Those who did not grow up wealthy have had to make do with flying in economy. For these people, the journey is an ordeal to be endured en-route to the destination. But if you are aware of the growing popularity of reward travel, you know that extraordinary wealth is no long necessary to enjoy first class seats. Here are some of the ways that people of ordinary means can enjoy United’s First and International Business Class products.
Of all the ways to earn airline miles, the hardest way is to step on an airplane. Jet aircraft travel at around 500 miles an hour, so it would take 200 hours of flying just to earn enough miles for a single round trip ticket to Europe in business class.
The easiest way to earn miles is through credit card spending. United offers its Explorer and United Club cards that earn one and 1.5 miles per dollar spent respectively. But in addition, United is a transfer partner of Chase’s Ultimate Rewards program. Cardholders can earn transferrable points from Sapphire Preferred, Ink for Business, and Palladium cards. Among these products, it is best to take advantage of bonus categories of spending. For example, Sapphire Preferred and Palladium cardholders earn two points per dollar spent on dining and travel. And Ink cardholders earn double points on gas and five points per dollar on office supplies and telecommunications charges.
Once you have earned enough miles, your work is barely half done. Finding the low mileage level awards, called Saver Awards, can be challenging. First, always look as far as possible in advance. Awards become available 11 months before departure and can be booked as one ways. And while United’s online search engine works better than most airlines, it is far from foolproof.
When putting together a complex itinerary involving one or more stops, you may have to search each leg individually to put together an itinerary. Then, you have to call United to have it booked if it will not show up online.
Upgrade awards can be purchased from United online, but even that system is not completely reliable. For best results, it is often necessary to call United and request the upgrade over the phone. A payment of mileage and dollars may be required, but frequently United’s computers fail to collect the agreed upon amount.
By understanding the best ways to use miles to save money, travelers can enjoy United’s first and business class seats without paying the standard prices.