Just booked a flight to CA on United for Jul 2017 for the week of the 4th for the wife and I.
Optimal times for us to leave/arrive, and nonstop flights.
Can you give more specifics ? Was it economy or business//first class ?
And what cities ?
I just booked a number of flights in the last few days. Did a lot of searches on various airline sites to search for awards seats that the UR points can be transferred to. I was looking in coach only, nonstop only, on dates that are not peak travel - ie. lowest published fares for each flight were available as cash. I looked at many different itineraries - various cities. In the majority of the time, the value was 1cpp when transferring. A few options were 0.8cpp.
There is only one case where I found value >1cpp. That was for a 1-way ticket from SFO to CDG. If you try to book one of these, either or Air France/Delta or United, the price is always exactly an outrageous $2687, regardless of the day of the year - assuming there are seats. You can book a round-trip for much cheaper, and throw away the return if you don't need it, as in my case. The prices for round trips vary greatly depending on departure/return dates. The lowest I found when I was looking earlier was $726 for a round trip around the date I was looking. Right now google flight is showing the lowest as $917. I think the airlines are known to be charging more when booking on fridays - another airline pricing silliness.
Anyway, I was able to find a promo award on Air France/Flying blue for 18750 miles + $79.56 in taxes. When switching to non-award (cash) , the price for that same seat was the outrageous $2687 . Going by that price, I got a 13.9 cpp value for my Chase UR points. But of course, I would never have paid $2687 for the one-way in the first place. I might have paid $726 and thrown away the return ticket, though. Using by that number, I got 3.4cpp for my points - still much better than 1.5cpp, so, that was worth transferring the UR points.
I really don't understand why the airline charges so much more for the one-way fare. Especially since anyone can purchase 20,000 Flying blue points on the airline site for 550 euros, and then book that award seat too. But with the taxes, it ends up around $700 too, same as a round-trip throw-away.
For the rest of my flights, there was just no way to get >1cpp when transferring points. I did two additional separate bookings.
The second was for CDG-SGN on Vietnam Airlines. I could have paid for this flight in UR points at 1.5cpp. I did not do so, because booking that flight through Chase, which uses Orbitz, was showing as costing $565. I ended up booking it on Expedia.fr instead, paying in euros, to get the $504 price.
I paid for it my new Barclay arrival which has a $3000 minimum spending to get 40000 points. That means I should end up getting reimbursed for the first $400 of this flight after I satisfy my minimum spending.
My third booking was SGN-PVG and PVG-SFO, on different days. Added up to $738. I paid with Chase UR points at 1.5cpp. Just couldn't find any way to do better anywhere. Orbitz had the best price I could find for this. So, this booking cost me about 49,000 UR points.
Overall if I had paid cash for the 3 bookings (using a throway roundtrip for the 1st on AF) it would have cost $1968. Putting all flights on a single booking was a crazy $4500. About $2000 cash cost may seem high for coach tickets, but it's basically a round-the-world trip, flying from US to Europe nonstop, then visiting 2 cities in Asia, then back to the US. 4 flights total, all nonstop and on different days. That is the best I could do.
Now the kicker - my husband will go straight to Asia while I visit my family in Paris - and then I will join him in Asia, and we will fly together on the same flights back. I was able to put all his flights on one itinerary. SFO-PVG-SGN, then SGN-PVG, and PVG-SFO . Total : only $572 . Ie. his itinerary has a total of 4 flights, and costs $166 less than my third booking, which has 2 fewer flights - and the last 2 flights are exactly the same (we already selected seats).
Seems to me like 4 flights should cost more than 2 flights. But it's the other way around. I just don't understand airline pricing
Anyway, I paid for his flights with UR points at 1.5cpp - so about 38000 UR points.
We'll be traveling a total of about 3 weeks (slightly more - includes 4 weekends). Haven't looked at all the hotels yet, but I am hopeful that we'll be able to get most of our hotel rooms paid for with other rewards. It helps that I won't need a hotel room in Paris. My Citi prestige should arrive soon so that should get us at least a few free hotel nights in Asia (4th night free promotion). We have a few Hilton points too which should be enough for 3 nights in Shanghai. And a $200 award towards one Hilton hotel night as well. The main thing that the rewards don't pay for are food - but we may choose some rooms with board, at least at the hotel in Saigon that we have visited before which has excellent food.