A comparison of United’s new and old award charts

by on Sat February 1, 2014 • 40 Comments
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United raised award prices February 3, 2014. Of note among Saver level awards:

  • Popular Lower 48 U.S., Mexico, and Caribbean awards are unchanged
  • Saver Hawaii Economy and all awards to Alaska increase up to 40% (this is buried in the footnotes of the award chart)
  • Saver Business/First Class awards to Europe, Asia, the Middle East, and Africa increase up to 17%
  • Partner flights are now priced substantially higher than United flights for many long haul Business / First Class awards, up to 87% higher than before. Note that an award with a United flight in Business / First Class connecting to a partner in a lower class like Economy will not incur the higher partner pricing.
  • Domestic stopovers for 10,000 extra miles are eliminated. Stopovers for domestic flights will now price as an additional one-way. So a domestic saver award with a stopover will require 25,000 + 12,500 = 37,500 miles.
  • Stopovers are now only allowed on full roundtrip itineraries, with a limit of one stopover (no more stopover + open jaw)
  • Around the World tickets increase – about 30% for Business / First Class

More expensive Standard level awards also increased substantially in nearly all regions.

Since United hasn’t been transparent about where the changes are taking place, below is an easy to read summary of the new Saver level award chart for travel to and from the United States and the changes, both in % change and number of miles.

Confused about what to do? read MileCards‘ new recommendations here with a comparison to Delta and American’s award charts. You can compare United credit card options using our CardFinder.

All mileage figures below are for round-trip travel. One-way travel is half the price of round-trip.

New Saver award charts (to/from U.S.)

United awards

EconomyBusinessFirst
US25,00050,00070,000
Alaska35,00060,00080,000
Hawaii45,00080,000100,000
Mexico35,00060,00080,000
Central America35,00060,00080,000
Caribbean35,00060,00080,000
Northern South America40,00070,00090,000
Southern South America60,000110,000140,000
Europe60,000115,000160,000
Northern Africa80,000140,000170,000
Central/Southern Africa80,000140,000170,000
Middle East85,000140,000180,000
Central Asia85,000140,000180,000
South Asia80,000140,000160,000
North Asia70,000140,000160,000
Japan70,000130,000160,000
Oceania70,000130,000160,000
Australia/New Zealand80,000140,000160,000

Partner awards

EconomyBusinessFirst
US25,000 50,000 70,000
Alaska35,000 60,000 80,000
Hawaii45,000 80,000 100,000
Mexico35,000 60,000 80,000
Central America35,000 60,000 80,000
Caribbean35,000 60,000 80,000
Northern South America40,000 70,000 90,000
Southern South America60,000 110,000 140,000
Europe60,000 140,000 220,000
Northern Africa80,000 160,000 260,000
Central/Southern Africa80,000 160,000 260,000
Middle East85,000 160,000 280,000
Central Asia85,000 160,000 280,000
South Asia80,000 160,000 260,000
North Asia70,000 160,000 240,000
Japan70,000 150,000 220,000
Oceania70,000 150,000 220,000
Australia/New Zealand80,000 160,000 260,000
Around the World200,000350,000450,000

Award price increase (%)

United awards

EconomyBusinessFirst
US0%0%0%
Alaska40%20%14%
Hawaii13%0%0%
Mexico0%0%0%
Central America0%0%0%
Caribbean0%0%0%
Northern South America0%0%0%
Southern South America0%10%4%
Europe0%15%19%
Northern Africa0%17%13%
Central/Southern Africa0%17%13%
Middle East6%17%20%
Central Asia6%17%13%
South Asia23%17%14%
North Asia8%17%14%
Japan8%8%19%
Oceania0%8%7%
Australia/New Zealand0%4%0%

Partner awards

EconomyBusinessFirst
US0%0%0%
Alaska40%20%14%
Hawaii13%0%0%
Mexico0%0%0%
Central America0%0%0%
Caribbean0%0%0%
Northern South America0%0%0%
Southern South America0%10%4%
Europe0%40%63%
Northern Africa0%33%73%
Central/Southern Africa0%33%73%
Middle East6%33%87%
Central Asia6%33%75%
South Asia23%33%86%
North Asia8%33%71%
Japan8%25%63%
Oceania0%25%47%
Australia/New Zealand0%19%63%
Around the World11%35%29%

Award price increase (miles)

United awards

EconomyBusinessFirst
US000
Alaska10,000 10,000 10,000
Hawaii5,000 00
Mexico000
Central America000
Caribbean000
Northern South America000
Southern South America010,000 5,000
Europe015,000 25,000
Northern Africa020,000 20,000
Central/Southern Africa020,000 20,000
Middle East5,000 20,000 30,000
Central Asia5,000 20,000 20,000
South Asia15,000 20,000 20,000
North Asia5,000 20,000 20,000
Japan5,000 10,000 25,000
Oceania010,000 10,000
Australia/New Zealand05,000 0

Partner awards

EconomyBusinessFirst
US000
Alaska10,000 10,000 10,000
Hawaii5,000 00
Mexico000
Central America000
Caribbean000
Northern South America000
Southern South America010,000 5,000
Europe040,000 85,000
Northern Africa040,000 110,000
Central/Southern Africa040,000 110,000
Middle East5,000 40,000 130,000
Central Asia5,000 40,000 120,000
South Asia15,000 40,000 120,000
North Asia5,000 40,000 100,000
Japan5,000 30,000 85,000
Oceania030,000 70,000
Australia/New Zealand025,000 100,000
Around the World20,00090,000100,000

Source:

New award chart from United.com

> Old award chart from United.com

 

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40 thoughts on A comparison of United’s new and old award charts

  1. Nun

    The reason airlines can get away with this kind of partner award price is mergers. I expect to see alliances offer further diminishing benefits to passengers.

    Reply
  2. Bob

    I’ve been with United since the early 80′s when they were the first airline to fly to all 50 states. At that time flying was fun. I’ve been a 1K for most of the years following my free first class positive space I got for being one of 76 people to fly to all 50 states in 50 days. I’ve certainly been loyal. Now, with still a lot of years of travel left, I’m going to explore airline loyalty programs within and outside of the US. I’ve got my 2 Million mile status (hate the whole status…and separating people), but want to be given the access to awards, etc. that I used to expect with United. We’ll see.

    Reply
  3. Lynn Ohare

    Million mile flyer loses it bet with United. However my children will put there money in miles in a better company. They depend on wireless and have stuck with United ” wireless coming soon” while all their business partners switch to Virgin and Virgin Atlantic two years ago. Mother was wrong loyal is so old fashion along with manners.

    Reply
  4. Randall

    Are upgrade awards changing? Especially for domestic U.S./Canada from cheap coach (e.g., L) to first, or Europe/Asia from discount business (e.g., I) to first?

    Reply
    1. MileCards

      @Randall – No indication those are changing. Still the same mileage amounts and copays for those regions on that 2014 chart they published. They did start requiring usage of miles or a ‘Global Premier Upgrade’ for intra-Asia and Northern South America routes. No more complimentary elite upgrades there.

      Reply
  5. Mark 1K

    Hopefully, Delta will offer a 1K match this year. Considering United’s recent changes for EQM Spend, United Club devaluation, and now this… I guess it’s not worth spending my money with United anymore. It’s the end of an era.

    Reply
    1. MileCards

      @Mark – The sad thing is Delta made each of those changes just before United. EQM spend, lower quality drinks in their SkyClubs, raising the prices of business class rewards. Now it comes down to which airline better delivers on service.

      Reply
  6. ron

    We plan to go to Hawaii in 2014 from New Jersey.What is the least United roundtrip miles per person to be taken from our mileage plus accounts.Thank you for your help!

    Reply
    1. MileCards

      @Ron – If you book before February 1st no changes to report – you can get an Economy class roundtrip for 40,000 miles on many dates – that includes travel on dates after February 1st through most of 2014. You may have to take a connection along the way in San Francisco, LA, Chicago, Denver, or Houston, while June/July are sparse months for available seats.

      If you book on or after February 1st or change your ticket after then, the lowest price moves up to 45,000 miles roundtrip.

      Reply
  7. David Andrew

    Yet another way for the schmuck Jeff Smisek to try and increase revenue in whatever way he can especially given the failure to meet Wall Street Estimates this last quarter. Every other airline is kicking his ass, even the ugly stepsister (he called) US Airways. So sick of seeing his stupid face talking about how great their customer service is and how great their new planes are, I am a 1K and have flown on a new plane only twice this year.

    Reply
  8. flyguy29

    All this, and I’ve been trying to book for Christmas and am thinking they had already reduced the number of mileage seats available, now I’m convinced that’s exactly what happened!

    Reply
  9. Bruce

    Not that it’ll do much good but I wonder what is the most effective communication channel with United to complain about these changes…

    Reply
  10. Stephen

    One thing nobody is mentioning, there are a couple that got less expensive!

    I live in Central Asia, and definitely noticed Europe – C.A. went down by 5k each way. I’d image there are others, too, so not necessarily all bad news!

    Reply
    1. MileCards

      @Stephen – Absolutely right. Places where miles aren’t so easy to earn as they are in the U.S.! They definitely put thought into it.

      Reply
  11. Thui Doan

    Every time when airlines annouce a merger, I forsee things like this will happen, yet in a bad way for consumers. This time, it is not bad, it is WORST!!!

    A saver economy award ticket from US to Asia used to required 65,000miles, and now 80,000miles. It is 23% increase. And look at the miles required for the same route, it is up 86%, yes, it is 86%!!!

    And some people will still praise and applaud airlines’ mergers in LinkedIn forums!!!!! Unbelivable!

    Reply
  12. Sam G

    After nearly 30 years a loyal UA mileage plus saver, time to find a better program. What a ripoff – especially on the Star Alliance Partners! I guess the “alliance” is dead. United usually upped the required miles by 20K but this is a pure rape of their most loyal patrons. You think you have saved for a special first class trip (that you will have to have endless patience and flexibility to book) only to be reamed.

    Goodbye UA.

    Reply
  13. Ed Perkins

    The old award chart noted that 25k awards for the 48 states were in first class on 2-class planes, business class on 3-class planes, but the new chart doesn’t say that. Does this mean that you’ll need 35k each way for a first class flight on 2-class planes?

    Reply
    1. MileCards

      @Ed – It looks like no change there. Funny enough the rep that answered this just came out of a briefing where the trainer said these charts hadn’t yet been published and thought they wouldn’t be until January. But they double checked. Also checked the old chart and for whatever reason that cabin footnote isn’t there, though like you certainly remember seeing some mention of it before.

      Guessing this update won’t be clear to a lot of members until they try to redeem in February as so few look at these charts.

      Reply
  14. Steve

    All of the comparison charts I’ve seen so far are for Saver awards. Has anyone put together similar charts for Standard awards?

    Reply
  15. Howard Doerr

    Are all of the “revised” numbers all considered based on one way travel? Or are the new miles shown for a round trip?

    Reply
  16. Shawn

    Wow, and here I thought this was one thing that United did better than Delta, I might have to trade my 1K status on United to Delta. This really does make you wonder if these airlines value loyalty.

    Reply
    1. Al Marczyk

      The ONLY thing that matters is the bottom line. I have flown over 5m miles between DL & UA and I’m sure I’m viewed as “insignificant” not special ….BTW, When they made everyone Elite, Premier, Gold Medallion, etc. Nobody is.

      Reply
      1. PAINFUL LESSONS

        You got that right!

        3M miles and I feel exactly the same. The only real leftover, now that I fly less, is lifetime “premiere exec” (or whatever euphemism they use for its watered-down meaning currently) regardless of my miles, providing some ongoing benefits (extra free baggage on intl – actually valuable!) … ALTHOUGH EVEN SO MY MILES (which would “never expire” now are subject to expiration…

        Reply
    2. PAINFUL LESSONS

      LOYALTY? Are you kidding? Loyalty matters when it costs more to acquire new customers than to retain old ones. Like high commission things-life insurance, magazine subscriptions,etc. In many industries, esp monopolies (Post office) Duopolies (wireline POTS phone companies) oligopolies (gasoline companies, you have very, very little choice, so they don’t value loyalty at all. Simple economics. Sounds awful, but you and I don’t mean a rolling donut to the miscreants who ALSO have no sesnse of responsibility, except to their bosses, who in turn have it only to their shareholders, and hence stock option values.

      Sad, but that’s the way it is.

      What these guys are doing is terrible (they gotcha now- “watcha gonna do about it? Where ya gonna go that’s better?”), but no worse than the way our govt keeps rewriting the rules on everything, or the collossal frauds on companies going into bankruptcies to sidestep their pension liabilities, etc, etc.

      Life ain’t fair-never was, never will be. It’s just the way it is…

      Reply
  17. Sam Patel

    Looks like United is racing to the bottom and I trying to go ahead of Delta.
    I think still Delta is winning and United will have to be worse to surpass Delta.

    Reply
  18. Jennifer Cotez-Simpson

    Your Alaska increase is incorrect. You need to correct it. There is no change for awards to/from Alaska. That makes me question your other numbers too.

    Reply
    1. MileCards

      @Jennifer, @Heidi, @Jackal – Wish it wasn’t true but it’s buried in the footnotes at the bottom of the award chart: “Routes between Alaska and the continental U.S. or between Alaska and Canada will be charged an additional 5,000 miles for Saver and 10,000 miles for Standard”.

      And those are one way numbers.

      Reply
  19. Heidi

    I’m seeing conflicting information regarding increases in the miles needed for travel to/from Alaska on United. Are you sure your chart is correct?

    Reply
  20. John

    Outrageous changes – made worse by the fact that United made no effort to show us what changed. Just a bunch of fine print. Thanks for making it clear.

    Reply
  21. David R.

    This really hurts as a Platinum flyer. Was saving up for a reward to Italy next summer and Lufthansa is the one that tends to have the most flights. Am skeptical United will make more seats available on its own flights…

    Reply

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