Go Back  FlyerTalk Forums > Miles&Points > Airlines and Mileage Programs > United Airlines | MileagePlus
Reload this Page >

Award tickets in Economy. When it does make sense?

Award tickets in Economy. When it does make sense?

Old Mar 5, 18, 8:49 pm
  #1  
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Dec 2007
Programs: Star Alliance
Posts: 5,752
Award tickets in Economy. When it does make sense?

I know that most people collect their miles (or, better to say - used to collect) to book award tickets on long distance Premium cabins. But would you share cases when you'd be happy to use your miles for flights in Economy?

I yesterday booked four award round trip tickets JNB-VFA in Y. It was 64K miles and US $350 in fees/taxes. At the same time booking revenue tickets on the same route/timings would be $325 per person.

Do you have your examples?
invisible is offline  
Old Mar 5, 18, 9:03 pm
  #2  
 
Join Date: Dec 2014
Location: Haze gray and underway
Programs: UA 1K MM, HH Diamond, Marriott 'clink clink' Titanium
Posts: 1,455
I primarily use my miles when the +1 is traveling solo. I always book her in F and have the flexibility to allow change her mind and flights without costing an arm and a leg.
AceReport likes this.
Dublin_rfk is offline  
Old Mar 5, 18, 9:05 pm
  #3  
 
Join Date: Mar 2014
Location: LAX
Posts: 1,997
I've booked a fair amount of award travel in Y. We can get into the endless (and ultimately fruitless and stupid) debate of booking fewer premium trips or more Y trips with miles-that's up to each individual based on what's important to them and there's no need to justify it to everyone (as long as you know what your options are). Anytime you make a redemption someone else will just come along and say "you could've gotten so much better value for it by doing X and Y!".

For my usage Y awards generally fall under 3 categories: flying to/from regional airports where fares are higher (like my hometown), peak travel times, and certain expensive routes (such as monopolies)

Originally Posted by invisible View Post
I know that most people collect their miles (or, better to say - used to collect) to book award tickets on long distance Premium cabins.
That's what all the blogs would have you believe.
steveman518 is offline  
Old Mar 5, 18, 9:10 pm
  #4  
 
Join Date: Dec 2008
Location: Chicago IL US
Programs: UA 1K; Hertz PC & Hotels Galore
Posts: 885
Was only dating this girl for about 6 months and she had to go to a funeral in WAS. Cheapest r/t was like $1,500 and though she was between jobs, I wasn't in the mode to spend that kind of cash. 20k miles were very handy!
onthesam is offline  
Old Mar 5, 18, 9:14 pm
  #5  
 
Join Date: Jan 2017
Location: SFO
Programs: United 1MM GS, Marriott Platinum Elite, Hilton Diamond, Hertz President's Circle
Posts: 281
Last minute tickets or when you need flexibility and don’t want to buy a refundable/no change penalty fare class.
drewguy, Xyzzy and perkele like this.
SFOdelayed is offline  
Old Mar 5, 18, 9:16 pm
  #6  
Moderator: United Airlines; FlyerTalk Evangelist
 
Join Date: Jun 2007
Location: SFO
Programs: UA Plat 1.85MM, Hyatt Discoverist, Marriott Plat/LT Gold, Hilton Silver, IHG Gold
Posts: 54,075
Originally Posted by invisible View Post
I know that most people collect their miles ...
While many of the active posters in FT may do that, in the real world, I suspect economy award tickets dominate. With the restricted availability of premium cabin tickets, very constrained travel windows (work, kid's school, ...) and many not having 100's of K of miles and would never even think of booking a premium cabin, my guess the view here on FT is not reflective of most award travelers.
WineCountryUA is offline  
Old Mar 5, 18, 9:20 pm
  #7  
A FlyerTalk Posting Legend
 
Join Date: Apr 2004
Location: GVA (Greater Vancouver Area)
Programs: DREAD Gold; UA 1.021MM; Bonvoy Au-197; PCC Elite+; CWC Au-197; CCC Elite*; WoH Dis
Posts: 50,068
We regularly book YVR-SFO in Y as award tickets.
mahasamatman is offline  
Old Mar 5, 18, 9:20 pm
  #8  
 
Join Date: Jul 2008
Location: YYC
Programs: UA 1K
Posts: 563
Being YYC based, I usually use mine for trips within Canada. AC fares within Canada are ridiculously expensive and only earn 25% PQM, this is where I find I get the best value. Its certainly not good value compared to some potential redemption opportunities in J, but for 25,000 points + $75 in taxes I can generally get a return flight to anywhere in Canada which would otherwise cost me $500-$800 and would contribute maybe 800 miles towards my status.
silver_halide likes this.
david_oz is offline  
Old Mar 5, 18, 9:21 pm
  #9  
 
Join Date: Jan 2016
Programs: UA 1K; *G, AA Plat
Posts: 1,696
Booking a trip from Europe -> West Coast in economy (Lufthansa). Last minute redemption (the day before) which occurred due to the loss of a passport and the necessity to stay 2+ days to get it recovered. Cheaper than paying a "fare difference" or "change fee"

Economy tickets are holidays. Ever try to fly on peak days (Thanksgiving/Christmas season). As a student, these tickets are outrageously expensive if you have no flexibility. When that XN space opens up, you can bet it's gone once I see it and tell friends
laxmillenial is offline  
Old Mar 5, 18, 9:22 pm
  #10  
 
Join Date: Sep 2009
Location: Houston
Programs: United 1K, Marriott Lifetime Platinum; Hyatt Diamond/GLOB
Posts: 712
I generally only use miles for family travel

We do a family trip to Hawaii in January. Economy from IAH to Maui/Kona/Etc. in January is $1,100 to $1,400. Mileage tickets are 45k each. I can get better value for the points (e.g., 25k points for a $1300 trip to Richmond - but that is a work trip), but I'd rather not spend $6000 or $7000 for airfare for the family.

We take a family vacation in the summer as well, and the ability to book reward tickets that can be changed is very important for that trip. I don't think we've done that trip in years where there wasn't at least one schedule change on our part, and the reward tickets are nice and easy to change (for 1k).

Everyone has their own cutoffs and their own priorities. I tend to purchase my airfare to Hawaii (starting the year off with 8000 PQMs) but use miles for the family. For flights under $500, it is hard for me to use miles.
HoustonConsultant is offline  
Old Mar 5, 18, 9:38 pm
  #11  
 
Join Date: Jul 2005
Location: NYC
Programs: Marriott Platinum Elite, National Executive, United Gold
Posts: 1,180
I also redeemed miles for Y to Hawaii when UA ran the “sale” after Thanksgiving. I paid for my ticket (Y) because I wanted the PQMs, but I couldn’t justify paying for two more tickets for my family. And the other time was when I went to Vegas during CES and wasn’t going to pay ~$1,000 for a o/w fare in Y on the redeye back to EWR - admit it was tough to swallow the standard award redemption though.
764toHI is offline  
Old Mar 5, 18, 10:11 pm
  #12  
FlyerTalk Evangelist
 
Join Date: Oct 2001
Location: Austin, TX
Posts: 14,720
Originally Posted by invisible View Post
I know that most people collect their miles (or, better to say - used to collect) to book award tickets on long distance Premium cabins. But would you share cases when you'd be happy to use your miles for flights in Economy?

I yesterday booked four award round trip tickets JNB-VFA in Y. It was 64K miles and US $350 in fees/taxes. At the same time booking revenue tickets on the same route/timings would be $325 per person.

Do you have your examples?
I try to get $0.02/mile nominal value from my UA miles. I have booked them for economy seats and would do so again, provided I can meet that threshold*. (I have also used them for long-haul premium cabin travel; it doesn't have to be one or the other). In this case, it sounds like you got about $0.015/mile. That's not a stop-the-presses sort of deal, but it's not awful either, and certainly nothing to be ashamed of.

Also, you should take your financial situation into account. Award miles can't usefully be turned into much except travel, but cash is king. Sometimes, your overall fiscal health might be improved by keeping the $900 cash in your account and sacrificing miles. The miles are also depreciating a lot faster than your cash, so if your choice are "use them or hold them for 10 years until you get enough for a trip to Tahiti," you may find yourself on a never-ending treadmill chasing a moving target as the number of miles you need increases every year or two.

* It's also dramatically cheaper to change or cancel an award ticket than it is a paid ticket, so I have used economy awards in the past when I expected my plans to change and the flexible / refundable fare was expensive. In this case, I might not have gotten $0.02/mile when compared to the cheapest available ticket, but I did meet that benchmark when compared to the unrestricted fare.
jsloan is online now  
Old Mar 5, 18, 10:32 pm
  #13  
 
Join Date: Dec 2017
Location: Richmond, VA
Posts: 32
I have a freshman college daughter 12 driving hours away. Award tickets are her mode of transportation. Especially since the airlines heavily inflate ticket prices around the major holidays and college spring breaks. Example: revenue RT from MEM-RIC averages $450. Return from T-giving alone was $1,150. 12.5K miles plus $5.60 was a no-brainer.
dzstokes is offline  
Old Mar 5, 18, 11:19 pm
  #14  
 
Join Date: Jul 2014
Location: SFO
Programs: Nexus/GE, IHG Plat, Hilton Gold, NH Plat*G,DL Silver
Posts: 47
Econ awards would work very well if your favorite sports team has a championship game on short notice. I've considered using an economy award flight for going to a World Series game on short notice, but decided to save the vacation day for the parade instead.
doggz is offline  
Old Mar 6, 18, 4:33 am
  #15  
 
Join Date: Sep 2006
Location: ORD
Programs: United Plat 2MM, Hilton Gold
Posts: 2,644
10K miles for DCA-ORD vs. $600+? I went with the miles. As it happens, my seat opponent independently made the same decision.

Now, one could ask why the cash fare was so high but the mileage fare was not. It is what it is.
Miles Ahead is offline  

Thread Tools
Search this Thread
Search Engine: