United's New Award Rules

United's New Award Rules

United Mileage Plus recently changed some policies around award booking and updated the website to allow members to choose the award type, class of service and payment method.

You can fly a Saver Award for one direction of travel and return using a Standard Award and you can choose a different class of service for each direction and search multi-city bookings.

In the past, United Mileage Plus members could redeem a flight award with one stopover or an open jaw on a roundtrip award (not both). When one-way awards were introduced, members were not allowed to have a stopover on a one-way award. Members had the open jaw flexibility with one-way awards and could have an open jaw on both ends of the journey, but you could not also get a stopover with your award ticket.

Now, United has made it possible for members to have a stopover and an open jaw on a roundtrip award–this matches merger-partner Continental. Members can also book a double open jaw on a roundtrip award–a better option than booking two one ways if you have to change your flights because with two one-way awards, you’d have two $150 change fees to make instead of one with a roundtrip award.

Another policy change revolves around the maximum permitted mileage for any city pair. United’s old policy followed the maximum number of miles published by IATA, but the new policy states that members can exceed the maximum permitted mileage by a generous 15 percent. What this means, is that you’ll be able to be more “creative” with your stopover choices.

Members who liked to redeem for Miles & Money awards will be disappointed with a recent change to these awards. The cost of Miles & Money awards has increased on all the routes we checked. The cash requirement used to be a flat fee but now fluctuates depending on your route. For example, a roundtrip flight on many eligible routes within the U.S. used to price out at 10,000 miles plus around $100. Now, it varies widely but the mileage portion has increased to 12,500 miles and the cash required is in the hundreds of dollars, making Miles & Money awards much less valuable. To read more about the changes, visit httop://www.insideflyer.com/link/?4174

Bottom line: The policy change to allow an open jaw and a stopover on award tickets is good news for members because it gives them much more flexibility when it comes time to spend their miles. But good news is usually followed with not so good news–let’s hope that the change in the Miles & Money awards is the only not so good news to come.

The new award search interface has, as usual with a change like this, pleased some members and made others quite unhappy. Visit http://www.insideflyer.com/link/?4175 to learn more about the changes from travelers’ perspectives. Other good news from United is that Starnet blocking seems to not be the issue it once was, making it easier to book an award flight on United’s partner airlines.

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