The Basics

400,000 United Miles – What Am I Booking Before the Devaluation?

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All frequent flyers that follow the airline awards know that the February 1 is United Award Devaluation Day. This is when United’s MileagePlus program will pretty much be turning into a KilometerPlus with the changing ratios. Premium cabin awards on partners will be the worst changes. You can read about the devaluation here.

So, with 400,000 United miles left in my account, what will I be booking before February 1 comes? The answer – nothing! Why is that? The answer is simple – I have a family with 5 people in it. We currently live in Europe and if we want to go back to the US on visits, we have to do it with miles. For the 5 of us to travel in business class, it would cost 500,000 miles for one trip! Instead, we can travel round-trip to the US for 300,000 miles and still have 100,000 miles towards our next trip. While business class is definitely nice (we came here in business class), the long-haul flight is only 8 hours (that is not too bad) and we have three younger kids (5, 4, and 2). With children that young, we get to use their leg space as well as our own. 🙂 We have already booked 270,000 miles in economy for this year and will be saving the rest of our United stash for more travel. In our case, it is better to be able to travel someplace together than fly premium but less trips.

Now, if you do want to use United miles for premium awards before the devaluation, you can check out these posts to get some ideas on what and where to use those miles on:

How about you? Are you planning on using your United miles for premium travel before the devaluation or are you going to sit on those miles for economy later?

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About the author


Charlie has been an avid traveler and runner for many years. He has run in marathons around the world for less than it would cost to travel to the next town - all as a result of collecting and using miles and points. Over the years, he has flown hundreds of thousands of miles and collected millions of miles and points.
Now he uses this experience and knowledge to help others through Running with Miles.


  • have the same dilema, have kids 3 and 5. Based in EUR as well, not worth wasting them on premium cabins. May as well take the whole family to Australia or even maldives (only 20K each way)

  • I’m with you (but with a slightly larger family – there’s 8 of us). We don’t have nearly the United miles, but for the types of travel we typically do, even if we had a ton, I wouldn’t be booking tons just to book.

    The chart is devalued sure, but for “normal” travel (non-partner awards and economy), which is how most families with kids travel, the changes aren’t that bad.