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Point devaluation is one phrase that many award travelers cringe at as it means needing to redeem more points for an award trip and waiting longer if you’re still saving up points. A recent United Airlines mileage devaluation places this carrier at a disadvantage for numerous international award flights which can cost 50% more on United-operated flights and its partner airlines.
United Airlines Mileage Devaluation: Award Flight Increases
Thankfully, domestic award flights remain mostly untouched with cross-country trips requiring 15,000 miles in economy and 30,000 miles in business class (plus $5.60 in fees and taxes).
However, the United Airlines mileage devaluation impacts nearly every international route. Most destinations now require 30% to 50% more miles than before the pricing changes began to be implemented in May 2023.
Europe Award Flights
The Europe travel price hikes are the most recorded with most economy flights now requiring 40,000 miles or 80,000 miles for business class.
For a long time, the mileage requirements were 30,000 in economy and 60,000 in business class.
South America Award Flights
When traveling to South America, plan on shelling out 49,000 miles in the main cabin or 88,000 in business class. Previously, you only needed 33,000 or 66,000 miles for the respective cabin.
Asia and Oceania Award Flights
Unfortunately, flying to the Pacific also costs notably more thanks to the United Airlines mileage devaluation. One-way flights from the United States to Japan fetch 55,000 miles in economy and 100,000 miles in business class. Previously, these seats only commanded 35,000 miles or 70,000 miles.
If you’re flying to Australia, the new price is 55,000 miles in economy or 100,000 miles in business class. The previous rate was usually 40,000 miles or 80,000 miles.
Alternatives for Booking United Award Flights
Instead of booking directly through United Airlines, you may compare rates through Aeroplan or Avianca.
If you have the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card or the Chase Sapphire Reserve®, you have a 25% or 50% travel redemption bonus which can be better than transferring your Ultimate Rewards directly to United.
A third option is the Marriott Bonvoy transfer bonus, if you happen to have a stack of Bonvoy points.
This is one of the most substantial United Airlines mileage devaluations in the airline’s history. Suppose you have a travel credit card with flexible redemption options and transfer partners. In that case, other airlines can be a better option than this legacy carrier with an extensive network. United remains competitive, but partner flights can be more valuable and worth the extra effort.