It’s a solemn day for MileagePlus members.
United Airlines just implemented one of the most heartbreaking devaluations in the history of the MileagePlus program by increasing Europe saver award rates by 33% without notice, as One Mile at a Time first reported.
For years, United offered saver award rates from the continental U.S. to Europe for 30,000 and 60,000 miles in economy and business class, respectively. Partner business-class awards used to cost 70,000 miles one-way. During the early days of the pandemic, United increased its partner award rates by 10% and added mileage charges for close-in bookings.
But Wednesday’s devaluation is worse than anything I’ve seen in nearly a decade as a United Premier 1K member.
Europe awards on United metal
Until Tuesday, you could book saver economy and business fares to Europe on United-operated flights for 30,000 and 60,000 miles. Occasionally, United released economy-class saver awards for less than 30,000 miles.
United has increased award rates in both cabins to 40,000 and 80,000 miles on most award flights. For now, Premium Plus awards remain unchanged at 45,000 miles one-way — that’s just 5,000 miles more than economy-class awards.
You might still find some economy-class award rates for less than 30,000 miles.
Related: The best ways to travel to Europe using points and miles
Europe partner awards
Thought the worst was over? Not yet.
The most disturbing devaluation is on partner tickets. You’ll now find some saver business-class award rates of more than 100,000 miles.
For reference, Avianca LifeMiles and Air Canada Aeroplan charge just 63,000 and 70,000 miles, respectively, for this same partner business-class award. In other words, you’ll need 62% more miles to book this flight through MileagePlus than LifeMiles.
Related: The best websites to search for Star Alliance award availability
Book Asia awards now
For now, you’ll likely use more United miles to book a flight to Europe than Asia. We don’t expect that to last. After all, flight times from the East Coast to Asia are nearly double flight times from the East Coast to Western Europe.
At the time of writing, United-operated Asia saver awards still cost 35,000 and 70,000 miles in economy and business class.
We recommend booking these awards now. Remember, if you need to change your plans later, United no longer charges mileage redeposit fees.
Related: Why I consider my United miles to be worth 5 cents apiece
United has increased saver award rates to Europe, which means you’ll get less from your hard-earned miles on these routes.
Now is the time to start redeeming MileagePlus miles on routes that haven’t yet been affected by inflated pricing, like Asia saver awards and Premium Plus awards for 45,000 miles to Europe.