5 United MileagePlus Awards to Book Before November 1

Oct 30, 2017

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For a lot of people, October 31, 2017 gives us an excuse to stuff our faces with sugary treats — but for United MileagePlus members, it’s also one last chance to go on another kind of sweet-spot shopping spree.

Come November 1, several of the airline’s top awards — and some little-known gems — will jump in price, giving you just a couple of days to take advantage of the current rates. You can see the full list of changes here, but I also wanted to highlight a few awards I’m particularly interested in booking early this week, since there’s a good chance you may be, too.

1. Premium Transcon Business Class

Like American, Delta and JetBlue, United offers lie-flat business-class seats on all flights between New York (Newark) and Los Angeles (LAX) and San Francisco (SFO), in addition to Boston (BOS) to San Francisco, which recently got a premium-service boost as well.

Today, these business-class awards are priced at 25,000 miles each way, but come November 1 the saver rate will jump to 35,000 miles — or 70,000 miles for a round-trip. That’s not insignificant, so if you’re planning to book one of these flights — and you’re fortunate enough to have zeroed in on some saver award space — now’s the time to act.

2. Hawaii Lie-Flat First Class

It's hard to beat a lie-flat seat to Hawaii.
It’s hard to beat a lie-flat seat to Hawaii.

With the exception of United’s upcoming final 747 flight to Honolulu — and the occasional three-cabin one-off — all of United’s planes operating service from the mainland have just two classes of service: first class and economy.

Most flights from the West Coast are operated by 737s with recliner seats in first class, while those from Chicago (ORD), Denver (DEN), Houston (IAH), Newark (EWR) and Washington, D.C. (IAD) offer lie-flat beds on every flight, with wide-body 767s or 777-200s. It’s these all-lie-flat awards that’ll jump from 40,000 to 50,000 miles each way, though lie-flat flights from other cities, such as Los Angeles (LAX) and San Francisco (SFO) will remain at 40,000 miles.

If you’re planning to book a first-class award between Hawaii and the five central/East Coast cities referenced above, you’ll want to act before November 1.

3. Business Class to Australia/New Zealand

United's Dreamliners don't offer the latest Polaris seat, but Australia awards are still hard to come by.
United’s Dreamliners don’t offer the latest Polaris seat, but Australia awards are still hard to come by.

United business-class seats to Australia and New Zealand can be especially challenging to come by at the saver level, but if you are able to book one of these awards, you’ll soon need to redeem an extra 10,000 miles each way — rates jump from 70,000 to 80,000 miles on Wednesday.

4. United Business Class to Europe

United's 767 Polaris seats can't be beat. But you'll have a hard time tracking down the plane — and award space to match.
United’s 767 Polaris seats can’t be beat. But you’ll have a hard time tracking down the plane — and award space to match.

This is the most modest jump of the bunch — United business class to Europe will increase from 57,500 to 60,000 miles each way. We’re talking just 5,000 miles round-trip, but if you’re ready to ticket a biz-class flight to Europe now, there isn’t any reason to wait.

Partner redemptions will remain fixed at 70,000 miles, and with a smaller gap between flights operated by United and those flown by Star Alliance partners, such as Lufthansa and SAS, there’s a bit less incentive to book United at a lower rate.

5. Asia to/from Australia/New Zealand

Hoping to use your miles for Champagne and caviar on Thai Airways? It'll soon cost you quite a bit more.
Hoping to use your miles for Champagne and caviar on Thai Airways? It’ll cost you quite a bit more come November 1.

My all-time favorite United redemption will soon see a significant jump in price, when partner first-class awards between South Asia and Australia/New Zealand go from 40,000 to 65,000 miles each way. I used this award-chart steal to fly Thai Airways first class with a friend at an incredible rate — this one was ripe for devaluation, so I’m not surprised to see it go. Business-class awards will soon cost 50,000 miles, 10,000 more than you’ll currently redeem to fly in first.

Travelers continuing on to North Asia will take a hit, too, with business-class awards jumping from 40,000 to 55,000 miles and first class increasing from 50,000 to 75,000 miles. Ouch!

Bottom Line

Nobody likes an award-chart devaluation, and while United’s latest update could have been worse, several of the changes are sure to be unpopular with frequent flyers.

November 1 also marks the introduction of Everyday Awards, which will replace standard redemptions. This new level will fluctuate based on demand, with some awards costing more than they do today and others available for a bit less. We’ll have to wait until Wednesday to see exactly how this particular component pans out.

Which United awards are you booking by October 31?

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