United has pretty good award availability for flights within the US. For the time being, United also partners with US Airways, although US Airways will soon leave the Star Alliance and join the Oneworld Alliance for their merger with American Airlines.
The Ultimate Guide To United Miles Index
- Part 1 – Earning Lots of United Miles
- Part 2 – Introduction to United Miles
- Part 3 – Understanding the United Award Chart
- Part 4 – United Award Costs/Fees
- Part 5 – Using The United Website To Book Awards
- Part 6 – Stopovers, Open Jaws And Free One Ways
- Part 7 – Using The ANA Website To Find Star Alliance Award Seats
- Part 8 – All The Ways To Get To Europe!
- Part 9 – The Best Tip For Searching On United.com
- Part 10 – All The Ways To Get To Japan, North Asia & South Asia!
- Part 11 – All The Ways To Get To Australia, New Zealand, And Oceania!
- Part 12 – All The Ways To Get To The Caribbean, Central & South America
- Part 13 – All The Ways To Get To India
- Part 14 – North America United Awards (Including Canada And Hawaii)
- Part 15 – All The Ways To Get To Africa
The Best Tip for Searching on United.com
Don’t forget to change your search results to show you 50 flights (instead of the default) when you search on United.com. This will show you more flight options which may work for you!
Step 1 – Click On “Advanced Search”
Go to United.com and click on ”Advanced Search” at the bottom of the award search page.
Step 2 – Change “Number of Flights to Display” To “50”
Click on the drop-down box by the “Number of Flights to Display” and change it from the “Default” to “50”
You will see MANY more flight options this way!
How To Use The Information In This Post
You could rely on United.com to find you awards seats to North America (including Canada and Hawaii). And United’s website is pretty good. But it is unlikely to find every possible option on using United miles to North America (including Canada and Hawaii).
If you’re really commited to finding award seats to North America (including Canada and Hawaii) and don’t want to hire an award booking service, you could search for award seats on many of the routes below.
How Many Miles WIll it Cost?
Before January 31, 2014
United recently announced changes to their award chart, effective January 31, 2014. Here’s what the current prices are:
Within the continental US, Alaska, and Canada, United currently charges:
- 12,500 miles each way for trips in economy
- 10,000 miles each way for trips under 700 miles in economy on United
- 25,000 miles each way in Business Class (or First Class when there are only 2 classes)
- 35,000 miles each way in First Class (when there is a separate Business Class)
United also allows you to book flight within Hawaii (intra-Hawaii flights). These flights are not included in awards to Hawaii, but are in addition to the price of a flight to Hawaii.
If you book on or before January 31, 2014, United will charge the following prices for flights within Hawaii:
- 5,000 miles each way in economy class
- 7,500 miles each way in Business Class (or First Class when there are only 2 classes)
After January 31, 2014
United’s new award chart will go into effect on February 1, 2014 for bookings made on or after February 1, 2014.
On February 1, 2014, flights between Alaska and the continental US or Canada will increase by 5,000 miles to 17,500 miles each way.
If you book on February 1, 2014 or later, United will charge the following prices between the Mainland US, Canada, and Alaska to Hawaii:
- 22,500 miles each way in economy class [increase of 2,500 miles]
- 40,000 miles each way in Business Class (or First Class when there are only 2 classes) [no change]
- 50,000 miles each way in First Class (when there is a separate Business Class) [no change]
United also allows you to book flights within Hawaii (intra-Hawaii flights). These flights are not included in awards to Hawaii, but are in addition to the price of a flight to Hawaii.
If you book on February 1, 2014 or later, United will charge the following prices:
- 6,000 miles each way in economy class [increase of 1,000 miles]
- 8,500 miles each way in business class (or First Class when there are only 2 classes) [increase of 1,000 miles]
Note: US Airways will be leaving Star Alliance on around March 1,2014. While you can book US Airways awards before March 1 for travel in the future, you won’t be able to change the date of a US Airways flight after March 1 because they won’t be available with United miles.
Booking domestic tickets on United’s website is fairly straightforward. The majority of flights will route through one of United’s 8 domestic airport hubs:
- Chicago, IL (ORD)
- Cleveland, OH (CLE)
- Denver, CO (DEN)
- Houston, TX (IAH)
- Los Angeles, CA (LAX)
- Newark, NJ (EWR)
- San Francisco, CA (SFO)
- Washington, DC – Dulles (IAD)
Additionally, United partners with US Airways (until March 1, 2014), which has four domestic airport hubs:
- Charlotte, NC (CLT)
- Philadelphia, PA (PHL)
- Phoenix, AZ (PHX)
- Washington, DC – National (DCA)
United’s award search tool is fairly good and will find suitable domestic connections.
TIP: If you have United Premier (elite) status or have a United MileagePlus credit card, you should log in to your United account before searching for an award. This is because certain members may receive more award availability on some flights.
Searching From Multiple Airports
It’s important to note that some cities have multiple airports that are served by United or a partner airline.
Let’s say you’d like to book a flight from New York to Vail, Colorado. Instead of typing in a specific airport in New York, you can type in “New York” and select the “(NYC – All Airports)” option.
This will allow you to search from all 3 New York city airports.
Note: United Airlines will no longer fly to New York (JFK) effective October, 2015.
Cities where you can search multiple airports at the same time include:
- New York, NY (All Airports) searches Newark (EWR), LaGuardia (LGA), and Kennedy (JFK).
- Los Angeles, CA (All Airports) searches Los Angeles (LAX), Orange County (SNA), Ontario (ONT), Long Beach (LGB), and Burbank (BUR).
- San Francisco Bay Area searches San Francisco (SFO), San Jose (SJC), and Oakland (OAK).
- Washington, DC – All Airports searches Dulles (IAD), National (DCA), and Baltimore (BWI).
- Miami, FL – All Airports searches Miami (MIA) and Ft. Lauderdale (FLL).
- Dallas/Ft. Worth, TX – All Airports searches Dallas, Fort Worth (DFW) and Love Field (DAL).
- Chicago, IL – All Airports searches O’Hare (ORD) and Midway (MDW), although neither United nor their partner airlines fly to Midway airport.
When you search for flights from New York, NY (All Airports) to Vail (EGE), United will give you options from either Newark (EWR) or LaGuardia (LGA).
Booking United Flights Under 700 Miles
Don’t forget that United allows members to book trips on United under 700 miles for only 10,000 miles each way in coach. This isn’t as great a deal as using British Airways Avios for short distance flights on American Airlines, but it could be worth it on some routes!
The 700-mile rule only applies to the non-stop distance between your origin and destination, and does not take into account the routing you may need to take. This means that you can connect in a different city and it won’t matter how far apart the connecting cities are or that you have a flight with connections!
For example, Detroit and Atlanta are 594 miles apart (and 594 is less than 700!). I use Great Circle Mapper to calculate the distance between airports. But there isn’t a non-stop flight on United from Detroit to Atlanta.
You could book a United flight from Detroit to Washington, DC and connect to another United flight from Washington, DC to Atlanta. This route (from Detroit to Washington, DC & Washington, DC to Atlanta) is 917 flown miles.
Even though you have to make a connection, it only costs you 10,000 United Airlines miles because the distance between the origin city (Detroit) and destination city (Atlanta) is fewer than 700 miles!
Award Flights To Canada
Canada is included in the same region as the lower 48 United States. In addition Air Canada is a United Star Alliance partner, so you have options on multiple airlines (United, US Air and Air Canada) to find an award ticket.
Air Canada has 4 major airport hubs in Canada:
- Calgary, AB (YYC)
- Montréal, QC (YUL)
- Toronto, ON (YYZ)
- Vancouver, BC (YVR)
Note: You cannot fly Air Canada between two cities in the United States. You can only fly them on a domestic Canadian itinerary or on an international itinerary (like US to Canada).
Award Flights To Hawaii
United serves several airports in Hawaii, including Honolulu, from 7 of its 8 domestic US hubs. More flights means more ways to find your award seats!
United flies to the following Hawaiian cities:
- Honolulu/Oahu (HNL) from Los Angeles (LAX), San Francisco (SFO), Denver (DEN), Houston (IAH), Chicago (ORD), Newark (EWR), and Washington, DC (IAD)
- Kahului/Maui (OGG) from Los Angeles (LAX), San Francisco (SFO), Denver (DEN), and Chicago (ORD – seasonal)
- Kona/Big Island (KOA) from Los Angeles (LAX), San Francisco (SFO), and Denver (DEN)
- Lihue/Kaua’i (LIH) from Los Angeles (LAX), San Francisco (SFO), and Denver (DEN)
- Hilo/Big Island (ITO) from Los Angeles (LAX)
There are two islands that only have service on Island Air, a partner of United. If you want to fly to these airports, you have to pay an extra 5,000 mile surcharge for an intra-Hawaii flight:
- Lanai (LNY) from Honolulu (HNL) and Kahului (OGG)
- Molokai (MKK) from Honolulu (HNL)
In addition, US Airways serves the following airports from Phoenix (PHX), allowing more options with United miles:
- Honolulu/Oahu (HNL)
- Kahului/Maui (OGG)
- Kona/Big Island (KOA)
- Lihue/Kaua’i (LIH)
US Airways is leaving the Star Alliance on March 1, 2014. You can book US Airways awards using United miles before March 1, 2014, for travel after March 1, 2014, but you won’t be able to change the date of a US Airways flight after March 1, 2014, because they won’t be available with United miles.
Booking An Award To Hawaii
Let’s see what kinds of options we get when we search for an award ticket from Kansas City to Maui on United.com.
You may see two different prices for saver awards, depending on whether the trip includes an intra-Hawaii flight.
The following itinerary includes flights from Kansas City to Maui via San Francisco and Los Angeles, so it prices at 20,000 miles one-way in economy because it has no intra-Hawaii segments.
However, the next itinerary goes from Kansas City to Maui via Houston and Honolulu, so it prices at 25,000 miles one-way in economy class because it has an intra-Hawaii segment on Hawaiian Airlines.
That means in order to pay the lowest price possible, you should try to fly on United or US Airways flights between the mainland US and your final destination in Hawaii.
United allows you to book intra-Hawaii flights for only 5,000 miles one-way. This can be a great deal if you are planning on arriving in Hawaii on one island (like Kona) and departing Hawaii from another island (like Lihue).
A one-way flight from Kona to Lihue can cost almost $150:
A similar flight on the same day around the same time costs only 5,000 United miles and $5. That’s almost 3 cents of value per mile, a great deal!
You can fly within the US, Hawaii and to Canada using United miles.
You can use 10,000 miles for flights under 700 miles within the US. And 5,000 United miles for a 1-way award within Hawaii is also a great deal!