I have written about this before but just had to mention it again as this is happening more and more and really gives great value to United card holders – at the expense of those that do not have the card!
The United Card Continues To Save Me A Lot
Check out this post for information on the best, targeted offer of 75,000 United miles.
In light of the recent United devaluation announcement, many people are probably trying to figure which awards they plan on booking in the regions and classes that are affected. If you are, having the United MileagePlus Explorer (or other United credit cards) can be a big help in getting you the United flight you want.
While I used to observe this on a few flights every now and again, everyone of the flights I have booked with United (that are on United flights or have a United flight in the itinerary) has benefited from a key perk of the United cards – increased award availability.
What Is This Perk?
This perk of expanded award availability applies to the United MileagePlus Explorer, the United Business card, and the United Club card. The no fee United Mileage card does not carry this as a perk but there are many data points that show that it has worked in the past.
Savings for booking United flights
So, you may be wondering how this saves me anything! What it saves me is miles. I have had to book some awards (for myself and others) that included some business class flights. Each time, we were trying for the 57,500 mile level which is the cost for the US to Europe on United Business class (rather than 70,000 for partner flights). While flying something like Lufthansa or Austrian is certainly a great deal for only 12,500 miles more, the effort was in saving miles.
For each itinerary, there were no United flights available – until I signed in. Then we had several United options open up!
Savings for booking domestic flights vs cash
The same has been true for some flights on certain days. The flights had to be booked and the cash price was very high. We could have booked the standard awards (25,000 miles for one way domestically) but I hated doing that. Again, signing in opened up several saver award options at the 12,500 mile amount!
This also works out very well on the regional flights to connect with a partner flight for overseas. It is not uncommon to have no United availability on the shorter, regional flights – until you log in with a United card attached to the account. Then, the flights start to show up!
Great Feature – But Should It Be?
This is a feature that keeps the United MileagePlus Explorer card worth the $95 annual fee for me (I don’t need it for baggage). This single feature has unlocked many award flights I would otherwise have not been able to book and saved me miles in the process.
But, it appears that United is withholding more of these flights from award availability than they used to. I understand they want to reward cardholders (and elite members, who also have this benefit) but this seems like a rather awkward way to do it. If they want to reward cardholders, give us a perk that works and keeps us instead of taking options away from those that don’t have the card.
Have you been able to use this feature of the United cards?
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