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United is raising the prices of some of its MileagePlus awards substantially on Saturday, February 1st. The increase is primarily for international partner awards in business and first class, the kind of rewards that today cost 100,000 miles or more. These will now increase by 80% or more for some ultra-premium first class awards.
You only have until Saturday, February 1st to make a booking at the old, lower mileage prices, but if you’re not exactly sure of when you want to travel you have some options to postpone your final decision and keep the old prices intact:
United is allowing booking of award tickets through the end of December right now, so if you book before February 1st you’ll lock in the current, lower mileage rates.
United has confirmed that any change that doesn’t involve ‘repricing’ of an award will not be charged extra miles even if the change happens after the price increase.
So if you book a flight from Chicago to Frankfurt on Lufthansa for August 4, and decide to change it to September 12 later on, you won’t be hit with a higher mileage level. You will however be hit with a change fee. It’s $75 for changes made more than 21 days before the original departure date, though that’s waived if you’re an Premier level member of United’s frequent flier program.
It’s a steeper $100 fee if you make the change within 21 days of departure.
What’s not clear is whether you can change airlines, keeping the same origin and destination, with no additional fee. Theoretically you should as it is the same award type, though would require a different ticket number, which could trigger re-pricing.
Tip via BoardingArea – You can go online to United.com and ask that you simply cancel your itinerary, but not redeposit the miles. Then, when you’re ready to book a date you will use, apply that ticket toward the new dates. You can also request this over the phone.
Your ticket value is good for up to one year from the original date you used the miles from your account.
*Don’t* ask to redeposit your miles as that will hit you with a $200 fee, and you can’t change the region you’re traveling to as that will trigger a new award at the new price and force you to redeposit and rebook at the higher mileage levels.
None of these options are perfect, there’s no full way around the price increase. But if you know where you want to travel in the next year, but are unsure of the date, these methods will help you lock in the lower rates for up to a year.
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