Award prices on many routes will be increasing, including on flights to and from Australia. United will also replace its “Standard Awards” with “Everyday Awards”. And a new $125 fee will be introduced for Mileage Plus members that don’t show up for their flight and request a refund of their miles.
The United Mileage Plus program is popular among savvy frequent flyers because United sells miles – often with generous bonus miles included. These miles can be redeemed for Business and First class flights on any Star Alliance airline. United miles have been a particularly popular way to fly in premium cabins between Australia and Asia relatively cheaply. Unfortunately, that’s about to change.
Premium cabin flights between Australia and Asia are among the worst-affected by the changes. Business class flights to destinations including Singapore, Thailand and Hong Kong will increase in price from 30,000 miles to 50,000 miles. First class increases from 40,000 miles to 65,000 miles.
There goes the 30K/40K special from Australia to South Asia!
Business class flights from Australia to Europe are going up too, but at 90,000 miles (an increase of 5,000 miles) this award is still reasonable value. First class Saver Awards to Europe will still cost 115,000 miles.
It’s not all doom and gloom. Some short-haul flights are decreasing in price. For example, Air New Zealand Economy flights within New Zealand will now cost just 8,000 miles – down from 17,500 miles. There are no changes to flights within, to or from the United States.
In addition to these changes to Saver Awards, United will be introducing Everyday Awards. These will be more expensive than Saver Awards, but may be available on flights with no Saver Award availability. Interestingly, Everyday Award pricing will by dynamic, varying between flights.
While this news has not been welcomed by our members, United has at least given 4 months’ notice.
Disappointing but expected to happen at some point. At least they gave adequate notice.
Bookings made by 31 October – including for travel after this date – will be subject to the current award prices.
So, if you are planning to book any UA awards after 1 Nov, it might be a good idea to consider booking sooner.
Avianca LifeMiles is another popular Star Alliance program. Like with United, Avianca’s miles can be bought at a discount and redeemed for Star Alliance flights. Following these changes, Avianca may appear to be a more attractive program. However, booking with Avianca miles can be particularly challenging and many of the loopholes in the LifeMiles programs are being closed.
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