TPG Readers’ Best United MileagePlus Success Stories

Aug 4, 2019

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We recently asked our TPG Lounge audience to share their greatest success stories with the United MileagePlus loyalty program. Here’s a look at some of our favorite answers. (Some responses have been lightly edited for style and clarity.)

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Round-The-World Adventures on United Miles

We’re usually pretty impressed by our TPG Lounge members’ points-and-miles endeavors, but never as much as when they figure out how to do entire round-the-world journeys for (almost) free with airline miles.

“Manila (MNL) to Bangkok (BKK) to Sydney (SYD) for 65,000 United MileagePlus miles in first class on Thai Airways is one of my better ones. But Denver (DEN) to New York-JFK to Bogotá (BOG) to Guayaquil (GYE) to San Cristóbal Airport in the Galápagos Islands (SCY) to Baltra (GPS) to GYE to Lima (LIM) to Cusco (CUZ) to Lima (LIM) to Panama City (PTY) to Denver (DEN) for 110,000 United miles per person in business class is a bit of a crowning achievement. For any flight longer than five hours, we were in lie-flat seats.” — Carl C.

“I circled the globe with 70,000 United miles. Flew from Chicago (ORD) to Yinchuan (INC) to Beijing (PEK) to Addis Ababa (ADD) to Dublin (DUB) to ORD. Researched with with the United search engine and flew partners like Asiana and Ethiopian Airlines.” — Claudio E.

“60,000 miles for Singapore Suites from Hong Kong (HKG) to Singapore (SIN) to Auckland (AKL).” — Timothy K.

Singapore SQ Suites are always a big hit with our TPG Lounge audience. (Photo by Ethan Steinberg / The Points Guy)
SQ Suites are always a big hit with our TPG Lounge audience. (Photo by Ethan Steinberg / The Points Guy)

“180,000 miles redeemed for a round-the-world business-class booking. Just kept traveling west. Flew from Austin (AUS) to Chicago (ORD) to Beijing (PEK) to Bangkok (BKK) to London-Heathrow (LHR) to Houston (IAH) to AUS. Airlines: United, Air China and Thai Airways. Checked off a bucket-list travel goal to fly around the world and on the upper deck of the A380, which happened on Thai Airways.” — Blythe N.

“Used 90,000 United miles to fly in business class from Los Angeles (LAX) to Singapore (SIN) and Auckland (AKL) on Singapore Airlines for my honeymoon! I really can’t decide between that and my round-trip ticket to Patagonia for 60,000 miles. Both were amazing trips and no one believes me when I say I flew for free!” — Rachael O.

Trips to Oceania, Asia and the Middle East

Several TPG Lounge readers wrote in about flights they were able to book from the US to Tahiti, Australia, New Zealand, Japan, Thailand, the Maldives and Turkey, all by redeeming United MileagePlus miles — or leveraging Premier perks.

“Used two Regional Premier Upgrades (RPUs) on my Newark (EWR) to San Francisco (SFO) to Pape’ete (PPT) flight, got upgraded for the first leg and somehow on the 787 to PPT. Zero miles used.” — Hiroko K.

“I booked a trip from San Francisco (SFO) to Tokyo-Narita (NRT) in Polaris for 60,000 United miles and from NRT to SFO in ANA first class for 110,000 United miles. One of the best flights ever in ANA first.” — Josh L.

“Thanks to TPG’s Editor-at-Large Zach Honig and his article about using 40,000 United miles to fly first class from Southeast Asia to Oceania, I booked Thai Airways Royal First from Bangkok (BKK) to Sydney (SYD) … three times!” — Albert G.

Thanks to Zach's review, one of our TPG Lounge readers was able to plan his own first-class flight. (Photo by Zach Honig / The Points Guy)
Thanks to Zach’s review, one of our TPG Lounge readers was able to plan his own first-class flight. (Photo by Zach Honig / The Points Guy)

“Last week I booked a flight for 85,000 miles total from Houston (IAH) to Malè (MLE) and then MLE to Colombo (CMB) thanks to United’s Excursionist Perk, a free one-way segment you can add to a round-trip itinerary between two different regions as defined by the current United award chart.” — Roberto D.B.

“Business class from Chicago (ORD) to Istanbul (IST), then IST to Washington-Dullas (IAD) to ORD on Turkish Airlines. Booked by calling the MileagePlus Premier priority desk.” — Carol P.

“San Francisco (SFO) to Auckland (AKL) in Polaris, booked at the saver level, 80,000 miles each way. Got my PJ’s and my sundae.” — Andrés G.

European Vacations

From flights to Italy and Greece to memorable times in Munich and London, our TPG Lounge members really know how to make the most of their United miles when it comes to planning epic trips to Europe.

“Used United miles to fly from Denver (DEN) to Barcelona (BCN) via Frankfurt (FRA) with Lufthansa last summer. This summer, we’re flying the same route to Venice (VCE), also with Lufthansa. Both flights were booked as business saver awards for 140,000 miles round-trip.” — Allan V.N.

“Flew from Southern California to Thessaloniki (SKG) in business class with United Polaris and Aegean Airlines, used the Excursionist Perk to fly from SKG to London (LHR) in business on Lufthansa and flew open-jaw in economy from Dublin (DUB) back to SNA on United. For three people, it was 90,000 miles each — 60,000 each for the first leg and Excursionist Perk in business class and 30,000 in economy for the return flight. We had originally booked in economy but business class opened up the day before our departure.” — Josh S.

“We used 50,000 miles and paid $11.20 for taxes on an upcoming flight for two from Newark (EWR) to Milan (MXP) nonstop. Fabulous!” — Barbara K.S.

Use your United miles to see Milan's spectacular Duomo at sunrise. (Photo by ventdusud / Getty Images)
Use your United miles to see Milan’s magnificent Duomo at sunrise. (Photo by ventdusud / Getty Images)

“Round-trip nonstop from Houston (IAH) to London (LHR) for 60,000 miles each way in business class, which we booked directly on United last September for travel in three weeks. I doubt I will ever see that deal again.” — Jeff P.

“Used 30,000 United miles for a flight from Bremen (BRE) to Munich (MUC) to Frankfurt (FRA) to San Jose (SJC) — booked like this on purpose to visit friends in Munich — in economy. It was a last-minute flight that Lufthansa and United were charging $3,500 for.” — Jonathan K.

“One-way from Frankfurt (FRA) to San Francisco (SFO) in business class for 65,000 miles. An economy award seat on the same flight was 75,000 miles.” — Ocean H.

Traveling to Hawaii, Central and South America

Some of our TPG Lounge readers mentioned how they’d used United miles to book award flights to Hawaii, while another reminisced about affordable trips via Copa Airlines.

“Back in 2012 when United still offered first-class tickets for low-level award miles, I booked two round-trip first-class tickets from Chicago (ORD) to Honolulu (HNL) for 80,000 miles each. Those were the good old days.” — Shana G.

“Back in the days of far cheaper upgrades in the mid-2000s, I was upgraded on a Boeing 767-300 from Honolulu (HNL) to Denver (DEN) for 15,000 United miles. It was definitely one of the best values for an upgrade I’ve gotten with a paid economy ticket.” — Kevin W.

“Several years ago, Copa flights wholly within Central America, Mexico, the  Caribbean and northern parts of South America were a great deal and always available, about 10,000 miles one-way for economy and 20,000 miles one-way for business class. Not sure if that has changed within the last three years.” — Nelson R.

Featured photo of United Polaris by Alberto Riva / The Points Guy.

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Editorial Disclaimer: Opinions expressed here are the author’s alone, not those of any bank, credit card issuer, airlines or hotel chain, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.

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