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Booking Business Saver Award Seat to Europe One Way at a Time?

Booking Business Saver Award Seat to Europe One Way at a Time?

Old Jun 30, 19, 1:21 pm
  #1  
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Booking Business Saver Award Seat to Europe One Way at a Time?

Advice, Please!
I will be looking shortly to book Business Saver Award seat to/from Berlin for June 2020 and I know availability will be low.
This is my question: as departure date flights open up, should I grab a one- way award seat and then look for a return one-way award seat 10 days later when that date come online? Or does booking one leg at a time hurt my chances for finding seats?
Thanks!
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Old Jun 30, 19, 1:28 pm
  #2  
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Originally Posted by freestay View Post
... Or does booking one leg at a time hurt my chances for finding seats? ...
No, it will not affect availability (actual may be a minor help)
You will
- potentially be subject to higher fees if you cancel the trip entirely after booking both OWs ( a cancel fee for each)

- You will not be eligible for the "free excursion" segment, only available on roundtrips

Your strategy is one some higher elites (not subject to cancellation fees) regularly use.
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Old Jun 30, 19, 1:28 pm
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That's what I do on tough routes. As a 1k I can also change for free and prefer having 2 ow segments if I want to change one direction or class of service....
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Old Jun 30, 19, 1:29 pm
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Originally Posted by freestay View Post
Or does booking one leg at a time hurt my chances for finding seats?
Booking one leg at a time won't hurt your chances for finding seats. It will double your change and cancellation fees, if you need to change both legs or cancel the trip, and it will prevent you from using the Excursionist Perk, if that's applicable for your itinerary.

If those aren't limiting factors for you, then you should absolutely book what you see when you see it. You may never see it again.

(Also: on any given route, seats may never come open, especially if you're looking for UA-operated flights. The days of widespread award space release at T-330, at least for United flights, are long gone).
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Old Jun 30, 19, 1:33 pm
  #5  
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You're making the assumption that award inventory always opens up at 330 days out, which is not a valid assumption. There is no way to tell when the awards will open up, but it's smart to start looking early.

In general, I would grab the awards as they show up, with the understanding that it's possible you may never see an award in one direction or the other. However, I think that if you're willing to take sub-optimal (or oddball) routings, the odds of that are pretty low.
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Old Jun 30, 19, 1:52 pm
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I always book one-way at a time, often across different airlines/alliances. Diversification and flexibility make finding premium award seats easier.
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Old Jun 30, 19, 3:41 pm
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Really appreciate all of your encouraging feedback!
Will now just keep checking as each date opens...4 AM seems to be a good time for newly-released awards!!!
Thanks for the reminders about the change/cancellation fees, but my trip insurance will cover those just in case.
(The RT EWR-TXL Polaris fares have been very reasonable lately, so I had been thinking of paying for the ticket and saving my miles for another trip...but see that 2020 fares on that route have gone back up.)
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Old Jun 30, 19, 5:21 pm
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One advantage of doing it as two one ways is that you could book your return from another city in Europe (even in the same country and not that far away from your primary destination) where you find availability. You need to reposition yourself, but I've just built it into the vacation plan and it has worked well a couple of times.
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Old Jun 30, 19, 5:38 pm
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This GS does this for friends and myself all the time.
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Old Jun 30, 19, 5:45 pm
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In my experience, this is the best (and to me the only) way to achieve business saver awards both ways (inbound and outbound).
I have been doing this at least for 10 years, mostly as a 1K with no change fees. For the past 3 years, I have happily paid any fees, when needed, to change.
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Old Jun 30, 19, 7:55 pm
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Originally Posted by mahasamatman View Post
You're making the assumption that award inventory always opens up at 330 days out, which is not a valid assumption. There is no way to tell when the awards will open up, but it's smart to start looking early.
nah, there’s a great way to tell.
look for flights 7 days prior to your desired travel date.
check starting 365 days out, and then daily through 330 days out.
when you observe the pattern, act accordingly for your desired travel date.
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Old Jun 30, 19, 7:58 pm
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Originally Posted by freestay View Post
(The RT EWR-TXL Polaris fares have been very reasonable lately, so I had been thinking of paying for the ticket and saving my miles for another trip...but see that 2020 fares on that route have gone back up.)
You can't judge fares for 2020 on what you see today. There's little incentive for UA to offer a great deal now, 330 days prior to departure, before they have any any idea how many expensive fares they could sell. There's plenty of time to discount later.

That said, "saving the miles" is an increasingly bad idea. They're depreciating much faster than cash is. With the lack of award charts, UA could decide that EWR-TXL J is 300K miles per person each way. If you find award seats at a price that you like, book them and don't look back.
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Old Jul 1, 19, 7:47 pm
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Usually do this for a few reasons,

1. Easier if I just need to change flights in one direction. Seems that agents sometimes have a difficult time preserving space on unchanged segments if there’s no longer availability (especially partner flights), and at the very least it makes for a longer phone call.
2. Twice the united.com club credits...for a while longer, at least.
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Old Jul 1, 19, 8:31 pm
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I always book one way at a time and have had real success
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Old Jul 4, 19, 8:44 pm
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Yes. I only book one-way awards. Maximizes options to change or even cancel and buy a paid ticket when fares drop.
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