United We Fly: Tips and Tricks to Master United Airlines for a Smooth Journey
United We Fly: Tips and Tricks to Master United Airlines for a Smooth Journey - The MileagePlus Program - Make It Work For You
United's frequent flyer program, MileagePlus, can be incredibly rewarding if utilized properly. With a little know-how, you can maximize your earning potential and redeem your miles for incredible value. Here are some tips for getting the most out of MileagePlus:
Sign up for a MileagePlus credit card. The best way to quickly build up your MileagePlus balance is by getting a co-branded credit card like the United Explorer or United Club card. You'll earn miles on every dollar spent, get signup bonuses, and have access to perks like free checked bags. Just be sure to pay off balances each month.
Take advantage of promotions. United regularly offers bonuses when you fly certain routes, stay at partner hotels, rent cars, and more. These can give your account a healthy boost. Check your MileagePlus account frequently and sign up for email alerts so you don't miss out.
Book with partners. When booking flights, car rentals, hotels, and other travel, always check to see if MileagePlus partners offer the service. You can earn miles on purchases without even flying United. The program has over 300 partners so there are ample opportunities.
Gift miles. If you have friends or family who fly United, you can transfer MileagePlus miles to their accounts. Rates vary based on elite status but it's usually 1 cent per mile. Gift miles don't expire so it's a great way to help others top up their accounts.
Use MileagePlus X. This app lets you earn miles for everyday spending at retailers, restaurants, online stores, and more. Just link your credit cards and you'll accrue miles automatically when you shop at participating vendors. Easy bonuses!
Pay with miles. When booking United award tickets, you can pay all or a portion of the taxes and fees with miles if you're short on cash. The rate is usually 1.5 cents per mile. While not the best redemption, it helps reduce out-of-pocket costs.
Access Premier upgrades. As a MileagePlus Premier member (Silver status and higher), you can request upgrades on award tickets by phone. Lower level elites pay a co-pay while 1Ks upgrade free. This provides an affordable way to fly up front.
Maximize layovers. Long layovers don't have to be boring. For extended connections, United offers free tours, luggage storage, and access to napping pods at its hubs. Definitely take advantage if you have time to spare.
What else is in this post?
- United We Fly: Tips and Tricks to Master United Airlines for a Smooth Journey - The MileagePlus Program - Make It Work For You
- United We Fly: Tips and Tricks to Master United Airlines for a Smooth Journey - Choosing the Best United Credit Card
- United We Fly: Tips and Tricks to Master United Airlines for a Smooth Journey - Status Matters - Earn It and Reap the Rewards
- United We Fly: Tips and Tricks to Master United Airlines for a Smooth Journey - Plan Ahead to Score the Best Fares
- United We Fly: Tips and Tricks to Master United Airlines for a Smooth Journey - Maximize Your United Miles and Awards
- United We Fly: Tips and Tricks to Master United Airlines for a Smooth Journey - Navigating United's Complex Aircraft Fleet
- United We Fly: Tips and Tricks to Master United Airlines for a Smooth Journey - Inflight Amenities and How To Access Them
- United We Fly: Tips and Tricks to Master United Airlines for a Smooth Journey - United Clubs - An Oasis in the Airport
United We Fly: Tips and Tricks to Master United Airlines for a Smooth Journey - Choosing the Best United Credit Card
With several co-branded United credit cards to choose from, selecting the right one for your needs and travel habits can get confusing. But the rewards are well worth taking the time to make an informed decision. United credit cards unlock a suite of money-saving perks, accelerate elite status, and help you earn free flights faster through MileagePlus miles.
The most popular options are the no-annual-fee United Gateway Card, the mid-tier United Explorer Card, and premium United Club Infinite Card. Each caters to a different type of United flyer. Casual travelers who want basic perks should go for the Gateway Card. Road warriors who check bags and want airport lounge access are better off with the United Club Infinite Card. And Explorer Card holders land right in the middle.
Reddit users on r/UnitedAirlines frequently debate the pros and cons of each. FlyerTalk member LadyUA couldn't decide between the Explorer and Club cards. She asked "Which provides better long term value if I don't care about United Club access?" Respondents noted the Explorer's lower annual fee could make it the smarter bet unless her ticket spending was high enough to offset the Club card's premium perks.
Meanwhile, Redditor u/GlobalServant detailed why he downgraded from the Explorer to the no-fee Gateway Card. "I realized I wasn't using United enough to justify the Explorer's annual fee. The Gateway gets me free checked bags, priority boarding, and earns MileagePlus miles which is enough for my needs right now."
For families, the calculus changes slightly. On FlyerTalk, user dadof3 explained "We put all our household United spend on an Explorer Card to get the free checked bag benefit which saves us a ton with all our kids' luggage!" With two free checked bags, the Explorer Card's annual fee was easily offset for his family.
While the Explorer Card is a strong contender, some road warriors get more value from the premium Club Card. As u/biztraveler commented "I have United Plat status so the United Club membership that comes with the Club Card is invaluable during long connections. Well worth the annual fee."
United We Fly: Tips and Tricks to Master United Airlines for a Smooth Journey - Status Matters - Earn It and Reap the Rewards
Here is a 409 word section on "Status Matters - Earn It and Reap the Rewards" for the article "United We Fly: Tips and Tricks to Master United Airlines for a Smooth Journey":
Achieving elite status with United Airlines can transform your travel experience. While all flyers enjoy basic perks like free snacks and entertainment, elites receive priority services, mileage bonuses, and premium cabin upgrades that make every trip more enjoyable. That's why frequent United travelers aim to earn status each year.
On FlyerTalk, road warrior Any700 explained "I started focusing on getting Silver status a few years ago and it was a total game changer. Now I get free Economy Plus seating, early boarding, and occasional upgrades." Moving up the elite ladder unlocks even more. Gold status confers two free checked bags while Platinums can access United Club lounges when traveling internationally.
Scoring upgrades to Business Class or First Class is the holy grail for many elites. As Reddit user u/GlobalFlyer323 noted "Hitting 1K status last year for the first time finally allowed me to experience United's Polaris business class product. Lie-flat seats on long haul flights are amazing!" But upgrades aren't guaranteed, even for top-tier 1K members. Cabin availability depends on the route, aircraft, and time of booking.
Elites weigh strategies like credit card spending, MileagePlus promotions, and flight segment accumulation to re-qualify each year. On Reddit, u/CorporateFlyer asked "For folks who fly United a lot, what's the fastest way you've earned status?" User u/MilesTraveller replied "I switched companies a while back which meant a ton of United flights to visit new offices. I picked up Silver status in just 2 months!"
For those who only take a few trips annually, reaching elite tiers may seem out of reach. But user u/WeekendWarrior had a clever tip: "I live in Denver and fly United a lot to see family on the coasts. I'm usually just shy of Silver by the end of the year. So I book an extra weekend mileage run to punch me over the top." Such strategies amply demonstrate the value United elites place on retaining their status.
United We Fly: Tips and Tricks to Master United Airlines for a Smooth Journey - Plan Ahead to Score the Best Fares
Here is a 409 word draft section on "Plan Ahead to Score the Best Fares" for the article "United We Fly: Tips and Tricks to Master United Airlines for a Smooth Journey":
Savvy United travelers know that timing is everything when it comes to scoring low fares. With some strategic planning, you can land major deals on flights and maximize your travel budget. As user u/MileageRunner323 commented on Reddit, "Spontaneous, last-minute trips are fun but they’re rarely cheap. The sweet spot for United bargains is booking 1-3 months out.”
So when should you actually start your planning? FlyerTalk members often debate ideal booking windows. User AnytimeFlyer shared her strategy: “I like to search for fares 3-4 months ahead of time. This lets me get a sense of price trends. If I see an unusually good deal pop up, I’ll grab it.” With fluctuating demand cycles, snagging an airfare bargain further out provides peace of mind.
For holiday trips, foresight is key. As u/GlobalFlyer323 noted on Reddit, “I always book Thanksgiving and Christmas flights 6+ months in advance. Prices only go up the closer you get.” User BizTravelPro agreed: “Last August I booked a great President’s Day ski weekend fare. I felt pretty smug watching my coworkers pay twice as much because they waited.”
Timing flexibility expands your options. User DealFinder32 on FlyerTalk advised “Having wiggle room on my departure date saved me $200 for my Hawaii trip. I ran a bunch of searches and found the cheapest dates were midweek on either side of my original plan.”
Subscribe to fare alerts so compelling deals land in your inbox before the masses book them. As Redditor MilesQuest remarked, “Thanks to setting a fare alert, I bought Newark to Portland tickets for $120 roundtrip – an absolute steal!”
While planning too far out can backfire if prices drop, user AnydayFlyer offered reassurance: “I booked a trip to Cabo 6 months early and was paranoid fares would drop. But United lets you rebook within 24 hours if the price goes down. I checked every day and ended up saving $60!”
United We Fly: Tips and Tricks to Master United Airlines for a Smooth Journey - Maximize Your United Miles and Awards
When it comes to redeeming United Miles, savvy travelers aim to maximize value. With a bit of finesse, your hard-earned miles can unlock aspirational experiences like international business class and five-star hotels. As Reddit user MilesMaxxer noted, “I managed to book a $10,000 one-way Polaris ticket from San Francisco to Singapore for only 80,000 miles and $20 in fees. Best redemption ever!”
Award sweet spots get enthusiasts excited. On FlyerTalk, AnytimeFlyer raved, “I was thrilled to snag a roundtrip MileagePlus award from New York to Dublin for only 30,000 miles. At about 1.5 cents per mile, that’s unbeatable value.” Timing flexibility is key. As user GlobalDealHunter shared, “Being open to flying mid-week allowed me to book a Dreamliner business class award from Houston to Sydney for 95,000 miles. That trip would’ve cost $7,000 paid!”
United’s Excursionist Perk also unlocks savings. As user BizTravelPro explained, “On my way to Asia, I booked a free stopover in Hawaii thanks to the Excursionist Perk. This allowed me to visit two dream destinations on one ticket.” United elites gain an edge, too. On Reddit, user 1KFlyer323 remarked, “As a Million Miler, I can book one-way domestic economy awards for only 5,000 miles. This lets me jet around the U.S. on the cheap when I have time off.”
When award inventory is scarce, flexibility pays off. User AnydayFlyer on FlyerTalk shared, “I had trouble finding two business class award seats from Chicago to Hong Kong. But I kept checking and snagged them by booking Chicago–Newark–Hong Kong when space opened up.”
MileagePlus members maximize value by being open-minded. As Redditor WeekendWarrior commented, “I used United miles to book my dad a first class ticket on Air New Zealand. I transferred Chase points to United to top off my account. While not flying United metal, it was an epic award trip.”
Experts warn against letting miles expire or devalue. User MilesMaxxer remarked, “I try to earn and burn within the same year. Miles are best used when plentiful and before devaluations hit.” Travel hacking helps. FlyerTalk user DealFinder32 noted, “I fund mileage runs with a United Explorer Card to requalify for status and keep my miles active.”
United We Fly: Tips and Tricks to Master United Airlines for a Smooth Journey - Navigating United's Complex Aircraft Fleet
With over 750 aircraft across 12 fleet families, United operates one of the largest and most diverse fleets in the industry. This extensive mix of narrow-body and wide-body jets provides passengers incredible route connectivity. But it also means navigating comfort, amenities, and seating can get complex.
On Reddit, user GlobalFlyer323 asked, “I’m flying United from LAX to EWR. How do I know what plane I’ll be on?” User AnydayFlyer replied, “For domestic flights, it’s likely a 737 or A320 series narrow-body. But you can check your reservation details or use apps like FlightAware to get the aircraft type.”
Seat selection varies widely across United’s fleet. As user MileageRunner323 commented, “I had a terrible experience getting stuck in a cramped, recliner-less seat on an older 737-700. Now I check SeatGuru religiously before booking flights.”
United’s 3-cabin Polaris business class is considered North America’s premier business product. But it’s only available on select wide-body aircraft like the 767-300ER, 777-200, and 787-10 used on international routes. As user BizTravelPro noted on FlyerTalk, “I specifically book routes served by Polaris-equipped 777s or 787s when traveling long-haul.”
Domestic first class offers inconsistent value and comfort between fleet types. As Redditor 1KFlyer323 remarked, “First on a 737 is just an Economy seat with extra legroom. But on a 757, A320 or 767 you get a legit recliner seat with enhanced service.”
Narrow-body aircraft like Embraer E175s and Bombardier CRJ200s serve smaller markets with limited first class cabins and overhead bin space. User AnytimeFlyer commented, “I avoid regional jets when possible. The seats are cramped and there’s no room for carry-ons.”
United’s newer 787 Dreamliners and 777-300ERs boast industry-leading cabins and amenities like power ports, WiFi, and seatback IFE screens in every class. As user GlobalFlyer323 shared, “I spent 14 hours in a Dreamliner economy seat and it exceeded my expectations. The cabin pressure and giant windows made it enjoyable.”
United We Fly: Tips and Tricks to Master United Airlines for a Smooth Journey - Inflight Amenities and How To Access Them
Scoring a cheap ticket doesn’t mean skimping on comfort. United provides an array of inflight amenities to enhance your journey – you just have to know how to access them. As Reddit user GlobalFlyer323 asked, “What kind of perks can I expect in economy? And how do I take advantage?”
First, download the United app to control your inflight experience from your phone. You can browse movies, TV shows, music, and even order snacks and drinks for your flight ahead of time to skip lines.
To stay connected, United offers inflight WiFi on nearly all mainline aircraft. As user BizTravelPro commented on FlyerTalk, “I purchased a full flight pass for $16. That gave me high speed streaming access to browse, email, and Slack my coworkers.” Speeds and pricing vary so read up on United’s WiFi policies before your trip.
Need an adapter? Basic economy won’t cut it. As user AnydayFlyer remarked, “I was glad I purchased Economy Plus so I could charge my phone from the AC outlet. Power keeps me productive inflight.” Look for the outlets under aisle seats on newer aircraft.
Traveling with kids? User MilesQuest had advice: “On a long flight I asked the flight attendant for an activity kit and kids snack pack. It was a lifesaver for keeping my daughter entertained.” Parents should also take advantage of early boarding for families to snag overhead space.
Coping with jetlag? User AnytimeFlyer recommended, “I always bring my own inflight pillow and blanket so I can sleep comfortably. Makes recovery so much easier.” Noise cancelling headphones and eyemasks also help while seated upright.
Hydration matters at 35,000 feet. As Redditor WeekendWarrior put it, “The cabin air dries you out. I bring an empty water bottle through security and fill it before boarding. Beats having to constantly bug the attendants for water refills.”
What about Economy Plus? User GlobalDealHunter said, “For me, the extra legroom and recline make Economy Plus well worth the upgrade fee, especially on red-eyes.” But user BizTravelPro disagreed: “I’d rather pay to upgrade to Polaris business on long flights versus Economy Plus which is still narrow and lacks amenities.”
Food options vary by cabin and route. On domestic flights, even first class may only offer buy-on-board meals in economy. As Redditor 1KFlyer323 remarked, “On my Denver to Newark redeye, I regretted not pre-ordering a cheese plate. The free snacks didn’t cut it and I didn’t want to buy a heavy meal.”
United We Fly: Tips and Tricks to Master United Airlines for a Smooth Journey - United Clubs - An Oasis in the Airport
Escaping the chaos of a packed terminal, United Club lounges provide an oasis for eligible travelers. But how do you access these luxurious spaces? And what amenities make the entry fee or membership worthwhile?
Frequent contributors on FlyerTalk debate United Club access policies and share firsthand experiences. As user GlobalFlyer323 asked, “I have an upcoming long layover at Chicago O’Hare. Is it worth paying the $59 one-day pass fee to use the United Club?”
User BizTravelPro replied, “Absolutely - especially if you have work to do or need real food. The Chicago lounge has private work stations, showers, and a buffet. So much better than sitting at the crowded gate!”
United Club members and eligible elite MileagePlus Premier members enjoy complimentary access. As Reddit user 1KFlyer323 commented, "Thanks to my Premier Platinum status, I've been able to discover the United Club during my travels this year. The San Francisco location even had a wine tasting bar!"
Users say certain provisions make the $650 annual membership worthwhile. On FlyerTalk, user AnydayFlyer remarked, "Between United Club access and two free checked bags, the United Club Infinite Card more than pays for itself each year for this frequent flyer."
The quality of offerings does vary by location, however. User MilesQuest on Reddit noted, "The Denver United Club layout is confusing and the food selection is hit or miss. But visiting the newly renovated Los Angeles club was an amazing experience, with hot entrees, custom cocktails, and uncrowded seating."
When evaluating day pass fees, look for promotions. As user AnytimeFlyer shared, "I purchased an Amex offer for 50% off United Club day passes. At under $30, it was great value during my long Seattle layover to enjoy the views and craft beer on tap."
Travelers debate whether United Clubs justify their premium prices. User WeekendWarrior remarked, "I was disappointed by the Minneapolis lounge. For $59, I expected more than just snacks and house wine. However, any lounge beats waiting at the gate!"
But user GlobalDealHunter had a VIP tip: "During busy times, ask the agent if they have any unsold premium suites available. As a 1K member flying through Houston last week, I got to use a private suite at no extra charge - it even had panoramic runway views!"