Major United Mileage Plus Devaluation: 33%-46% increase in award prices to/from Europe


In this morning’s post about overvaluing flexibility, I called out what appeared to be a major devaluation on United Mileage Plus awards. One Mile at a Time has since reported on the extent of the devaluation, but I think there are a couple of nuances to add to what Ben reported. First, while SWISS business class awards appear to start at 97,100 miles one-way, most partner awards now cost 102,400 miles each way and as he reported the close-in booking surcharge increased substantially — though if there is one less negative piece, it is that the close-in booking surcharge no longer applies to all itineraries within 30 days of departure but rather appears to apply to a closer window (perhaps within 2-3 weeks of departure?). Economy class awards increase by an even-more-brutal 46% on partner awards.

Update: In the 24hrs following publication, United walked this devaluation back a bit, with partner awards pricing at 40K miles one-way in economy class or 88K miles one-way in business class to and from Europe rather than 42.9K and 102.4K. That certainly makes the devaluation less devastating, but United has nonetheless given us a clear indication as to where they would prefer to price these awards. With no award chart, it is likely only a matter of time until prices creep back up to those shown in this post. We’re leaving the rest of the post as it was when initially published, but note that for the time being prices have decreased a bit from where they were at the time of publication of this post.

Business class to Europe now far more expensive (and set for dynamic)

In this morning’s post, I noted the cost of business class on United metal ringing in at 80,000 miles one-way as in this February 2024 example from Brussels to Newark.

That is an increase from the previous rate of 60,000 miles as shown in this 2023 example I used in a post a couple of months ago:

An increase of 33% is a massive devaluation (and as noted in my post this morning, it makes the expected value of booking with United Mileage Plus miles to be a losing proposition unless you’re going to cancel a large majority of your award tickets since you could likely book for far fewer miles with partner airlines).

Speaking of partner airlines, that’s where this latest devaluation really ratchets things up a notch. Ben at One Mile at a Time notes that transatlantic partner business class awards start at 97,100 miles one-way and increase to 107,100 miles within 30 days of departure. The key words there are start at. While SWISS appears to be 97,100 miles each way, most partner award flights cost more. An example from this morning’s post was an award from Munich to New York JFK that costs 102,400 miles one-way — and this was not within 30 days of departure.

In fact, most partner awards to Europe that I’ve searched are ringing in at 102,400 miles. As one of many additional examples, see this itinerary in February 2024 on TAP Air Portugal pricing at 102,400 miles in business class between Washington DC and Lisbon.

As you can see, economy class awards are even more brutal at 43,900 miles each way on partners. Those awards were previously 30,000 miles one-way, so that’s an increase of 46%!

Interestingly, I think the close-in redemption rates are working a bit differently than in the past. Ben at One Mile at a Time cites an example between the US and Zurich where redemptions far in advance cost 97,100 miles one-way on partner SWISS or 107,100 miles close-in, which led Ben to say that there is now a 10,000-mile surcharge for booking within 30 days of departure. In actuality, I think the close-in window isn’t quite 30 days and the surcharge isn’t 10K miles but rather close-in partner bookings seem to all cost 107,100 miles.

For instance, take this Lufthansa itinerary within 8 days of departure — see that it costs 107,100 miles in business class.

However, on June 8th, the rate drops to 102,400 miles.

The close-in booking cutoff appears to be less than 30 days in advance (maybe the cutoff for the higher close-in fee is within 2 weeks of departure?). As shown above, flights on other partner airlines continue to cost 102,400 miles one-way in business class even many months prior to departure.

SWISS in the only partner I’ve seen so far that is charging 97,100 miles for partner awards. As in the example above, most partner awards have priced at 102,400 miles when booked at least a few weeks from departure. Those within a week or two of departure are pricing at 107,100 miles one-way in business class. Note that the close-in booking surcharge was 3,000 miles previously — the new increase appears to be 4,700 miles close-in on most itineraries (raising the redemption from 102.4K to 107.1K) on most partner awards, which is a 56.67% increase in that surcharge. It’s just worse than that on SWISS since that close-in fee appears to be 10K miles on those awards, an increase of more than 300%.

Bottom line

United Mileage Plus has implemented a major devaluation for awards to and from Europe. I wouldn’t be surprised if we also see devaluations to other regions. Unfortunately, when United dumped its partner award chart, this was bound to happen — and the fact that they are pricing some partner awards differently than others is an ominous sign for the future of dynamic pricing. While it is possible that we’ll find routes pricing below expectations, at this point everything I’ve seen has increased substantially, with awards on both United and partners increasing by 33%. That’s really disappointing. This devaluation certainly increases the appeal of partner redemptions — even those that are less flexible.

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The devaluation extended to Africa as well. One-way UA biz class between EWR-CPT or JNB was 250k (ridiculously high already) and then jumped overnight to 395k! UA is becoming the Hilton of airlines.


Could the big sign-up bonuses and extra point promotions we all love be the trigger for these devaluations? If the banks are buying most of the points and want to offer these promotions, they negotiate lower priced points, thus driving the airlines (or hotels) to increase the number of points needed to cover the cost of the seat or room.


Looks like AA might be joining the devaluation party. Business class one way tickets to Tokyo on JAL have suddenly all increased from 60,000 miles to 80,000 miles, a 33% increase. Didn’t take them long to match United’s devaluation.

Greg The Frequent Miler

It still prices at 60K for me. I looked at ORD-TYO and SFO-TYO, both show 60K


I don’t see it anymore either, glad to be wrong!!


I will dump my UA cards. I think the only way to stop this is to punish back these companies.


This also appears to hold true for award tickets from Asia to Europe. I’m seeing everything at 49.5k miles for one-way economy.


Very ironically on our IAH-FLL flight day before yesterday, the purser was hawking the UA CCs during the last 30 min of the flight. She was also standing by the exit holding those applications forms. The pitch was, “our flight was chosen as promotion flight that would let you get extra 5000 miles on top of the 60,000 miles sign up bonus when you apply use the code (the crew got commission on that I am sure). That means you will earn 2 round trip domestic tickets and you also can fly free forever when you earn the miles thru spending on the cards…”

Still try to fool the mass…


I don’t know how to quantify this, but I think the big question is how frequently UA is/will provide saver availability to its partners. Those partners (Aeroplan and Lifemiles) have easier to obtain miles (transfer partners of Amex, Capital One, etc.) than UA (only a transfer partner of Chase, and most are probably transferring to Hyatt) anyway.


United has removed most of Polaris award availability to London and Tokyo from partner programs (Aeroplan, Lifemiles, etc.). There was a ton of Polaris award availability last week, now it’s all gone!

[…] its award ticket prices in a “disappointing“, “heartbreaking“, “major” way yesterday. Yes, it sucks, and yes you should be unhappy about the situation. But, events […]


It looks like UA devalued saver award redemptions to Hawaii as well. Economy saver awards are now 25k, up from 22.5k. Not sure how much first/business class redemptions have increased because I (unsurprisingly) can’t find any first class saver availability to Hawaii.


I hate to say this here but I think all these blogs about how to get outsized value made easy are a likely culprit. But then the banks may step up with better bonuses and the devaluations will be less painful.

Logic over emotion

Ah, have you seen cach prices for flights or are aware of this thing called inflation? Your expectation is that award points on flights will forever same or the root cause in rise is bloggers posts?


Throughout my life i have been pretty good at recognizing “warning shots across my bow” and this article triggered that feeling. I have a sizable stash of AA miles and am increasingly worried that one of these days i will wake up to read an FM post about a huge AA devaluation which renders AA miles almost worthless. Is there any logic in hoping/assuming AA won’t fall into the increasingly popular loyalty program graveyard? Are my fears irrational? In light of the fact that AA is more or less the “last man standing”, perhaps this is worthy of a post all it’s own?


Nope, and nope.

(But yes to your last question.)


AA has already stealthily devalued its miles by seldom offers award space on its own metals on TATL flights. BA is often your only option which costs A LOT OF SURCHARGE and AA shares the spoils with BA thru their JT Ventures.

You will pay $800 out of pocket on a 55K AA miles business class award from LHR to US on BA flight… That was up from $600 last year, and it was already very high.

Surprised you have not noticed this.


As of today, AA still offers tremendous value but the list is shrinking. I have been traveling half of the time for the past year and a half and i am doing my best to burn up my AA miles. My problem is that i still have a few million of them from the simplymiles promo and i worry that they will become air pesos before i am able to successfully burn them all. I am seeking alternate uses for them but dont even know where to begin….


In addition to the impact on the value of United miles, it impacts Chase. United added value to Chase as a unique partner. Chase is now overly dependant on Hyatt.

PS United’s free cancellations are nice but can not make up for the award prices.

PS Update redemption value of United miles?

[…] Frequent Miler has some great insight […]


Want to voice my appreciation for FM, which helped me burn all but a few hundred of my United miles during the biz class sale last month. If not for you, I’d be sitting on those miles and crying into my beer.

Last edited 4 months ago by Landon

Same, I had ~120,500ish before the March window Polaris fare. Booked a one way to CDG for 60k each, now only have ~500 miles, which will sit there, likely for eternity at this point…


Greg: You should have sold the blog .


Nick, you say in a comment above “The US programs make the vast majority of their money by selling miles to the banks.”
True, so how can this massive devaluation be good for UA? If people start steering clear of signing up for and putting spend on UA credit cards then Chase needs to buy fewer miles from UA, and UA loses, right? I’m lost.


I work for Costco in the PNW. There are tons of people with Alaska cards. It’s the second most popular card to pay with besides the Costco Visa… theres days when I like to ask people how they redeem their miles. I have never gotten an answer that I would personally use my miles on. The typical answer is flights to Hawaii. But some say anywhere I need to go like Fort Lauderdale or San Diego. I’m waiting for the day I ask the right person and they respond JAL to Japan, Air Lingus to Europe, heck even AA to Peru! Basically airlines can devalue because most people don’t look at the value… they just want a “free” flight once in a while.


How does Delta still sell miles to Amex? I guess there are still people using Delta Amex cards or at least signing up for SUBs and upgrade offers.


I was debating picking up a United card for increased saver availability but guess I don’t have to do that anymore. Thanks, UA.


Up till this devaluation, it does help to see increased saver awards, some J awards priced at over 100K would show a cross across the original prices and show the enhanced pricing, some all the way down to the 60K. I saw those when monitoring our recent flight back from Europe. Did change our tickets several times as the enhanced saver pricing showed up on better itineraries as departure closing in.
I guess now it would be at least over 90K.


I’d say it’s still worth it. The first year on the Explorer card is free and then you can downgrade to the Gateway Card which has no annual fee. I wouldn’t make a United Card a priority but depending on your needs there can still be value especially if you are willing to travel in economy once in a while. Because of the Explorer Card I was able to get 8 economy tickets (yes 8! Parents, siblings and kids) PDX-Peru for 320k United miles and $540… would have been $7200+ in cash. Without the card there were 0 days with saver awards for more than 2 people. Even for 1 person the availability of saver awards opened to almost everyday. May not be the sexiest redemption but being able to take my entire family back to Peru for the first time since leaving 37 years ago is priceless to me.


You say that everything that you’ve seen has increased substantially, but don’t your first screenshots show the economy price of that BRU-EWR coming DOWN from 35k to 25.7k?

Everything I’ve searched for economy has gone from starting at ~30k to starting at ~40k, but it’s interesting to know there may be exceptions?

Franz Forry

Where do you even find business class seats to Europe?! I’ve been searching since January for the month of June, for departures from Boston. Extremely low inventory, even five months in advance, on all Star Alliance: Lufthansa, Turkish, TAP, Swiss, United, Air Canada. Just a handful of options on United and Swiss. The demand must be astonishing, I’ve never seen anything like it.

Franz Forry

I’ve years under my belt and no, I’ve never seen anything like it. 2022 was ok, I had no issues booking in March for June and also for August, for 3-4 passengers on Lufthansa, Turkish, Air France and KLM, in business. Boston is very well connected to Europe so I never had to reserve a year in advance.

One thing to note is that the economy seats for June are about 30-50% more expensive than last year.


LX used to offer a lot of awards from BOS, but you’re right that now BOS kind of stinks. Try LH close to the departure date.

Last edited 4 months ago by Nun

[…] Hat tip to FlyerTalk & FM […]


LOL I have a hard time finding West Coast to Germany flights in the Summer for less than 155k miles ($175/245k are shown too).
Would love to find 60k-80k business flights.
@Lanteen … first class? On which airline? Who still uses international first that can be booked with UA miles?.


That is why I consider it a unicorn. Maybe you find a seat on limited routes 2-3 days out … or you might win mega million. 🙂




I am wondering if this is in preparation for summer travel and we will see better pricing come November. Who knows.


So first class is now only less than 20% more miles than biz. If one can find availability, why even bother with biz then?


brutal. So much for saving those UA miles for TATL flights to Europe next summer at 60k per pop. Now, if Chase dropped their 5/24 nonsense, maybe the UA card might be worthwhile, but now? I think I might pass. Chase’s partner suite of cards is becoming less desirable by the year.


Now execs at AA and AC will be thinking “ maybe we can do this too “. Thanks United.


You make a very convincing argument. I hope you’re right.


Devaluations happen over time, its a fact of the game. What makes United’s so bad is that since they lack an award chart, there’s nothing stopping them from devaluing further again next week if they want to. When someone like Hyatt devalues, I know I probably have 2-3 years before they’ll do it again.

I’ve picked up United Chase cards every 2 years or so and the welcome bonus on the cards tends to increase with award costs over time, but I’m much less likely to get a Chase card (or to credit star alliance flights to United) now because there’s no stability in what they’re offering. For Aeroplan, American Airlines, and others, I know how many miles I should save up to buy a given award and thats no longer the case with United. I cant imagine they couldve designed something that decreases loyalty to the program than this. They might as well rip the bandaid off and peg award costs as a fixed rates to the revenue cost of flights like Jetblue does. No reason to fly or credit to United if other opportunities exist.

Hopefully Aeroplan and Avianca don’t go down this path.


The only problem with Aeroplan is that they often have subpar routings that force you to connect in Canada when there is a direct flight on another *A carrier like UA. For example, I live near a UA hub (SFO) and was looking at flights from SFO to mexico. Do I pay more for the direct flight from SFO-CUN, SFO-MEX, SFO-PVR or go to Air Canada, pay less miles, but have a connecting flight up to YVR or YYZ and double the flight time & add a connnection?

Air Canada is great when there is partner availability but I’ve found it very challenging finding good flights because I’m often always routed via one of their hubs in Canada.


In the spirit of climate change, connecting flights that backtrack, e.g. the first flight is literally flying away from the final destination should be banned (excluding small airports that have few connections)
Seriously SFO -> YVR -> MEX , wtf


Completely agree, which is what makes AC so frustrating because I see the value in terms of lower miles, but the routing is sometimes just crazy! (same thing with for example flights from SFO – South AMerica—always wants me to go north to canada to connect, only to fly south again!). Sometimes I’ll get lucky and find something that doesn’t have crazy routine or if I’m flying to Europe where a connection in Canada is reasonable.


I do like the flexibility of full refundable award tickets on UA and other carriers that have no change/redposit fees and so often I’m inclined to book using points/miles instead of cash because of the potential need to make a change or redeposit.

Does booking through the AMEX portal give you that same ability to cancel/change or is it treated like any cash fare on the airlines which typically is a credit toward travel good for 1 year from the original booking date?

Last edited 4 months ago by kayexalate
Bobo Bolinsky

The Aeroplan program simply sucks for those of us who are based on the west coast. Aeroplan award prices are super-high from the US west coast to, well, everywhere. Bloggers (who either live on the east coast or are just clueless) ignore this.

World Traveler

Reyes, I’ve played the book UA and then rebook using Aeroplan or LifeMiles if UA opens last minute saver availability. Whenever they offer Saver on, I find they offer that to partners at least on international flights.