United Airlines

8,000 mile one-way awards on United – a bright spot in the Nov 1 devaluation

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On Nov 1, United’s new award chart went into effect. It raised the amount of miles you need for most international awards, especially in the premium cabins, and introduced their new EveryDay awards (variable even higher level awards than the old Standard level).

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But there’s a bright spot: Awards anywhere in the world (except in the US) that are under 800 miles and non stop are just 8,000 miles. (In the US, there are awards for flights under 700 miles for 10,000 miles).

What this means is that you can use your United miles (transferable from Chase Ultimate Rewards as well) to get around any country with a Star Alliance carrier.  Think Lufthansa in Germany, LOT in Poland, Air New Zealand in NZ, Czech Airlines, ANA, Asiana, etc.

Here are two examples in Europe. Frankfurt to Berlin is one.

It wouldn’t be that expensive normally, perhaps $100-$200 one way, but on days with higher prices and open award space, it could be a deal.

Next, London to Frankfurt on Lufthansa.

You can fly the route for 8,000 miles and $50. Cash rates would be about $150-$190 one way.

Now, these aren’t crazy good redemptions with a redemption average of around 1.5 cents a mile or less. But if you a) have a lot of United miles, these aren’t a bad way to spend them and b) there will certainly be times when the cash rates are higher (think last minute) and awards are available.

For instance, if I want to fly tomorrow from London to Frankfurt, the cheapest cash rate is $296 one way. But it’s still $8,000 miles plus the tax (plus a $75 close-in booking fee if you don’t have any United elite status, though some crafty people get around that).  This would be over 3 cents a mile in value, well into the “good use of miles” zone.

Make no mistake: This devaluation by United hurt. But hopefully you can also take advantage of this new sweet spot.

Are you taking advantage of the new United short-aul awards? Let me know here, on Twitter, or in the private MilesTalk Facebook group.