United’s limited-time promo could save some young travelers over 55%

Jun 28, 2021

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As a young person on a budget who loves to travel, I always look for ways to save money on flights. While the search for cheap flights can often be confusing, United is making it much easier for young people to find a good deal.

Now through July 31, United is offering discounted fares for travelers between 18 and 22 years old. Discounts start at 5% off a normal ticket, but discounts can be much higher on certain routes and dates. I have found discounts of over 55% in some cases. These discounted fares are valid on any route originating in the United States for flights within North America.

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For example, a flight from Newark (EWR) to Seattle (SEA) on July 2 costs $312 with a normal economy ticket; however, a discounted fare on the same flight costs $140 – just over 55% off the regular fare.

Read more: How to get maximum value from the United MileagePlus program

Let’s explore this discount in detail.

In This Post

How to book this discount on United Airlines flights

There are four easy steps to follow in order to find and book fares with this discount, according to United:

1. Download or open the United app.
2. Be logged in to your MileagePlus account.
3. Press the “Book Flight” button at the bottom.
4. On the “Select travel type” screen, choose “Discounted travel (ages 18-22).”

Select “Discounted travel (ages 18-22)” to unlock these fare deals. (Screenshot courtesy of United Airlines)

After following these steps, you will be taken to a flight search screen where you can search for flights.

Search for flights like you normally would. (Screenshot courtesy of United Airlines)

The discount will automatically apply to eligible flights. It will be clear that you are looking at discounted flights if you can see the word “Discounted” in green text below the price of the flight.

Note the word “Discounted” in green. (Screenshot courtesy of United Airlines)

Things to note about booking this United Airlines flight discount

You must be between 18 and 22 to qualify for the discount. Your birthday will be pulled from your personal information on your MileagePlus account, so there is no way around this.

You must be booking for yourself. A friend or family member seeking out the discount would have to book separately and also be eligible to receive it.  Therefore, an eligible traveler would not be able to get this discount for friends or family who are outside of the 18-to-22 age group.

This discount is only valid for economy and basic economy fares. There is no discount on business-class bookings. However, normal economy tickets purchased with this discount are still eligible for paid upgrades to business class based on availability. For example, on a recent economy booking from Chicago O’Hare (ORD) to Seattle (SEA) with the discounted fare, I was offered a paid upgrade into United First for $249. Basic economy tickets are not eligible for these paid upgrades.

Premier members still receive their normal benefits while traveling on this ticket type — however, if they book into basic economy, the normal restrictions apply.

While basic economy fares are eligible to receive this discount as well, these restrictive fare types have not been a booking option on a considerable number of routes and dates that I have searched.

Note that basic economy is not always an option with discounted fares. (Screenshot courtesy of United)

This guaranteed minimum 5% discount is for flights originating in the United States for travel within North America. However, international flights from the USA to other regions of the world are eligible for discounts as well — though most international flights only seem to offer discounts of 5% or less.

Although the international flight discount is usually not very high, note that it is also valid on codeshare flights with select partner airlines such as Air Canada, ANA and Lufthansa. On several sample flight searches from various cities in the U.S. to Frankfurt, Germany (FRA), in August, a codeshare flight on Lufthansa shows about a 3% discount from a normal fare.

Prices tend to be volatile with this discount. A good deal that you find in the morning might not be there in the evening. For example, I was monitoring fares for a last-minute flight from Savannah, Georgia (SAV), to Seattle (SEA), and every few hours, a new flight option was available for the cheapest price of $131 each way.

Sweet spots to maximize your United Airlines discount

Last-minute flights tend to have steeper discounts. My earlier example — the flight from Newark to Seattle leaving four days from now — shows over a 55% discount when booked with the discounted fare; the same flight two weeks from now only shows a 5% discount.

Flights where the origin and/or destination is not a hub generally show steeper discounts than hub-to-hub flights. For example, flights between Newark and Chicago O’Hare, two United hubs, tend to be less discounted than flights between Savannah and Chicago O’Hare.

A search of last-minute flights on these routes confirms this observation: Three days from now, flights between EWR and ORD are showing about a 7% discount; flights from SAV to ORD are showing about a 43% discount.

Flights to and/or from a non-hub like SAV tend to have impressive discounts. (Screenshot courtesy of United Airlines)

Bottom line

As a college student myself, I am always looking for the best ways to save on my next trip — and this United discounted fare is a great way to do it.

Search around for yourself to find the best discount for your travel needs. Volatile prices mean that it might take a few different searches throughout the week to find the best price — but, once you find a deal, it will be worth it.

Featured photo courtesy Benji Stawski/The Points Guy.

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