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Don’t Make This Common United Airlines Award Booking Mistake and Miss a Great Trip!

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Update: One or more card offers in this post are no longer available. Check our Hot Deals for the latest offers. Using Star Alliance partner airline miles to book United Airlines award seats is a great way to get even more award trips.  But depending on which airline’s website you search, you will get different award flight results!
You Can’t Book All United Airlines Award Seats With Partner Airlines’ Miles!

Million Mile Secrets reader Nicholas commented:

I just created Air Canada Aeroplan and Singapore Airlines KrisFlyer accounts.  I was hoping to book an award flight on one of their partners (United Airlines) after transferring AMEX Membership Rewards points.  Searches on both the Air Canada and Singapore Airlines websites show NO partner flights.  I guess it’s hit or miss on partner flight offerings?

When you use partner airline miles to book United Airlines award seats, you can only book low-level saver awards.  And some partners, like Singapore Airlines, won’t show any partner award seats on their website searches!

I’ll show you where to search.  And what to look for so you don’t miss out on an award!

How to Find Partner Award Seats on United Airlines

The best place to start searching for award seats is the United Airlines website.  It’s easy to use.  And has a great calendar function for when your travel dates are flexible.

Let’s take a look at flights from Philadelphia to San Francisco this spring.  You can book the saver award flights displayed on the calendar with partner airline miles.

You Can Book United Airlines Saver Award Seats With Partner Airline Miles

After you find the award you want on the United Airlines website, you’ll have to book it through the partner airline’s site.  If the partner airline’s website does not display the same award, then you’ll have to call the partner airline to book the award.

But Not All United Airlines Award Searches Are the Same

If you have United Airlines elite status, you will see award seats that you can NOT book with partner airline miles.  The same is true if you have any of these United Airlines credit cards:

Here are the award seats available to United Airlines elite members and credit card holders for non-stop flights from Philadelphia to San Francisco this spring:
If You Have a United Airlines Credit Card or Are a United Airlines Elite Member, You Will See Awards That Partners Can NOT Book

The extra award seats highlighted in yellow are NOT available to book with partner airline miles.  Even though they are saver awards.

So if you have United Airlines elite status or a United Airlines credit card that gives you access to more award seats, you’ll need to sign-out before doing a search.  Otherwise, you’ll see awards that are NOT available to book with partner airline miles.

If you don’t want to bother with signing out of your account, you can get the same results by searching the United Airlines website in “incognito” mode.

Use Other Websites to Search for United Airlines Partner Awards

Some Star Alliance partner airlines’ websites will let you search for award flights on United Airlines.  Air Canada Aeroplan and ANA Mileage Club have search engines that show United Airlines award seats.

Here is an Air Canada search for award flights from Philadelphia to San Francisco in April 2018:

An Aeroplan Award Search Should Show You If Any Partner Award Flights Are Open
The Aeroplan search accurately shows there are no non-stop award flights with United Airlines for this route.  But there are connecting flights available. However, a search on ANA’s website shows no non-stop or connecting flights from Philadelphia to San Francisco on the same day.
If a Partner Airlines Website Isn’t Displaying Any Award Flights, Check the United Airlines Website Before Giving Up

Aeroplan and ANA have good award search engines on their websites.  But you won’t always get the same search results.  This is why it’s a good idea to start your search on the United Airlines website.

If you can’t find the award flight you want, check again later.  Because airlines frequently change which award seats are available.  You could also sign-up for a service like ExpertFlyer that will send you an alert when the seat you want opens.

Bottom Line

When you are using partner airline miles to book United Airlines award seats, you can only book low-level saver award flights.  And partner airlines do NOT have access to the same awards as United Airlines elite members.  Or folks with one of these credit cards:

So it’s best to search for saver award seats while logged out of your United Airlines account.  You can also search for award flights on some partner airline websites (like Air Canada or ANA).  But you won’t always get the best search results.  And other airlines ( like Singapore Airlines) do NOT display any partner awards on online searches!

I hope this helps you find the flights you’re looking for, Nicholas!

Editorial Note: We're the Million Mile Secrets team. And we're proud of our content, opinions and analysis, and of our reader's comments. These haven’t been reviewed, approved or endorsed by any of the airlines, hotels, or credit card issuers which we often write about. And that’s just how we like it! :)