Let me start this off by saying, I like to search award availability for flights. Even if I don’t plan to take the flight, I like to see what is out there. I was searching for possible flights to Europe when I noticed variable award pricing from United.
Has United Started Variable Award Pricing?
What I am seeing:
I don’t know if others are seeing this or if it is just me. I’m only going to speak to my experience looking for coach flights to Europe.
I am seeing different prices on United that don’t fall inline with their typical award chart. Making me believe United might be starting to rollout more variable award prices.
United’s Award Chart:
When looking to flights to Europe you can clearing see 2 prices for economy tickets to Europe. They are 30,000 points for Saver availability and 70,000 points for Everyday awards.
That is it, there aren’t other prices that United charges. Well, that they list…
When I search, I am seeing prices that vary like this:
OKC to LIS:
This ticket is one way.
You can see it price out at 58,000 miles and $5.60
MIA to LHR:
This is a round trip ticket way ticket, price is per segment.
These are just a couple of examples of what I have seen.
Something interesting I noticed though, when I check United hubs.
When I search United hubs (EWR, ORD, and IAH) , I only see the 30,000 miles and 70,000 miles options. I do not see these intermediate pricing of award flights.
Only In Coach:
These intermediate variable prices on United awards are only in coach from what I am seeing. Business and First Class all price out appropriately based on the award chart.
Now, there were 30,000 mile flights available for my examples above. That isn’t the point, since someone might say well you would just book the 30,000 mile ticket. While true, for me there is a larger concern or curiosity.
Shifting Towards Dynamic Awards:
We are seeing more and more airlines shift towards a more dynamic pricing model when it comes to flights. Most recently we saw Flying Blue become more erratic than Delta on their pricing (which is a feat in itself).
So, the idea of United moving towards a more variable style at some point, shouldn’t surprise anyone. I think I am just more surprised, for the moment, that I am only seeing difference in pricing for coach tickets.
From my 15-20 searches, nothing changed for the front cabin flyers. This only affected the people in the back of the plane.
United Trying To Be Nice:
Before anyone gets truly worked up over this. I think we need to think about possible scenarios.
There could be people happy to see tickets that have more pricing options and think this is an improvement. We shouldn’t discount that idea. Maybe United is adding mid level pricing to their award tickets.
This could save customers miles on their award redemptions siren 30,000 to 70,000 miles is quite the jump.
While I think unlikely, it could be the case.
It’s A Glitch:
This could be very possible as well. I remember seeing this a couple of years ago with Wyndham Rewards, but they rectified their issue quickly and all was good in the world.
Maybe if I keep checking, I will see the standard award chart come back.
My fear that this isn’t a glitch and United is just releasing something without saying a word. Very Delta-ish if you will.
United Slowly Moving To Dynamic Awards:
While some might view this as a positive that United has more pricing options. I think United, if they are now deciding to roll this out, will slowly reduce the standard 30,000 miles awards.
Eventually we will see fewer and fewer 30,000 mile awards and they’ll be replaced with awards like these:
I’m not sure why I’m not seeing this pricing from United hubs. One would think this would capture all flights.
Maybe I missed the ball on this one and this was announced somewhere. I feel like I would have seen or read about this if this were the case. But I am human and I do miss things. Let me know if I am just a dum-dum and wasted your time 🙂
I’m really hoping this is a glitch, but as airlines shift to more dynamic award charts I think this option is inevitably going to happen.
If United is starting to roll this out, they dropped the ball on mentioning it.
These variable prices I am seeing could be a number of things. It definitely isn’t a reason to get all worked up about at this point. It is something to pay attention too though. I am just bring what I am seeing to your attention.
We need more data points to see if this is happening on other award ticket in other parts of the world. Feel free to leave your data points below if you have any.
Am I going crazy, or do you see these variable award prices too?
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