Can TAP Portugal Access More United Awards than United’s Own Members? Can TAP Portugal Access More United Awards than United’s Own Members?

Can TAP Portugal Access More United Awards than United’s Own Members?

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It appears that TAP Miles&Go frequent-flyer members may have access to more saver award seats on United Airlines flights than other partner loyalty programs. Oddly, this expanded access to the lowest-cost award seats is significantly better than the space that United is offering its MileagePlus members—including Premier elites and cobrand credit card members.

At the moment, the information we've collected only confirms that the TAP Portugal online award search shows available seats on these flights. AwardWallet has not yet verified that this space can be confirmed and ticketed using TAP miles.

It is possible that the TAP award search is displaying these flights in error—and that travelers cannot book these awards. Points and miles fans often call this phenomenon “phantom award space.” We don't know for sure whether that's the case here, so proceed with caution.

This potential opportunity came to our attention thanks to a post by a member of the Award Travel 101 Facebook group! If this turns out to be true, it will be a huge win for anyone with TAP miles, Capital One miles or Marriott Bonvoy points. TAP's expanded availability likely includes other United routes, but in this post, I'll use the beautiful Hawaiian islands as a sample destination to show how you can put this knowledge to work.

Flying to Hawaii in Style

United, American, Delta, Hawaiian, Alaska, and Southwest all fly to the islands. But, if you want to fly business class with lie-flat service, you'll want to focus on United, American, Delta, and Hawaiian. Each of these carriers has different alliance partners.

For example, my family was able to go to Hawaii in the summer of 2019 — the last summer of incredible travel before the pandemic shut much of the world down.

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We were able to grab four seats from Detroit (DTW) to Honolulu (HNL) in Delta One (lie-flat service). If we'd used Delta SkyMiles, it would have cost us 600,000 miles for my family. We were able to instead use 300,000 Virgin Atlantic points to book the same flights that were running over $9,300!

Related: Using Points and Miles to Fly to Hawaii

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Virgin Atlantic is a nice sweet spot for flying Delta. But this sweet spot opportunity focuses on United.

United Award Chart — Or Lack Thereof

United no longer has award charts and prices most of their awards dynamically. If you've been dreaming of Hawaii, you'll be having nightmares after reviewing these award prices. For a nonstop from Newark (EWR) to Honolulu (HNL) right at the beginning of my spring break, we'd be looking at 141,400 United MileagePlus miles one-way in business class! Of course if you're willing to hop in the back of the plane, it's an incredible deal at 12.5K miles.

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Booking United Awards through TAP (Air Portugal) Miles&Go

We rarely discuss this frequent-flyer program on the blog or in the Award Travel 101 group. Until recently, TAP miles were hard to acquire. But that changed when Capital One added TAP as a transfer partner in April 2021.

TAP (Air Portugal) Miles&Go Award Chart

In general, TAP's award pricing hasn't been very competitive. For example, a standard domestic economy award would be 60,000 miles round-trip or 30K each way! Many other programs charge 25,000-30,000 miles for that same round trip.

06a-1-300x211However, one benefit of the Miles&Go award chart is that Canada, Mexico, the Caribbean, and the U.S.—including Hawaii and Alaska—all fall within a single pricing zone. According to the chart, business-class “saver” awards should be 90k round-trip (or 45k one-way) for flights between any two airports in this region.

Normally, when United MileagePlus is showing a price of 141,400 miles for a one-way business-class award, it would not be possible to book that flight using miles from a partner frequent-flyer program like Avianca LifeMiles, Aeroplan, or TAP Portugal. To book with a partner, you need to find “saver” availability on United. (If you aren't familiar with this concept, check out our guide to which flights you can book with miles.)

Taking a look at ExpertFlyer, United isn't offering any saver award space on this flight.

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But there are still plenty of seats that can be booked by customers paying with money.

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Searching United Awards Through TAP Miles&Go

So here is where TAP members seem to have a huge advantage: Log in to your TAP Miles & Go account, and open this link to search for awards. Put in your city pairs, and don't select a date. You do need miles in your account to perform searches. However, you can earn 200 miles for registering.

Related: Airline and Hotel Programs Offering Bonuses to New Members

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Pressing the red “Select dates” button will now take you to a calendar with, what appears to be, expanded award availability.

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There are scattered dates throughout February – May, 2022 and a few other sporadic dates there after. So let's proceed.

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The same flight that was 141,400 miles on United (one-way) is showing to be just 45,000 TAP miles — which can be transferred 1:1 from cards like Capital One's incredible new offering.

More Examples of This Pricing

Let's check out another example.

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We loved Maui so much from our visit in 2019 that we had planned to return in 2021, but a Covid-19 breakout in our family prevented us from making it. What if I wanted to leave this coming weekend?

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No business class is offered. Premium economy is being priced at crazy business-class-like rates. Meanwhile, economy is close to normal at 25K per person (7.5K if you transfer to Turkish). ExpertFlyer doesn't show any space in business class either, but again there are a few open seats.

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Will Miles & Go return anything from Chicago?

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Looks like lots of options to me, but I want that nonstop! Clicking through, it's showing an option to select business class for 45k.

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One of the issues that's often tough to address is finding award availability for more than one or two. For families, it's always a challenge. So how will this appearance of expanded award availability work when multiple tickets are required? Here's an example where you can book four economy or business class tickets nonstop from Chicago to Maui:

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Final Thoughts

It would appear that TAP Miles & Go has access to United award inventory not accessible to other programs. This means that you may have greater ability to book business class seats than we've previously believed. While you should be able to book online, there's always a chance that this is some kind of mistake or fluke.

Before transferring valuable Capital One miles into a partner that has limited other use, do call their service center to verify it's bookable at 800-903-7914, but be prepared to hold. If you are able to successfully confirm any of this United award space, please let us know in the comments!

Join Award Travel 101

I LOVE my work in the Award Travel 101 Facebook group! The group was founded on a single goal: helping members achieve their travel dreams by maximizing airline, hotel, and credit card reward programs. Every day I get to see all of the things people are doing collectively and determine how I can apply that to different situations.

The purpose of a massive 76,000 member-strong Travel community, like Award Travel 101, is that there are lots of people, things, and situations to learn from. Most importantly, I love to see you all succeed and take the trips of your dreams.

I also love having an incredible team surrounding me to help with many of my deficits. I, myself, just joined the group four years ago this coming May. I've come a long way from making some of those beginner mistakes. If you haven't joined yet, check it out because it's due to this member post that gave me the idea to try something new.

Come join us to learn how to unlock the power of credit card, hotel, and airline miles and points to travel the world on any budget!

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