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If you can find the time this weekend between carving pumpkins and watching the World Series, you will be well-served to think through any United MileagePlus bookings you might want to make before their award chart changes on Wednesday, November 1, 2017. This round of award chart devaluations isn’t as massive as the one we saw from United back in 2014 when one-way partner first class awards to Europe skyrocketed from 67,500 miles to 110,000 miles, partner first class awards to Australia/New Zealand jumped from 80,000 to 130,000 miles, and even economy United operated saver awards to Alaska went from 12,500 miles each way to 17,500 miles.
However, some things are getting more expensive and the two-tiered saver and standard award system we are used to will become a relic of the past. I wrote about these coming changes when they were first announced back in June, but let’s run through them again now that there are only a few days left before the changes kick in.
November 1st United MileagePlus Changes:
I think United does a good job outlining the changes on their site, but here is a rundown of the important things for most families travelers to know about the coming United award chart changes.
- All of these changes kick in on November 1, 2017. Until that date, you can book awards as far out as the schedule allows under the current rates.
- Saver Awards are sticking around, though some saver prices for international and premium cabin travel are going up.
- Everyday Awards will replace Standard Awards for all award travel booked on or after November 1, 2017. This means that instead of being able to book a Standard Award for 2x the Saver Award price, if a Saver Award isn’t available you will potentially have to pay more than you do now for a Standard Award to book a more variably priced Everyday Award. As an example, right now Saver Awards for the 48 states + Canada are 12,500 miles each way and Standard Awards are 25,000 miles each way. When these changes kick in Standard Awards will be eliminated, and via Everyday Awards that price could be as high as 32,500 miles each way.
- There is an Everyday Award chart and pricing will not be higher than what’s published. That is more generous than how some airlines are handling their variably priced awards without award charts.
- There will be a new $125 redeposit fee for members who do not show up for their flight and request a redeposit of their miles, which is totally fair in my view and won’t impact most of us.
- Most fees are staying the same, but there will be new lower prices on most short-haul intra-region Economy Saver Awards for flights outside of the U.S. that are 800 miles or less, such as flights within Europe.
- MileagePlus Premier members and qualifying MileagePlus Chase Cardmembers will continue to have unrestricted access to Everyday Awards and expanded Saver Award availability…and since Standard Awards are going away, this becomes even more important than ever.
New United Award Chart Prices:
I think that The Points Guy’s site has a great chart featuring the current and future prices that you should check out if you want all the nitty-gritty, but here are a few examples of the award pricing that is changing.
- Domestic economy saver award pricing is staying flat at 12,500 miles.
- Transcon saver business/domestic first awards are going up 10,000 miles to 35,000 miles each way on premium flights including service between New York/Newark and Los Angeles, New York/Newark and San Francisco, and Boston and San Francisco.
- Saver business class/domestic first service to Hawaii from Chicago O’Hare, Denver, Houston Intercontinental, New York/Newark or Washington Dulles prices are increasing from 40,000 miles each way to 50,000 miles each way. Note that the overnight flights to/from these cities were announced to all have lie-flat seats.
- Business/Polaris class United-operated flights to Europe are going up 2,500 miles each way to 60,000 miles.
- United operated flights to Australia/New Zealand — Business class is going from 70,000 to 80,000 and first class is going from 80,000 to 100,000. If you want to fly there on a partner, business class is increasing from 80,000 to 90,000.
- United standard awards are going away, so if a saver award isn’t available the prices may not be higher than before.
Again, that is just a flavor of what is changing – I advise you to take a closer look at the new award chart if this will impact what you book before or after the changes kick in on November 1, 2017. All in all, these sort of things stink, but they are just part of the deal and something we can expect every few years out of the major programs. These changes are not good, but they are not as bad as we have seen in the past.
For example, I hate that Hawaii is getting more expensive up-front via saver awards, but the reality is that right now there are virtually zero saver awards from the premium markets, so maybe there will be some after these changes. Of course, if saver awards are available, you can always then book those awards via partners like the Singapore KrisFlyer program that has a more favorable award chart for some United-operated flights. I also hate that Standard Awards are going away, but I doubt that it is what most of us usually use for travel anyway, and there is a chance that sometimes the Everyday Awards will be priced higher than the Saver Awards, but less than what the Standard Awards are today.
It may be worth it to book a Standard Award you need to on October 31st, and then change it to a potentially cheaper Everyday Award on November 1st while you are still in your free 24 hour change period if the price goes down. On October 31, 2017, you should be able to book United awards for travel through October 2, 2018.
How will these United award chart changes impact your family’s travel strategy? Are you locking in anything before November 1st?
Editorial Note: The opinions expressed here are mine and not provided, reviewed, by any bank, card issuer, or other company unless otherwise stated.