Back in August, I posted about some negative changes that United was making to stopovers on award flights, effective October 6th of this year. That date has come and gone, and in short, stopovers are no longer allowed unless they occur in the same region as your destination. This has certainly been bad news, but otherwise things have mostly been business as usual, or so we thought.
Apparently, devaluing stopovers wasn’t enough, and United has now decided that if you wish to actually pay the prices they publish on their award chart, you can only select from the flight options they display for you — no longer are you able to piece together your own itinerary using multi-city search without paying extra. This occurs because each segment in a multi-city search will now price as an individual award, which can increase the price of your ticket dramatically.
Why does this matter? Well, United’s search engine isn’t all that fantastic, and it will often leave out many valid routings, even if they still have seats available. I am also unsure how this will work for awards with their partners Shenzen and Singapore Airlines, since their flights don’t show up in United’s search results at all. All in all, this is terrible news, and unannounced changes always leave a bitter taste in my mouth.
Typically, this next part would be deserving of its own post, but given the devaluation above, I don’t really care now… United is now offering a 25% bonus when you transfer hotel points to United MileagePlus, with a limit of 20,000 bonus miles. The promotion ends on November 30, 2016, and here is the link you need to go to if you wish to register and to take advantage. The most interesting way to do this (if you have either 270,000 Marriott Rewards points or 90,000 SPG Starpoints) is to redeem for a Hotel + Air package with Marriott. Via the Hotel + Air package, your 270,000 Marriott Rewards points would become 120,000 miles * 10% (bonus for Marriott -> United transfers) + 20,000 miles (limit of this promotion) = 152,000 MileagePlus miles. On the other hand, you could also redeem your Marriott Rewards points for 120,000 Southwest Rapid Rewards points and the Companion Pass, as detailed here. Personally, I’d go with Southwest.