Using United MileagePlus Miles - Best Practices?

Discussion in 'United Airlines | MileagePlus' started by jgrease, Jun 23, 2012.  |  Print Topic

  1. jgrease

    jgrease Active Member

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    As I accumulate MP miles, I've been considering using them to upgrade economy seats on a leg of my EWR-MAN flight with my family. However, I realized that UA is charging me for the upgrade. The flight booked in economy is around $2200 r/t, but jumps to $4100 r/t if I upgrade one way with 60k miles. Is this the best use of miles, or am I better off waiting to get enough miles to redeem for flights? Gotta admit I was disappointed when I realized. Thanks in advance for feedback.
     
  2. genemk2

    genemk2 Gold Member

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    The way upgrades with miles work at UA is that depending on the fare class of your ticket, you have to spend a certain number of miles AND pay a co-pay. This tool helps you determine how much you will be expected to pay:

    http://www.united.com/web/en-US/apps/mileageplus/awards/travel/awardTravel.aspx

    Whether this is a good option for you depends on how much you fly and how much flexibility you have with your travel plans. It costs 50,000 miles O/W for a saver businessfirst award, so if your family only makes a couple trips a year, you're going to be saving for a long time to get to that point. Saver awards are not always available, and much harder to get on the direct flight, so unless you can book far in advance or have lots of flexibility with dates and/or connecting flights, you would have to redeem flights at the standard award level, which is 125,000 miles O/W. If you're only earning 20-30k a year in miles, and you really want to do businessfirst, then the miles+copay upgrade would allow you to do it with far less miles. I personally would save them for a saver businessfirst award and be flexible about where/when I use it...the more rigid you are about your travel plans and destinations, the less likely you will be able to find saver awards.

    I can't tell from your post, but it seems like you have 3-4 members in your family? I'm assuming the $2,200 R/T is NOT for just 1 person? If so, you're seriously overpaying.
     
  3. mht_flyer
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    mht_flyer Gold Member

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    @genemk2, it's actually 100k total for a saver award ticket biz first round trip, or 250k for standard. What you listed is the one-way amount.
     
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  4. genemk2

    genemk2 Gold Member

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    Whoops, edited to correct. That's what I get for trying to respond so early in the morning.
     
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  5. bmg42000
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    bmg42000 Gold Member

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    How much miles do you accumulate per year? If you accumulate a lot of miles them it may be worth waiting for the free ticket ? Miles+copay may not be the best use of the miles but if this is once in a 5 year trip then it may be worth using the miles for it .
     
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  6. chitownflyer
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    chitownflyer Silver Member

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    @OP, this depends upon how many miles a year you earn and whether you need the miles for elite qualification. $2200 seems a bit high for an upgraded economy ticket, but I gather $1000 of this is the upgrade copay. From the UA award chart, I see a one way upgrade is 20,000 miles to Europe in discounted economy.

    Have you considered paying for a Business class ticket? At summer or Thanksgiving, there may be good Business class sales where you might pay $2200-$2800 for a discounted Z fare to Europe, and these fares may have restricted travel times and dates, but they may provide a good value nonetheless. Otherwise, you may be better off saving your miles for a Saver award Business class seat for 100K. To get to MAN, you can also take flights to LHR, FRA, etc. and connect onwards to MAN, so keep this option in mind.
     
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  7. Wandering Aramean
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    Wandering Aramean Gold Member

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    While it depends on many variables, it is quite rare that using miles for upgrades is a good value. Quite rare.
     
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  8. jgrease

    jgrease Active Member

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    Thanks for all the input. The fare I posted is based on 3 adults r/t in economy. Base fare was $2142 with taxes of $604.50 and an upgrade fee of $1650, along with 60k miles. We only travel 1-2 times per year, so I'll never get status. If it was just me and the missus' I'd probably wait and just buy 2 business seats. I guess all things considered its gonna be my best use of miles.
     
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  9. genemk2

    genemk2 Gold Member

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    Ok, that makes sense. If you travel only 1-2 times a year on that route, it'll take you a better part of a decade to build up enough miles to actually redeem a full BusinessFirst ticket. The copay is not great value, but at least you get it back (and the miles) if your upgrade doesn't clear (in the event it's waitlist only).
     
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  10. kyunbit
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    kyunbit Silver Member

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    +1 After the co-pay was introduced that is
     

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