Sweet Spots for United MileagePlus Awards

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Sweet spots on the United MileagePlus award chart are few and far between. However, if you look hard enough, there are a few gems, even if some require some out-of-the-box thinking. We've included five of the most attractive United sweet spots for awards; also included are award charts for United MileagePlus. The first chart is for travel on United aircraft and the second is for travel on their partners.

United MileagePlus Award Chart for United Flights
United MileagePlus Award Chart for United Flights
United Award Chart for Partner Flights
United Award Chart for Partner Flights

Premium Cabin Awards on United Aircraft

There might be nothing sexy about flying business class or first class with United, but when it comes to getting the most value for your miles, there are few premium cabin award options available for great rates. Whether it is Europe for 57,500 miles in business class, Australia/New Zealand for 70,000 miles in business class or 80,000 miles in first class, or anything in-between, you will usually be able to get as much or more by booking United awards on their own metal than when booking awards with Delta or American Airlines. Also, keep in mind that United has just launched their much-awaited new business class product called Polaris which appears to be extremely attractive, particularly when compared to previous international business class products.

Partner Awards Between Caribbean/Central America/Mexico and Northern South America (10k in economy or 20k in business)

You may have to position to cities such as San Juan, Mexico City, and Panama City to be able to take advantage of these awards, but if you can do that, you may be in for a treat. United partner awards between the Caribbean/Central America/Mexico and Northern South America require only 10,000 miles in economy class and 20,000 miles in business class one-way. According to United's award chart, the Northern South America region includes Colombia, Ecuador, French Guiana, Guyana, Peru, Suriname, and Venezuela. Peru and Colombia are likely the two countries you'd take the most advantage of for this sweet spot.

Partner Business Class Awards Within Central/Southern Africa (35k in business)

United is a Star Alliance partner of two of Africa's largest airlines: South African Airways and Ethiopian. As such, you can get pretty much anywhere in Central and Southern Africa on a United partner award with these airlines. Best of all, the business class rates for travel within Central/Southern Africa is only 35,000 miles in business class. The same award with Delta would require 40,000 miles, while with American options are extremely limited for travel within Central/Southern Africa because of the lack of partners in these regions.

Partner Awards Between Europe and Central Asia (25k/40k/60k)

When it comes to awards, United divides Asia into four regions. One of these is Central Asia, which includes India, the Maldives, Nepal, and Sri Lanka, among others. If you need to book an award between Europe and Central Asia, it is going to be hard to beat United's partner awards rates of 25,000 miles in economy class, 45,000 miles in business class and 60,000 miles in first class each way. Lufthansa's exceptional first class product, among others, is extremely enticing at this rate.

Roundtrip Itineraries that Include a Stopover (Excursionist Perk)

United allows you to add one complimentary stopover to roundtrip awards, something Delta and American do not. As such, most United award itineraries that include a stopover automatically result in attractive award redemptions.

Bottom Line

These five types of awards should be kept in mind when thinking about how to get the most value out of your United miles. Remember, United is a Chase Ultimate Rewards transfer partner, and those transfers are typically instant, so even if you do not have enough miles to book the United award you want, the award may be only five minutes away. Don't forget that United is one of the few airlines that never imposes fuel surcharges on award tickets. If you're looking to pick up some additional miles with United, check out the United℠ Explorer Card.

Sweet Spots for United MileagePlus Awards
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Comments

  • For me, the stopover allowance is hard to beat if you’re looking to see plenty of places and things on a single trip.

    • Yes, absolutely! Stopover for 1-2 days is what I always searching for on long trips – for 1-2 days stay in cute place to kill the jet-lag before I come to my main and final destination!

      • thanks for the tip. I will definitely check out the stopover rule on United next time. This seems to be even better than AA’s rule of <24 hour stopover allowed.

        • Same here, I was not aware of any stop over allowance by the United. Have to read it up more carefully for the upcoming trip.

    • A useful perk indeed.

    • amzsinger@gmail.com says:

      Thinking about using this stopover for Hawaii next fall. Seems like a good way to avoid jet lag!

  • Even though it takes much longer now to accumulate the miles for the award trip, I still prefer the United and its Star alliance partners. The selection of the destinations is hard to beat.

    • I agree, however, it is still possible to booking with other Star Alliance partners who charge a more reasonable amount of miles, especially when redeeming UR points!

  • very useful for my next trip.

  • amzsinger@gmail.com says:

    I always have trouble getting decent award tickets on United. It’s why I don’t fly as much. Maybe I will look at partner options based on this blog. Thanks for the advice!!

  • For the value of the miles, is it better to get multiple economy class tickets with your award miles or get 1 business class ticket?

    • It comes down to your goals — do you want to fly more frequently or more comfotably? From an overall value, focusing solely on cash value, most of the time you’ll make out on top with business class.

      • For me, it’s definitely comfort. I cringe at the thought of a 14 hour flight in a seat that doesn’t turn into a bed!

        • James Eastwood says:

          Second this! Plus like Howie said, you get way more, WAY MORE, bang for your buck using points to get a business/first redemption. For some people, like myself, a lot of the fun of points/miles travel is maximizing my points for the reward!

  • Love the stopover option!

  • The complimentary stopover is the sweet spot for me. I have used it on United roundtrip awards to Europe. I had a free stopover in Vienna before flying to Paris.

  • I have to agree with some of the other posters. The stopover is what is really making it stand out from the crowd.

  • Australia/NZ to Oceania is also great value when you consider that Guam and the whole South Pacific is open to you – these are usually high cost fares to some unique places.

  • Partner awards from Australia / New Zealand to Japan are really cool: 40k business, 60k first class.

  • I like the stopover benefit because I find, as I age, I’m “a little older and slower,” so breaking up a trip using a stopover in the itinerary creates a better pace for me.

  • South East Asia to Australia is also good value.

  • Wow I did not know that you could have a free stopover on their mileage tickets! That’s awesome! I just did United’s dining promo and also surveys..so once I get the Chase Sapphire, it’ll really come together to get trips. I see that Australia is a good option. Any tips on the best way to get on Qantas’ nonstop flights with points?

  • I also had no idea about the stopover allowance, but am definitely going to check it out for my next redemption!

  • i believe the stopover is only for round trips and only in one of the directions … something to keep in mind when booking

  • good info. thx!

  • I am in the process of saving up points/miles for my husband to take a big trip to India in November. My goal is to save enough to be able to get him a free round trip ticket in the new Polaris business class. If I researched it correctly it seems like I need to save up 175K miles to do this. Is there a better way to get a first class/business class ticket to India?

    • It would be 140,000 United miles if Saver space is available. There are less expensive options through different programs – what points/miles do you currently have?

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