Can I Book Premium Economy Seats With United Miles?

Apr 10, 2018

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“Reader Questions” are now answered twice a week by TPG Associate Editor Brendan Dorsey.

Premium economy is becoming more widely available as an option for those who want a better experience than the main cabin but aren’t willing to shell out the dollars or miles for business class. TPG reader Ken writes in asking if he can use his United miles to book premium economy tickets…

A number of airlines in the Star Alliance have premium economy (Lufthansa, Air Canada, etc.) but United does not. Is there a way to book premium economy using United miles?

TPG Reader Ken

Unfortunately Ken, the short answer is no, you won’t be able to book any sort of premium economy ticket with your United miles. United doesn’t offer a premium economy product on its own aircraft, but plans on introducing it this fall.

When performing a search on United’s website, say from New York (JFK) to Frankfurt (FRA), you’ll see that Lufthansa and Singapore both come up as options, and both of those airlines have premium economy seats on that route. Yet, there are only options to book an economy, business or first-class award.

Even though it’s not bookable online, is there a way to get around this and call in to United and book over the phone? No you won’t be able to do that either. In fact, United doesn’t even list premium economy as an option on its award chart.

Once United launches its own premium economy product, it will add this as an award booking option. Hopefully it will allow the ability to book partner airlines’ premium economy products too.

It’s still unclear what routes it plans to offer premium economy on, other that they’ll be to international destinations. Cash and mileage prices will fall somewhere between the cost of an economy and business class ticket.

If you have points with a transferrable points program like Chase Ultimate Rewards, Starwood Preferred Guest, Citi ThankYou Points or Amex Membership Rewards, you’ll have better luck transferring to an airline partner that allows premium economy award bookings — like Cathay Pacific’s Asia Miles, British Airways’ Executive Club or Air Canada’s Aeroplan.

Thanks for the question, Ken, and if you’re a TPG reader who’d like us to answer a question of your own, tweet us at @thepointsguy, message us on Facebook or email us at info@thepointsguy.com.

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