Will United Introduce One-Way Awards?

There’s currently speculation that one-way awards will be introduced by United starting on Monday.

It’s really just rumors at this point, with little confirmation. But it’s also been long-expected, ever since American introduced one-way awards, because well United follows most of American’s announcements and offerings pretty closely.

One-way awards are fairly popular, they have some real uses, such as they’re great for positioning flighs for great fares, to start a series of trips in a destination city in order to get Saturday stays on all your round trips, to buy the cheaper of two domestic segments only on a roundtrip, to mix service classes on an award, etc.

Personally, though, I don’t like the tradeoff introduced by American when they brought in one-way awards: the elimination of stopovers. International carriers like British Airways and bmi allow stopovers on their one-way awards, Ameircan does not. If you want to book a stopover you have to book three one-way awards for additional miles.

So there’s clearly concern that if United follows American’s lead that they, too, could eliminate stopovers.

On the other hand, United and Continnetal have very much been aligning their programs. Continental currently allows one stopover and one open jaw, not just a stopover or open jaw. United, if they eliminated stopovers, would be moving away from the current Continental offering (and would generate some speculation that Continental might make a similar move in the future).

All speculation at this point, we’ll see next week whehter anything changes. It’s all sideshow, to me, as long as United maintains 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 InsideFlyer.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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  1. I agree, stopovers are much more valuable to me than one way awards. Never had to book one way before but have used stopovers numerous times.

  2. Your comments on the AA implementation are a bit misleading. AA does permit stopovers. The problem is that they can only happen at the international departure gateway, not elsewhere along the route. So flying Chicago to Barcelona on AA you could route via NYC on the outbound to stop in New York and via MAD on the return and hang out in Madrid. So some stopovers are permitted. They are less flexible on the stopovers than Continental is, for example, but they do exist.

    And I’ve heard similar rumors that both CO and UA are going the one-way reward route.

  3. Why are positioning flights always touted as a great benefit of one-way awards? I thought that most of the great fares that originate in other countries (for example), require a roundtrip purchase, meaning you’ll need a way to get back home from your originating point.

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