Will Last Minute United Mileage Award Values Disappear?

by Miles Jackson

United Airlines broke the news to its MileagePlus members that it will remove its award charts and move to dynamic pricing which has many people confused, upset, and asking themselves “what do I do now?” Well, no doom and gloom is immediately necessary, but one of the biggest downsides come November is the loss of last minute flight award values on United.

Goodbye to Those Award Charts

United has told its members is that the airline is doing away with its award charts for MileagePlus redemptions. Going forward, dynamic pricing of awards will be the order of the day. It will sort of be like driving a car with a passenger giving you directions at the last moment: “Turn here, slow down, speed up…you just missed it.”

Delta SkyMiles members have been dealing with this for years. Now United has surprised no one us with this latest announcement.

Last Minute Award Values to Disappear?

John touched on this in his post yesterday, but looking ahead, one of the biggest downsides to these changes will likely be in the form of last minute award bargains. United sometimes makes award space available for seats on super last minute flights that would otherwise cost a pretty penny to purchase outright with cash.

Let’s look at this with an example. We are looking for a last-minute (next day) flight from New York-Newark to Los Angeles, with less than 24 hours before departure.

Looking at cash prices, they’re pricey for a one-way transcon at $434 in economy.

United Airlines NYC-LAX Last-Minute Fares

United Airlines NYC-LAX Last-Minute Fares

Last-Minute NYC-LAX MileagePlus Award Redemption Value

However, the great last-minute value that MileagePlus awards provides are options starting at 12,500 miles plus $80.20. (Note, the $75 close-in award booking fee will be eliminated with the new MileagePlus changes effective November 15, 2019)

What About Partner Awards?

For now, United tells us that they will still maintain partner award charts. Well that will get confusing as MileagePlus members will have to shuffle back and forth between dynamic pricing of United’s awards and those of their Star Alliance partner’s award charts.

Use An Award Booking Service Like Juicy Miles

Juicy Miles award search

An award booking service could be a great option to make your miles go further. I would start looking at my MileagePlus account balance and if there are any trips you’re looking to take, to prioritize using those miles by November 14th (the last day under the current award charts for travel). Our partner Juicy Miles has a team of travel professionals that book award and mileage run travel every day. You have a few options with them:

  1. Juicy Miles has a membership plan allowing you to search for your own award travel using their one-of-a-kind online award search tool. Once you find the award that fits your needs, you can book it yourself, ask Juicy Miles to book it for you or they can handle all of the details. You choose what is most comfortable to you.
  2. You can simply fill out the Award Request form and leave all the work to the Juicy Miles team. A professional will respond quickly after your submission and begin to work for you..
  3. Mileage Runs help you acquire elite miles and, in many cases, elite qualifying spend. Just let them know what you are seeking by sending a request from the Juicy Miles site.

The Upshot

There’s not a lot of good news coming from this latest development with United Airlines. Does anyone doubt that American Airlines is considering a similar move in the near future?

United’s announcements also really just show the importance of not being just tied to just one carrier. Have a credit card that has transferable options and use these strategies so you can to book award travel in the program and on the airline that offers you the best value.

Is this what the future of a dynamic MileagePlus will look like?

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