Is United allowing discounted 1-ways and stopovers on award flights?

I was poking around the United website and messing with the award search cuz duh that’s an awesome way to spend a Saturday night.

I noticed something weird. I’m not sure if it’s a glitch or pricing error or a legit award booking or what.

But I wanted to share it with you guys in case someone has a better answer.

Here’s what I found.

United is discounting First Class round-trip award flights with a one-way added

Here’s what I searched:

  • LAX-NYC-LAX (round trip)
  • LAX-IAH (after a stopover)

Pricing at 65,000 miles.

Now, United isn’t supposed to allow free one-ways or stopovers on domestic itineraries any more according to Milevalue (although you can still get a free one-way on international itineraries and mainland US to Hawaii award flights).

So following that logic, 50K is the standard price for a round-trip First Class award.

And a one-way would be 25K.

But instead of pricing as 2 tickets, it’s letting me book all 3 flights for 65,000 miles. A 10K discount.

Round-trip First Class award with a discounted one-way LAX-NYC-LAX-IAH

Round-trip First Class award with a discounted one-way LAX-NYC-LAX-IAH

It gets weirder when I mix cabins. A free one-way?

When I book the 1st flight in economy and the next 2 in First Class, the price it spits out is 50,000 miles.

That means I’m paying for 2 legs at the price of 25K for a First Class one-way.

But what about the leg in economy? It’s free.

A free one-way after a stopover on a domestic award booking?

A free one-way after a stopover on a domestic award booking with mixed cabins?

Also weird was that I was able to replicate the pricing with partner awards on European award flights.

When I looked into it, I can book something like:

  • AMS-CDG in economy
  • CDG-AMS in business
  • AMS-somewhere else in business after a stopover

It prices at 45,000 miles. 

Round-trip awards in business are supposed to be 60,000 miles.

Partner award flights are pricing weird, too

Partner award flights are pricing weird, too. Instead of 60K round-trip it’s 45K

So not only do I get a free one-way, but I get a 15K mileage discount, too.

What else is glitching?

This is as far as I’ve gotten. But I’m wondering if you can add the free economy one-way after a round-trip First Class award flight (I couldn’t find any examples… yet.)

FWIW, I can replicate the discount from the all-First Class example with all-economy flights, too:

This "should" price as 37,500 miles, but

This “should” price as 37,500 miles

But it’s more like a 2,500-mile discount.

On the beta website, it prices the 1st leg at 17.5K miles. And then the next 2 at 8.8K miles each.

a screenshot of a flight schedule

Same results on the beta site

Bottom line

I haven’t actually booked any awards, so it could all error out before the final pricing screen.

I tried to find info about this on the ye olde interwebs but couldn’t find anything, so apologies if this is old news.

It seems United is pricing 1-ways and stopovers as either free or with a discount. I can force this with partner metal, mixed cabins, and all-domestic itineraries.

Is this a known error… or a new glitch?

Anyone know anything about this? 

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About Harlan

Just a dude living in Memphis, traveling, and working toward financial independence.

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    • Nice to know!

      It does price the same on the beta site.

      For the economy example, it prices the 1st leg at 17.5K, and the next 2 at 8.8K each. And then prices out to 35K total.

  1. [tongue somewhat in cheek] Hopefully, your blog will get wide dissemination and this gets widely reported (again, if necessary), so it comes to the attention of those mileage planners at United to stop this nasty uneconomic practice!

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