Earlier this month, we noticed that United Airlines had removed the ability to access its old flexible calendar view when searching for award tickets. This has made it a bit more difficult for the average Joe to seek out award availability on Star Alliance airlines like United, Turkish, ANA, and more.
This isn't the first time United has updated its award search calendar tool (and it surely won't be the last). But the new interface is a big step down from what has been offered previously.
For quite some time, the new calendar view has appeared when searching from the homepage, but there was a workaround to get the old calendar view when searching from the advanced search page. Not anymore.
But you're in luck … we've found another back door to get the old United calendar search tool to pull up a month's view of fares at once – with the ability to filter for nonstop flights in the calendar view – which is the main reason we consider United's site to be the best website to find award availability on Star Alliance airlines.
Here's how you can access it, and everything you need to know.
- The Easy Way: Start Your Search Using the Old Advanced Search Tool
- The Long Way: Starting from the Homepage
The Easy Way: Start Your Search Using the Old Advanced Search Tool
The easiest way to pull up the old calendar view is to simply start your search from the old advanced search tool.
Just click on the “Yes” box for the question “Do you want to book a MileagePlus award ticket?”
From this search tool, you have many options to filter your search right from the start, but in most cases, these filters don't stick down the line in the search process and you'll need to make adjustments anyway. The most important detail to select at this stage is to make sure to choose the total number of travelers.
Once you've input your search parameters, just click “search” and close the yellow pop-up asking you to log in. If you're just searching for availability on United's site to book with another Star Alliance airline program, you'll want to make sure you are NOT logged in to your United MileagePlus account. However, if you're a United credit cardholder or elite member, and planning to use United miles to book, you may want to log in to see expanded availability that is exclusive to these members.
After your initial search, you will often land on a page with a message that says “There are no award flights on the date you selected.” However, you can still open up your search at this point and unlock the power of United's flexible date search. Simply click on the “Update” button to start this process.
It should then open up a one-week calendar view, which you can expand to a full calendar by clicking on the “View 30-day calendar” text.
This is the easier way to access this old calendar. And if it works for you, start filtering away at this stage to find the flights you want. It will always default to showing economy rates with or without stops.
The best way to pinpoint availability is to search for nonstop flights first. Do this by unchecking the “with stops” checkbox at the bottom of the calendar. Looking for business or first class? Make sure to adjust the cabin in the dropdown at the top of the calendar.
You can then navigate to the next or previous months by using the arrows at the top. We go over this in more detail in our post about the best websites to find award availability.
If for any reason the process of starting your search using the old advanced search tool link doesn't work for you, try this other method we found when starting from the homepage …
The Long Way: Starting from the Homepage
Step 1: Start an Award Search from the Homepage
First things first, you'll need to start your search as you normally would from United.com. It won't matter what routes you search for since you'll need to adjust your search later on anyway.
If you're just searching for availability on United's site to book with another Star Alliance airline program, you'll want to make sure you are NOT logged in to your United MileagePlus account. Certain elite members and cardholders may see space on United that can't be booked with other programs. Just close the pop-up when prompted to log in.
You can also start a search from the advanced search page, but this no longer brings you directly to the old interface as it used to. Your search results will now land on United's new interface and color scheme regardless of where you start your search, which will look like the screenshot below.
This new interface is a big downgrade from the old search tool. The nonstop filter on the new interface does not adjust what is shown on the calendar view. Instead, it only filters the list of flights below the calendar and the rates listed on the calendar remain the same – even if they are only for connecting flights.
This is the biggest reason why we prefer the old calendar award search. Don't worry … we'll show you how to get that useful search tool back in your arsenal.
Step 2: Use A Special Link
After you've completed a search from the homepage and you see the new calendar-view interface shown above, you'll want to click on this special link in the same browser.
It's a good idea to just bookmark this link so you'll have it at your fingertips when searching for award space on United or Star Alliance partner airlines. After clicking the link, you'll be prompted again to log in – only this time you'll notice the old pop-up prompt in yellow.
This means you're on the right track. Just close this pop-up and continue searching without logging in if you're looking for saver-level award space that can be booked by partner airlines.
You'll land on the old one-week calendar view for a search from Chicago (ORD) to Zurich (ZRH) for two passengers. You can change which route you're searching from here easily.
Keep in mind, that you may need to complete Step 1 first before this link will work. If you don't first complete a search from the homepage before using the special link, you may get an error message.
If you see this message, just go back to Step 1 and first conduct a normal search from United's homepage before using the special link.
Step 3: Adjust Your Search
Of course, the special link we've included here will always land on a search from Chicago (ORD) to Zurich (ZRH) …. but it's super easy to adjust the search to the flights you want to find.
Simply change your origin, destination, and departure date directly from the top of this page and click “Update” to search again. We always find that searching one way is the easiest way to pinpoint award availability.
Step 4: Filter to Find Your Flights
Here's where you can really hone in on finding award availability with United and partner airlines. We always recommend searching for the long-haul nonstop segment first. And United's filters on the old calendar allow you do this with ease.
To maximize your view of dates, just click on the “View 30-day calendar” text.
You'll then see a full month of dates at once and you can toggle between months by clicking on the arrows at the top of the calendar. You can also choose which class of service to display rates on the calendar, and can filter to show only nonstop flights. These capabilities make United's old calendar search one of the best search tools to find award availability, period.
Step 5: Verify Availability, Transfer Points, and Book
After you've found flights that seem to have saver award availability, you can verify that they are indeed saver awards by expanding the flight details and looking for a letter code in parenthesis. (X) is a saver award in economy, (I) is a saver award in business, and (O) is a saver award in first class.
Note: United stamps “Saver Award” in the economy column, but it does not do this in business or first, so you'll need to look for the letter code in parenthesis to verify for business and first class.
You'll then want to plug in those dates with the Star Alliance program you're actually booking with, such as Air Canada Aeroplan, ANA Mileage Club, Avianca LifeMiles, or Turkish Airlines Miles & Smiles. Always verify it is indeed bookable with the partner airline before you transfer any points to book.
Related Reading: The Master List of Credit Card Transfer Partners
United has made it harder to find saver award availability by directing you to its new, not-so-user-friendly interface when searching from its homepage.
Follow these steps to get United's old calendar award search tool, which has more filters and sorting capabilities to help you find those elusive saver award seats.
Lead Photo courtesy of United Airlines