I’ve been collecting United Airlines miles and attempting to gain status over the course of this year so far and it all has a goal. My girlfriend and I are planning on making a trip to Hong Kong and Singapore in February of 2013 and my goal is to be able to use miles to get both of us there. To do that I’ve been closely studying the United Award Chart and I’ve actually compiled a list of links to all of the US major carriers and their award charts.
United Award Chart
Out of all the major carriers, United Airlines by far has the simplest and most straightforward Airline Award Chart. The relevant part for my travel plans is the Asia roundtrip section from North America. If you take a look at the most recent award chart you can see the cross-section for Mainland US, Alaska, and Canada and South Asia. For a saver award (the cheapest but least available) it is 32,500 miles each way so 65,000 MileagePlus miles round-trip.
The catch with a lot of programs is that the saver award availability is often extremely poor. This is often the case with Delta and American, but not the case with United. United Airlines has regularly been awarded the best frequent flyer program awards by industry groups for their availability, points earning, and customer service.
United Award Chart Check
To prove my point I’m going to put in my preliminary trip information into the United.com flight search and check availability. I’m planning on leaving New York City on February 1st and going to Hong Kong (HKG). Then I’m going to leave Hong Kong and go to Singapore on February 7th. The final leg of my journal will be from Singapore back to New York on February 14th. If you insert that information there are currently 3 United operated flights with the saver economy award available. The big benefit of the Star Alliance is that there are 12 non-United metal flights from EWR-HKG available.
The Hong Kong (HKG) to Singapore segment has all but one flight with saver economy award availability. Some of those flights are even on fantastic airlines like Thai Airways and Singapore Air.
Looking to the third segment from Singapore back to EWR every single flight available has the cheapest 32,500 each way award ticket available. As long as you have no more than three segments it counts as one round-trip ticket so only 65,000 miles for New York -> Hong Kong -> Singapore -> New York.
Naturally you have to pay some taxes above and beyond the 65,000 miles, but for a round-trip ticket to Asia it isn’t that bad to only pay $92.70 in taxes.
Award Miles Savings
The best part is that United also lets you know what the cost of the trip would be normally. The trip I concocted in normal economy class would be $5,864.80, which at 65,000 miles means I’m getting a value of almost $0.09 per mile!