United Award Availability to Europe & New Zealand United Award Availability to Europe & New Zealand

United Award Availability to Europe & New Zealand

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Award space availability is often one of the bears of frequent flyer points redemption. You have the miles, but you can’t find the flight you want. Some airlines incredibly stingy with their award space allocation, while some are very generous. So, any time an airline is being generous with award space, even on partner airlines, it’s time to get your notebook and your travel plans out — it's time to start using up some of those miles.

Award Space to Europe

There is plenty of award space to Europe on United. As a member of Star Alliance, United is a partner of Lufthansa and Austrian Airlines. The current open space is to Vienna from many US cities such as Chicago, Miami, Washington DC, and New York. There is not much space available in First class, but plenty in Economy and Business. As an example, there is space for several travelers every week during March 2017, on routes originating from Washington DC. On routes from Newark in August 2017, there is also quite a fair amount of space available.

Down Under in Style

If you'd rather go south, far south, how about a trip down under in First? Typically, award space to New Zealand and Australia is pretty hard to come by. However, there is plenty to both. There is quite a bit of space available to Australia on United’s partner Air Canada. The space is on flights to Brisbane (BNE) from Vancouver (YVR). Most of this space is available around April and May 2017. One way award tickets in Business class on Star Alliance partners will cost you 80K miles plus taxes and charges.

Heading over to New Zealand, there is plenty of space in Polaris First Class on flights to Auckland (AKL) from San Francisco (SFO). This is because United switched to using their revamped 777-200 instead of the usual Boeing 787 Dreamliner on this route. Booking a one-way flight should cost you 80K miles plus taxes and fees. If by chance United switches back to using the two-cabin 787 after you have booked, they will honor your ticket in Business, and you will get a refund of 10K miles since they only charge 70K miles for a business class award ticket.


If you have some travel plans and the miles, then this is an awesome opportunity to take advantage of the award space available. One thing to note though is that generally award space does not last long before it gets snapped up, so if you do have some travel plans, now is the time to firm them up and get booking.

Sources: The Points Guy/Nick Ellis & Million Mile Secrets

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  • I had a family trip to NZ last yearend/new year using United Airlines miles from Haneda, Tokyo by Air China on business class. The HanedaBeijing flight was nothing spacial, but the BeijingAuckland leg was. It was awesome to get flat bed experience on Dreamliner 787 for about 12 hours. By the way, business class costs only 40000 miles OW, which I think worth paying (an economy class ticket costs 22500 miles OW).

  • Is there an easy way to search for United award space *just on United metal*, rather than including all partners?

  • Here’s wishing for NZ’s award availability to come back!

  • There’s so much chatter out there about the Polaris experience that it’s really difficult not to desire such a flight.

  • Was looking for (one-way) UA award space Europe>USA>New Zealand and even right at the last minute I found nothing except Economy.

    Is this normal?

  • Thanks, it hadn’t really occurred to me about using United miles on partner airlines before, and I hadn’t paid too much attention to their scheme or bothered to try and collect their miles. After reading this I must investigate further.

  • It’s not really clear whether you are saying there is lots of availability to Europe on United metal, or flying on Austrian Airlines using United miles.

  • Any tips for getting approval for Chase cards if you have opened 6 in last year?

  • I like the United programme.
    Good availability and never fuel surcharges.
    This is not always true with its two main competitors: American and Delta.

  • I completely forgot on my last post to ask…is it easy to put a miles ticket in someone else’s name? I assume that I can redeem from my account for someone else? Sorry thank you for any help in this!!!

    • Absolutely, you can do this without issue in almost every airline — but there are a few exceptions. For example, with Korean Air you can only book trips for immediate family and have to show proof of relationship.

      • Really?! Korean makes you prove they are immediate family? Wow! Good to know! Thank you! I will make sure that if I get the Sapphire that I look into the rules for each program.

  • I’m just earning miles on United and haven’t had a chance to use them yet. This is great information! Is redeeming miles on United about the same issues as any airline? I am planning on using my miles mainly for my mother in law fra-dfw. I’ve heard the coach seats on Luft are harse?! On United I’m assuming they are the same as domestic flights. But if I put her into Polaris on miles, does she has access to the lounge, etc? She’s older and just needs the extra comfort..my sister in law can go coach ;o) lol! Kidding. I’d love to treat them all, if I could. Does having the United credit card make it easier to get miles with them or is the Chase Sapphire better and just transfer?

    • If she travels in business/Polaris she’ll have lounge access 🙂

      Personally, I’d recommend the Sapphire cards over the United card specifically because you can transfer Sapphire points (Ultimate Rewards) to United AND other partners which gives you more flexibility.

      • That’s good to know she’d have access. Lots of people love the Chase Sapphire. I have been looking into it and the Chase Sapphire Reserve. Thank you for the reply! It’s great getting others opinions :o)

  • Thanks for the announcement – will jump on them if they work.

  • Thanks for the tips on the availability on these hard-to-get routes.

  • Returned from Melbourne and Sydney on United, it was a Dreamliner 787 and it was awesome, I love the space and the entertainment on such a long flight, it made the trip much more pleasant, the only regret is I Should have collected Singapore Air Miles instead of the United miles as its dollar based miles. I would have collected much more in value with Singapore.

  • Not a huge fan of Air Canada, but flying first/business to Australia sure would be nice. I flew economy a couple months ago & 13 hours stuck in a tiny seat was pretty uncomfortable. Any recommendations on how to use Amex MR for the flight back?

  • Great if you are planning a trip to NZ. How about Cook Islands?
    I am also stocking points for Polaris experience

  • When I search for one premium seat SFO – AKL, I get only a few scattered dates on the United Award calendar over the first nine months of 2017 — and only a couple of those dates actually give you a New Zealand Air flight. And when I search for two seats (wife likes one too . . . ), there is absolutely nothing. All gone already??

    • Yikes! I hope not — it is possible though.

    • I had found the same thing – no first or biz availability on UA metal – last year when booking our trip to OZ & NZ. Although we ended up in J on Asiana for the outbound, it wasn’t a total waste as the ultimate effect of the poor UA availability was that we instead redeemed AA miles for the Etihad First Apartment on our return, which by the way, was the best hard product we’ve experienced.

  • The difference between a first and business class award is only 10k miles? That seems a little low.

  • Until the Polaris rollout is more complete, I am hesitant to book United Business.