United One-Way Awards Will Include Partner Travel – Likely Starting This Summer

Nicholas Kralev speaks to the head of United Mileage Plus and learns that the initial rollout of United one-way awards have been United metal-only because they started with the website, and the web doesn’t offer the ability to book partners. (I don’t expect that functionality anytime soon; perhaps if United and Continental merge they can keep the Continental site?) But the intention is to roll out one-way awards with partners.

For the time being, United’s one-way “awards,” as well as its new “miles and money awards,” are limited to its own flights for technical reasons — those tickets can only be booked on its Web site, which doesn’t offer access to partner “awards,” Mr. Atkinson said. When phone agents are able to book them — sometime in the summer — partner-carriers will be included, he said.

That’ll be great. One-way awards are quite useful. Think: American miles for Qantas first class to Australia, and United miles for Air New Zealand business class back from Auckland. Or Cathay Pacific first class to Asia, and All Nippon back. I’m looking forward to this.

Kralev notes that United hasn’t decided what to do with stopovers on award tickets yet.

The only downside to American’s new policy, which was introduced in May, was the elimination of stopovers on round-trip “awards” — if you want to visit two cities, you need to book three one-way segments, and that will cost you more miles. Naturally, United customers are wondering what they should expect, but Mileage Plus hasn’t “made a call yet,” Mr. Atkinson said. Currently, phone agents can book stopovers on round trips.

This despite United posting on Flyertalk that they have no plans to take away stopovers.

I take the two comments together to mean they just haven’t come to a conclusion one way or another, or they think they might take away stopovers and if they do they’ll introduce that at the same time as one-way awards on partners. Since they aren’t coming out and saying they won’t take away stopovers, and the United comment on Flyertalk is pretty non-commital about the future, one has to imagine there’s a pretty strong chance that stopovers will go away. Book your stopovers now because visiting two cities on an award requires three one-way awards (and extra miles).

Finally, Kralev notes the positive moves United has made like removing close-in award booking fees, and also that they continue their practice of Starnet blocking.

About Gary Leff

Gary Leff is one of the foremost experts in the field of miles, points, and frequent business travel - a topic he has covered since 2002. Co-founder of frequent flyer community Milepoint.com, emcee of the Freddie Awards, and named one of the "World's Top Travel Experts" by Conde' Nast Traveler (2010-Present) Gary has been a guest on most major news media, profiled in several top print publications, and published broadly on the topic of consumer loyalty. More About Gary »

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Comments

  1. I really appreciate him as a reporter. He understands the frequent flyer game, and the things that matter to us. He gets to knowledgeable sources and asks the tough questions.

  2. What are stopovers? Do it mean layover, or is different? I am assuming it’s different than a layover, because a layover is typically only a couple of hours, hence you would not be able to see the city you are in for the layover. If it is different than a layover, is it possible to stay in that city for a few days (or weeks) en route to your final desitination and not be charged miles for it?? Example, Austin-Las Vegas-Newark. Can I stay in vegas for a few days and then fly to Newark and be charged for only half a reward ticket, which is 12,500 pts?

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