- Part 1: Purchasing United Airlines Business Class Ticket using Miles, this blog article
- Part 2: Review Chennai Airport Lounge
- Part 3: Review Lufthansa Airbus A340 Business Class Chennai to FrankFurt
- Part 4: Review Frankfurt Terminal Z Business Class Lounge
- Part 5: Review Lufthansa Airbus A380 Business Class Frankfurt to Houston
Last month I took a trip to India, for the outbound I got a sub $700 economy ticket in Etihad for travel. I could have used miles to fly in Business Class, but I am saving my miles for my family summer trip to Asia. I had a terrible experience with Etihad with regards to my carryon luggage on the outbound flight. I will write a blog article about my bad experience with Etihad soon. But now I am going to show you how I booked a one-way business class ticket for my inbound trip to the USA.
Purchasing Oneway Business Class Ticket Using Miles
I have enough miles in the following frequent flyer program Alaska Airlines, American Airlines and United Airlines. In addition to Airline miles, I have a lot of miles with Chase Ultimate Rewards Point and SPG points which can be easily transferred to a lot of airlines for purchasing the premium class ticket.
I thought of returning through Qatar Airways using my American Airline miles, then the laptop ban news hit the world, and I do not want to check in my laptop and risk losing it. So the only option I left is to use United Airlines miles to travel through United or any Star Alliance member airlines.
Searching United Website for Business Class Ticket
Unlike other airlines like American Airlines, the United website has an excellent tool to search for rewards travel which is a handover from the old Continental Airlines. It is good that United has kept the Continental Airlines search tool for award travel instead of using its own after the merger with Continental Airlines.
I plugged in the travel date and other information and chose the award travel option in the United website to search for award travel ticket. Please note that I have to log on to my United frequent flyer account before I started the search. As per United website if you log on to your account and launch the search you will be presented with best available options.
I was planning to take a flight either on April 8th or April 9th early morning, and from the United calendar map, I saw there is saver award available in premium class for both 8th and 9th. But there is no guarantee that the award I am looking for like fewer connections, may or may not be available. So I picked up the date 8th to find out the list of available option.
United Saver Award or Standard Award
When you book a ticket through United Website, it classifies the award into two different categories saver award and standard award. The standard award will cost you 75% more miles in business class compared to saver award. It is better to buy the ticket using saver award which will save you a lot of miles. So when I started the search, I was planning to buy the ticket available for saver award only.
Found a Ticket at Saver Award Price
The first option displayed just with one connection through Lufthansa at Frankfurt available for Saver Award with 80,000 miles plus $140.10. Since I was purchasing the award ticket within 21 days of departure, I need to pay an additional fee of $75. Otherwise, the cost of the ticket is $65.10 only, on top of the miles spent for purchasing the ticket.
I also made sure all the segments are available in Business Class instead of a mixed cabin which will force me to travel a segment in economy class which I wanted to avoid.
One strange thing was, I was looking for this flight for more than a week, but I was able to find the availability only within 24 hours of travel. This made me conclude that the Star Alliance partner airline like Lufthansa releases the premium class seats to the partner airline only in the last minute.
When I boarded the plan, I found out about only 65% of the seat was occupied. It looks like the airlines try to sell the seat up until last moment before releasing them to award travel.
The below option shows a mixed cabin for a different flight that would have cost me 140,000 miles in saver award. Since I got a flight with fewer connections and fewer miles, I decided to book the trip that will take me to my destination quicker using fewer miles.
Purchasing the Business Class Ticket
After selecting the flight option, I made sure the every information is correct like the number of miles I need to spend, the booking fee and the class of travel.
I have to expand the detail section to see the class of travel. Both segments showed that I would be getting the Business Class for 80,000 miles.
I clicked continue, and I was presented with the following summary detail.
I was asked to enter my email address for confirmation as well as meal preference. Since I was booking the ticket within 24 hours of travel, there is no guarantee that the special meals that I requested will be available. Since I was traveling in the business class even though I was not able to request a special meal, the meal I was planning to request was available during my travel.
I was prompted with an option to purchase 10,000 additional United MileagePlus miles at the cost of 2¢ a mile. Even though it is a good deal compared to 3¢ a mile sold by United on its website I did opt for getting additional miles.
I did not sign up for additional travel protection for $27. The Chase United Explorer card that I used to pay for the ticket gives out the same benefits provided by the United Travel protection, so I did not pay any addition amount to get the benefits.
Used my Chase United Explorer Card to pay for the taxes and fees as well as the closing booking charges, which worked out to $140.10.
Upon payment processing the payment, a confirmation number was displayed on the screen with the information that an email will be sent to me with all the details.
Since I have more than 200,000 United MileagePlus frequent flyer miles, I had no issue booking the ticket. If you are short of miles to book your trip, you will be presented with an option to purchase additional miles at the cost of 3¢ per mile for the number of miles you are short for booking the trip.
How one can accumulate United Airline Miles
You can get a lot of United Airline miles if you apply for United Airlines co-branded card from Chase like Chase United Explorer personal or business version of the card. Two or Three times a year Chase offers a signup bonus of 50,000 United MileagePlus miles as a signup bonus for the card. You can also apply for Chase Sapphire Preferred or Reserve which offers a signup bonus of 50,000 ultimate rewards point. The ultimate rewards point can be transferred on an 1:1 ratio basis to United Airlines frequent flyer program.
|Credit Card||Signup Bonus Miles|
|Chase United Explorer Personal Card||50,000|
|Chase United Explorer Business Card||50,000|
|Chase Sapphire Preferred||50,000|
|Chase Sapphire Reserve||50,000|
|Chase Ink Business Preferred||80,000|
You can also purchase miles directly from United when United Airlines runs a 100% bonus miles for purchased miles sale. Once a year United Airlines sells miles for 2.1¢ per mile or less. Assuming you have purchased the mile for making a one way trip from Asia, the mile purchase would have cost you only $1680, which is much less compared to the cost of buying a ticket at $4,000.
United website is very robust, and you can use the site to book any award travel. Even if you do not find an award ticket at the saver award price, you can search segment by segment, note down the detail and call United MileagePlus customer service to book the ticket.
I was able to book a one-way business class award ticket for 80,000 miles and $140.10, a ticket that would usually cost anywhere from $3500 to $4000. So by using miles I was able to get the ticket just for $140.10.
By purchasing $4,000 worth of tickets for 80,000 miles and $140.10 I got a value of 5¢ a mile which is way better than 1.5¢ typically valued for United Airline MileagePlus miles.