Ups and Downs Coming to United's Award Chart Ups and Downs Coming to United's Award Chart

Ups and Downs Coming to United's Award Chart

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United recently announced a slew of changes to their MileagePlus program. While you might assume all would be negative, United has implemented some minor improvements as well. Unlike other airlines who have devalued overnight, United is giving its customers plenty of advanced notice, since the new changes will not be implemented until November 1, 2017. Until then, current rates/policies will apply.


Price Increases In Saver Award Chart

United is increasing some of the prices in its Saver Award Chart. Most price rises are relatively small and aren't a significant impact. Key changes include:

  • Economy Saver awards will stay the same. Flights under 700 miles will still cost 10,000 miles; all others will still cost 12,500 miles
  • Premium Transcon routes increase to 35,000 miles one way from the current price of 25,000. Also, flights to Hawaii jump from 40,000 to 50,000 miles
  • United Business class to New Zealand and Australia jumps from 70,000 to 80,000 miles, while destinations in South Asia have increased from 70,000 to 75,000 miles
  • United Business class to Europe has increased from 57,500 one way to 60,000 miles

On a positive note, United will be increasing the availability of Saver Award space by 10%.

International Short Haul Saver Award

This is a new sweet spot with United as they will be implementing a new short haul Saver Award with partner airlines for flights of under 800 miles outside the US. These flights will now cost 8,000 miles each way, which means you can pick an economy flight from Frankfurt to Paris for 8,000 miles. There is no change to economy saver flights within Japan which will still cost only 5,000 miles.

New Everyday Awards

United is introducing a new dynamic pricing model to its non-Saver awards. United is abolishing its standard award and is introducing a new Everyday Award level. With the new awards, prices will fluctuate between a minimum and a maximum. It is worth noting that the upper limits of all awards will increase except the following:

  • Business and First-class Awards within the US, Canada, and Alaska
  • Economy, Business, and First to North Africa
  • Economy and Business to North Asia

This new system means you could pay less or more than you do today for a given award ticket, although United has not exactly specified how the prices will be determined. These new Everyday Awards are only valid on United and United Express operated aircraft.

No Show Fee

United will be charging award customers a no show fee of $125. While this will not be taken as an upfront deposit, if you don’t show up and have not cancelled prior to departure you will be charged $125 of your miles redeposited to your account.


It is difficult to judge how bad or good these changes may be in the long run. If you travel a lot in Europe the reduction in partner short haul prices is a good thing. If you travel on one of the routes hit with the biggest price increase, it won’t be the best news. Ultimately what will make or break this devaluation is the dynamic pricing chart, if United produces an even balance of cheaper award fares it won’t be too bad; on the other hand, if the prices stay very close to the new increased maximum, then everybody will lose. Either way there will definitely be some winners and losers with this change, which one do you think you will be?

5 / 5 - (4 votes)
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  • kezzakawasaki says:

    Goodbye to TG First Class from Sydney to Bangkok – it was great while it lasted!

  • Glad to see the 8K for short-haul Europe awards. Hopefully will be able to take advantage of a few of those.

  • Will only use it for international short haul in the future

  • Well, overall it’s not a real devaluation.
    There are some positive changes such as short intra area flights for 8000 miles and some negative changes especially for business and first class tickets.
    Personally, I likme a lot the possibility of doing short flights at 8000 miles!

  • The_Bouncer says:

    I like the 8k intra-Europe awards, but BA’s RFS will still be my first choice.

  • UA devaluation was inevitable. Glad they gave notice and still have award chart.

  • Devaluations are always disheartening. I almost wish airline miles went away in favor of credit card reward points getting more lucrative. Any airline any price, very simple rules and the airlines then would compete more for business.

  • i am flying a lot within europe. so the new chart is welcome.

  • It’s a pitty, they also increase my sweet spot Japan to French Polynesia by 2500 miles in economy. For me United miles is the cheapest way to go there when you don’t have a lot of miles.

  • Raising award prices is never a good thing, but miles are increasingly easy to earn, so it’s probably just about a wash… and on the bright side, at least UA still provides us with a chart.

  • The positive is that United has given advance notice, rather than the AA stealth devaluation several years ago.

  • I’m about to get Silver status with United. I have no status with any other Star Alliance airlines. Would it be better to book a paying flight on a partner airline within Europe or say South Africa and accrue those points to United or rather accrue in the partners programmes. Im based in South Africa – easy for me to accrue SAA Miles.

  • Airline industry consolidation strikes again!

  • Actually, doesn’t sound half bad. Not enough to sway my AA loyalty though.

  • I guess a positive is that more seats will be available.

  • MICHAELJ says:

    I have a suggestion for the airlines. It would probably be cheaper, involve less airline staff time and avoid very, very upset customers who feel “baited and switched” if they had very simple rules for redeeming frequent flyer miles. Such as: Here is the rate – you can use your miles whenever you wish.

  • thanks… I’ve been a avid United Miles user.

  • In general looks all bad to me. A reduction for some international short haul flights is only beneficial where low cost carriers dont fly, which isn’t many places these days.

  • The no show policy makes the most sense to me. This way we can’t have people taking up space on flights and then not taking the flight. Thanks for the update!

  • Bertrand say says:

    They are playing with fire especially with all the bad news regarding how they treat passengers.

  • It’s good they’re giving a grace period before this takes effect.

  • JonKarol says:

    I wonder what role the co-branded credit card signup bonus increases play in these devaluations. It seems like the bonuses hit record highs either right before or after an airline devalues its miles.

  • this seems to be one of the less evil changes that airlines have been making lately

  • Noooo…UA please stop copying all the bad stuff from DL without copying any good aspects…

  • I guess you can call it miles/points inflation. The Federal Reserve Bank does the same thing people’s all-mighty USD. They target slight USD inflation with maximum employment to promote economic growth.

    The airlines promote frequent fliers to accumulate more miles, then inflate the cost of flights slightly.


    I don’t see many benefits on those changes…

  • I know I’m being cynical (which in this game is a necessity), but I would expect those dynamic prices to be higher and closer to the max than lower. But who knows, I guess?

  • Unfortunately adjustments to award programs for the most part do not benefit the loyal customers a departure from years ago. We will just have to wait for the pendulum to swing back in our direction.

  • Interesting to see prices increase to Hawaii while recently I have read reports about how UA want to increase flights to Hawaii to become the number 1 carrier. Seems a bit counter-productive, although perhaps it might mean decent award availability.

  • OK, eventually the changes appear not as bad as I initially thought: every such “change” or “enhancement” is basically a devaluation.

  • Some positive changes for us personally as we do take a lot of SH EU flights, I can see others that are not as positive though.

  • I suspect everyone’s opinion on the changes will be very variable, depending on their own needs. Better than a flat out bad all round devaluation, I suppose!

  • jason picker says:

    I personally love the “international Short Haul”, but it wont really help someone flying transatlantic.

  • Seems like they are just moving into line with the other carriers. Nothing I’m too worried about. Things changing like they always do. I wonder what it’ll all be like in 10yrs. I’m good with the changes. I still love all the extra options they have to redeem miles for luggage, tsa, etc. No whispers about they taking that away are there?

  • no show fee?!!! oh the creative brain of the United ancillary revenue manager