United Discounting Short-Haul Coach Awards Through August 31

United is discounting short-haul awards booked by August 31 for travel through January 7, 2011. Instead of the usual 12,500 miles one-way or 25,000 miles roundtrip, they’re charging 8,750 one-way or 17,500 roundtrip.

This applies to awards booked at least 7 days in advance of travel (no discount on last-minute award bookings), and is for flights that are 700 miles or less each way and only within the Continental U.S. or between the U.S. and Canada.

That’s a better value for those awards, of course, and I’ll take the discount. It’s for coach only, and I can certainly stand coach on a short hop. But it’s still not the way I’d tend to use my miles, and the discount isn’t “what it once was.”

Back around 2005 and 2006, United and American offered short-haul awards — flights 750 miles or less — for 15,000 miles. Continental offered 20,000 mile awards for flights of 1500 miles or less.

They’ve raised the price and reduced the distance of these awards in bringing them back, and they’re for a limited time only. Still, charging fewer miles is better. And interesting to see United not playing total lame duck, especially with their boss man planning to step down with the Continental merger.

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. What an elitest! How can you honestly say this???

    “I can certainly stand coach on a short hop”

    750 miles? What’s that, less than 2 hours? Are you sure you can force yourself to sit in a seat for that amount of time? Sheesh, your attitude has got to be troubling to most flyers on the planet! Get over yourself!

  2. @Elite flyer – if Gary doesn’t have to fly coach, why should he? It’s not being an elitist – it’s living the dream!

  3. It might be living the dream, but to say that he can tolerate coach is a little too NBA player for me. Is Gary saying that he never flies coach? Especially on a short-haul flight there’s little upside to spending miles on a first-class award.

    If Gary hopes to appeal to the broad audience then he shouldn’t address us in such a condescending manner! Not to mention that he’s commenting on something that won’t benefit him in First Class; why even bring up coach travel in his posts if he’s so out of touch that he ‘tolerates’ flying that class?

  4. Maybe the bigger question is why anyone would use that many miles for a 750 mile or less redemption…seems like you can certainly find a better use for the miles than that.

  5. Earlier in the blog, Gary profiled his travel life. I suggest anyone feeling that he’s an elitist, read that. Also, running a blog with, as written, tips for all in all travel categories is hardly NBA-esque. I doubt that Gary will stop blogging for all of us and take his talents to Southbeach.

  6. But for Gary to drop an incendiary comment like that demeans the rest of us, regardless his blog is aimed at the general travel audience. There’s no point, other than self-aggrandizement on his part, to include a statement like that. He’s obviously very pleased with his status and wants to show it off to the rest of us, there’s no other reason to mention it. The attitude, not the knowledge/experience is what makes this statement NBA-esque.

  7. Hey all, I’m fascinated to read all about who this blog is aimed at, all about the audience I’m trying to reach, when really I’m just sharing the deals I find and my thoughts on travel providers I use or choose not to use. Some folks find it useful.

    I certainly don’t always fly first class, I often fly coach by choice. I have no US Airways status but find several of their short flights up and down the East Coast to be convenient. So I’ve got elite status with their partners, but I generally sit in back with them. And I’ve been known to catch an American flight to Chicago or Miami in coach as well.

    Still, I usually am upgraded, most of the time I do sit in front.

    I wasn’t rubbing nayone’s nose in that, I write about my experiences for those who choose to read it and occasionally learn from it (r learn what not to do!).

    I don’t apologize for that, except to say that I’m surprised anyone was offended by the post as that certainly wasn’t my intent!


  8. Thanks Gary!

    I do enjoy reading your posts and just found it ironic that, since you must frequently fly coach to accumulate so many miles, you’d mention that you could stand being in coach. It just didn’t make sense.

    Keep up the good work helping the rest of us acheive some sort of status.

  9. @Elite Flyer, it’s called “Unlimited Domestic Upgrades” … Nah, I do not fly coach all THAT MUCH as I accumulate my miles. But all good.

  10. There’s plenty of use for this award: try IAD-YUL, which is currently $465 r/t, and discount it to 8750 mi each way—- a pleasure, instead of eating half a grand or burning 25k. Bravo, UAL.

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