Travel News

Did United Lie? Partner Awards Are Now Higher – And That Wasn’t Supposed to Happen

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Written by Charlie

It appears that United wasn’t telling us the truth with the disappearance of the award charts. United partner awards have gone up in price – on day one.

Well, that didn’t take long. Today, November 15, was known to us award-seekers as the day that United would make their award charts vanish. It was also the day they would do away with the $75 close-in booking fees. I have been checking out the United award engine on and off throughout the day to keep an eye on it and it appears that United just flipped a switch in the last hour (as of 6PM NY time on November 15) as all the flights I had seen previously today (for awards between the US and Europe) bumped up 2,000 – 3,500 miles one way. The truly bad news? The partner award flights have gone up as well.

United Airline Partner Awards Have Gone Up – And That Was Not Supposed to Happen

The reason that is truly bad news is that this was not supposed to happenAbout a month ago, there was some concern about the United website saying that it could happen but the United head of Loyalty told Gary at View from the Wing that it would only be when paired with a United flight (because of the new dynamic nature of pricing United awards). Well, that is not true.

This calendar is full up United’s lie – all these dates represent a 3,500 mile hike on partner awards

Check this one, for example. This is a non-stop Lufthansa flight between JFK and Munich. According to the award chart, this would be 70,000 miles one way in business class (10,000 more than a United-operated flight). Nope – it is 73,500 miles one way or 147,000 miles round trip. The same increased amount (3,500 miles one way) is showing for first class partner flights as well.

This is a 3,500 mile bump from yesterday

Is that a huge bump? No, not really. On the business class side, it represents an increase of just 5%. For first class, it is even less. But, what makes this really bad is that this is exactly what United had said would not happen – that partner awards would stay at their regular prices unless matched with a United flight that may have a different award price.

First class partner awards also went up 3,500 miles one way

So, if United is willing to break their word on Day 1 of no award charts, how long before they start requiring even more miles for partner business or first class awards? My guess is not too long. The only reason paying United’s bloated award rates was better for most of us than Aeroplan, for example, was that you didn’t pay fuel surcharges with United and United miles were easy to get. Well, let’s see what happens if United scorches the memory of their partner award charts…

By the way, I was logged in as a United credit card holder for these searches so that does not help at all (not that it was said it would but just to throw that out there).

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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.


  • It appears to only be applied to close in flights. Flights farther out are still pricing at the previous rates. If I had to guess, they’ve replaced their 75$ close in booking free with a 3.5K miles surcharge instead.

    • Good catch and really sneaky of them to pull something like that. Sure, it is cheaper than the $75 but definitely not something that they had conveyed.

  • What do you mean DID the lie? It’s right there in black and white! Higher costs after they said there wouldn’t be. Bu then again, did we expect honesty from an airline?

    • I asked in a question because I was exercising a very slight hope that this was some tests/technical error. Especially since it happened to everything in the space of 5 minutes (the difference in my searches). But, I must be too hopeful.

  • You picked a flight within 21 days, which used to incur $75 fee. Maybe United just traded that fee with more miles. Just my speculation.
    I tested SFO-PVG for next week and March 2020, when I space is available. 73K for next week and 70K for the latter.

    • Good catch. I just had been running all the searches that I had been doing from earlier today so hadn’t expanded the calendar. Kind of crummy of them to do that.

  • I was wondering why an economy redemption to Canada went from 12.5k to 16k. Almost 30% increase

  • SO earlier this week I booked a Saver Business class round trip ticket on UA Mileage Plus. The flights include LH & LX flights. The posted awards miles were 70,000 each way. Am I assuming that as long as you booked the award tickets BEFORE the change – your tickets are ok?

    • Yep, you are good! It appears that this is the replacement for their $75 close in booking fee so even booking one month out will be ok (for now).

  • […] Did United Lie? Partner Awards Are Now Higher – And That Wasn’t Supposed to Happen – Of course they lied. Only us sharp miles obsessed freaks would know. The vast majority of MileagePlus members (I would guess 98.9% of them) would have absolutely no clue. Remember, this worked for Delta lol! Remember, this was just hours on Day 1! But wait, there is more… […]

  • Not sure how they’re “lying” when it clearly says “there may be flights that require a higher number of miles”…may is the same as there will or there won’t be flights that require a higher number.

    • The reason is that their VP had said on numerous occasions that the variable on those partner pricing would be if their was a United flight in the itinerary. But, this close in surcharge effects all partner flights whether they include a United flight or not.