Great United Thanksgiving Weekend Award Availability

by on August 15, 2012 · 11 comments

in United

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Thanksgiving weekend may be one of the busiest and most expensive, times to travel, but that doesn’t mean you can’t use miles to save money and fly in style this holiday season. I recently helped several friends book saver level award on United from New York to Los Angeles and noticed a surprising amount of saver (lowest-level) availability. I poked around on some other random routes on United and other carriers and was surprised at the amount of availability in general, so I thought I’d write a quick reminder post that now might be a good time to book Thanksgiving award travel.

I have to imagine these saver level seats will begin to disappear as more and more people start booking paid tickets over the next couple months, so if you have Thanksgiving travel plans, check out your mileage options and you may be surprised. Though always do the math and double check fares before you buy to make sure you are getting good value out of your mileage redemption.

There was a lot of first class saver availability LAX-JFK over Thanksgiving for 35,000 miles each way and even some economy at 12,500 miles.
Lots of New York-San Francisco saver availability.

50,000 miles Washington Dulles-San Francisco for first class on United. 

While the non-stop Los Angeles-Boston wasn’t available for a saver award, I was able to find saver availability with a stop.

Phoenix-Washington for 50,000 miles as a saver award over Thanksgiving. 

Has anyone else found great award availability over Thanksgiving? Share your tips below!

Disclaimer: The responses below are not provided or commissioned by the bank advertiser. Responses have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the bank advertiser. It is not the bank advertiser's responsibility to ensure all posts and/or questions are answered.

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  • Brandon

    I was looking for a flight from SFO to LAX and UA had tons of availability on thanksgiving day, but opted to pay the $74, way cheaper than southworst.

  • David

    Do you consider redeeming for coach cross-country to be decent value? 25k miles or ~$500…I’m so used to only thinking about miles for international trips that I don’t know what a good value would be for domestic.

  • thepointsguy

    It all depends. Some people don’t want to travel internationally, so expensive domestic redemptions can make a lot of sense- especially at 25k for flights that are $500+. I usually only do it when saving at least 1.5 cents per point.

  • thepointsguy

    When its that cheap you might as well buy it and earn the miles/points

  • Newbie…

    How do you determine the value for your miles?

    I.e. if I would be using 25k + 50 taxes for yvr to sfo in listed of paying the $627 for the ticket in economy.


  • thepointsguy

    So you’d take $627- $50 / 25,000 miles and then adjust to take into account the miles/elite miles you wouldn’t be earning on your award ticket. But in generally 25k miles for a $627 flight is a pretty good deal

  • James Elkins

    I booked my flight SFO-EWR on thanksgiving, excited to be going home for the holidays!

  • Ike

    I’m a little surprised that you would say “Thanksgiving weekend may be one of the busiest and most expensive, times to travel.” as no day around Thanksgiving ranks in even the top ten busiest air travel days in the year. In fact, no day around Thanksgiving ranks near an average day in the Summer.


  • Scott

    (Value – Taxes) / (Miles Used + Miles Foregone)

    Value is the lesser of the cash price and your subjective valuation. If you value this ticket at $627 or more, you are getting 2.17 cents per mile because (627 – 77) / (25000 + 1600) = .0217

    (YVR to SFO direct is 800 miles, so would earn 1600 miles on a paid ticket.)

    The question is do you value the ticket at $627

  • Scott

    United’s direct HNL-IAD and IAD-HNL flights both have great availability. Several family members just booked them.

  • FEV7

    Thank you for the example, and especially explaining the points value vs ticket cost below (as part of a reply to a comment).

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