United brings back award flights starting at just 5,000 miles each way

Aug 7, 2020

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In the weeks following the great drop-off of life as we knew it back in March, we initially saw airlines offering deals to try and counteract the precipitous reduction in bookings. But then, as the reality of the situation sunk in, things changed.

Likely, what happened is that the airlines saw that price drops were no longer a motivator to get most customers back in the air. As 95% of normal flyers stayed firmly on the ground at the low point this spring, air travel was simply deemed too risky by many for anything but essential movement — even if it was basically free. By some point in April, United virtually eliminated the lower-priced awards that were a byproduct of its dynamic-priced award chart system that had taken effect a few months prior.

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Gone were 5,000- and 7,000-mile United award flights, as the minimum price jumped back up to about 12,500 miles per direction of travel. That situation remained pretty static for several months based on our periodic searches.

Related: How to redeem miles with the United MileagePlus program

But now in August, travel deals are back en vogue.

We’ve seen one airline after another come out with some type of sale or offer in the last week or two. And sure enough, we are happy to report that United MileagePlus awards are now pricing again starting at just 5,000 miles each way.

Screenshot courtesy of United.com
Screenshot courtesy of United.com

Most of the lowest-priced milage deals we’ve come across are for fall travel, though the only way to know for sure what your route may cost is to run a search and use the 30-day calendar view if you have some flexibility in travel dates. And since 2020 is very … unpredictable … take note that United is currently offering fee-free award redeposits as long as you take that action at least 30 days before departure.

Related: United temporarily increases welcome bonuses to up to 100,000 miles

Here’s an example of some of the award prices we’ve spotted this fall on United:

  • Newark (EWR) – Miami (MIA): 5,000 miles
  • Chicago (ORD) – Orlando (MCO): 5,000 miles
  • Los Angeles (LAX) – Denver (DEN): 5,000 miles
  • Washington DC (IAD) – Portland, Maine (PWM): 5,500 miles
  • Denver (DEN) – Seattle (SEA): 6,000 miles
  • Chigago (ORD) – Boston (BOS): 7,000 miles
  • Houston (IAH) – Orlando (MCO): 7,000 miles
  • Newark (EWR) – Dallas (DFW): 7,000 miles
  • San Francisco (SFO) – Newark (EWR): 7,500 miles
  • Houston (IAH) – Anahaiem (SNA): 7,500 miles

Related: These are the best credit cards for flying United

Portland Head Light at sunset (Image by Kenneth C. Zirkel/Getty Images)
Portland Head Light at sunset (Image by Kenneth C. Zirkel/Getty Images)

Bottom line

With quarantine rules, health risks and other challenges still facing travelers for the foreseeable future, it may not yet be time for you to jump on one of these low-priced United awards. However, it is a great sign to see that they have returned, for whenever your next award flight at 36,000 feet may occur.

Featured image courtesy of Carlos Yudica/Shutterstock

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