New United Award Chart Live + Some Positive Updates from United

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For much of yesterday, United.com was a mess if you were trying to book an award ticket.  This was because they were implementing the new award chart pricing.  This is not a good thing for most of us, but we knew it was coming, and there’s not much we can do about it.  There is a shimmer of good news though as United has issued a couple of updates about the chart.

Short connecting segments on partners will still price as United operated awards:

As you may know, the new award chart charges (much) higher prices if you choose to fly a partner airline in a premium cabin on many long haul awards than if you fly United.  However, if you fly a United operated flight from say the US to Europe in business or first, and then have a short connecting segment within Europe on a partner airline like Lufthansa, then you won’t be hit with the higher charge for partners, even if that segment is also in business of first.  This will not apply if the “short connecting flight” is not within that same region.  UA Insider has clarified this point below, though the wording is a bit vague using somewhat subjective words like “most” and “short”.  I’ll play around with this some to come up with some examples, but generally speaking this is better news than what they originally announced.

“As we shared with the initial announcement, the Star Alliance/Partner partner award pricing will apply to Business or First awards for itineraries that include at least one flight segment operated by a MileagePlus partner carrier in Business or First.

However, as a customer benefit we have made an exception for most itineraries which require connecting onto a MileagePlus/Star partner in First or Business for a short distance. Specifically, if a United/Copa award itinerary contains a connecting segment on a MileagePlus/Star partner that is wholly within one MileagePlus award region, then the United award price will apply.

  • For example: IAD-FRA in United BusinessFirst connecting to FRA-FCO in Lufthansa Business, will be priced at the United mileage award amount.
  • Note that this exception will not apply to a few specific regions and routings, such as intra-Africa connecting segments and certain fifth-freedom routes (e.g. BKK-KUL operated by Lufthansa)”

Policy for changes to itineraries booked before February 3rd:

“The existing change process will apply, and any change that requires an award to re-price will require an add/collect of the additional miles under the new award price structure. Fees for change/cancel will still apply per our existing policies. Changes that will not trigger a re-price for itineraries ticketed before February 3, 2014 include:

  • Date/time (cabin, region, and award type can’t change)
  • Carrier on one or more segments (cabin, region, and award type can’t change)
  • Origin/Destination within the same regions (carrier and cabin can’t change)”

This is actually good news as well as it is a bit more flexible than the policy originally announced that indicated that only time and date changes would be allowed without a reprice. This way you have a tad more flexibility in the event a better itinerary than you originally booked opens up.  Of course, this info would have probably been more helpful to people before the 2/3 deadline, but so it goes.

All in all a sad day for those who love leveraging their United MileagePlus miles for amazing journeys, but it’s not quite as bad as it could have been.  Time to shift the focus back to earning more, because we’re going to need it!

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  1. “Origin/Destination within the same regions (carrier and cabin can’t change)” – On one end of my trip I am flying into BKK in F, would it be possible to add HKT in business since it’s in the same region or would a reprice be triggered because I’m flying business not F?

  2. Thanks for the post. This new chart/set of rules is going to take some getting used to.

    I have a question that maybe you can help me with. I have first class saver award from BKK – NRT – ORD. The first segment is in business because saver first was “sold out”. So my question is – if F space opens up last minute, would that trigger a price change? It is a different cabin, but the award should entitle me to any available space in F, right?

    This will be my first international premium cabin flights. Thank you very much for any feedback!

  3. @choi – North and South Asia are different regions, so it will be priced as a Star Alliance award.

    @william – That will most likely not trigger a reprice since it’s an F award and you’re simply adding a segment in J in the same region.

    @James – That change should not trigger a reprice.

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