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Yesterday we talked about how American Airlines award availability recently has been really (REALLY!) bad!  The example I used was of a simple flight from Cincinnati (or ANY airport within 100 miles) to Portland over a particular weekend – I found ONE flight outbound and ZERO inbound.  Today I thought I’d take a look at United award ticket availability to see if it was any better

Checking United award ticket availability

When trying to book this award ticket for my friend, in addition to checking the American award ticket availability, I checked on United (and everywhere else!).  One of the advantages of using airline miles is that it’s a lot easier to mix airlines.  When paying cash, if you flew American Airlines one way and United airlines on the return trip, your ticket would almost certainly be priced as two different one-way tickets, and generally much more expensive.  But with award miles, there’s no problem at all!

Okay so let’s look at the United award ticket availability for Portland to Cincinnati



That’s even worse!

For the entire month of April, there are THREE(!) dates with an open economy seat.  ANY seat at all!  And in May there’s only ONE!  One of the commenters in the American Airlines post suggested that American’s poor award availability was due to it being spring break for some schools, but I don’t think

A few notes on the poor United award ticket availability

A few notes – I was logged in to my account, though I do no longer have the Chase United card, so I was not able to see if availability was any better in the “secret” fare bucket that United elites and credit card holders have access to.

Secondly, that screenshot is from a few weeks ago, and when I searched again this morning, United award ticket availability was a LITTLE better – but still really bad.  There were a few more dates available, but all of the United award tickets at the saver level were on a red-eye flight or had 2 stops (or both!)


That’s 9 hours of flying (including a red eye) and 4 1/2 hours of layover to get from Portland to Cincinnati.  That’s quite a premium to pay for a Saver flight.  If that were my only option, maybe it would be time to suck it up and book a Standard award!  In this case, as I mentioned yesterday, I was able to find a cash ticket back for $117, which I booked with ~8000 ThankYou points

Contrasting this United award ticket availability with the much-maligned Delta program, where I was able to get EIGHT seats on a cross country flight with no problem.  There were multiple days available and even multiple FLIGHTS on the same day (READ: The worst usage of 100,000 Skymiles EVER?)

What has your experience been trying to find United award ticket availability?

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