Act fast: United award flights from just 3,000 miles or $29 each way

Jan 26, 2021

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Airfare deals are typically only available on limited dates. We recommend you use Google Flights to find dates to fly, then book through an online travel agency such as Orbitz or Expedia, which allows you to cancel flights without penalty by 11pm Eastern Time within one day of booking. However, if you’re using The Platinum Card® from American Express, you’ll need to book directly with the airline or through the Amex Travel portal to get 5x MR points (on up to $500,000 on these purchases per calendar year). Remember: Fares may disappear quickly, so book right away and take advantage of Orbitz or Expedia’s courtesy cancellation if you’re unable to get the time away from work or family.

Thinking about booking a United flight for travel by May 26, 2021? You might want to lock it in today.

In celebration of “National Plan your Vacation Day,” United Airlines has dropped its fares on some routes to $29 each way, with awards starting at just 3,000 miles. You need to book your flight today, Jan. 26, 2021, for travel between Feb. 9 and May 26, 2021 in order to take advantage. You can find a complete list of discounted flights here.

The lowest fares are available on United’s shortest flights, such as San Diego (SAN) and Los Angeles (LAX) to San Francisco (SFO):

Screenshot courtesy of United.

You can book these flights for $29 each way, but the lowest fares generally require traveling in basic economy, without a seat assignment or carry-on bag. Note that free changes are permitted for all United flights issued by March 31, 2021, including basic economy.

Alternatively, you might want to consider booking an award for 3,000 miles, since those tickets include full economy perks.

Screenshot courtesy of United.

You can also find $29 fares or 3,000-mile awards on other short-haul United flights, such as Boston (BOS) to Washington, D.C. (IAD):

Screenshot courtesy of United.

Or Houston (IAH) to New Orleans (MSY):

Screenshot courtesy of United.

Longer flights might cost you a hair more, but they’re discounted as well, such as Chicago (ORD) to Los Angeles (LAX) for $39:

Screenshot courtesy of United.

Or 3,500 miles each way:

Screenshot courtesy of United.

If you don’t already have miles in your account, you can consider a transfer from Chase Ultimate Rewards — miles generally post instantly, but there are occasional transfer delays, so there’s a small chance you won’t have the miles in your United account in time to take advantage of this sale.

With fares so low, though, it may make more sense to save your points and miles for another booking, and pay cash, instead. Alternatively, you can redeem directly through Chase’s travel portal — customers with a Chase Sapphire Reserve can redeem points for 1.5 cents each, while those with a Chase Sapphire Preferred Card can redeem for 1.25 cents.

Screenshot courtesy of Chase.

As always, be sure to compare fares before you decide to lock in an award — TPG values MileagePlus miles at 1.3 cents apiece, but it’s easy to get much more value out of your miles than that. 3,000 miles is an incredible rate, but with fares of $29, you may want to consider paying cash, instead.

Featured photo by Zach Honig/The Points Guy.

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