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Fly to London, Tel Aviv, Tokyo and other cities with unprecedented United Polaris award availability

April 23, 2020
6 min read
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The coronavirus has caused demand for travel to basically evaporate. Though now's not the time to travel, we at TPG definitely encourage you to starting planning your next vacation for sometime later this year into next.

Fortunately, United's made trip planning really easy since the carrier has released an unprecedented number of saver award seats for some of its most popular routes in Polaris business class. When we crunched the numbers last month, we found a nearly 1,400% jump in business-class award availability on United. And that still holds true today.

Redeeming points for United Polaris represents a fantastic value, so let's dive into some of the award space we're seeing.

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United's nonstop to London

Fancy a visit to the queen? Well, you can get there in style — and on points — with all the United award space we're seeing.

Let's look at Chicago-O'Hare (ORD) to London-Heathrow (LHR). There's just three days in 2021 that doesn't have Polaris availability for four passengers. Many dates have up to nine seats if you're looking to bring the extended family!

It's typically very hard to get from the west coast to Europe in business class on points. But, that's not the case for the rest of 2020 into the first three months of 2021.

All the dotted lines above indicate dates that have Polaris award availability for nine from Los Angeles (LAX) to London-Heathrow (LHR). You'll note that there's just two dates in 2021 that don't have space.

United's nonstop to Tel Aviv

Newark (EWR) to Tel Aviv (TLV) is one of United's most flagship routes, and one that I fly with quite a bit of frequency. Scoring award or upgrade space on these flights is like finding a needle in a haystack. But now, that's totally changed.

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From Jan. to March 2021, there's only a handful of dates that don't have Polaris award space for four passengers. That's right — almost every single date that's bookable in 2021 is available as an award for an entire family!

Take a look at the calendars above. Every date that has a dotted line indicates Polaris availability for at least four passengers.

Plus, this insane amount of award availability isn't limited to just Newark to Tel Aviv. It's also available in the reverse direction — and on United's other flights to Israel to/from San Francisco (SFO) and Washington-Dulles (IAD). Though we searched for four passengers, many of these flights actually have space for up to nine passengers!

We're even seeing these trends beginning in August 2020, though that may be too soon to begin traveling internationally.

United's nonstop to Tokyo

What about Asia? Well, United's got you covered there too. There's still a ton of Polaris award availability, though it's a bit less than to Europe and Israel.

The dotted lines above indicate dates that have Polaris awards for two passengers from San Francisco to either Tokyo-Haneda (HND) or Tokyo-Narita (NRT). We're also seeing similar trends to Asia from other United hubs as well.

RELATED: Tokyo-Narita vs. Haneda: Which airport should I fly into?

How to redeem miles for United flights

As a member of Star Alliance, you can book United awards with quite a few partner programs. I'll list the best options below and their associated credit card transfer partners, and then discuss why now's actually a good time to book with United directly.

https://www.instagram.com/p/B9Uc3F7FF2z/

Why booking through United MileagePlus makes sense

Though you could transfer credit card points to any of the above programs, it makes sense to redeem through United MileagePlus, especially if you're booking flights in 2020.

For one, if you carry a cobranded United card or if you're a Premier member, then you get access to expanded availability — but only if you book directly through United.

Taking a look at calendars above. You'll see that there's even more award space available if you carry a United card!

Related: Unlock expanded award availability with United credit cards

Another reason to book with United is because the carrier is waiving all redeposit fees for award ticket cancellations made more than 30 days before departure for the remainder of this year. That means that you can lock in the award space now and then cancel it later on for a full refund if it's still unsafe to travel.

Finally, booking with United may allow you to utilize the carrier's Excursionist Perk to effectively add a stopover. For example, if you wanted to visit Europe in February, you could include time in both London and another European city. By booking a multi-city trip — with time in both London and, say, Frankfurt before returning to the U.S. — the intra-Europe flight prices at 0 miles.

As you can from the above example, you'd enjoy two, long-haul flights in United business class and a free flight within Europe for 120,000 miles and less than $200 in taxes and fees — and these screen shots show availability for four passengers.

Bottom line

As you're looking to plan travel for the end of 2020 and into 2021, there's no better place to search than with United. We're seeing unprecedented amounts of Polaris award availability on some of the carrier's flagship routes. Plus, with the ability to redeposit awards for the remainder of 2020 without a fee, there's no better time to lock-in your award.

All award space available at time of publishing. All photos by the author.

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TPG featured card

Best premium travel card for value
TPG Editor‘s Rating
Card Rating is based on the opinion of TPG‘s editors and is not influenced by the card issuer.
4 / 5
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Rewards

1 - 10X points
10xEarn 10x total points on hotels and car rentals when you purchase travel through Chase Ultimate Rewards®.
5xEarn 5x total points on flights through Chase Ultimate Rewards®.
3xEarn 3x points on other travel and dining.
1xEarn 1 point per $1 spent on all other purchases

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80,000 bonus points
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®

Annual Fee

$550

Recommended Credit

740-850
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Credit ranges are a variation of FICO© Score 8, one of many types of credit scores lenders may use when considering your credit card application.

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
Best premium travel card for value
TPG Editor‘s Rating
Card Rating is based on the opinion of TPG‘s editors and is not influenced by the card issuer.
4 / 5
Go to review

Rewards Rate

10xEarn 10x total points on hotels and car rentals when you purchase travel through Chase Ultimate Rewards®.
5xEarn 5x total points on flights through Chase Ultimate Rewards®.
3xEarn 3x points on other travel and dining.
1xEarn 1 point per $1 spent on all other purchases
  • 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®

    80,000 bonus points
  • Annual Fee

    $550
  • Recommended Credit
    Credit ranges are a variation of FICO© Score 8, one of many types of credit scores lenders may use when considering your credit card application.

    740-850
    Excellent

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