I'm having a hard time doing the value assessment on this scheme. $500 United ticket would cost 40,000 UR points (20% "discount") when booked through the travel service. The "paid" ticket, as far as I can tell from other threads, would qualify to earn EQMs, in this case about 10,000. With my 50% Gold bonus, I earn 15,000 award miles. I would have eventually transferred the UR points over to United anyway, so the net loss for this deal is 25,000. Does it seem worth it for the status progress? Trying to get back to UA Gold this year and my employer has axed all non-critical travel. Time to work on it myself. An additional cost is having to suffer through six segments with only a quick 14-hour turn in LGA. I'd have to burn a Marriott e-certificate.