What Changes to United Award Tickets Won’t Reprice Them Higher

by on February 5, 2014 · 22 comments

in United

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One of the main questions folks had before the massive United award devaluation that went into effect earlier this week was whether awards they booked at pre-devaluation prices would be repriced at post-devaluation rates if they made changes to their bookings.

The reason this was important is because a lot of people were hoping to lock in specific awards on United and its partners that were going up drastically in price, such as business or first class to Europe or Asia, wherever they could find them and then change their tickets to different dates that opened up closer to their actual desired travel times.

United now has a Star Alliance partner chart that's distinct from its own.

Hopefully many of you booked awards before the devaluation went into effect.

United does not re-price awards if you keep the same routing and just change dates so a lot of people were hoping to book awards speculatively and then change the dates on awards for free and maintain the pre-devaluation award levels.

Well it looks like a lot of us are in for a little bit of luck, because it appears there will be even a bit more flexibility than that when changing awards booked pre-devaluation. Per UA Insider on Milepoint (Aaron Goldberg, the Senior Manager of Customer Experience Planning):

Change clarification for itineraries booked before February 3: Many of you have also been asking about what kinds of itinerary changes will re-trigger a re-price to the new award chart, and I can share some additional follow-up details about that.

As a reminder, the existing change process will apply, and any change that requires an award to re-price will require an add/collect of the additional miles under the new award price structure.

Fees for change/cancel will still apply per our existing policies. Changes that will not trigger a re-price for itineraries ticketed before February 3, 2014 include:

(cabin, region, and award type can’t change)

Carrier on one or more segments (cabin, region, and award type can’t change)
Origin/Destination within the same regions (carrier and cabin can’t change)”

So not only can you change the date and time of your award, but you can actually even change carriers – for example, switching from United to ANA to Japan or Lufthansa to Frankfurt – as long as you book the same cabin and award type.

Plus, you can change your origin and destination as long as it’s within the same region on the award chart – so you could fly into Singapore instead of Bangkok, for example, or fly out of San Francisco instead of Los Angeles. The restriction here is that you can’t change carriers, so no switching from a United flight from Washington Dulles to Amsterdam to a Lufthansa flight from New York to Frankfurt. There might be a workaround here where you could make a couple different changes one at a time like switching origin/destination but keeping the same carrier, and then later switching carriers on your new route. At least, that would seem to adhere to the letter of the law here – but if any of you actually try to do this, please report back on your success here.

These rules are much more lenient than many conjectured – I only wish that United had clarified these rules before the devaluation went into effect so that more people could have booked more awards.

Did you book pre-devaluation United awards? How will these rule clarifications affect your plans?

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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  • dave

    when someone has a flight from jfk to Brussels and from Brussels to tel aviv can they change it to united from ewr to tlv direct if there is availability? with no additional miles

  • Boston

    How about if I am booked ATH-MUC-YYZ-BOS on Lufthansa, then Air Canada from YYZ to BOS…

    Can I switch to ATH-MUC-BOS, all on Lufthansa, and get rid of the extra Air Canada leg??

  • Ruthlessly Absurd

    I booked my wife in ANA first class ORD-NRT and me in business, hoping to later upgrade if availability presents itself. Guess that’s out now

  • austinpop

    I have a pre-deval one-way F award DFW-FRA-BOM on which I used the “cancel flights and rebook later” option. My desired dates haven’t opened up yet, but I tried a close-in date with availability and sure enough the website is wanting to charge me 60k more miles, even though it is only a pure date change – i.e. same original flights.

    This seems consistent with what others on FT have reported. I am hoping UA will fix this glitch, but if not, sounds like the process is to call in and escalate if necessary.

  • dean

    Not to be jaded “but”, it’s easy to put a friendly policy out when they know the potential “cost” of people changing flights. It’s like putting out the point spread after the game is over.

    That said, I did book a flight and won’t need to change it, so nice, or not, it doesn’t impact me. It was nice they extended the booking until the 3rd, but even after re-reminding friends who said “yea I meant to book” when I told them on Sat. about the extension, still none of them booked….:throws hands up:

  • Max

    Woop! Maybe I can change EWR->Honolulu to EWR->Maui

  • adamu

    So not only can you change the date and time of your award, but you can actually even change carriers
    – for example, switching from United to ANA to Japan or Lufthansa to
    Frankfurt – as long as you book the same cabin and award type

    i dont see why what you write above is true?

  • thepointsguy

    Yes, you should be able to do that according to the rules listed.

  • thepointsguy

    Because of this rule that I cited: “Carrier on one or more segments (cabin, region, and award type can’t change)”

    That means you can change carriers as long as it’s in the same cabin and same origin/destination regions as you had booked previously.

  • thepointsguy

    It’s the same destination, right? So yes, you should be able to do that.

  • Johnny


    Are you sure it is possible to make changes if booked at the pre-devaluation award levels?

    I just called 1-800-UNITED-1 for make a change on my Feb 12, 2014 flight from SFO to TPE, EVA AIR BR27 Business Class to EVA AIR BR17 Business Class and they said it will cost more? Both flight leaves on the same day, just one leaves 16 hours earlier (the one i want). Seats are available, but i dont get it.

  • dave

    would such a thing make sense for me or is business class on Brussels better then in united?

  • Stratos

    Sounds like I am outta luck here – I have a saver IAD-MUC business class flight on LH which I was hoping to upgrade to first if saver space opened up. Now it appears it would cost 60k additional miles instead of 17.5k… Ouch!

  • Chris

    This is a great point actually as I have TPE – SFO booked in EVA Business, so my understanding is that as long as the destination remains the same, I should be able to change this flight to TPE – JFK – SFO on a different date?

  • Lantean

    In this case I would def prefer the non-stop if available.

  • SK

    Hi, I tried to rebook a cancelled flight (from jan 25), that I had NOT redeposited the miles. The ONLY change I tried to make is the date. UA agent tried to ‘collect’ the miles difference between pre feb1 pricing and post devaluation pricing (80k vs. 140k for first class trip to Asia). I had read TPG’s postings, and INSISTED that she please check her facts, my mere date change should not trigger a higher mileage requirement. She disappeared for 5 minutes, then comes back and says ‘You are right’ and booked my flight for only the change fee.

    Wonder if she was misinformed, or they are trying to stick a higher cost to unsuspecting passengers?

  • Jake J.

    Hey Johnny I highly recommend hanging up and calling again when this happens. It’s obvious that United does not or hasn’t yet trained its reps consistently. I’ve been on the phone with United all weeks and it’s amazing the different experience you get between different reps. If you don’t feel like the rep you’re talking to “gets it”, don’t waste your time. Call back and hope you get a more experienced one. Head over to FlyerTalk to get a more comprehensive posting of experiences of other people.

  • shay peleg

    I am Israeli and i would do anything to avoid american airlines

  • Johnny

    Thanks Jake, from what you said, it worked after the second try today. I read through the same forum thread over at flyertalk and some got success. The second call female CSR was very helpful, did not ask or mention of the additional miles, just the normal change fee of $50. I am now finally settled for my Wednesday 2/12 midnight flight to Taipei on Business class for the first leg with my wife for our 38th anniversary.

    Was this last week :(, right now :). thanks again everyone.

  • Michael Leoni

    I just for off the phone with a person from the rewards department and they told me the same thing that it would trigger an increase in required miles. However, the guy seemed uninformed and as if he was just giving me an answer to get me off the phone. These people in the call centers need to know there facts. I wonder if changing the booking online is a better option than calling?

  • dean

    Where did you find the verbage for what will/won’t change the award costs? trying to locate that for a friend who is having issues w/ United changing his flight, but they keep re-pricing it to the new costs saying the “other airlines” have to agree w/ the change…and the only change is removing a stopover…

  • dean

    bah..nevermind…bad eyes

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