September 28, 2014

How to Find Saver Award Tickets

Over the last couple of weeks, a few readers have asked how I find "saver" award tickets.  To answer the question, I'll focus on United MileagePlus since that is my go to carrier/frequent flier program.  Earlier in the year, I posted on how to book a United award ticket so that's a helpful guide if you're not familiar with United's booking engine.

In my opinion, booking any award ticket thats not a "saver" ticket is a waste of miles.  While programs have certainly made it easier to accrue miles/points over the last few years, paying more than 2x is equivalent to paying 2x at a restaurant you really want to go eat at but can't get a reservation.

Take this hypothetical example.  Let's say you want to fly (one-way) from Los Angeles to Seoul in December or January.  Here's a screenshot showing the search.  If you want to fly economy, you are looking for yellow or green.  If you want to fly business/first, then you are looking for green or blue.  The days that show up as white only have "standard" award availability.  You want to avoid those dates.

As you can see, besides the two weeks around Christmas, there is saver award availability pretty much everyday.  Maybe you want to spend New Years in Korea so let's take a look at the options for December 30th.

There are a couple of good options.  You can fly Thai Airways direct to Seoul in economy for 35,000 miles or you can fly Asiana's business class for 80,000.  Either way, you'll notice that the standard awards are priced at 2x+ that of the saver awards.  Not that you could also fly through San Francisco on United's metal (United's own plane) in first class for 80,000 miles.  I would definitely select United first over Asiana business if given the choice for the same amount of miles.

Keep this in mind as you're searching for award availability.  The more flexibility you have on dates and routing, the more likely you are to find saver awards.  The more saver awards you book, the more value you'll get out of your hard earned miles.

No comments:

Post a Comment