How to Use United’s New Award Chart to Travel to Non-United Destinations at the Lower United Price

United’s massive award chart changes created a new, separate pricing chart. There’s one price for awards on United and another price for awards on partners.

I initially assumed that on flight on a partner as part of an award itinerary would cause the award to be priced at the higher partner price, even if the bulk of the ticket was on United. For instance, if you flew United transatlantic from Chicago to Frankfurt and then connected on Lufthansa to Berlin.

Now, if award space is available on United one-way but only on partners in the other direction you can still of course use the United chart for a one-way award and the partner chart for the other direction. That way you aren’t paying the full partner roundtrip price.

But what about the majority of Star Alliance destinations that United does not serve? Semi-fortunately United has issued a clarification, and a ‘sort of’ out (via Mommy Points):

Although there will now be two charts, it will be still be possible to combine United/United Express and MileagePlus partner award flights on the same itinerary. However, the MileagePlus partner award cabin level will need to be lower than that of the United-operated segment(s) in order to take advantage of the United Saver Award price. So, for a US to Europe itinerary where the long-haul segment is in United Global First, the intra-Europe connecting segment would need to be in Business or Economy (as they typically already are) to take advantage of the United Saver Award price. Similarly, for a US to Europe itinerary where the long-haul segment is in United BusinessFirst, the intra-Europe connecting segment would need to be in Economy to take advantage of the United Saver Award price.

This means that if you fly United transatlantic to Frankfurt, as in the example above, you can fly Lufthansa coach to an onward European destination for 115,000 miles (the United award price) and not 140,000 miles (the new partner award price).

Currently 100,000 miles gets you transatlantic in business class on United or its partners, and includes the onward destination in business class.

Not that intra-European business is special (it’s generally just a blocked middle seat and meal plus lounge access), but if you want to be in business for that segment you will either need to book the 140,000 mile partner business class award (or the 220,000 mile partner first class award – up from 135,000 miles, or the United first class award).

This reminds me of when United would only allow coach travel on Singapore airlines when traveling transpacific in Singapore business class.

This exception is, I suppose, better than a hole in the head. But it’s still pretty punitive. If they’re going to separate out United vs. partner award charts, and make partner travel more expensive, they could have determined the chart you would used based on an IATA rule like ‘most significant overwater carrier’ (fly United transatlantic or transpacific, you get the United award chart and a partner flight in the same cabin for your connection).

Remember you can still use the existing award chart for tickets issued through January 31.


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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Comments

  1. Such a crock. At the very least I wish they could be more transparent about what it is actually costing them when a member redeems miles on an alliance carrier instead of just bending members over with marketing speak nonsense and why it is more than their own seats.

  2. Let’s not lose sight of the big picture here. We MUST continue to let United know how we feel about this. Split award charts?! This is crazy.

  3. UA has put alot of holes in high value flyer heads. Jeff would be better off running a safeway store than an airline.

  4. Is there any public info out there about how much airlines pay for partner award seats? Given all this, I’d be really interested to see the numbers!

  5. Mileswhore is right, we need to let UA know that this is unacceptable and if we all throw up a stink like with AA and their Fuel Charge backtracking, then they may update to a more reasonable scaling for awards. At least not splitting the charts, which is utterly stupid.

    Come on Gary, where is your Tea Party activism?!?! OR is the president of UA not ethnic enough or democratically leaning enough for you to take action.

    DO SOMETHING!!!!

  6. Thanks for the info.

    United management still continues to treat frequent flyers like dirt. Cut, after cut, after cut in loyalty benefits.

  7. Thanks for this and other info on the devaluation, Gary. Do you still feel that these legacy airline mergers are not bad for airline customers in general and frequent flyers in particular? On balance, the combined CO-UA is clearly less than the sum of its pre-merger parts in terms of its operations, customer service and frequent flyer program. In light of this, do you still favor the AA-US merger?

  8. This is absolute rubbish! It is indicative of the enhanced bean counting by United. It makes no sense to penalize those whom wish to go to a destination not served by United.

  9. Doing it that way you won’t have access to the business class lounge. Many people won’t have status or Priority Pass to get them in.

  10. What happens if you fly UA Y and want to connect to LH Y intra-europe?

    Nobody has mentioned it, so it’s probably obvious. But I haven’t looked it up.

  11. I am amazed that this is the 14th comment and no one has corrected your typo of punitive. I must be the only spelling pedant.

  12. Hi Gary,
    I have very large amounts of both AA and UA miles and am wondering your advice on which if I should try to burn through my UA first? I’m planning travel from PDX to CDG this summer and both UA and AA require standard awards for my dates. US is at 125k or 147k vs 100k for AA. But now with the UA deval that 147k might feel cheaper than the 100k AA. What do you think, should I pony up the extra UA now to keep my AA given the deval?

  13. Call this the demise of the Airline Alliances..
    Charging more miles to use other airlines goes toward protectionism and will hurt Star Alliance in the long term.

  14. #UnitedUnfriendly…. If they do not get the message that this is unacceptable the others will soon follow…

  15. William-

    Your racially charged comment directed at Gary is not just offensive, it’s without any merit.

    Show me one post from thousands of posts on this blog over the years that had even a hint of bias based on ethnicity.

    The old adage is proven again: On the Internet, there is a lot of information but very little knowledge.

  16. Folks, let’s keep a balanced perspective. Yes, this latest change is painful, but there have been some benefits from the merger. For me (Premier Gold MM), change fees on awards (for changes to routing, carrier, class, etc.) are much lower than pre-merger (typically $150 before vs. $25 now) – this is a huge benefit. Also, UA Standard awards now allow partner segments booked from Saver inventory (pre-merger you had to book a separate award on the partner). And my MM ability to share my status with a partner is worth more to me than the lost upgrade certs.

    I feel Mommy Points balanced perspective is more appropriate than all the “burn your UA draft card” comments seen on other blogs.

  17. @Craig I would burn UA first given that I know the date their chart devalues. Nothing has even been announced with AA at this point

  18. @hobo13 you would be using the partner award chart, but for economy the partner price is the same as the united price (and isn’t going up from the current price) 🙂

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