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United offers discounts to younger travelers, and the deal just got better

Oct. 09, 2022
7 min read
United 767-300 Economy
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For about three years, United has offered discounts to travelers between the ages of 18 and 22, but now, travelers between the ages of 18 and 23 can enjoy the discount.

As a recent college graduate and United Airlines Premier 1K member, I've used this discount to save thousands of dollars on United flights. But even for those who aren't frequent travelers on United, you can save with this discount.

Discounts start at 5% off a normal ticket, but discounts can be much higher on certain routes and dates, particularly on close-in bookings. I have found discounts of over 60% in some cases. These discounted fares are valid on any route originating in the United States for flights within North America and may include codeshare flights on Lufthansa, Swiss, Austrian, Brussels, Air Canada, ANA or Air New Zealand with a UA flight number.

For example, a close-in departure on a flight from San Francisco International Airport (SFO) to Seattle-Tacoma International Airport (SEA) costs $244.60; however, with the young traveler discount, the flight is just $92.51 — a 62% discount.

Today, we'll go through the ins and outs of the United Airlines young traveler discount.

How to book this discount on United Airlines flights

There are four easy steps to follow 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. If you don't have one, you can sign up for free and should include your date of birth in the registration process.
3. Select “Book” on the bottom navigation bar.
4. Select “Discounted travel (ages 18-23)”. That way, the discount will automatically appear when you search for flights.

UNITED APP

After following these steps, you will be taken to a flight search screen where you can search for flights. You'll notice that you can only book a flight for one traveler, yourself.

UNITED APP

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 flight price.

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UNITED APP

About United's 18-23-year-old discount

Premier members receive all their benefits using the 18-23-year-old discount. KYLE OLSEN/THE POINTS GUY

There are several important terms to know about United's 18-23-year-old discount:

  • Travelers must be between 18 and 23 years old. As your date of birth is pulled from your MileagePlus account, you have to be a MileagePlus member and have your date of birth on file.
  • One passenger per confirmation number. When using the discount, you can only book one person on a single confirmation number, even if your traveling companion is between the ages of 18 and 23. They would need to make their own reservation. Historically, this has been challenging as United only allows Complimentary Premier Upgrades (CPUs) and other Premier benefits to be shared with a companion when they're on the same confirmation number as the Premier member (note, the only exception to this is with Economy Plus seating; you can call United to have your companion seated in Economy Plus if you're a Premier member with your companion on a separate confirmation number.).
  • This discount is only valid for economy and basic economy fares. Yes, it's a bummer that there isn't a discount on Premium Plus and business class bookings. However, normal economy tickets purchased with this discount are still eligible for upgrades (paid, mileage, PlusPoints, instant or complimentary) based on availability.
  • Premier members get all their benefits. United allows Premier members to receive all their normal benefits; however, you might be a bit lower on the upgrade waitlist when traveling on a ticket booked using the young traveler discount. In my experience, when traveling on the young traveler discount, I am one of the last Premier 1K members to be upgraded before Premier Platinum members.
  • Basic economy fares are eligible for the discount as well. Basic Economy fares have several restrictions, including seat assignments at check-in, no seat changes or upgrades, no flight changes, no full-sized carry-on bag and reduced MileagePlus Premier qualifying credit.

There is a minimum 5% discount on United or United Express-operated flights within North America originating in the United States. All published, non-contracted economy class fares are eligible.

On international flights from the U.S., United offers "varying discounts." Here's what I found the discounts to be on some international routes on flights originating from the U.S. All fares are standard economy on United metal unless otherwise noted:

  • SFO to Heathrow Airport (LHR) round-trip: 1% discount, $772 discounted fare, $780 public fare.
  • Dulles International Airport (IAD) to São Paulo/Guarulhos Airport (GRU) round-trip (one-stop each direction): 17% discount, $1,382 discounted fare, $1,666 public fare
  • Denver International Airport (DEN) to Puerto Vallarta's Licenciado Gustavo Díaz Ordaz International Airport (PVR): 4% discount, $614 discounted fare, $638 public fare.
  • Los Angeles International Airport (LAX) to Sydney Airport (SYD): 12% discount, $2,525 discounted fare, $2,870 public fare.
  • John F. Kennedy International Airport (JFK) to Vienna Airport (VIE) (Austrian Airlines codeshare flight): 10% discount, $1,301 discounted fare, $1,441 public fare.
  • SEA to Montreal-Trudeau International Airport (YUL) (Air Canada codeshare flight): no discount

Related: How to get maximum value from the United MileagePlus program

Sweet spots to maximize your United Airlines discount

KYLE OLSEN/THE POINTS GUY

As mentioned, last-minute flights tend to have steeper discounts. My earlier example — the flight from SFO to Seattle leaving four days from now — shows over a 60% 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 often 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 non-hub cities like Savannah/Hilton Head International Airport (SAV), John Wayne Airport (SNA) and Redmond Municipal Airport (RDM).

Five days from now, flights between EWR and ORD are showing about a 7% discount; flights from SNA to ORD are showing about a 53% discount.

UNITED APP

Bottom line

As a recent college graduate, 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, particularly if you have a last-minute travel need. And now, travelers up to age 23 can enjoy the discounts.

Search around for yourself to find the best discount for your travel needs. Volatile prices 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.

Additional reporting by Jacob Harrison

Featured image by BENJI STAWSKI/THE POINTS GUY
Editorial disclaimer: Opinions expressed here are the author’s alone, not those of any bank, credit card issuer, airline or hotel chain, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.

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  • Intro Offer
    Earn 80,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. That's $1,200 toward travel when you redeem through Chase Ultimate Rewards®

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Why We Chose It

If you are looking to take your premium rewards to the highest level, this card is really a no brainer in our eyes. Chase's Ultimate Rewards make points easy to redeem, with a wide range of 10 airline and three hotel transfer partners and a friendly user interface. Despite the high annual fee, Chase is consistently adding new benefits to keep the card competitive in a fierce premium rewards field.

Pros

  • $300 annual travel credit as reimbursement for travel purchases charged to your card each account anniversary year
  • Access to Chase Ultimate Rewards hotel and airline travel partners
  • Unlimited 3x points on the broad category of travel and dining
  • 50% more value when you redeem your points for travel through Chase Ultimate Rewards®
  • Broad definitions for travel and dining bonus categories

Cons

  • Steep $550 annual fee
  • May not make sense for people that don't travel frequently
  • You must spend the $300 travel credit before earning 3x points for travel and dining
  • No automatic hotel elite status
  • Earn 80,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. That's $1,200 toward travel when you redeem through Chase Ultimate Rewards®
  • $300 Annual Travel Credit as reimbursement for travel purchases charged to your card each account anniversary year.
  • Earn 5x total points on flights and 10x total points on hotels and car rentals when you purchase travel through Chase Ultimate Rewards® immediately after the first $300 is spent on travel purchases annually. Earn 3x points on other travel and dining & 1 point per $1 spent on all other purchases
  • Get 50% more value when you redeem your points for travel through Chase Ultimate Rewards®. For example, 80,000 points are worth $1,200 toward travel
  • 1:1 point transfer to leading airline and hotel loyalty programs
  • Access to 1,300+ airport lounges worldwide after an easy, one-time enrollment in Priority Pass™ Select and up to $100 application fee credit every four years for Global Entry, NEXUS, or TSA PreCheck®
  • Count on Trip Cancellation/Interruption Insurance, Auto Rental Collision Damage Waiver, Lost Luggage Insurance and more