Last Day: Redeem Your United Miles Before They’re Devalued

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Back in late June, United announced some changes to the MileagePlus program, which kick in for bookings as of November 1, 2017. While there are a few aspects to these changes, the most significant one to act on is that many saver level award prices will be changing tomorrow, both for travel on United and for travel on partner airlines. So it might make sense to consider redeeming your MileagePlus miles today, assuming you’re traveling between regions that are seeing price increases.

The cost of many United Polaris awards is increasing

A couple of weeks ago Tiffany wrote a post highlighting six types of awards you should book before the devaluation. Hopefully many of you have already taken advantage of those deals, but for those who haven’t, you have just under 24 hours remaining to book MileagePlus awards at the current rates.

I’d recommend checking out Tiffany’s post, but in this post I just wanted to briefly summarize a few of the changes. As a reminder, United has separate saver level award pricing based on whether your longhaul flight is on United or one of their partner airlines, with partner awards always being more expensive. So you’ll notice that below I list some United rates, and also some partner rates. In no particular order (all costs are one-way):

  • US to Australia/New Zealand in business class — increasing from 70,000 to 80,000 miles on United, and from 80,000 to 90,000 miles on partners
  • US to South Asia in business class — increasing from 70,000 to 75,000 miles on United, and from 80,000 to 90,000 miles on partners
  • US to Southern South America in business class — increasing from 55,000 to 60,000 miles on both United and partners
  • US to Europe in business class — increasing from 57,500 to 60,000 miles for travel on United
  • South Asia to Australia/New Zealand — increasing from 30,000 to 50,000 miles in business class, and from 40,000 to 65,000 miles in first class

Redeem United miles for Thai first class between Bangkok and Australia

As, you can see, some of these increases are minor, like the 2,500 mile increase between the US and Europe. Some are more substantial, like the 10,000 mile increases in many other regions. Then some are really significant, like the current sweet spot redemption between South Asia and the South Pacific, where the increases are as much as 25,000 miles one-way (Tiffany and I just recently booked one of these).

Keep in mind that United MileagePlus is a Chase Ultimate Rewards transfer partner, and points typically transfer instantly, so you can convert points earned on cards like the Ink Business Preferred℠ Credit CardChase Sapphire Preferred® Card, etc. Furthermore, since most awards can be booked online, you should be able to do this without suffering through long hold times, as are often the case before a devaluation.

Are you locking in any last minute United MileagePlus awards?

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  1. Safe to assume if a book a ticket today and try to change it to a different date later, I’ll have to pay the new higher rate?

  2. I don’t understand why no blog ever highlighted the even better 15k/30k/40k (economy, business, first) from north/East Asia (China japan etc) to Oceania. You could’ve flown almost twice the distance as South Asia to Australia. Thai first to Bangkok and then to Auckland , (over 14 hours!) then an Air New Zealand flight over to Fiji or Tahiti. I booked this exact route a while ago, and it was the best redemption I’ve ever made!

  3. They have pulled all available First class Thai seats for the entire booking period. Ughhh
    What a annoying move on their part.

  4. I called in on 31 October to book a roundtrip business itinerary to South Asia for May 2018. Itinerary was ORD-NRT-SEL-BKK (destination)-Hong Kong (perk)-SEL-NRT-LAX. What an ordeal! Talked with three agents, none of whom really knew the 2016 rule changes well enough, especially regarding the “excursionist perk”. Even with them talking to several supervisors, I was fed back four different redemption amounts: 185K, 190K, 205K and even 235K! Was not ticketed on the 31st, but itinerary was put on hold with a reservation number by United, as was told by the second agent that the rate desk had to confirm the proper miles. I called back today (1st), and was told 180K. I asked that the prior 160K amount, good prior to today (when it DID rise to 180K), be honored, as the delay in ticketing until today was not my fault. The 160K was finally honored.

    Even had one agent tell me that her supervisor told her that the “excursionist perk” had to involve two regions, not one! Wow.

    Must note that I had booked two very similar partner stopover award itineraries to South Asia in February 2014 for only 120K miles. So, as of today, a similar itinerary costs 180K, a hefty 50% increase. Good old United.

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