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United Saver Fares

My husband and I always travel Economy Plus. Just once I would like to go Business class. We have over 200,000 miles, but I am finding it's not buying us as much as I thought it would. Do any of you have experience with United Saver Fares? What are the rules around them? Do you have to book with them fairly early before they are picked up by others? We just spoke to United Airlines but the person we got was hard to understand.

Posted by
21852 posts

Absolutely, saver fares are scarce. Booking open about 330 days out. 328 days out may be too late. The United web site clearly explains the differences. The saver fare is a good deal if you can grab it.

Posted by
920 posts

When and where are you going? I think you can find the saver fares either really far out or close in. For example, if you search LAX to FCO in Rome there is a business saver fare for TONIGHT for 2 pax! There really is no rhyme or reason that I can tell when it comes to saver fares. Some routes have better availability than others and partner airlines price out differently sometimes.

Posted by
1427 posts

When I called United today, I gave them dates of leaving in May for London. The representative was very hard to understand but it didn't sound like Saver was available?? I told my husband we could push the trip to September, but it sounds like it's "iffy" in getting a Saver fare even then. Perhaps no Business class for me!!

Posted by
1401 posts

Why would you call? The UA website is great at finding award tickets. It shows the entire monthly calendar of what is available at a glance. And if you call, you are limited to what the agent is telling you as opposed to seeing what is available and picking what best suits your needs. Caveat - on very complicated multi-leg trips the booking engine does limit the amount of flights it returns.

Do remember that Business class on the partner airlines now costs more miles than on UA.

If you share your originating airports and your destination and starting return point and dates, folks here can check easily. Also, remember if booking a round trip (with or without the open jaw), you are entitled to the free Excursionist Perk from UA which allows you to do something as follows all for the same price (Denver - Rome, Paris - Warsaw, Athens - Denver). This may or may not be of use to you - I always make it a point to use the free perk on my round trips.

Posted by
4738 posts

Sharon,

My experience (which is limited) is that you have to look right when they open up. I’ve also seen availability open up 1 to 2 months out which I suspect is when they have undersold a flight.

I usually get on their website and try different combinations:
Try different departure dates (on website use the ”my dates are flexible option”) to see the calendar for a whole month
Try different cities. For example, London always seems to have more availability than Rome
Log in when you do the search if you have a United credit card. https://millionmilesecrets.com/guides/united-card-expanded-award-availability/

Posted by
2927 posts

I have a lot of United miles because I fly United a lot and I think that it is very difficult to plan on getting Saver fares, especially on popular routes but you can try looking at https://www.united.com/web/en-US/content/mileageplus/awards/travel/saveraward.aspx to see if any are available for your trip. The link allows you to enter your departure airport and a month and see if Saver fares are even available. My experience has been that finding saver award seats for SFO to Paris or SFO to London was almost impossible but was pretty easy when flying from IAD so the starting point, as well as the destination, could be factors.

Posted by
920 posts

I did a search online for May for SFO to London. There are only a handful of dates with Saver levels. April 23 and 30, May 6 and 7 outbound and May 8, 9, 14 and 21 for return. You can look here:
https://www.united.com/ual/en/us/flight-search/book-a-flight/results/awd?f=SFO&t=LON&d=2019-05-07&r=2019-05-18&EditSearchCartId=455AFCE6-3F78-489B-A79C-D023D3223F87&st=bestmatches&at=1&rm=1&act=1&cbm=-1&cbm2=-1&sc=7,7&px=2&taxng=1&idx=1

You can play around with the 30 day view to find dates that might work for you. Some of the flights are mixed class so make sure you see which leg is in economy.

Posted by
1401 posts

I too am seeing the availability that Stephen just posted so there are some seats on a few dates but not tons.

Unlike what someone else posted, there are tons of saver seats - just happens to be in economy. What I have seen is that Lufthansa tends to release a lot of business seats in the two weeks leading up to a flight. So one option would be to grab the economy seats that suits your dates and continue watching and then call to change. Depending on your status, there will likely be a change fee involved to consider.

There seems to be more availability for 2 business saver seats out of SJC

Posted by
920 posts

Hi Sharon - Boy you all have lots of miles. I have always wanted to go business class too, but can never be lucky to find a good deal. We used our United card and charge as much as we can for our miles. We go to Europe once a year. We usually use the economy plus only on the long legs. We fly out of Tulsa OK and never get anywhere quickly. Generally have to have three legs each way on our trip. But for 2019 for our two RS tours. We are flying into London (Heathrow) and out of Paris (CDG). I think we got a pretty good deal. Already booked.... total of 60,000 for each of us (30,000 for each way), plus $90.01 for tax, etc. Then a about $300 each for the extra leg room on the long flight, plus the insurance.

Every year it is a different amount of mileage depending where we want to go. 2016, I think it was 90,000 miles/points and $$ more.

So 2019 flights are pretty good compared to our past years.

This is my experience. Unfortunately, no experience on business class. But booking was easy on their website.

Posted by
1427 posts

Wonderful information you are all sharing! We did go online as suggested and looked at the entire month of May and did see many Saver fares available - all for economy section - nothing for Economy Plus. Business does not show up. I had listed May 7 as departing from San Francisco to London and returning from London to SFO on May 21 so it's a pretty easy route. I'll keep looking at some of the other suggestions you all have made. We are not locked in to May 7 - could go later - will have to see. Thanks so much!!

Posted by
920 posts

Unfortunately, I never get business saver award to show up on my required dates for my RS tours.

We did have to extend one additional day to get our 30,000 coming back to states. We are leaving May 10 and returning June 1

Doing 7 day London tour then hopping over to do the 11 Paris and Heart of France

Posted by
1401 posts

There are no Economy Plus awards. You can book economy and if you have the appropriate status you can get economy plus seats. But this only helps you if you are flying UA - if flying any of the partners (LH, OS, LO, SK,...) , it will book into economy

Edit - just plugged in your dates and there are business class seats available for 2 on May 7 on Air Canada and the return is on May 21 on United via Chicago. Only the Chicago - SFO leg is in economy.

Posted by
3493 posts

What seats you see depends on what level of frequent flyer you are. Having miles means nothing if you are less than Platinum level for many of the popular routes especially if you are looking at saver fares.

Posted by
2526 posts

And the above is a significant motivating factor in my strategy of migrating to cash rewards rather than chasing miles and being disappointed in attempting to use same. Your mileage may vary...but cash is king.

Posted by
3339 posts

Sharon, you also want to travel in May, a popular time of year. If you have flexibility to plan your trip for late autumn or early spring, you might find a greater bucket of these limited seats available to you.

Posted by
1427 posts

Yes, Continental, I do have flexibility to push the trip out so will consider that. We have used miles many times where our Economy Plus tickets have been totally paid for. Never looking for Business class so this is a new experience.

Posted by
691 posts

Mark mentioned that status may make a difference in what you see. I am 100k and I looked for you and the least number of miles for round trip was 270k miles per person for the dates you referenced. It just may be for that route, there are not that many saver fares available.

Posted by
1427 posts

SandyO - that sounds like an awful lot of miles. Does it sound like that to you? Is this the norm?

Posted by
528 posts

I just went on the UA website here are the business class mileage deals that I found based on your time frame:

  1. Depart on AC from SFO to YUL (Montreal), connect on AC to LHR the next morning - 70,000 miles per person
  2. Return on UA from LHR to IAD (Dulles), connect on UA to SFO - 60,000 miles per person. FYI you are flying economy from Dulles to SFO.

This is about as good as it get using your miles for business class on US. +/- 70,000 miles oneway for "business saver" on UA is the norm.

Posted by
691 posts

Hi Sharon,

Last October I flew Business Class on miles for my husband and I. I spent 300k miles per person on that trip. It completely wiped me out. I tried at that time to get saver fare, but could not. I have done saver fares domestically and I was able to get four tickets to Italy on miles in May for total round trip for all four tickets 240k miles in Economy. I looked at getting at least my husband business class, but it was 300k, so he had to fly economy with the rest of us. At least I was able to get everyone in Economy Plus.

Others may have had better luck.

Sandy

Posted by
1427 posts

Thank you, Ed, for the information. I'm so impressed and appreciative of the time you all have put into the information and investigation. Thank you!

Posted by
1549 posts

I’ll try to find the link, and post here, but you can waitlust yourself for business saver fares. But you need to call, not book on line. You say you want to purchase two business fares using miles, but confirm seats in economy (must be saver fares). Waitlist is different than flying standby for upgrade. If you do not sit in business, the difference in miles is refunded to your account.

Before United changed rules, it you had status, one could change flights at no cost (when you found the saver business fares)