All United MileagePlus members can now redeem miles for any seat on the plane
When you begin an award search on United’s website, a pop-up window suggests entering your username and password before you continue, prompting you to “Sign in to your MileagePlus account to show the best award availability.”
The reason? Traditionally, only MileagePlus elite members and customers with a co-branded credit card, such as the United Explorer Card or New United Quest Card, had access to every seat on the plane — if there was one seat for sale, those members can redeem miles to lock it in.
Now, that flexibility extends to all MileagePlus members — you don’t need to have elite status or a co-branded card to redeem an award, even if it’s for the very last seat on the plane.
That’s not to say you’ll necessarily want to redeem miles when you see the cost — as you can see below, the award cost for a seat on a flight that’s almost full can be extraordinarily high — but it’s helpful to know it’s an option.
Meanwhile, if you are an elite member or have a co-branded card, there’s still an incentive to log in before you complete your search. Those customers will continue to have access to additional low-level award availability — in many cases, you’ll see a lower redemption rate once you log in.
In the screenshot above, for example, I searched for a flight from Newark (EWR) to Rome (FCO) without logging into my United account. After entering my username and password, the redemption rate dropped by more than a third, since I was able to “unlock” availability held back for elites and cardholders.
United isn’t the first U.S. carrier to extend a no-blackout-dates policy to all members — programs like American AAdvantage, Delta SkyMiles and Southwest Rapid Rewards do as well — but it’s certainly a welcome benefit, especially if you’re hoping to redeem miles instead of booking an astronomically expensive cash fare.
Featured photo by Zach Honig/The Points Guy
Welcome to The Points Guy!
Earn 50,000 bonus miles and 5,000 Medallion® Qualification Miles (MQMs) after you spend $2,000 in purchases on your new card in your first three months of card membership. Plus, earn up to $100 back in statement credits for eligible purchases at U.S. restaurants with your card within the first 3 months of membership.
With Status Boost™, earn 10,000 Medallion Qualification Miles (MQMs) after you spend $25,000 in purchases on your Card in a calendar year, up to two times per year getting you closer to Medallion Status. Earn 3X Miles on Delta purchases and purchases made directly with hotels, 2X Miles at restaurants and at U.S. supermarkets and earn 1X Mile on all other eligible purchases. Terms Apply.
- Earn 50,000 bonus miles and 5,000 Medallion® Qualification Miles (MQMs) after you spend $2,000 in purchases on your new Card in your first 3 months.
- Plus, earn up to $100 back in statement credits for eligible purchases at US restaurants with your card within the first 3 months of membership.
- Accelerate your path to Medallion Status, with Status Boost®. Plus, in 2021 you can earn even more bonus Medallion® Qualification Miles (MQMs) to help you reach Medallion Status.
- Earn 3X Miles on Delta purchases and purchases made directly with hotels.
- Earn 2X Miles at restaurants worldwide, including takeout and delivery and at U.S. supermarkets.
- Earn 1X Miles on all other eligible purchases.
- Receive a Domestic Main Cabin round-trip companion certificate each year upon renewal of your Card. *Payment of the government imposed taxes and fees of no more than $75 for roundtrip domestic flights (for itineraries with up to four flight segments) is required. Baggage charges and other restrictions apply. See terms and conditions for details.
- Enjoy your first checked bag free on Delta flights.
- Fee Credit for Global Entry or TSA Pre✓®.
- Enjoy an exclusive rate of $39 per person per visit to enter the Delta Sky Club® for you and up to two guests when traveling on a Delta flight.
- No Foreign Transaction Fees.
- $250 Annual Fee.
- Terms Apply.
- See Rates & Fees