Update: Since I wrote this last night, United has actually made their “non-advertised” sale official. See details here (book by 2/28!)
When friends ask me about awards they want to book – the resourceful ones often want to learn how to fish. One thing I always tell them is: keep checking for award space – you never know what you might find. Recently, two separate pieces of information surfaced in the blogosphere that I didn’t even think to connect in my head (though I’m sure many did). But everything clicked when my buddy Dan messaged me today: “Hey I can fly from JFK to Seoul on an A380 for 70,000 miles in business?”
Why, yes, Dan, you can right now! When I first saw that Asiana would be starting a new A380 flight from JFK to Seoul on One Mile at a Time, I didn’t really think too much of it, mainly because I don’t have the Star Alliance balances to book such a flight.
But then when Dan said he saw business class space for 70,000 miles I remembered that I had read somewhere that United was doing another unadvertised award sale. I’m not trying to plagiarize or anything (don’t want to incur PFDigest’s wrath!), but I really do not remember where I saw that.
For the unfamiliar, after United’s devaluation, partner premium cabin awards have become much more costly than awards on United metal. For example, business class to North Asia on United metal costs 70,000 each way, while business class on partners costs 80,000.
So the business class seats on the Asiana A380 should cost 80,000 miles each way. But for some reason, United has been having these random “sales” where they price partner awards at the same cost of United metal awards – currently it seems like that’s happening for both Asia and Europe. So right now this award is pricing at 70,000 miles each way.
That’s pretty good news, because in today’s prices that’s a fair (though not cheap) price to Asia in business class.
The even better news is that right now Asiana has released a ton of award space. Here is my July and August search for 4 seats:
Notice that space basically becomes wide open after the A380 starts operating every day in mid-July.
Here is my September and October search for EIGHT seats:
So the bottom line is, there is a ton of award space – even enough to get a family of four to Asia in business class if you have the miles. You get to fly a new plane, on a new route, for a temporarily reduced price!
In terms of the product, it’s a lie flat business class seat – very “Smartium”.
If you know when and where you want to travel and you don’t see award space at first, try, try again. You’ll never know what you might find – in this case a new route plus an unannounced award “sale” led to a pretty good deal. I’m not sure how long this “sale” will go for, United had one before, it ended (Asia was pricing at 80K when I went last minute two weeks ago), and now it’s on again – but if you know you need to go somewhere, book while it’s hot!
Dan on A380 says
Don’t stop! Never give up!
I’d be excited to fly coach on the A380, but in business, it’s going to be LEGENDARY!
Now hopefully I’ll be able to find a return itinerary!
I guess UAL is seeing reduced demand/interest post devaluation. I no longer transfer to UA’s program. I burned my MileagePlus a couple months ago on Asiana’s A380 First Suites out of LAX (70K each way) – but was a bit disappointed with the food. My return on ANA was much better foodwise, but an A380 is so much nicer than a 777.