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80+ United flights to avoid surcharges + the cheapest miles to book them

by on Tue March 10, 2015 • No Comment
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Map courtesy GCMap.com

No U.S. airline covers the world like United, and if you’re looking for no surcharge routes to Europe and Asia with miles, United can be a great option, and you don’t need United MileagePlus miles to take advantage of them.

You just need the miles of any Star Alliance partner airline, and because United doesn’t pass on fuel surcharges, you’ll avoid them no matter which Star Alliance partner miles you use to book the flights.

All the major transferable points programs have options to book United flights via a Star Alliance partner program.

ANA Mileage Club and Air Canada Aeroplan are transfer partners of American Express Membership Rewards, while Singapore Krisflyer is a transfer partner of Chase Ultimate Rewards, American Express Membership Rewards, and Citi ThankYou points.

Below, we’ve reviewed each of the options to show you which are cheapest for each travel region, but first here is the list of United operated routes with BusinessFirst lie flat bed service to and from the United States.

Use this list of routes to help you search on United.com for options with seats. Any seat that displays as having ‘Saver’ availability is available to book using Star Alliance partners miles.

Chicago

  • Amsterdam
  • Beijing
  • Brussels
  • Dublin
  • Frankfurt
  • Hong Kong
  • Munich
  • Paris
  • Rome (Summer)
  • Shanghai
  • Tokyo

Denver

  • Tokyo Narita

Houston

  • Amsterdam
  • Beijing
  • Buenos Aires
  • Frankfurt
  • Lagos
  • London
  • Munich
  • Rio de Janeiro
  • Santiago
  • Sao Paulo
  • Tokyo

Los Angeles

  • London
  • Tokyo Narita
  • Melbourne
  • Shanghai
  • Sydney

Newark

  • Amsterdam
  • Barcelona
  • Beijing
  • Berlin
  • Birmingham
  • Brussels
  • Delhi
  • Dublin
  • Edinburgh
  • Frankfurt
  • Geneva
  • Glasgow
  • Hamburg
  • Hong Kong
  • London
  • Milan
  • Mumbai
  • Munich
  • Oslo
  • Paris
  • Rome (Summer)
  • Shanghai
  • Shannon
  • Stockholm
  • Tel Aviv
  • Tokyo Narita
  • Venice (Summer)
  • Zurich

San Francisco

  • Beijing
  • Chengdu
  • Frankfurt
  • Hong Kong
  • London
  • Osaka
  • Paris
  • Seoul
  • Shanghai
  • Sydney
  • Taipei
  • Tokyo Haneda
  • Tokyo Narita

Washington Dulles

  • Amsterdam
  • Bahrain (via Kuwait City)
  • Beijing
  • Brussels
  • Dubai
  • Frankfurt
  • Geneva
  • Kuwait City
  • London
  • Munich
  • Paris
  • Rome (Summer)
  • Tokyo
  • Zurich

Tag on flights

  • Hong Kong – Singapore
  • Tokyo – Singapore
  • Hong Kong – Saigon

Which are the cheapest options?

The table below shows the round-trip price in miles for flights on United in Business Class and First Class using points that are transferable from Chase Ultimate Rewards, American Express Membership Rewards, and Citi ThankYou.

The ANA Mileage Club prices reflect rates that go into effect on April 12, 2015. Prices in bold are cheaper than the price United charges if you use regular MileagePlus miles to book.

Screen Shot 2015-03-09 at 11.44.47 AM

Eastern Europe is defined as: Albania, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Bosnia, Bulgaria, Croatia, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Estonia, Finland, Georgia, Greece, Greenland, Hungary, Iceland, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Macedonia, Malta, Moldova, Montenegro, Romania, Russia (Western), Serbia, Slovakia, Slovenia, Turkey, Ukraine.

Which to choose?

If you have…

  • American Express Membership Rewards: When possible, transfer to ANA miles, as you’ll get the lowest price for most regions. Just beware that transfers are not instant – they can take a few days – so the award you’re looking for might disappear in the mean time. If you want instant transfers, use Air Canada Aeroplan. Singapore KrisFlyer also doesn’t hold awards, and they aren’t instant either, though quicker than ANA transfers.
  • Chase Ultimate Rewards: You’re best sticking with transferring to United miles unless you’re headed to the Middle East or Southern South America, in which case Singapore is a good option.
  • Citi ThankYou: You have only one viable option…transferring to Singapore KrisFlyer, which isn’t very exciting, but at least it’s an option for your points. Though the Middle East and Southern South America are decent deals.

What fees do each program charge?

An advantage of transferring to ANA and Singapore is that change and cancellation fees are much lower. KrisFlyer charges just $20 to change an award and $30 to cancel and redeposit the miles. ANA has no change fees, and charges 3,000 miles to redeposit and refund your award.

United charges $75 to change an award 21 days or more before departure, and $100 within 21 days. Canceling and redepositing your miles costs a painful $200.

Aeroplan charges $90 for changes or cancelations, and won’t let you get a refund within 22 days of departure.

What are the drawbacks of not using United miles?

The biggest drawback to not using United miles is losing the ability to waitlist on flights that don’t have space yet in Business or First Class.

United has a cool feature where you can book a flight that just has Economy class available, and waitlist with top priority to get moved into Business or First Class, even right up until the time of departure, which gives you an edge on snagging seats.

 

 

 

The following two tabs change content below.

Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card

Miles dont expireas long as card is open
Learn more

Partner Offer

50,000 bonus points

Intro Offer

$0 introductory annual fee the first year, then $95

Annual Fee

Yes

Foreign Transaction Fee Waived

Yes - transfer to United MileagePlus, Southwest Rapid Rewards, Marriott Rewards, and more

Points Can Transfer to Airline Miles ?

Still confused? Have a question?

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"These responses are not provided or commissioned by the bank advertiser. Responses have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the bank advertiser. It is not the bank advertiser's responsibility to ensure all posts and/or questions are answered."

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