Unlock More Award Seats With the United Explorer Card!

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I’ve written about the increased 50,000 mile sign-up bonus on the Chase United Explorer card and some of its benefits.  And also about a potential offer with an extra $50 statement credit!

But did you know if you have the card, there are more United Airlines award seats available for you than for non-cardholders?

Unlock More Award Seats With The United Explorer Card

Chase United Explorer Cardholders Can Access MORE United Award Seats!

On some flights, United Airlines might show no award seats available to folks who don’t have the card.  But Chase United Explorer cardholders will still see available award seats, unless the flight is sold out.

How Does This Work?

Link:   Chase United Explorer

Link:   My Review of the Chase United Explorer Increased Sign-Up Bonus

United Airlines says there will always be award seats available for eligible MileagePlus cardholders on United Airlines and United Express flights, as long as there are seats for sale (i.e.: as long as the flight isn’t sold out).

MileagePlus Premier® members and eligible United MileagePlus Cardmembers have unrestricted access to Standard Awards on United and United Express.  If there’s a United seat for sale, these members can get it with award miles, guaranteed, even if it’s the last seat on the airplane.

And the Chase United Explorer card is an eligible card!

Standard awards cost double the miles of low-level saver awards, but if you’re willing to pay the extra miles for an award seat, this is a very nice perk to have!  And cardholders also get access to extra low-level award seats.

Example:   Chicago to Phoenix on Super Bowl Weekend

The Super Bowl is in Phoenix on February 1, 2015, and it’s often hard to find award seats to fly to the game!

Unlock More Award Seats With The United Explorer Card

Want to Travel to Phoenix for the Super Bowl Next Year? Award Seats Are Already Hard to Find!

First, I checked for available award seats from Chicago to Phoenix on January 30, 2015 without signing-in to my United Airlines frequent flyer account.

United Airlines showed NO award seats available in any class of service and at any level (saver or standard awards).

Unlock More Award Seats With The United Explorer Card

United Airlines Showed No Award Seats Available From Chicago to Phoenix the Friday Before the Super Bowl

To compare, I signed-in to my United Airlines frequent flyer account.  I do NOT have a Chase United Explorer card.  The search returned the same result:  NO award seats available at all!

 Unlock More Award Seats With The United Explorer Card

Still No Award Seats Available When I Signed-In to My United Airlines Frequent Flyer Account

But Emily IS a Chase United Explorer cardholder.  When I signed-in to her United Airlines frequent flyer account and did the same search, the result was different!  There were standard level award seats available in both coach class and First / Business Class!

Unlock More Award Seats With The United Explorer Card

Award Seats Are Available When Emily Signs-In, Because She Has the United Explorer Card!

This is very useful for folks who don’t have flexibility in their travel dates, or who have to fly during busy travel times, like holidays or special events!

Example:   San Francisco to Honolulu in December

Hawaii can be 1 of the most difficult destinations to fly to on award tickets, especially during busy travel times like the holidays or Spring Break.

Unlock More Award Seats With The United Explorer Card

Award Travel to Hawaii Can Be Challenging, Especially During Holidays and School Vacations

I searched for award seats between San Francisco and Honolulu on December 21, 2014.  The results were the same with and without signing-in to my United Airlines frequent flyer account.

There were no saver award seats on any flight, and no non-stop flights available.  The only available award seats were standard level First / Business Class award seats (90,000 miles 1-way!) on connecting flights.

Unlock More Award Seats With The United Explorer Card

The Only Award Seats Available Were Expensive, First Class Seats on Connecting Flights

But when I did the same search from Emily’s frequent flyer account, there were more available flights (including non-stops) and standard level coach class award seats (45,000 miles 1-way)!

Unlock More Award Seats With The United Explorer Card

Emily’s Account Had Non-Stop Flights and Coach Class Standard Award Seats Available

So Chase United Explorer cardholders have access to more (and cheaper) award seats and often better, more direct flights.  That’s a great perk!

Example:   Houston to Seattle for Thanksgiving

Thanksgiving weekend is another very busy travel period where folks sometimes have trouble finding award seats.

I searched for award seats from Houston to Seattle on November 27, 2014.  There were no coach class saver award seats available when I checked without signing-in and from my account, only standard award seats (25,000 miles for a 1-way ticket).

 Unlock More Award Seats With The United Explorer Card

There Were No Coach Class Saver Award Seats Available the Wednesday Before Thanksgiving

The same search from Emily’s account shows saver level award seats available in coach class (12,500 miles 1-way)!

Unlock More Award Seats With The United Explorer Card

Chase United Explorer Cardholders Can Still Get Saver Level Coach Class Award Seats

So by having a Chase United Explorer card, you’d save 12,500 miles 1-way (or 25,000 miles round-trip) for a coach class award seat.  25,000 miles is enough for a whole other saver level coach class round-trip domestic ticket!

Be Sure Your Card Is Linked to Your Frequent Flyer Account!

If you’re a Chase United Explorer cardholder, your credit card details should be linked to your United Airlines frequent flyer account.  But if you want to be sure, here’s the way to tell.

Sign-in to your United Airlines frequent flyer account and hover your mouse over “Mileage Expiration“.  If you’re NOT a cardholder, a message about miles expiring after 18 months of inactivity will appear.

But if you are a Chase United Explorer cardholder, the message will say that your miles won’t expire as long as you have the credit card.

Unlock More Award Seats With The United Explorer Card

Emily’s Account Says Her Miles Won’t Expire As Long As Her Credit Card Account Is Active

Note:  Some folks report that clicking the “Remember Me” button when they sign-in causes available award seats to not show up.  I’m not sure why this happens, but it could have something to do with cookies on your browser.  In any case, do NOT click “Remember Me” when you sign-in!

 Unlock More Award Seats With The United Explorer Card

Clicking “Remember Me” Can Cause Extra Award Seats to Disappear!

Bottom Line

If you’re a Chase United Explorer cardholder, you’ll see more award seats available than folks who don’t have the card.  Even if there are NO award seats available for non-cardholders, you’ll be able to book an award seat, unless the flight is sold out.

Folks who have the card can get access to more flights, better routings, and lower level award seats.  This can save you time and frequent flyer miles.

This is a really great perk!  And it’s very useful especially if you have to travel at peak times, like during holidays, school vacations, and special events.

Has having the Chase United Explorer card made a difference in your travel plans?  Please tell me about it in the comments.

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20 responses to “Unlock More Award Seats With the United Explorer Card!

  1. I have to ask…

    Why do you not have a United Explorer card?
    Will you be getting one with the latest 50k offer or has it not yet been two years since your last go around with this product?

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  3. Is the no-annual fee MileagePlus card eligible for this?

  4. This sounds good to me, especially since I just booked a United flight for which I will have to pay baggage fees 🙁 But since I just cancelled my regular Explorer Card in April, I thought I’d try for a Business card, but they’re offering only 30,000 bonus miles. A call confirmed this. Bummer!

  5. Does this help at all with partner airlines that book through united… such as ANA will there be more availability on ANA’s website if Im booking a united ticket?

  6. Does it work with partner airlines? Or only for United flights?

  7. This evidently isn’t working all the time. United shows my card as linked, but two weeks ago I had to use my Chase Reward points to purchase a ticket because a number of flights–including the direct flights from IAD to YVR–were not showing any standard award space in first/business class around the Christmas season in early January, but I was able to purchase the seat on the Chase site (it was also available for purchase on other travel sites). Checking seats on the Chase site showed MANY more flights at that time of year than checking the United site while I was logged into the site. Additionally, on the days I wanted, the only flights the United site showed were before 7:00 am or red eyes. Using the Chase site I was able to purchase an early afternoon direct flight that landed six and a half hours later in YVR in the early evening.

    I should also point out that since it was in early January, I was looking for standard awards, not saver awards, but many were just not listed on the UAL site on flights that had open seats. As it turned out, using Chase points worked out better anyway in this case because I used 50,000 Chase points for a one-way ticket and that allowed me to collect miles too. The same 50,000 miles transferred to the United site would have not allowed collecting points on an award ticket–plus the seats were simply not there on the UAL flight. Despite the fact that it “worked out,” it does show that many UAL flights are not open to the last seat on standard awards even for Explorer card holders.

  8. @ Pace S @ Lana
    Only United flights booked through the United website.

  9. Update: The Explorer Business card is now available for 50,000 bonus points. For me this only worked from Darius’ original offer, bottom of the page on the right. Not the one offering the $50 credit–didn’t even see business cards offered on that page.

  10. Is the expanded saver availability only for economy?

  11. Also, does anyone know how long it will take after card approval for this to show up?

  12. You could also try to get a deal for 55,000 bonus miles by visiting a brick and mortar Chase branch. In March I went to our local Chase bank to ask about some rates and was offered the 55k bonus by the banker assisting me (which I accepted and now have). It’s not available online, but if you have good credit you may be pre-approved already. Just a thought.

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  14. Does this work for the United Club Visa card?

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  17. Is this still a benefit? I logged into my account (without this card) and see the same availability as a friend who has the card. Do we need to do anything for them to have access to the expanded saver award seat offerings? (Their points and sign up bonus have all gone to the correct account)

  18. Nevermind that last question. I just realized you had a step about how to check if your account is properly coded for it. It is… still not the best selection of seats, especially saver award.