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One of the best perks of certain United Airlines credit cards is access to expanded award availability on United Airlines. These cards include:
This means that if you have one of these cards, you will see more available Saver award seats than if you didn’t have the credit card! And often, there are extra award seats are available during peak travel times, on popular routes, and routes with limited flights.
Additionally, with these cards you get access to all Everyday (standard) awards, meaning you can use their miles to book seats on any United Airlines flight, even if it’s the last seat on the plane. However, you will be charged double the amount of miles of a Saver award.
Keep in mind that United Airlines is eliminating its award chart for travel after November 15, 2019. The examples in this post reflect travel before that date.
But does this really work? We checked it out!
All-New Ultimate Guide to United Airlines Miles Series Index
- Part 1 – Introduction
- Part 2 – Step-By-Step Guide to Opening an Account
- Part 3 – Navigating the Award Chart
- Part 4 – How to Search for and Book Award Seats Online
- Part 5 – How to Unlock More Available Award Seats
- Part 6 – Make the Most of the Excursionist Perk (Free One-Way!)
- Part 7 – Converting Flexible Points to United Airlines Miles
- Part 8 – Pitfalls of the Program
How Do You Know If You’re Seeing Extra Award Seats?
To see expanded available award seats, you must first sign into your United Airlines account (free to join!). And the frequent flyer number on your United Airlines account must match the one attached to your United Airlines credit card.
Once you’ve logged-in, you can search for award flights as usual. United Airlines marks flights that are only available to cardholders. After searching for a flight, check your flight options.
Flights only available to cardholders will show “Exclusively available to you as a MileagePlus Chase Cardmember” under the flight details.
But do these extra award seats really make a difference for travelers? We’ll show you a few examples of expanded award availability that comes with the United Explorer Card, United Explorer Business Card, United Club Card, and United Club Business Card.
Note: For the more serious travel geeks out there, United Airlines books these awards into “XN” class. These are the awards only available to cardholders and folks with Premier elite status. 🙂
The information for the United Club Card and United Club Business Card has been collected independently by Million Mile Secrets. The card details on this page have not been reviewed or provided by the card issuer.
Which Flights Have More Award Seats for Cardholders?
In our experience, we’ve only been able to find more available awards on coach flights, though theoretically it could apply to Business Class flights as well. Additionally, we’ve seen more expanded availability on domestic flights, but have found a number of international flights too.
Remember, you’ll only find extra available award seats on flights operated by United Airlines and United Express planes, NOT partner flights. However, this is often helpful for connecting on to partner flights, even if the partner flight is in Business Class.
1. Chicago to Tokyo Over Summer Break
What better time to go to Tokyo than over summer break? United Airlines cardholders get nearly double the dates for available Saver award seats on United Airlines’ non-stop Chicago to Tokyo route.
While you’d be able to find a seat with or without the card, having more non-stop Saver award flexibility is never a bad thing!
Truthfully, though, this is a pretty minor difference. Let’s dive deeper and see if we can find a more drastic change in available seats.
2. New York City to Los Angeles on Labor Day
New York City to Los Angeles is one of the busiest routes in the US, and Saver award seats can be especially tricky to find during peak travel times, like Labor Day weekend.
With an eligible United Airlines card, there are plenty of available Saver award seats for 12,500 United Airlines miles one-way.
If you don’t have an eligible United Airlines card, award seats are still available, but you’ll pay more miles. The lowest priced one-way awards on some dates cost 15,000 United Airlines miles.
That’s a nice savings, especially if you’re traveling with a pal. And, if you can take advantage of this perk regularly, it’s a good way to offset the annual fee on these cards.
3. Chicago to Orange County On Memorial Day Weekend
Memorial Day weekend, another peak travel time, is a notoriously hard time to find available award seats anywhere, especially if you’re headed to the beach.
However, if you an eligible card, you can find available Saver seats without an issue. On some dates, you’ll save 12,500 United Airlines miles one-way.
If you didn’t have an eligible card, you’d be stuck paying 25,000 United Airlines miles one-way for the same flight!
It’s times like this where having a United Airlines card really saves the day.
4. Dallas to Fort Lauderdale for a Long Columbus Day Weekend
Taking the kids to Fort Lauderdale on Columbus Day? United Airlines credit cards make it possible! Dallas to Fort Lauderdale (connecting in Houston) costs only 12,500 United Airlines miles for a one-way Saver award when you have an eligible card.
On the other hand, folks without the card will pay 7,500 more United Airlines miles for the exact same flights!
This can translate into huge savings if you’re traveling with your family or a group of friends. For example, a family of 4 would save 30,000 United Airlines miles (7,500 miles per ticket X 4 people). That’s more than enough for a one-way coach flight to Europe!
Is It Worth Getting a United Airlines Card Just for This Perk?
Yes and no.
While the United Airlines credit cards do offer some extra award seats, it’s not as drastic of a change as we wish it was. On many searches, we simply saw more open flight times or different routings. But if you don’t have a lot of flexibility when you travel, or often book trips last minute, this can be huge!
Keep in mind, United Airlines usually offers a decent number of available award seats if you book far enough in advance. For example, we were able to find many Saver award tickets around the US during Thanksgiving (this post was written in April).
So, your mileage may vary. Available award seats change daily, so some days United Airlines may have more open seats than others. This is especially true when booking international tickets at the last minute.
But one great perk of increased (even if minor) availability is connecting domestically to international hubs, even in Business Class. Often, United Airlines will open up a mixed-cabin award with the short domestic leg in coach, and the international segment in Business Class. This saves you from having to buy an extra domestic leg with your ticket.
And if you collect United Airlines miles, these cards, and others, are good to consider for their sign-up bonuses and earning from ongoing spending. You can check out all the best airline credit cards here.
Folks with certain United Airlines credit cards get access to more available award seats on United Airlines (not partners), just like Premier elite members do. These cards include:
This is a tremendous perk if you fly during peak travel times, like holidays and school breaks. Or folks who often book last minute award flights. You’ll see more Saver award seats (which can save you thousands of miles), and get access to all Everyday (standard) award seats (even if it’s the only seat left on the plane).
But this benefit is only useful on United Airlines and United Express planes. If you’re looking for the best airline credit cards for your travel goals, consider your travel style and airline preferences before you pull the trigger on these cards.
Has your United Airlines credit card made a difference in your award travel bookings? Let us know in the comments!