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Right now, United.com is showing discounted saver level awards on partner airlines in business class to Europe. Instead of the usual 70,000 miles each way to Europe, you can book for 57,500 miles one-way, or 115,000 miles round-trip. That equals savings of about 17%.
You can also find discounted awards to Central Asia, which are normally 80,000 miles one-way on partner airlines, but are pricing out at 70,000 each way instead. That represents savings of 12.5%. In both cases, redemption prices equal what United normally charges for award flights on its own metal.
For example, you could fly non-stop from Newark to Lisbon in business class on TAP in late January for just 57,500 miles. Return flights are also available at the same price.
You could also fly from Boston to Frankfurt in early February via Lufthansa.
One more example is this flight from Chicago to Warsaw in mid-March on one of LOT’s 787 Dreamliners. The award again prices out at only 57,500 miles for business class, with plenty of return options.
Usually it’s 140,000 miles round-trip to fly business class cabins on partner airlines, so this is a discount of 25,000 miles per person for travel on partner airlines. So far it’s only pricing out that way for travel in January, February, or March of 2015, but you can find awards at that level for a number of European cities, including Copenhagen, Vienna, Zurich, and others.
There’s also availability for the Central Asia zone, including India, the Maldives, Nepal, Sri Lanka, and more. Flights to/from Asia are normally 80,000 miles on partner airlines, but are currently pricing out at 70,000 miles. Here’s a discounted flight from Chicago to the Maldives in Business Class.
It’s not clear whether these discounted awards are promotional or the result of an error. If you’re interested in scoring one, I recommend booking soon, since there’s no telling how long they’ll be available. Bookings are refundable for 24 hours, so you could book speculatively if you’re worried about missing out. However, after that 24-hour period change and cancellation fees will apply.
If you need more United miles, you can transfer points from Chase Ultimate Rewards (at 1:1) or Starwood Preferred Guest (at 2:1). Starwood also gives you a 5,000 mile bonus when you transfer 20,000 points, but that bonus is transferred at the same ratio, so you’d only get 12,500 MileagePlus miles for every 20,000 Starpoints, which isn’t a good value.
If you have your heart set on a trip to Europe this winter, keep in mind that while this United offer is a good deal, it’s not the only one out there. For instance, US Airways is presently offering off-peak, roundtrip awards to Europe for 35,000 miles between January 15 – February 28, 2015.
American Airlines also offers discounted off-peak awards to Europe through May 15, 2014, which require only 40,000 AAdvantage miles round-trip in economy. However, by booking with your Citi AAdvantage Platinum Select World Elite MasterCard you’ll earn a 10% return on award redemptions (up to 10,000 miles annually), bringing the total down to just 36,000 miles.
Finally, Flying Blue Promo Awards from Air France/KLM can get you to Europe from select North American cities for just 25,000 miles round-trip.
Were you able to book any of these discounted awards? With great travel benefits, 2x points on travel & dining and a 50,000 point sign up bonus, the Chase Sapphire Preferred is a great card for those looking to get into the points and miles game.
With great travel benefits, 2x points on travel & dining and a 50,000 point sign up bonus, the Chase Sapphire Preferred is a great card for those looking to get into the points and miles game.