Finding The (Small) Silver Lining in United’s Award Chart Devaluation

Feb 3, 2014

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Back in November, United announced it would be devaluing its award chart and charging a lot more miles for various awards starting February 1. We all got a two-day last-minute reprieve late Friday night, but the new, higher award levels should now be live. Though a lot of awards have gone up drastically in price – especially premium cabin award tickets on partner airlines, there are still a few decent redemptions on the United award chart that could hold great value for certain flyers, as Australian Business Traveller pointed out this weekend.

So today I wanted to take a look at a few more award chart sweet spots I found by combing through the old and new charts and where you might still be able to find some decent redemptions.

North America

In terms of North America awards within the continental US and Canada – there have been no mileage level changes, so you can continuing flying United and its partners at the same levels of 12,500, 25,000 and 35,000 each way in economy, business and first class, so  if you’re primarily interested in domestic redemptions, you’re in luck.

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North America to Hawaii

The other good news if you’re in North America is that if you want a business or first class ticket to Hawaii, you’ll still be paying the same amount in miles – 40,000 in business and 50,000 in first each way, though coach redemptions have gone up 2,500 miles in each direction.

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Likewise, both United and partners awards from North America to Central America, Mexico and the Caribbean are all remaining the same.

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There are various other regions where either economy or first class redemptions are remaining the same on United itself, but nothing I would call over-the-top amazing.


However – and this is why the Australian Business Traveller article was so interesting – there are actually a few spots where the new award chart is significantly lower! It pointed out the benefit to Australian flyers of flying to South Asia including Singapore and Thailand.

Before the award chart change it would have cost 30,000, 45,000 or 60,000 miles each way between Australia and South Asia per the chart below:

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Old Australia-South Asia awards

However, now those same awards will cost the following amounts:

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These redemptions are now almost half the price as previously! That means you could fly Sydney to Bangkok in Thai’s first class for just 40,000 miles each way, a pretty great deal given how much award availability there is on this route.

There's plenty of award availability on applicable routes (note, mileage levels are the old ones).
There’s plenty of award availability on applicable routes (note, mileage levels are the old ones).

There are a couple other bright spots I was able to pinpoint as well. Speaking of Australia, awards to North Asia will also be cheaper:

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At 20,000, 40,000, or 50,000 in economy, business or first class each way as opposed to their former levels of 35,000/50,000/65,000, which is a pretty decent discount of 10-15,000 miles in each class in each direction.

Awards from Australia to the Middle East are also going down

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Compared to 45,000/67,500/87,500 now.

From the Middle East, it’ll cost you the following amounts to get to South and North Asia:

Screen Shot 2014-02-01 at 5.47.11 PM

Whereas previously, it would have cost you:

Screen Shot 2014-02-01 at 5.48.11 PM

So you’re doing a little bit better in coach and business class, though first class has skyrocketed. It’ll also be marginally cheaper to get between Japan and the Middle East in economy and business.

Screen Shot 2014-02-01 at 5.55.30 PM

Although most awards to/from Europe are going up, those to Central Asia in economy and business are actually going down by 5,000 miles in each direction to the 25,000 and 45,000 miles respectively:

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And to Oceania from Europe, you’ll only be charged the following amounts:

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Saving you 10,000 miles each way in business and economy compared to the old values:

Screen Shot 2014-02-01 at 6.18.54 PM

So while I don’t want to sugarcoat the devaluation – it was a massive amount of bad news and most awards are a lot more expensive – especially on the partner award chart from which I culled these numbers, there are at least a couple of interesting routes to explore and if you’re an Australia-based member of Mileage Plus, you have some great new options to fly for less.

This is far from an exhaustive roundup, and there are several more coach redemptions that did go down between regions, so if you find any additional ones that I missed or think I should include, please comment with them below and I can add them in!

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