United Has Devalued Award Flights to Europe


Say it isn’t so! United has devalued award flights to Europe! This has long been one of my “go-to” ways to fly to Europe. I guess I’ll have to earn more points in the future because it will now cost 33% more in points/miles when you redeem United miles for European flights.

In the past, it was easy to find economy round-trip tickets to Europe for 60K miles. They will now cost 80K. Business class on United Airlines to Europe has been harder to find this year, but I can usually find a flight for about 80K each way. This will now cost me about 100k each way.

Here are some examples using Chicago (ORD) to Amsterdam (AMS):


Screenshot of United flight

Note that the saver award flights are now 40K!


In looking at business class flights on the 30-day calendar to see the lowest rates, you can see that these are higher on the usual cheapest dates too. Looking at 30-day calendars is much easier.

Screenshot of United 30 day calendar


Unfortunately, I would not expect Europe to be the only increase, I’m sure we will see increases to other destinations in the future. The good news (trying to turn lemons into lemonade here) is that there are so many ways to earn United miles. United co-branded cards and all the Chase Ultimate Rewards cards that transfer to United mean that there are plenty of miles for me to use on United flights.


Getting Around the Bad News

Devaluations are part of the game and will continue with all hotels and airlines. That is why we don’t get just one card and put all of our spending on it. The rinse-and-repeat approach of getting new signup bonuses continually means that these devaluations are just a minor blip in our plans.

For years, I have booked United flights with Avianca LifeMiles, Air Canada, and Turkish Miles and Smiles and saved on my redemption, yet flown a United airplane. These programs will probably help us continue to save. Let’s check out our flight to Amsterdam above but look at Avianca–yep, it’s still way cheaper to fly to Amsterdam that way. And it will be on a United plane!

Screenshot Avianca flight


Bottom Line

United Airlines has devalued its award redemptions to Europe. It will cost more to fly there on a United flight in the future. However, booking a flight through a partner airline may still work to keep the costs down. If not, let’s open more credit cards!

Canal view in Amsterdam

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