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How To Book International Awards W/ United Miles When There Is No Availability.

How To Book International Awards W/ United Miles When There Is No Availability.

Old Aug 1, 12, 10:11 pm
  #1  
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Join Date: Sep 2009
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How To Book International Awards W/ United Miles When There Is No Availability.

I'm not sure if everyone knows this but you can add on a free domestic positioning flight on International Award flights booked with United miles.

Basically if you can't find any saver availability from your home airport, you can fly out of any other U.S airport with availability and United will fly you to that airport for free (as long as there is domestic availability).

This is really useful if you have set in stone dates and United.com is saying there is no saver availability from your home airport.

For anyone that is interested, I put together a step by step guide.

Last edited by onesweetworld; Nov 30, 12 at 2:40 pm
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Old Aug 2, 12, 6:29 am
  #2  
 
Join Date: Nov 2002
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How To Book International Awards W/ United Miles When There Is No Availability.

Unless I have missed your point, I would have thought this was 'basic' knowledge - but it might be helpful to some.
kilo is offline  
Old Aug 2, 12, 7:09 am
  #3  
 
Join Date: Dec 2011
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Originally Posted by kilo View Post
Unless I have missed your point, I would have thought this was 'basic' knowledge - but it might be helpful to some.
VERY helpful to me - this wasn't something I knew!

Thanks onesweetworld! ^
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Old Aug 2, 12, 7:22 am
  #4  
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Thanks for pointing this out. Do the domestic positioning flights automatically ticket in coach, or can they ticket in first if your award is in biz/first?
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Old Aug 2, 12, 7:32 am
  #5  
 
Join Date: Apr 2011
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Thanks also for linking to MileValue's post on the free one-ways at the beginning/end of overseas trips!

Not to hijack the thread, but has anyone had experience combining two one-way award bookings into a single round-trip (e.g. in order to gain a stopover)?
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Old Aug 2, 12, 7:48 am
  #6  
 
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Thumbs up

Hmm.. I never knew that, either. I am not a super frequent flier, but I have been a 1P for a few years. Good info, thank you for posting!
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Old Aug 2, 12, 7:51 am
  #7  
 
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Many thanks,---very useful info.
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Old Aug 2, 12, 7:57 am
  #8  
 
Join Date: May 2009
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Excuse me while I pick my jaw up off the floor...

Let me get this straight - even if there is no domestic award availability, they will add it on at no charge for an international award flight?

You mean I didn't need to overnight in Houston last year because there was no IAH-ATL availability after my international leg? How did I miss this?

EDIT: I read the article, and this is not the case. Award availability is still needed on the domestic portion. Still a good tip, but not as earth shattering as I thought.

Last edited by vkng; Aug 2, 12 at 8:05 am
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Old Aug 2, 12, 9:28 am
  #9  
 
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The issue in OP's case was not that ORD-IAH wasn't available, but that united.com couldn't find the ORD-IAH-DOH-BOM routing for your ORD-BOM query (perhaps because IAH is not considered as a normal connecting city for ORD-BOM), so you had to find it manually and call UA to book it. Per UA's award chart, the number of miles is the same for the same region pair regardless of the number of segments or total distance (maybe there are limits but they are practically irrelevant for most people).

Originally Posted by vkng View Post
Excuse me while I pick my jaw up off the floor...

Let me get this straight - even if there is no domestic award availability, they will add it on at no charge for an international award flight?

You mean I didn't need to overnight in Houston last year because there was no IAH-ATL availability after my international leg? How did I miss this?

EDIT: I read the article, and this is not the case. Award availability is still needed on the domestic portion. Still a good tip, but not as earth shattering as I thought.
Actually I had a couple of such experiences (being able to add a domestic segment when saver award is not available) when I called UA to change the route.

Say I've originally booked MUC-ORD-PIT but there is a MUC-IAD flight I really want to take (such as LH F) and is available, but I see no saver award availability on IAD-PIT. I then check revenue o/w fare for IAD-PIT and it turns out to be reasonable, so I call UA thinking that I could just purchase a separate ticket for that segment. I tell the agent I want to take those two flights, expecting to be told that IAD-PIT is not available. Surprisingly, however, the agent books both segments without a hitch.

In my case, the IAD-PIT segment booked into XN, which is coach saver award for elites so it should have shown up when I searched for IAD-PIT. There is a slight chance that I forgot to log in and only XN was >0, but I have another similar experience and I usually make sure that I'm logged in when I do award search.

Has anyone had similar experience?
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Old Aug 2, 12, 10:51 am
  #10  
 
Join Date: Nov 2011
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I have already booked a standard biz award ticket, roundtrip EWR to HKG on the direct flight for 300K miles.

Any chance of using the above info and changing this if I find a saverpass award, say HKG to SFO or something in biz?
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Old Aug 2, 12, 11:05 am
  #11  
 
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Is this any different from checking award availability segment by segment? Or is there a special exception made to the positioning flight (i.e. domestic award availability not available).

Does this also have anything to do with married segments?
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Old Aug 2, 12, 11:12 am
  #12  
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Originally Posted by kilo View Post
Unless I have missed your point, I would have thought this was 'basic' knowledge - but it might be helpful to some.
This.

OP, thank you for the helpful contribution! However, to ensure that nobody gets confused, this is a very basic fact about award redemptions -- for all airlines. The OP is basically observing that award tickets (just like purchased tix) do not need to be nonstop -- e.g., you can fly ORD-EWR-LHR rather than being limited to ORD-LHR nonstop.

This is fairly obvious to those of us who live in non-hub cities and are used to flying routes like FAI-DEN-IAD-CDG-VIE to get places. However, flyers who are lucky enough to live in a hub and get more or less everywhere nonstop may indeed find it useful. I suspect most FTers have moved on to more complicated challenges like trying to maximize the number of 23-hour layovers on a four-partner double-open-jaw to Asia with stopover in Europe.

One observation that may be useful to those who appreciated the original post is that routing rules on award tix are often much looser, in terms of connecting cities, than those on paid fares. For example, the routing that I mentioned above (to VIE via CDG) is not generally legal on paid fares, because CDG is not a hub. But for an award routing, you can connect (and have a stopover!) almost anywhere as long as it doesn't involve backtracking.
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Old Aug 2, 12, 11:31 am
  #13  
 
Join Date: Feb 1999
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The award booking FAQs always mention that award searches are not comprehensive. In other words, can't just put in the origin and destination and expect the award search to find all possible routes. Instead, you have to try several gateway cities to find award availability for the long overwater segment, and then work back from there. (In pmUA's case, I would typically search from SFO, LAX, ORD, and IAD; now I have to add EWR and IAH.)

Recently, I was able to book the overwater portions of an award online (SFO-SYD-MEL and AKL-PVG-SFO), then call UA to add the award segments that I wasn't able to book online (MEL-CHC and CHC-AKL). This routing wouldn't have shown up if I had only searched for SFO-MEL, MEL-CHC, and CHC-SFO.

So far, I don't see anything different here. Or am I missing something?
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Old Aug 2, 12, 11:37 am
  #14  
 
Join Date: Mar 2005
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Originally Posted by mikew99 View Post
So far, I don't see anything different here. Or am I missing something?
No, you're not missing anything. It costs the same number of miles to fly SEA-FRA as it does SEA-ORD-FRA or SEA-IAH-FRA. So what the OP is describing as a "free positioning flight" is actually just a regular domestic connection that most people have to take every time they book an international award...it would display as one of the options when searching for an award ticket. There has to be award space available on the domestic and international segments. Nothing to see here.

And to top it all off "Free" is misleading.. for someone who isn't a Plat or 1K..adding a connecting domestic flight would not be free at all if done 24 hours + past booking because it would alter the origin/destination and there would be a change fee.
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Old Aug 2, 12, 11:38 am
  #15  
 
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Originally Posted by QBK View Post
However, to ensure that nobody gets confused, this is a very basic fact about award redemptions -- for all airlines.
Not relevant to UA forum, but there are quite a few exceptions to this. I know at least NH and BA implement distance-based award chart, where your mileage cost may increase as you add segments.
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