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Using United Mileage Plus Award Miles

Chicago, Illinois
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Using United Mileage Plus Award Miles

Does anyone have any "magic" suggestions for redeeming award miles on United to get seats on international flights from the U.S. to Europe? I have been trying for 3 months (for a trip next Sept.) and the response is always the same, "sorry, no seats available in either econony or business class." I have also had them search every Star Alliance partner and the answer is still the same. One United rep told me that if I had flexibility in my travel dates (which I don't), it might be easier to get seats but even when I had them search other dates, the answer was still the same. One rep even suggested I try a flight consolidator to get a low fare. Anyone done that and had any luck? Could a good travel agent possibly have access to seats? Thanks.

New York City, New...
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1. Re: Using United Mileage Plus Award Miles

Next September? As in 2011 or 2012? If it's 2012 then tickets aren't available yet and won't be until 330 days from travel.

If you're looking for travel in 3 months you'll need to be really flexible. I find business class awards on United are very difficult to come by so usually go First if I'm redeeming.

Have you tried looking at flights to anywhere in Europe? You can then buy a paid cheap ticket for the short onward flight. You'll need to give yourself plenty of time on the connection as you would be on separate tickets.

Sacramento...
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2. Re: Using United Mileage Plus Award Miles

You say that you've been trying for 3 months to snag a seat in September - which means you only started looking 6 months before your intended trip. I've used miles for many UAL trips - but I always start with the earliest possible time (I think it is something like 331 days) before my hoped-for travel date.

Sometimes, it is hard to get complicated flights for miles (as I've discovered for my Italy trip in October) - but I've never had a problem IF I start early enough for California to London or Paris or Munich or Rome. I believe UAL now is letting you split your cities - by offering miles on one-way legs. But, again - I think the secret is to start your search as soon as it is possible to book flights.

Maybe other fliers more experienced than I am can offer up better (and more helpful in your situation) solutions.

Seattle, Washington
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3. Re: Using United Mileage Plus Award Miles

There is no "magic" about finding an available award seat. It's just a lot of work sometimes. A travel agent will not have access to any different seats than you do. The only ones with more availability are UA 1Ks and above, who will have a greater inventory of award seats from which to choose.

If you don't have any flexibility in your travel dates, you can always book a standard award; UA will open up any seat on any flight for a standard award. You are going to have a very hard time finding an award business seat; those are aways in short supply.

I have no idea where you are flying or the dates, but I did a quick look picking some major European cities and I see a lot of availability for standard awards but virtually none for saver, using UA's webpage.

You started looking very late to get a saver award. If you can't change your dates or routing, you're just going to have to check every day to see if anything opens up.

You may want to search using Continental's reward search page. It's much better than UAs. If you find something, you can either call UA and see if it can be booked using your UA miles, or if not, simply transfer your miles to CO and book it.

I picked some random cities and dates (leaving from ORD) to Europe in Sept. and founds lots of saver availability using CO FF miles and it's easy to transfer back and for between the two programs.

Never count on an agent doing the work for you. I've often had to piece together my itinerary and call and read each leg off to them, when they have told me there's no availability.

Edited: 17 June 2011, 15:52
Chicago, Illinois
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4. Re: Using United Mileage Plus Award Miles

Thank you, gracie-boo, for your reply. It was helpful. However, I did check with a United rep about standard awards to any major city in Italy, Spain and Germany and the answer was "no seats available" in business or first class so maybe it was my date, which is Sept. 8. When you checked, was it only for economy seats?

When I mentioned Continental, she said she checked Continental also and that there were no seats. She said she checked all of the Star Alliance partners. Sounds strange unless your check on Continental was only for economy seats. Any other thoughts?

Seattle, Washington
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5. Re: Using United Mileage Plus Award Miles

I only searched for economy seats and looked at saver awards. As stated, you can always get a seat if you are willing to book standard awards. UA does not fly to Spain so you'd have to have at least one leg on a *A carrier.

I looked at FCO, MUN, FRA and LHR. The only saver seat I see on 08 Sept is ORD-LHR in economy on UA. As stated, it's hard to find a saver award in business or first.

On CO's webpage for your date, ORD-MAD, there's a couple LH flights in economy available, some mixed awards (part of the flight in Y, part in business) on UA/SN and so on. Also lots of availability going to FCO; I don't have time to check all other combinations.

As stated, you are better off using CO's webpage to find available flights. Remember, just because they show as available on CO's webpage, does not mean you can book them with UA miles, but you can book them if you transfer your UA miles to CO.

Edited: 17 June 2011, 19:16
Nashville, TN
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6. Re: Using United Mileage Plus Award Miles

Have you considered cities in other countries. Doing a quick check for September on the UA website, I'm finding standard award seats available in all 3 classes for ORD/BRU and ORD/AMS. Did not check CDG, but that's another option.

Seattle, Washington
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7. Re: Using United Mileage Plus Award Miles

Standard award seats are always available. UA will open a seat on any flight for a standard award. OP wants saver awards and that's a different story.

Bangkok
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for Bangkok, Air Travel, Thailand
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8. Re: Using United Mileage Plus Award Miles

Hi,

The other thing that is working against the OP in terms of finding an MP/award seat in *Business* class is the sheer numbers,,,

In the case of UA's new B777's (which aside from the smaller B767 is the primary aircraft they use in their major US- Euro markets) the newly designed cabins are smaller-- either -5 to -9 seats-- so simply there are now fewer total seats in the cabin... be that for sale or upgrade,,

Travel Safe,

Nashville, TN
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9. Re: Using United Mileage Plus Award Miles

"OP wants saver awards"

Understand,, however I was going by the OP's comments in post 4.

"However, I did check with a United rep about standard awards to any major city in Italy, Spain and Germany and the answer was "no seats available" in business or first class"

Garden Bay, Canada
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10. Re: Using United Mileage Plus Award Miles

Many award flights open up very close to the departure date, but then you risk not having a seat at all. Go to the CO site and run your seach. Change the number of flights shown to the maximum. Some multiple connect flights may show up. Also, be flexible on your date and you will probably be successful.