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With Award Rate Hikes to Asia & Australia, United Miles Go from Bad to Worse

Last week, United drastically raised award rates to fly to Europe whether you're flying economy or business class using your United miles. The airline followed up by raising rates to fly to destinations throughout South America, Africa, and the Middle East, too. And now the final shoe has dropped.

Travelers looking to get to Asia, the South Pacific, or Australia will have to fork over far more United miles: We're seeing award rates up by 20% to 35% or more. And it doesn't matter whether you're booking a flight on United or using those miles to fly partner airlines like All Nippon Airways (ANA) or EVA Air – you'll need more miles than you did just yesterday.

A business class flight to Japan that previously cost 88,000 miles each way will now run you 110,000 United miles. That's rough, and it's just the tip of the iceberg.

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A United flight from the U.S. down to Australia in economy at the lowest “saver” award rates previously cost 40,000 miles each way but will now run you at least 55,000 miles each way – a massive 37% increase overnight. And business class redemptions on those same flights to Australia jumped from at least 80,000 miles each way to 100,000 miles for the one-way seat in United Polaris business class – a 25% hike.

united lax mel 

United's own flights to Tahiti (PPT) have also taken a major hit, going from 35,000 miles to 45,000 miles in economy and jumping from 70,000 miles for a one-way in business class to 85,000 miles for business classa 28% hike and 21% increase, respectively. The same goes for flying to Guam (GUM).

united flight to tahiti 

A seat in ANA business class from the U.S. to Tokyo or EVA Air business class to Taipei (TPE) has jumped from a standard 88,000 miles each way all the way up to 110,000 miles – another 25% increase. Flying economy on ANA to Japan is up to more than 60,000 miles each way while economy on EVA Air to Taiwan now costs 58,000 miles  – both substantial increases, though we can't remember the previous rates.

united mileageplus devaluation

united taipei to sfo 

No matter where you look across the Pacific Ocean, award rates are up. And with that, United's nasty devaluation of its MileagePlus has gone global – all without a word to loyal United flyers who have been racking up miles.

United dialed back some of the worst of the increases to Europe when using MileagePlus miles to book partner carriers like Lufthansa or Turkish. And they appear to have done away with a pesky, 4,000-ish-mile surcharge when booking flights on a partner airline within a month of departure. But that's nowhere near enough to offset these increases: From Europe to the Middle East, Tokyo to Taipei, and Australia to Tahiti, getting anywhere will now cost you more United miles.

United Airlines airplane window seat view 

Welcome to the wild and often infuriating world of dynamic award pricing. Led by Delta and the steady decline of SkyMiles, U.S. major airlines have done away with award charts – the cheat sheets that determine how many miles you need to fly from point A to point B – and tied award pricing more closely to the cash price instead. And with flight prices on the rise and travelers suddenly looking to spend the miles they hoarded throughout the pandemic, there's one direction for award rates to go: up.

Fortunately, there's relief for flyers who have credit cards with transferrable points from banks like Chase, Amex, and Capital One. You can transfer your points and book many of these same flights using another Star Alliance program like Air Canada AeroplanAvianca LifeMiles, or Turkish Miles & Smiles. Those airline programs have long offered a better deal for booking these same flights – and now, the gap is even wider.

Consider this: You could transfer 61,000 points from a card like the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card to United for a one-way flight in economy from Tokyo-Haneda (HND) to Seattle (SEA). United is a Chase transfer partner … but so is Air Canada. So you could also transfer those Chase points to Air Canada's Aeroplan program and book the exact same route … in an ANA business class seat instead … for just 55,000 points. 

tokyo to seattle 

Booking that same seat through United would cost you double the miles. If that doesn't spell out just how bad United MileagePlus miles have gotten with this latest hit, I don't know what will.


Bottom Line

It was only a matter of time.

After hiking award rates to fly to Europe and then other destinations across the Atlantic, the hammer has finally fallen across the Pacific Ocean. United is now charging 25% miles or more to book almost any flight to Asia, Australia, and beyond.

Read our lips: This is why we urge you to stop waiting and start redeeming your miles. The next painful increase like this one is just around the corner.

7 Responses

  • Kyle, have you analyzed their miles prices compared to their cash prices for the same flights? Just curious what cents-per-mile value United is trying to pass off as “the norm.”

    And Delta!

  • United US to Taiwan used to be 35000 one way. It’s so ridiculous now. We were saving up for one way business to Taiwan just so we can see what it’s like once in our lifetime, but that years of saving has gone down the drain. We couldn’t even afford to go to Taiwan roundtrip on economy now.

  • Another no-notice massive devaluation from United. Then again, what else should we expect from “The Best Airline In The World” under Scott Kirby?

  • I’m so incredibly pissed! I was going to book my RT flight to Australia for February-March a couple of months ago, but needed to get a bit more to cover the 160K miles for both tickets. Today I finally had them and was in to purchase. I was so MAD 55K was now the lowest price! The worst part is that I found out it was officially raised thru THIS article. United never sent me any sort of warning. I already stopped flying them and was just earning miles thru other programs (shopping, dining) for this one trip to supplement the miles I already had. Now I’m done with them for good. ALL points systems are not even worth it any more, so I’ll stick with the airlines that offer me the most perks and best service when I’m actually flying for work. Oh, and btw: I’m buying a one way ticket to SYD from SFO on Fiji Airways for $574 which includes a 12 hour 7am-7pm layover in Fiji. Beats flying United!

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