles:

Chase no-annual fee cards that are fantastic for earning points, but require one of the cards above for points transfers include:

  • Ink Business Cash® Credit Card has a 75K signup bonus and earns 5 points per dollar on cable, TV, telecom, cellular, office supply stores, and gift cards from office supply stores, plus 2 points per dollar on dining and gas ($0 annual fee). Read more here.
  • Chase Ink Unlimited has a 75K signup bonus and earns 1.5 points per dollar everywhere ($0 annual fee). Read more here.
  • Chase Freedom Flex has a 20K signup bonus, plus 5 points on rotating categories, 5 points per dollar on travel purchased through the Chase Ultimate Rewards portal, and 3 points per dollar on dining and drugstores ($0 annual fee). Read more here.
  • Chase Freedom Unlimited® has a signup bonus offering 3 points per dollar on up to $20K of spending in your first 12 month, afterwards earn at least 1.5 points per dollar everywhere, 5 points per dollar on travel purchased through the Chase Ultimate Rewards portal, and 3 points per dollar on dining and drugstores ($0 annual fee). Read more here.

If you or a friend has one of the following Citi cards, you can transfer points into miles:

  • Citi Premier has a 60,000 point bonus for spending $4,000 in 3 months, 3 points per dollar on airfare, hotels, travel agents, groceries, gas, and dining. $95 annual fee. Read more here.

Citi no-annual fee cards that are fantastic for earning points, but require one of the cards above for points transfers include:

  • The Citi Double Cash card offers 2% cash back or 2 points per dollar spent everywhere that can be transferred into ThankYou points. If you also have a Citi Premier Card you can transfer points into miles. No annual fee. Read more here.
  • The Citi Custom Cash Card offers 5 points per dollar on up to $500 in purchases in your top eligible spending category each billing cycle. This is marketed as 5% cash back, but will actually come in the form of 5 ThankYou points per dollar spent! Eligible categories include Restaurants, Gas Stations, Grocery Stores, Select Travel, Select Transit, Select Streaming Services, Drugstores, Home Improvement Stores, Fitness Clubs, and Live Entertainment. You will also get 0% APR on purchases and balance transfers for 15 months. No annual fee. Read more here.
  • The Citi Rewards+ Card offering 25,000 points for spending $1,500 in 3 months. This card can’t transfer points on its own, but can transfer points if you have one of the Citi cards above. This card automatically rounds up rewards earned on every purchase to the nearest 10 points, meaning you earn 10 points on a $0.50 Amazon balance reload. Earn 2 points on $6K in annual spending at supermarkets, and a 10% points rebate when you redeem points, up to a 10K points rebate per year. If you also have a Citi Premier Card you can transfer points into miles and get a 10% points rebate on transferred or redeemed miles. No annual fee. Read more here.

Capital One cards with transferable points include:

Marriott cards with transferable points include:

HT: Tzali R.

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27 Comments On "OUCH! United’s Devaluation Continues: Saver Award Pricing Jumps To Central America, South America, Middle East, India, And More"

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

Bentzi

I have never actually seen a united flight from Israel to anywhere in America available to be booked in business via Turkish. Dan, when is the last time you saw one of these?

Mia flyer

But Turkish miles can’t be transferred from most currencies

Yitz

So now its legally a “massive” devaluation 🙂

yupy

I just booked today TLV-EWR for 28,100

baron

united charged 88k today for united nonstop business plan b…

Bobo Bolinsky

Actually, there is a much, much BIGGER devaluation hiding in plain sight – but few people (and no bloggers) seem to have noticed: it’s the complete (or near complete) removal of virtually all international partner business class award inventory that does not require hellish long, multiple layovers. Most nonstops: just gone. Most “mixed cabin” one-stops with a single, short (or just a few hours) layover: gone. Not just priced higher, completely gone. Where two weeks ago it was possible to find nonstop, or one-stop (reasonable layover) award seats for a reasonable price, now those itineraries have simply vanished – they’re not available at all, at any price, even if you were willing to blow 650K or a million points, they’re just g-o-n-e. Want to fly on an international business class award that includes partner legs? Not only have the prices gone up (by 300%-500%), but you’ll be sitting in multiple airports along the way for 10-15 hours each – if you are lucky enough to even find an award that gets you there.

Everyone is howling at the moon with outrage that award seat prices have gone up 20-33%. That completely misses the much, much bigger devaluation that has occurred at the same time. The drastic elimination of most award inventory (especially international business awards), never mind the price. The price increase is just a distraction, and almost everyone has fallen for it. For anyone who scoffs at this, go try doing a few dummy bookings and you’ll see. Enjoy your 11 hours in ORD followed by another 16 hours in EWR, that’s the future of international business class awards MileageMinus.

Chaya

Are other star alliance airlines still showing those international business flights?

FanofDan

I just booked two MEL-EWR today in C for 80k each. There seems to still be availability at that level.

Brian

Incredible!

I was seeing northern South America at 17,900 miles and it’s been that way for quite some time. now there is nothing lower than 33K listed.

Justin Starren

It doesn’t matter what the base price is. We looked at flights to Hawaii, and they were over 200,000 miles per person for economy plus on United from Chicago. That basically makes the frequent flyer program worthless.

Shmuely

If it weren’t for devaluing there’d be no value at all. I had to pony up 114,000 for round-trip coach fares to Europe (EWR-VCE).

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