United Mileage Plus Makes Award Booking Even Easier: Stopover AND Open Jaw, Exceed Maximum Mileage B

Discussion in 'United Airlines | MileagePlus' started by gleff, Feb 11, 2011.  |  Print Topic

  1. gleff
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    gleff Co-founder

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    Via MatthewLAX's blog, United is apparently loosening its award routing rules today.

    Historically, United has allowed:

    * One stopover or an open jaw on a roundtrip award.

    * Then they introduced one-way awards, including on partners. And that meant you could do a ‘double open jaw’ (they couldn’t restrict whether you flew back out of the same city you arrived in, or returned to the same city you departed from, since they were just one-way awards). But no stopovers on one-way awards.

    * Now, you can have a double open jaw on a roundtrip award. Why not just do two one-ways? Because if you need to cancel two one-ways and aren’t a 100,000-mile flyer you will pay two $150 change fees per person. So this means lower fees, is more consumer friendly to offer this option.

    * Now also you can have a stopover and an open jaw on a roundtrip award. This matches Continental’s rules. Here’s an example:

    You can fly Denver – Frankfurt – Athens (stop)
    Athens – Istanbul (destination)
    Zurich – Chicago – Denver

    You have a stopover and a destination and you find your own way between Istanbul and Zurich (open jaw).

    Previously you would have just flown to Athens and back from Zurich (open jaw) but not have been able to include the Athens – Istanbul segment. So a nice enhancement, this allows greater flexibility in booking awards and also saves money for folks because they can include more flying.

    But wait, there’s more!. United has historically limited award travel to the published ‘maximum permitted mileage’ for any given city pair. Every origin and destination has a maximum number of miles published by IATA that you can fly as part of a mileage-based fare. And United limited award travel to flying that many miles.

    Occasionally I’ve gotten exceptions for awards that are a hundred miles over or so. Another exception is that if there is a published routing that is over the maximum mileage, and you’re primarily flying the carrier that publishes that routing, it’s allowed. But that’s not the general case.

    Now United is allowing you to exceed the Maximum Permitted Mileage by 15%.
    I thought Aeroplan was generous in allowing you to go 5% over. Continental doesn’t check ‘MPM’ that I’m aware of. US Airways just introduced the concept in their rules but I haven’t heard of anyone at US Airways actually ever checking a table of maximum mileages.

    Bottom-line you can do a lot more out of the way flying, this is especially nice when you’re adding stopovers or piecing together available flights when award seats are tight.

    Coupled with the fact that Starnet blocking, United’s practice of programming their computers to deny availability of seats that their partners are offering as awards when Mileage Plus doesn’t want to pay for them, has been exceedingly rare over the past 9 months… this program has gotten incredibly valuable. Whereas Starnet blocking had been a deal-killer when it was at its apex, when it was common for agents to believe and tell customers that Lufthansa didn’t fly to Frankfurt on certain days or that All Nippon Airways didn’t service Washington-Dulles (with their flight NH1…) without blocking as a major issue most of the time the program is wonderful. And now they’re getting much more generous, with one-way awards on partners and with much more generous routing rules.

    But why is United does this? Certainly Continental was much more generous, they didn’t block awards and these routing rules are really just more consistent with what Continental already offered. United is doing all of the things I’ve wanted them to do, so far (and I don’t want to jinx it) it looks like they really are taking the best elements of both programs when I rather assumed that the opposite would happen.

    Still, this has to increase their costs. And since the whole idea of Starnet blocking was about limiting costs, and Continental thought they were offering an award chart that allowed them to offer their generous awards in an economically realistic was but turned out a bit surprised by the cost side… I do worry along with Matthew’s ” the sneaking suspicion that mileage redemption rates are going to go up soon.” If the costs go up, they’ll want their prices to also. And it’s now been a couple of years since they’ve done that...
     
  2. Xyzzy
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    I am very glad to see this. I've taken advantage of using both a stopover and an open jaw quite frequently on CO reward b:cool::cool:kings. I was worried it would go away in the merged program. I take this as a sign that it will not.
     
  3. kwai
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    kwai Gold Member

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    The above is great, but I'm concerned (slightly) about potential higher costs when transiting a third region. The MPM has killed me sometimes (it completely restricts travel between PNH-HKG and PNH-TPE) so I'll be taking full advantage of these changes.

    It might hurt on US-Eur-S Asia awards.
     
  4. I just checked my calendar, and its not April 1. Can this all really be true? If so, WOW! [​IMG]
     
  5. Scottrick
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    Scottrick Gold Member

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    It's also possible that with the potential savings of a merged airline (although I'm sure they could find a way to screw that up), this is a benefit that they can afford to provide without increasing costs. I'm skeptical that that will be true, but perhaps...
     
  6. work2fly
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    work2fly Silver Member

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    While these new rules are great, IME the routings and mileage allowed on awards vary somewhat depending on the agent.

    I've done several US-Asia RTs via Europe in F and am consistently quoted different prices. The most outrageous being SFO-FRA-SIN-KUL-SIN-MNL-SIN-HKG-MUC-ORD-SFO all in F for 120K a few years back.....
     
  7. Sean
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    Sean Gold Member

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    Maybe they just have too many miles on their balance sheet?
     
  8. aussieflyer
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    aussieflyer Silver Member

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    Will United now allow North America-South Pacific via Asia?
     
  9. Hannaman
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    Hannaman Silver Member

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    Stopover + open jaw is great. MPM + 15% is certainly better than we had before. But it could be a sign of a negative for COers if the combined program adopts this change, as CO previously had unrestricted routings. ;)
     
    Flyer1976 likes this.
  10. ifly153
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    Excellent summary gleff. Clarified a lot of things for me.
     
  11. RichardInSF
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    Now if they would just stop Star Alliance blocking and also reduce that $150 redeposit fee to something reasonable, given that it costs them maybe $3 to process it, we might be getting somewhere!
     
  12. Hannaman
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    Hannaman Silver Member

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    When was the last time you encountered StarNet blocking? It's been pretty open for several months now, no?
     
  13. JohnnieD
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    JohnnieD Silver Member

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    When was the last mileage enhancement devaluation and what was the major portion of it?
     
  14. PanAm
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    I recall some changes around January 2009 timeframe. One of the categories hit was mainland to Hawaii went up by 5K in Y. We had just booked 3 tix to OGG in Nov and I remember feeling relieved we'd done so before the increase - otherwise wouldn't have had enough. I want to say other areas went up, too, but to be honest I was just getting into the FF game then and wasn't paying too much attention to the rest of the award chart.
     
  15. chitownflyer
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    chitownflyer Silver Member

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    I like the flexibility of these changes so far, but I do NOT wish to see an increase in the reward chart.
     
  16. gleff
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    gleff Co-founder

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    The last one was 1-1-09. Previous was Oct 2006 I believe.
     
  17. Xyzzy
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    Xyzzy Gold Member

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    I wouldn't be surprised to see a new chart arrive with the new pr:)gram.
     
  18. ifly153
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    Yes, it makes one think about booking quickly.
     
  19. Xyzzy
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    I d:)n't expect to see a new chart arrive and take effect until the end of the year.
     
  20. Misplaced Texan
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    This is good news for those of us looking to maximize the fun of an award booking. Especially in Europe (trains/LCCs), Asia (LCCs) and Australia (mostly non-star options) this makes it more possible to wrap multiple cities into a trip with less complexity.

    :thumbs up: (really need one of those).

    I also wouldn't be surprised to see some award inflation here soon. Someone or another (and I apologize that I can't remember who) was speculating that the new UA management might prefer just increasing award mileages rather than *A blocking. If I had to choose, I'd be fine with that.
     
  21. jswong
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    Oh well I guess we should be relatively pleased now

    Jeff
     
  22. jason8612
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    Awsome!
    I might be booking a open jaw + stopover ticket for a friend of mine so we can go up to Longyearbyen
     
  23. WaterSki
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    Just added a segment to an open-jaw award making it a open-jaw + stopover award. I expected to have to inform the agent about the rule change, but she added the segment without hesitation.

    Thanks for the free extra flight UA!
     
  24. kwai
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    kwai Gold Member

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    Looks like you were off by 6 months.
     
  25. Xyzzy
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    Xyzzy Gold Member

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    What can I say?! :eek:
     

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