United MileagePlus - Confused and looking for cheaper options

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scorp_pccorp
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United MileagePlus - Confused and looking for cheaper options

Post by scorp_pccorp » Thu Nov 08, 2018 1:32 pm

Hi folks,

I have just under 50K miles in my Mileageplus account. I need to book two tickets (1 adult and 1 child) for a round trip flight (total of around 64000 miles) within the next couple of days. United is asking for almost $600 for the additional 14000 miles after using my 50K miles. I am very confused by this because the tickets themselves cost $700 total if paying cash (not using any miles). Seems like daylight robbery!

Are there any other options I can use to get these tickets for a lower price using my available miles and cash?

- I had previously transferred 45k points from my Chase Sapphire Reserve to United and have no points left there.
- I have Capital one Venture card with around 56K points but those are not transferrable to United
- I have Wells Propel card with 35K points and again not transferrable

Since I have to travel with the child, I cannot buy only 1 ticket with my miles because then I have to buy an unaccompanied minor ticket for the child which I think has an additional charge?

Thanks for any suggestions.

flarf
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Re: United MileagePlus - Confused and looking for cheaper options

Post by flarf » Thu Nov 08, 2018 1:37 pm

As long as you are traveling together, and it sounds like you are, just book one ticket with miles and pay cash for the other one. United isn't going to care if you book one ticket for an "adult" but it's a child who flies on it, as long as that child isn't flying alone.

ZinCO
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Re: United MileagePlus - Confused and looking for cheaper options

Post by ZinCO » Thu Nov 08, 2018 1:44 pm

Too late now, but your 45k Ultimate Rewards (in your CSR account) would have been worth $675 in credit if you had purchased the tickets through the Chase Travel Portal. I think the moral of this story is always have a definitive plan before transferring your points to a travel partner. (Obviously at the time you THOUGHT you had a plan...)

ivk5
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Re: United MileagePlus - Confused and looking for cheaper options

Post by ivk5 » Thu Nov 08, 2018 1:48 pm

Everyone’s situation is different of course but I think most would consider this a poor value for your miles.

alfaspider
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Re: United MileagePlus - Confused and looking for cheaper options

Post by alfaspider » Thu Nov 08, 2018 1:57 pm

Buying additional miles rarely makes sense unless you are just a tiny bit under (a few hundred or so). In your case, I'd just buy one of the two tickets. You shouldn't have to book an unaccompanied minor ticket if you are on the same flight- worse comes to worse, you may need to get an agent to help you.

increment
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Re: United MileagePlus - Confused and looking for cheaper options

Post by increment » Thu Nov 08, 2018 2:02 pm

scorp_pccorp wrote:
Thu Nov 08, 2018 1:32 pm
Since I have to travel with the child, I cannot buy only 1 ticket with my miles
You could buy the outbound using miles and the return using money (or vice versa). Warning: you may have to pay (even) more if you want to make flight changes later. Also the airline may not aid you as much if they have problems when you are at your destination (because they will not understand that you are not at home).

rich126
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Re: United MileagePlus - Confused and looking for cheaper options

Post by rich126 » Thu Nov 08, 2018 2:52 pm

Most of the advice you've gotten is reasonable (pay cash, use cash for one way and points for another) but I'd point out the following:

1. Ideally you want to look for saver awards and those are 12,500 miles each way for a domestic (continental) trip within the USA. Or a total of 50,000 miles for 2 round trip tickets in economy within the US.
2. Everyday awards are 32,500 miles each way (a poor use of the miles). Although the number may vary based on demand. I'm guessing this is what you have been told. From their web site "Everyday Awards are a new type of air travel award with pricing that varies from flight to flight."

https://www.united.com/web/en-us/apps/m ... spx?POS=US

Good luck.

vanpan
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Re: United MileagePlus - Confused and looking for cheaper options

Post by vanpan » Thu Nov 08, 2018 3:04 pm

Why don't you buy one ticket with miles and one ticket with cash?

Jags4186
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Re: United MileagePlus - Confused and looking for cheaper options

Post by Jags4186 » Thu Nov 08, 2018 3:22 pm

Your post is confusing. There is no 32,000 mile award at United. What route are you trying to fly?

TravelGeek
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Re: United MileagePlus - Confused and looking for cheaper options

Post by TravelGeek » Thu Nov 08, 2018 3:32 pm

Lots of good answers already. Definitely don’t pay $600 for 14,000 miles.

United is currently offering a mystery bonus for mileage purchases, though that might still not be a great value.

https://buymiles.mileageplus.com

This article offers some additional ideas:

https://thepointsguy.com/news/why-you-s ... ted-miles/

scorp_pccorp
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Re: United MileagePlus - Confused and looking for cheaper options

Post by scorp_pccorp » Thu Nov 08, 2018 3:40 pm

Jags4186 wrote:
Thu Nov 08, 2018 3:22 pm
Your post is confusing. There is no 32,000 mile award at United. What route are you trying to fly?
Its a multi-city route from Chicago to Washington and from Richmond back to Chicago. It shows 64000 total miles.

Luckily, I was able to find some past trips that were not credited to my account. With those, I was able to bring up my miles to 51900. Running a new search just now, the remaining 12100 miles are now being charged at $482 plus tax of $22. Still a bad deal. I am running the various scenarios suggested now to check what makes the most sense.

Thanks for everybody's help and keep them coming :)

UpperNwGuy
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Re: United MileagePlus - Confused and looking for cheaper options

Post by UpperNwGuy » Thu Nov 08, 2018 3:46 pm

Seems to me that you should forget about using miles for any part of this trip. Instead, buy your tickets with your credit card and earn miles by flying. When those miles are added to your stash of miles, you’ll be better positioned for future award travel.

Also, would it not be less expensive to fly ORD to IAD and then back from IAD to ORD? I’m sure the inclusion of Richmond is driving up your price.
Last edited by UpperNwGuy on Thu Nov 08, 2018 3:47 pm, edited 2 times in total.

TravelGeek
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Re: United MileagePlus - Confused and looking for cheaper options

Post by TravelGeek » Thu Nov 08, 2018 3:46 pm

scorp_pccorp wrote:
Thu Nov 08, 2018 3:40 pm
Jags4186 wrote:
Thu Nov 08, 2018 3:22 pm
Your post is confusing. There is no 32,000 mile award at United. What route are you trying to fly?
Its a multi-city route from Chicago to Washington and from Richmond back to Chicago. It shows 64000 total miles.
See if you can book it as two one-ways, perhaps one as an award for two pax and one as revenue tickets for two pax.
UpperNwGuy wrote:
Thu Nov 08, 2018 3:46 pm
Also, would it not be less expensive to fly ORD to IAD and then back from IAD to ORD. I’m sure the inclusion of Richmond is driving up your price.
Hard to tell. The Richmond flight might very well be cheaper than the IAD-ORD one. Because who is the big dog on that route? United, with hubs on both sides, feeling perhaps no need to compete on price. Smaller airports or connections aren’t necessarily more expensive.
Last edited by TravelGeek on Thu Nov 08, 2018 3:48 pm, edited 1 time in total.

oslocal
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Re: United MileagePlus - Confused and looking for cheaper options

Post by oslocal » Thu Nov 08, 2018 3:47 pm

Transfer Marriott rewards if you have any?

Jags4186
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Re: United MileagePlus - Confused and looking for cheaper options

Post by Jags4186 » Thu Nov 08, 2018 3:57 pm

Look to travel on different days. That is a 10,000 mile per segment route. The whole trip should cost 40,000 miles and $22.40 for the two of you.

Cartographer
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Re: United MileagePlus - Confused and looking for cheaper options

Post by Cartographer » Thu Nov 08, 2018 10:54 pm

I made the mistake of buying miles once. Robbery is also the word I use for it. Almost certainly not worth it in most situations.

Some options to explore:
(1) Buy one ticket, use miles for the other
(2) Buy in one direction, use miles in the other
(3) Save the miles for a later, shorter flight
(4) Use the miles for hotels

fujiters
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Re: United MileagePlus - Confused and looking for cheaper options

Post by fujiters » Fri Nov 09, 2018 4:57 am

Buy your ticket with miles. Then, once you've secured your itinerary, book your child's ticket with cash on the same flights. I believe there is an input field during booking to enter the confirmation number for an adult traveling with the child so that it's not marked as an unaccompanied ticket, but if not you can call an agent to purchase it as accompanied. I've done the same thing purchasing separate award tickets for myself and my son--called an agent to get the child ticket marked as accompanied.
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centrifuge41
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Re: United MileagePlus - Confused and looking for cheaper options

Post by centrifuge41 » Fri Nov 09, 2018 8:18 am

Yep, buying up any significant amount of miles from United directly is expensive.

Transfer from Chase UR makes sense, as does buying just 1 ticket with miles (you could buy the 2nd ticket with Aeroplan/Singapore/Ana/Lufthansa/Lifemiles etc).

Also, oslocal mentioned a Marriott transfer. Right now, 60k Marriott points converts to 35,750 United points. Link. That's a great deal! I personally feel the conversion adds about 50% to the value of the Marriott points if kept for hotel redemption (ignoring any air/hotel package possibilities, which require hundreds of thousands of Marriott points).

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Peculiar_Investor
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Re: United MileagePlus - Confused and looking for cheaper options

Post by Peculiar_Investor » Fri Nov 09, 2018 8:22 am

Another excellent resource the OP might investigate is United Airlines | MileagePlus - FlyerTalk Forums. The frequent flyers hang out there and have many tips and secrets on how these programs work.
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feehater
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Re: United MileagePlus - Confused and looking for cheaper options

Post by feehater » Fri Nov 09, 2018 8:54 am

If nothing else above worked, could you not just buy the $700 tickets on the capital one card and then get the statement credit for $540 of it? Not totally free but still cheaper than buying miles from United!

ft2010
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Re: United MileagePlus - Confused and looking for cheaper options

Post by ft2010 » Fri Nov 09, 2018 9:20 am

Two mishaps in the op: (1) transferred UR points to UA without studying cost for redeeming UR for cash value vs. millage redemption at UA, (2) considering purchasing UA miles for redeeming coach tickets,which often is a poor value.

Remedy: pay both tickets by cash; pay 1 direction by miles and another direction by cash. Pay 1 round trip ticket by miles and book another by cash, call the airline to arrange adjacent seating in advance. Remember the lesson to not redeem miles for coach class travel, unless it's during peak travel time and cash ticket price is horriblly high.

scorp_pccorp
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Re: United MileagePlus - Confused and looking for cheaper options

Post by scorp_pccorp » Fri Nov 09, 2018 9:29 am

fujiters wrote:
Fri Nov 09, 2018 4:57 am
Buy your ticket with miles. Then, once you've secured your itinerary, book your child's ticket with cash on the same flights. I believe there is an input field during booking to enter the confirmation number for an adult traveling with the child so that it's not marked as an unaccompanied ticket, but if not you can call an agent to purchase it as accompanied. I've done the same thing purchasing separate award tickets for myself and my son--called an agent to get the child ticket marked as accompanied.
I did just this yesterday. First I booked my flight using the miles. Then I called United on the phone to book a child ticket using cash and took the seat next to mine. Usually they charge a $25 booking fee for using the agent but they waived it saying its policy to waive it since there is no way to use the online system to book a child's ticket and not pay the unaccompanied minor charge. Good to know about this option. And they made a note on both tickets that they should be combined together and so there is no unaccompanied minor charge.

I used the Venture card to pay for the 2nd ticket. Now I will use the points on this card to erase this ticket.

Good to know that I can use the MileagePlus miles at hotels. I will try to use up the remaining miles there.

Thanks everyone for the awesome help :)

ft2010
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Re: United MileagePlus - Confused and looking for cheaper options

Post by ft2010 » Fri Nov 09, 2018 9:38 am

scorp_pccorp wrote:
Fri Nov 09, 2018 9:29 am
Good to know that I can use the MileagePlus miles at hotels. I will try to use up the remaining miles there.
What?

centrifuge41
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Re: United MileagePlus - Confused and looking for cheaper options

Post by centrifuge41 » Fri Nov 09, 2018 11:05 am

Uh no, I don't think you can get good value burning MileagePlus at hotels. Someone prove me wrong. It's the other way around... converting Marriott points to United Mileageplus during the 30% bonus promo window is a very good deal.

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grabiner
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Re: United MileagePlus - Confused and looking for cheaper options

Post by grabiner » Sun Nov 11, 2018 6:22 pm

scorp_pccorp wrote:
Thu Nov 08, 2018 1:32 pm
Hi folks,

I have just under 50K miles in my Mileageplus account. I need to book two tickets (1 adult and 1 child) for a round trip flight (total of around 64000 miles) within the next couple of days. United is asking for almost $600 for the additional 14000 miles after using my 50K miles. I am very confused by this because the tickets themselves cost $700 total if paying cash (not using any miles). Seems like daylight robbery!
64,000 miles for $700 in tickets isn't that great a deal anyway, so I wouldn't do anything special to get it to work. I try to get about 1.5 cents per mile, so I want a fare of $375 to make it worth using 25,000 mile. (My value may be higher than yours, because I frequently fly from Washington to Los Angeles, a cross-country route on which it is easier to get seats because United flies nonstop.)
Wiki David Grabiner

ft2010
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Re: United MileagePlus - Confused and looking for cheaper options

Post by ft2010 » Mon Nov 12, 2018 3:18 am

centrifuge41 wrote:
Fri Nov 09, 2018 11:05 am
Uh no, I don't think you can get good value burning MileagePlus at hotels. Someone prove me wrong. It's the other way around... converting Marriott points to United Mileageplus during the 30% bonus promo window is a very good deal.
OP dose not appear to be focused on extracting maximum value from his points/miles. Some just want be able to redeem for something, or anything so as to not let points/miles go wasted (or expire). Different strokes for different people, I guess.

TravelGeek
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Re: United MileagePlus - Confused and looking for cheaper options

Post by TravelGeek » Mon Nov 12, 2018 4:13 am

centrifuge41 wrote:
Fri Nov 09, 2018 11:05 am
Uh no, I don't think you can get good value burning MileagePlus at hotels. Someone prove me wrong.
Most non-airfare redemptions of airline miles are resulting in a poor value because the airlines have to spend cash to buy you a hotel room or other product (vs. giving you an otherwise empty airline seat if you redeem for air travel, which costs them very little and is potentially worth a lot to you).

Quick example: one night at the Tropicana in Vegas costs 6030 miles or $46 (plus in both cases a $39.68 resort fee). So a redemption value of 0.7 cents per mile, which is terrible unless you only have about 6000 miles with United, no plans to earn more going forward, and so such a redemption would be extracting at least some value out of an otherwise useless account balance.

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