Two Partner Tricks for the United Devaluation – Booking Now, Flying TBD

It’s coming…just a few days left to book United partner awards at the old rates prior to the devaluation on February 1st. Remember, there’s an easy way to book your partner flights now at the old rates even if you are not sure of your future travel dates…first pointed out in this post – Full Summary of United Devaluations & New Developments…plus my personal exposure.

As per United’s response on Flyertalk, if you book an award at the current prices but then need to make a change after the new award chart is in place, you will only have to pay the normal change fees and will NOT be re-ticketed at the new prices. Our existing change process will apply. Changes to awards that require a change in date do not result in a change to the award price. Any other change will require an add/collect in miles and fees for changes or cancellations will still apply as per our existing policies. 

Now, what does “our existing change process” mean? Presumably it’s this fee chart below, though most non elite members reports being charged only $50 when making changes online or via the online support number within 21 days of departure.

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Officially on the record, only date changes for partner tickets will be allowed as they do not cause a ticket to be reissued. However, others have speculated that other changes may be permissible too, as long as origin an destination don’t change. We’ll have to wait and see, though this might be a case of hang-up and call again if you don’t like the response you are receiving.  So for now, if you want to fly a certain carrier in a certain class, make a speculative booking for a date as far out in the future as possible and then call and change the date when you have a better idea of when you want to travel.

Now, for those awards that only have First class availability a few days to 24 hours prior to departure (like Lufthansa), a better option is United’s online “cancel reservation now and change ticket later option”. For this, you’ll simply make the reservation online when you see award availability in the next few days and then log back in and use the cancel reservation now / change ticket later option (available when viewing your reservation). This will keep the ticket alive in the system, but will cancel your actual flights. The ticket will then be valid for 12 months and you’ll presumably be able to rebook back on Lufthansa First at the old rates (though you’ll have to call in for assistance). No one from United has confirmed this, though I’ve taken a chance with a Lufthansa First class itinerary US-Europe-Asia…I somehow have not yet experienced the Lufthansa First Class Terminal. 

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Remember, First Class awards were hit the hardest (some increasing by as much as 87%) so be sure to check out all the change details here – Full Summary of United Devaluations , and then take the next few days and do some planning.  Don’t wait too long though as there will be a lot of other people making speculative bookings as well!

Business class will be going up as well, but at a much more reasonable increase. However, if you know you want to fly a certain carrier’s business, you might as well go ahead and book those now too if the fee makes sense for you (see the chart above, waivers for elites).

Comments

  1. Thanks for these tricks.. I’m looking at flying to Australia Next January and was hoping to use Asiana first class from JFK – With the devaluation this is no longer an option – Tickets for my flight wont be onsale for 3 more weeks – Is there any way to use these tricks for Jan 15, 2015 flight?? Or can you only change tickets 1 year from date of issue….

    Thanks

  2. Has anyone speculated as to what will happen if you make a reservation pre 2/1, say, on United from LAX-SYD and then later change to a partner for the same route? Eg. change from United to Air Canada on a different date, but same route? Your post suggests that you have to know the carrier, but is that right? The ‘current change rules’ seem to permit carrier changes, subject to a change fee only.

    • @Jeff – Change rules will remain the same which will allow you to switch carriers, but that will cause a ticket re-issue and pricing at the new level. Date changes are the only ones that UA has actually confirmed will price at the old levels.

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