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UA award booking, change questions / issues / routing / excursionist problems / help

Old Jan 19, 2017, 10:23 pm
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Last edit by: WineCountryUA
Main Impact
  • No more free stopover - replaced with Excursionist Perk
  • Agents no longer have the ability to find routings or build itineraries that do not show up on united.com
  • Manually constructing trips using multi-city search results in multiple award fares being charged
  • Changing any segment basically requires current availability for all existing Os&Ds in the PNR (as if a brand new booking is made)
  • Singapore Airlines segments are priced separately (add-ons)

Useful Links
EveryDay Awards - UA MP award changes 1 Nov 2017 (Everyday award/dynamic price, No RTW, No Show fee,..)
principle change - Standard awards being replaced by "EveryDay Award" with variable pricing

What is the Excursionist Perk?
The Excursionist Perk is a free one-way award within select multi-city itineraries. Members who book an itinerary with three or more one-way awards will be eligible to receive one of those one-way awards for free, if it meets all of these conditions:
The Excursionist Perk cannot be in the MileagePlus defined region where your travel originates. (For example, if your journey begins in North America, you will only receive the Excursionist Perk if travel is within a region outside of North America.)
  • Travel must end in the same MileagePlus defined region where travel originates.
  • The origin and destination of the Excursionist Perk is within a single MileagePlus defined region.
  • The cabin of service and award type of the free one-way award is the same or lower than the one-way award preceding it.
  • If two or more one-way awards qualify for this benefit, only the first occurrence will be free.


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UA award booking, change questions / issues / routing / excursionist problems / help

Old Feb 7, 2024, 2:39 am
  #1051  
5DH
 
Join Date: May 2022
Posts: 16
In a bit of a pickle and hope someone can help. I am going IAD->LHR for work March 5-12. My wife would like to join me and my company lets me fly business class so I was hoping my wife could also fly business on points. I have been tracking flights and United has the two directs. On points they are 155k points each way, but I’d noticed for Tuesday flights they have been opening up partner award availability once you get 4 weeks out. So we waited to book, but the 4-week-out Tuesday (yesterday) came and went and there’s no award availability opening for that Tuesday departure despite lots of open seats (P fare class has at least 9 seats, so at any point they could open some to be award seats).

I’m disappointed and not sure what to do next. I had already transferred some Chase points to Aeroplan in preparation for this trip, but we will use them at some point so not totally sunk. Any suggestions on my next move here? If I wait longer, will United possibly release award space to partners? The only alternative I see is paying the cash rate, which probably means my wife will fly Premium Plus cabin or I give her my business seat. Any recommendations between the two options, or better ideas?

Last edited by 5DH; Feb 7, 2024 at 5:11 am
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Old Feb 7, 2024, 5:19 am
  #1052  
Moderator: Trip Reports
 
Join Date: Jul 2009
Location: Denver, CO
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Posts: 3,753
Originally Posted by 5DH
In a bit of a pickle and hope someone can help. I am going IAD->LHR for work March 5-12. My wife would like to join me and my company lets me fly business class so I was hoping my wife could also fly business on points. I have been tracking flights and United has the two directs. On points they are 155k points each way, but Id noticed for Tuesday flights they have been opening up partner award availability once you get 4 weeks out. So we waited to book, but the 4-week-out Tuesday (yesterday) came and went and theres no award availability opening for that Tuesday departure despite lots of open seats (P fare class has at least 9 seats, so at any point they could open some to be award seats).

Im disappointed and not sure what to do next. I had already transferred some Chase points to Aeroplan in preparation for this trip, but we will use them at some point so not totally sunk. Any suggestions on my next move here? If I wait longer, will United possibly release award space to partners? The only alternative I see is paying the cash rate, which probably means my wife will fly Premium Plus cabin or I give her my business seat. Any recommendations between the two options, or better ideas?
You dont say what status you are? If it was me, I would buy Prem Plus for the $1500 odd and apply Plus Points (assuming you are 1K) I am also seeing award availability on UA for 137K miles. I checked Avianca but nothing there.
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Old Feb 7, 2024, 5:29 am
  #1053  
5DH
 
Join Date: May 2022
Posts: 16
Originally Posted by eightblack
You dont say what status you are? If it was me, I would buy Prem Plus for the $1500 odd and apply Plus Points (assuming you are 1K) I am also seeing award availability on UA for 137K miles. I checked Avianca but nothing there.
Sorry I am only United Gold this year, so no PlusPoints to consider. Also would have to book this in my wife's name and she has no status anyway.

When they release the award saver seats, on United it goes down to 80k and on AC it goes to 60k, so quite a big jump down from 137k (or 155k as I have been seeing).
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Old Feb 7, 2024, 6:23 am
  #1054  
 
Join Date: Dec 2014
Posts: 48
On January 12th I booked a roundtrip award flight for 2 persons using the Excursionist perk and paid 173k miles + $151.56. Yesterday, I got an email from UA for a supposed schedule change; however, all the flights are exactly as they were, no change at all.
The only difference I see in the receipt is that we have new ticket numbers and the miles I paid are gone (see comparison below). Is this a reason of concern? In case I need to cancel the flights, will I still be getting my miles back, even if they do not show in the new receipt anymore?
Thanks again

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Old Feb 7, 2024, 7:42 am
  #1055  
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Join Date: Oct 2001
Location: Austin, TX
Posts: 21,858
Originally Posted by ArnoldB
Is there any hope that something will yet be opened up? I read that normally award space is released already +-1 year out, is there additional award space released "spontaneously" throughout the year?
UA rarely opens saver award space when the schedule opens, Whoever's writing that is either a decade out of date, speaking about a small number of other airlines, or lacking a ton of nuance. In general, modern airline revenue management works by projecting a sales trend line based upon historical data, and then tweaking availability in reaction to actual sales. UA would prefer to sell the tickets for cash rather than let them go for what they consider a relative pittance, so they tend not to open space unless they feel they have no other choice.

While the seat map isn't definitive, and P3 gives a modicum of hope, being booked 37/48 one month plus ahead of your flight is a terrible sign. Admittedly, PPT isn't a business travel destination, but you're also competing with upgrades -- they'll clear upgrades before opening partner business class award space -- and buy-ups.

Originally Posted by ArnoldB
If it is completely hopeless, then I would probably book an Economy cash fare and see if there is a reasonable upgrade offer to PE, and if not cancel again within the full refund 24 hour period and book Y with miles. (am I overlooking anything with that alternative plan?)
This plan seems reasonable to me.

Originally Posted by 5DH
Im disappointed and not sure what to do next. I had already transferred some Chase points to Aeroplan in preparation for this trip, but we will use them at some point so not totally sunk. Any suggestions on my next move here? If I wait longer, will United possibly release award space to partners? The only alternative I see is paying the cash rate, which probably means my wife will fly Premium Plus cabin or I give her my business seat. Any recommendations between the two options, or better ideas?
There's an excellent chance -- but no guarantee -- that if you wait longer, UA will open additional seats, particularly on the earlier flight, which is already at PZ1, meaning a UA flyer could use an instrument upgrade -- but more importantly meaning that sales are trailing UA's projections. I'd give it a few days and see if UA will crack.

There's also an excellent chance that if she buys economy and then watches her reservation, at some point she'll be offered a discounted buy-up. Someone recently posted an upgrade offer as low as $400 one-way for LHR flights. If they don't fill the seats with travelers, they'll aim for incremental revenue from the Y cabin.

PS: Both return flights are already wide open for partner awards, so I highly recommend booking those now and then figuring out the outbound later. One way cash prices from the US to London aren't terrible -- London to the US one-way prices are outrageous -- so even if you end up needing to pay cash in one direction, it shouldn't break the bank.

LHR is a funny market. UA wants as many peak season flights as they can get, because it's a huge business travel market and they use frequent access to London as a selling point. In the off-season, they'd love to trim capacity, but they can't; if they don't use their slots, they risk losing them. So they can switch to smaller aircraft, but they still need to fly approximately the same number of flights that they do during the summer. Thus, upgrades and partner awards to London this time of year can be very easy to get. If you were traveling in July, you wouldn't see the same pattern.

Originally Posted by 5DH
Sorry I am only United Gold this year, so no PlusPoints to consider. Also would have to book this in my wife's name and she has no status anyway.
It's not relevant here, but if you did have PlusPoints, you could have applied them to her reservation. Her status is only relevant for ordering the waitlist.

Originally Posted by dannysporea
The only difference I see in the receipt is that we have new ticket numbers and the miles I paid are gone (see comparison below). Is this a reason of concern? In case I need to cancel the flights, will I still be getting my miles back, even if they do not show in the new receipt anymore?
I wouldn't sweat it. I've gotten 0 miles receipts from UA on a number of occasions. They're always able to find the actual price if needed.

Make sure the partner airlines have the updated ticket numbers.
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Old Feb 7, 2024, 8:55 am
  #1056  
 
Join Date: Mar 2015
Posts: 330
Originally Posted by jsloan
UA rarely opens saver award space when the schedule opens, Whoever's writing that is either a decade out of date, speaking about a small number of other airlines, or lacking a ton of nuance. In general, modern airline revenue management works by projecting a sales trend line based upon historical data, and then tweaking availability in reaction to actual sales. UA would prefer to sell the tickets for cash rather than let them go for what they consider a relative pittance, so they tend not to open space unless they feel they have no other choice.

While the seat map isn't definitive, and P3 gives a modicum of hope, being booked 37/48 one month plus ahead of your flight is a terrible sign. Admittedly, PPT isn't a business travel destination, but you're also competing with upgrades -- they'll clear upgrades before opening partner business class award space -- and buy-ups.

This plan seems reasonable to me.
Went ahead with the cash booking and checked, it's offering cash upgrades from Economy K to Premium Economy for $499 (too much for me for an 8h flight) and to Polaris for..........$4.300 lol. What are they even thinking with that. "Re-faring" to Polaris is "only" 2.900€.

Anyways, I saw that even only weeks out the Economy pricing at least seems to be always the same, so am going to probably cancel before the 24h end and keep watching for possible J availabilities, as there isn't really much to lose as it would appear.
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Last edited by ArnoldB; Feb 7, 2024 at 9:13 am
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Old Feb 7, 2024, 11:57 am
  #1057  
5DH
 
Join Date: May 2022
Posts: 16
Originally Posted by jsloan

There's an excellent chance -- but no guarantee -- that if you wait longer, UA will open additional seats, particularly on the earlier flight, which is already at PZ1, meaning a UA flyer could use an instrument upgrade -- but more importantly meaning that sales are trailing UA's projections. I'd give it a few days and see if UA will crack.

There's also an excellent chance that if she buys economy and then watches her reservation, at some point she'll be offered a discounted buy-up. Someone recently posted an upgrade offer as low as $400 one-way for LHR flights. If they don't fill the seats with travelers, they'll aim for incremental revenue from the Y cabin.

PS: Both return flights are already wide open for partner awards, so I highly recommend booking those now and then figuring out the outbound later. One way cash prices from the US to London aren't terrible -- London to the US one-way prices are outrageous -- so even if you end up needing to pay cash in one direction, it shouldn't break the bank.
Good call on the return trip which is showing the Saver Award rate (60k points + UK insane business class fees).

The downside is that trying to book one-way on United outbound is terrible. They force me into Fare Class C so the one way ticket in Business at $6,448 is almost twice the price of the round trip cash rate. And its not much better in Premium Economy where the one-way at $1464 is only $300 less than the round trip. Quite the punishment.

i noticed PN9 and PZ1 both opened up on one of the flights. This morning when I made my original post both were at 0. So maybe youre right and if I play chicken I could come out ahead
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Old Feb 7, 2024, 12:28 pm
  #1058  
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Originally Posted by 5DH
The downside is that trying to book one-way on United outbound is terrible. They force me into Fare Class C so the one way ticket in Business at $6,448 is almost twice the price of the round trip cash rate. And its not much better in Premium Economy where the one-way at $1464 is only $300 less than the round trip. Quite the punishment.
Sorry, I was looking at Y outbound, where the penalty is much smaller, with the assumption that you'd almost certainly be secure a discounted upgrade offer.

Originally Posted by 5DH
i noticed PN9 and PZ1 both opened up on one of the flights. This morning when I made my original post both were at 0. So maybe youre right and if I play chicken I could come out ahead
Yep, I'd grab the return now and wait a bit on the outbound.
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Old Feb 10, 2024, 9:05 am
  #1059  
5DH
 
Join Date: May 2022
Posts: 16
Originally Posted by jsloan
Sorry, I was looking at Y outbound, where the penalty is much smaller, with the assumption that you'd almost certainly be secure a discounted upgrade offer.


Yep, I'd grab the return now and wait a bit on the outbound.
Hi there - just wanted to say thanks for your help. I've been anxiety waking up at 5am or 6am this week to check AC and today an award seat opened up. I didn't rush to book the return earlier in the week because it showed "I9" which suggested to me that there was no real risk of not getting that seat on the way back. So all is good and I assume since the Trip is showing in my wife's United account it's rock solid.

Sort of interesting that they opened just 1 award ticket. I wonder if there is some algo where they open 1 seat at a time or 1 seat per day or something.

Round trip businss class to London for 95,000 Chase points + $399 in taxes and fees, not too bad!
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Old Feb 10, 2024, 9:47 am
  #1060  
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Originally Posted by 5DH
Hi there - just wanted to say thanks for your help. I've been anxiety waking up at 5am or 6am this week to check AC and today an award seat opened up. I didn't rush to book the return earlier in the week because it showed "I9" which suggested to me that there was no real risk of not getting that seat on the way back. So all is good and I assume since the Trip is showing in my wife's United account it's rock solid.

Sort of interesting that they opened just 1 award ticket. I wonder if there is some algo where they open 1 seat at a time or 1 seat per day or something.

Round trip businss class to London for 95,000 Chase points + $399 in taxes and fees, not too bad!
Happy to help, and Im glad it worked out for you.

That said UA can (and sometimes will) go from I9 to I0 without selling a single award seat. Suppose theyd sold cash seats to a party of five. Now, not only are there five fewer seats available in the cabin, but that might push their trend line back to where they think they wont need to offer award space. After that purchase, the inventory could be I9, I4, or I0, and none of those would surprise me.

So, you took more of a risk than you may have thought, but it worked out in the end. Enjoy the trip.
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Old Feb 11, 2024, 8:26 pm
  #1061  
 
Join Date: Feb 2024
Posts: 1
Starting point for booking United business awards

Hello united experts. I'm returning after a few years away, was 1K for 10+ years, but have not flown more than a few flights a year recently. I'd like to book a few business class mileage awards on United, but am having trouble finding anything for < 300k round trip. I tried a few different destinations and weeks. My past bookings ranged from 90k - 250k round trip, even after United removed the award charts. Are there any search terms or tips to navigate this new model? Are international business awards available for < 150k each way? Best time of year for promotions and/or to look for awards? Any tips will be appreciated!
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Old Feb 12, 2024, 2:50 am
  #1062  
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There are no promos for J. Finding I-class is not easy and it will very much depend on the route and time of the year. Right now Australia is easy and NZ sometimes as well. Certain EU destinations like LHR can be doable.
EU is 80-88k for cheap J and Asia is 90-110k for cheap J. You can get 'anytime J awards' to Europe not too infrequently for 155k and sometimes as low as 110k.
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Old Feb 13, 2024, 9:14 pm
  #1063  
 
Join Date: Oct 2014
Posts: 244
Hi everyone - what are the downsides of booking an award ticket through Asiana vs United?

US to EU, only UA metal.

On Asiana I can book for 25,000 miles + 7500 KRW (5.60 USD) vs United 40,000 miles + 5.60 USD.

I'm assuming I wouldn't earn PQP/PQF? The United 1K (*A Gold) status benefits should carry over? Can I select Eco Plus?

Thanks.
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Old Feb 13, 2024, 9:30 pm
  #1064  
Moderator: United Airlines
 
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Posts: 67,330
Originally Posted by FTDDD
Hi everyone - what are the downsides of booking an award ticket through Asiana vs United? ....
Look for differences in refundability, changeability, ....

If a schedule change occurs, UA ticket award will be honored, OZ ticketed award will require new UA award space -- if this happens a major downside
Originally Posted by FTDDD
I'm assuming I wouldn't earn PQP/PQF? The United 1K (*A Gold) status benefits should carry over? Can I select Eco Plus?....
Correct, no PQPs
If you can get your UA account on the ticket, then the benefits will be accessable BUT not all partner programs allow you to add another program's account to an award ticket.
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Old Feb 14, 2024, 6:20 am
  #1065  
 
Join Date: Apr 2008
Location: RDU
Posts: 5,306
Originally Posted by FTDDD
Hi everyone - what are the downsides of booking an award ticket through Asiana vs United?

US to EU, only UA metal.

On Asiana I can book for 25,000 miles + 7500 KRW (5.60 USD) vs United 40,000 miles + 5.60 USD.

I'm assuming I wouldn't earn PQP/PQF? The United 1K (*A Gold) status benefits should carry over? Can I select Eco Plus?

Thanks.
Dont you need points in Asianas club to do that, not United points? Or do you transfer from a credit card?
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