United MileagePlus Devalues More Awards

United MileagePlus Award Devaluation 2023


Updated 5/29/23: MileagePlus business class award rates for South America have also increased. A few examples:

  • Houston IAH to Lima LIM in United Business Class starts at 90K miles; previously awards started at 55-60K miles, a 50% increase
  • Houston IAH to Quito UIO in United Business Class starts at 55K miles; previously awards started at 35K miles, a 57% increase
  • Houston IAH to Santiago SCL in United Business Class starts at 80K miles, up from 60K miles previously, a 33% increase
  • Houston IAH to Rio de Janeiro GIG in United Business Class starts at 155K miles

Japan may as well have been devalued, since flights to Haneda HND from Chicago ORD, Newark EWR, San Francisco SFO and Washington Dulles IAD are at least 170K-200K one way, rates that make JAL Sky Suite Business Class for 60K Alaska Mileage Plan miles an absolute bargain.

A United MileagePlus devaluation has hit with no notice, increasing awards 33-40% or more in one fell swoop. In late 2019, United Airlines removed its award charts (Delta SkyMiles removed its award charts in 2015), paving the way for dynamic award pricing and no-notice award devaluation.

Previously, United Airlines Business Class awards to Europe started at 60,000 MileagePlus miles each way (with higher rates for peak season travel and awards booked within 30 days of departure). With the devaluation, United Business Class awards to Europe now start at 80,000 miles each way, a 33% increase.

United Award Devaluation: United Business Class Now Costs 80,000 MileagePlus Miles


Of course, most of our Award Booking clients prefer to fly a European carrier instead of United, such as Austrian Business Class, Brussels Business Class, or SWISS Business Class. These used to start at 70,000 United miles, but now start at 97,100 miles, a 39% increase. And while we don't typically reserve Economy awards, these awards on Star Alliance partners, which started at 30K miles one way, now start at 43,900 miles one way, a 46% increase.

For now, the rare partner first class award (think Lufthansa First Class, which is only available for last minute booking a few days before departure) are still 121,000 miles each way, although that's cold comfort for most, since only the most flexible travelers are able to take advantage of these awards.

United Award Devaluation: so far Lufthansa First Class awards haven't increased


Ultimately, this devaluation is another reminder to diversify your miles to guard against frequent flyer award inflation, and to never accumulate many miles in airline frequent flyer programs directly. The best way to earn miles is with transferable points, as the various frequent flyer transfer partners provide alternatives. We prefer Chase Ultimate Rewards because it's easier to multiply one's points earnings through various category bonuses (3X on all travel and dining with the Chase Sapphire Reserve, 5X on cable, phone, Internet with the Ink Cash, 5X on rotating categories with the Chase Freedom, etc.) but we're also happy to pick up 2X AMEX Membership Rewards points on all other unbonused spend with the AMEX Blue Business Plus.

For future Star Alliance redemptions we're now more likely to redeem with Air Canada Aeroplan, unless it's an award route that so far hasn't been devalued, such as intra-Europe or Asia-Australia.

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