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Discounted United Economy Awards to South America

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Back in December, United was offering MileagePlus members the chance to redeem their miles at discounted rates within North America. United is back with another discounted mileage redemption promotion, this time on economy awards to Sao Paulo and Santiago.

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You can find all the promotion details here, but to give you the short version:

Get 25% off MileagePlus Saver Awards in United Economy – that equates to 45,000 miles instead of 60,000

  • Book by April 26, 2015
  • Travel between March 25-June 25, 2015
  • This is only valid on Saver Awards and for travel between the US or Canada (excluding Hawaii) and Brazil or Chile.

You must book a roundtrip award in the economy cabin. One-way travel is still priced at regular levels. However, as long as your itinerary is roundtrip, even if one segment prices out at a higher Standard level, the Saver level portion of your ticket will still be at the discounted rate. The key here is to book roundtrip travel.

Existing award reservations may be reissued upon request at the award mileage sale levels, but they will be subject to award change policies and fees. Just to confirm the sale rates, I priced out a sample itinerary from Chicago to Sao Paulo in May and sure enough, it is going for 45,000 miles and $60 in taxes and fees roundtrip.

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The same ticket would cost $841, so you’re getting a value of about 1.73 cents per mile, which is slightly higher than the 1.5 cents per mile I typically value United miles at.

Bottom Line

While I’m not blown away by a 25% discount on awards, if you were thinking of booking an economy award to either Chile or Sao Paulo anyway, you might as well save the 15,000 miles.

The other interesting thing to consider is that United will let you reissue existing awards to either destination at the discounted rates. If you are interested in doing so and are a general MileagePlus member, you will pay $75 to do so – the equivalent of paying about 0.5 cents per mile to save those miles. However, if you are a Silver elite or higher, this fee is waived, so double check your reservations.

If you are within 21 days of travel or are changing your origin or destination, you will pay $100 as a general member, $50 as a Silver elite, $25 as a Gold and no fee for Platinum and higher, so this could still be worth looking into, or changing your flights to go to Santiago or Sao Paulo instead of another destination if you’re looking to save some miles and don’t have to be anywhere else in particular.

Just keep in mind that American Airlines offers Off-Peak awards to South America Zone 2, which includes Chile and Brazil, but also Argentina, Bolivia, Paraguay and Uruguay for 20,000 miles each way March 1-May 31 and then again August 16-November 30, and you don’t have to book a roundtrip award. You can also fly its partners like LAN or TAM at the discounted rates as well, so that’s still a better option if you ask me.

Do you plan to take advantage of this discount? Share your plans in the comments below.

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