The Secret to Saving Miles on Fancy United Airlines Business Class Flights to Europe, Asia, and Beyond
Signing up for credit cards through partner links earns us a commission. Terms apply to the offers listed on this page. Here’s our full advertising policy: How we make money.Quick tip: If you’re booking an international Business Class ticket with United Airlines, you’ll save tons of miles if you’re actually flying United Airlines.
Like, tens of thousands of miles. This is because United Airlines has separate award charts for their own flights and for other airlines. They incentivize United Airlines mile collectors to fly on their own planes by pricing them way cheaper.
That means if you earn the welcome bonus with a card like the Ink Business Preferred Credit Card, you could book a Business Class flight to Europe on United Airlines and still have hundreds of dollars in nearly free travel. Not the case if you book with a partner airline!
Here’s what you need to know.
United Airlines Business Class Flights Are Cheaper Than Partner Flights
There are two super duper things about United Airlines:
- They are a part of Star Alliance, so they have tons of airline partners. It’s uniquely uncomplicated to book a ticket to just about anywhere with United Airlines miles
- United Airlines doesn’t pass along fuel surcharges with award flights. The cash price for taxes & fees for an award flight is very tolerable, whether you book a flight on United Airlines or on their partners
However, booking an award seat on a partner airline will cost you an extra 10,000 miles.
For example, here’s a flight from Newark to Tokyo. The first flight is on United Airlines, and the rest are partner airlines.
And here are the prices to Paris. The first flight is United Airlines, and the rest are partner airlines.
A round-trip Business Class flight on a United Airlines plane will cost 20,000 miles less than if you book with a partner! That seems like a no-brainer.
However, if you’ve flown your fair share of Business Class, you’ve probably noticed that United Airlines Business Class isn’t the greatest. I’ve flown several Star Alliance airlines in Business Class, and United Airlines isn’t anywhere near the most impressive. First world problems, I know.
Also, you’ll notice in browsing the United Airlines website that there are WAY more partner flights available than United Airlines flights. You’ll have the most luck in booking a flight on United Airlines if you fly from one of their hubs, like:
- Washington, DC (IAD)
- San Francisco
- Los Angeles
- Houston (IAH)
Chase Sapphire Preferred® CardAPPLY NOW
Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card
Earn 60,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. That’s $750 when you redeem through Chase Ultimate Rewards®.
Enjoy benefits such as a $50 annual Ultimate Rewards Hotel Credit, 5x on travel purchased through Chase Ultimate Rewards®, 3x on dining and 2x on all other travel purchases, plus more.
Get 25% more value when you redeem for airfare, hotels, car rentals and cruises through Chase Ultimate Rewards®. For example, 60,000 points are worth $750 toward travel.
Count on Trip Cancellation/Interruption Insurance, Auto Rental Collision Damage Waiver, Lost Luggage Insurance and more.
Get complimentary access to DashPass which unlocks $0 delivery fees and lower service fees for a minimum of one year when you activate by December 31, 2024.
Intro APR on purchases
20.49% – 27.49% Variable
Balance Transfer Fee
Either $5 or 5% of the amount of each transfer, whichever is greater.
Rates & Fees
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! :)
Join the Discussion!