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Keys to finding award availability - United Airlines Mileage Plus

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Date & Time: United's Award Travel: Shop for flights requires you to enter a time for your departing and returning flights.

Sometimes, the reservation system will find flights without strict regard to the time, but often, flights that are available will not display unless you get the time just right! You may need to try a number of different departure and/or returning times in order to see flights that are available.

Type of Award: Standard awards should be available if the flights you want are available for full-fare purchase. If you're not finding any Saver award availability, check for Standard availability. If any flight options show, note the departure times and try the Saver award using those times. If no flight availability is shown for the Standard award, try the Standard with different times - something here should work unless the flights are really sold out for full-fare purchase in the service class you selected (or the city pairs/service class aren't served by United). You can check the regular Full flight search - if United flights show there, note the times and use them back on the online Award reservations.

Travelers: If you want more than 1 award ticket, but aren't coming up with anything, try for 1.

Try often: Saver (and to a lesser extent Standard) award availability is constantly changing. What's not available now may become available at anytime. Awards that are available now can become unavailable even before you complete a booking.

Travel date: If you're flexible on date & time - check as many combinations as you can. Be aware that saver awards may suddenly become available as you get closer and closer to the date you want. (If the airline sees that a flight will have many empty seats, the flight may become available for saver awards.)

More Options: If other nearby airports are a possibility at either end, add them to your searches. If Saver awards just aren't available, consider the Standard award if you've got the miles: compare the miles used to cost of purchasing your ticket. Or, check Business or First Class Saver availability (usually about the same number of miles required for a standard economy award). If the itinerary involves connecting flights, you could investigate an award for part of the trip. You can also check business or first class availability if you've got the miles and an itinerary that makes them desirable.

Consider ticketing unwanted dates: In most cases, you'll have up to 1 year to complete travel on an award you ticket. If you don't change the departure or destination airport, you can change the dates/times of ticketed award travel without an additional charge - to the extent seats are available for the flights you want to change to. You may also be able to fly standby on a flight other than what you've ticketed.

The biggest problem is time. It can take a really long time - and you may get really frustrated - trying to book award travel. A major factor is the unpredictable nature of United's flight search.* So, I think the real key is to use a tool that searches for you...!

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