Where Can We Go With United Miles When We Won’t Fly On United?

by joeheg

We’ve made a choice to avoid flying on United Airlines. For our normal travels, it doesn’t cause much of a hardship as we don’t live at a United hub airport. We’ve been able to find flights to where we want without using them and they’ve never been the cheapest or best option anyway. The problem is that we still have a stash of United miles that we earned from the United MileagePlus Explorer card sign up bonus. We didn’t renew the card but those miles are still ours and I need to figure out a use for them.

Thank goodness for airline alliances. United Airlines is part of the Star Alliance, which means we should be able to use those miles for flights on Star Alliance member airlines. You may also hear this being called “using miles on partner airlines.” So where can we fly from our home airport, or nearby, using our United miles?

Well, it turns out there are several choices of flights originating right from our home airport of Orlando/MCO.


The option closest home would be to fly on Air Canada to Montreal. One way flights would cost 12,500 miles in economy and 25,000 miles in business class.

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Air Canada flies its Rouge planes to and from Orlando. This is their brand for leisure flights so I wouldn’t splurge for business class. Two round trips for 50,000 miles wouldn’t be a bad deal as round trips can cost over $300.


BriYYZ from Toronto, Canada

There are other places we could fly. Lufthansa flies non-stop to Frankfurt from Orlando.


Flights to Frankfurt will cost 30,000 miles each for Economy and 70,000 each for Business.

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We could also fly to Ireland on United’s non-alliance partner Aer Lingus. We’ve done this flight already to Dublin (and onward to London) and the flight is wonderful. It’s even better when you step off the plane in Ireland.


Economy tickets start at 30,000 miles for a one-way ticket.

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Orlando isn’t such a great airport for international destinations. What if we were willing to drive the 4 hours or so to Miami? (Won’t it be even better when we can take the train to Miami?)


We could fly on Swiss Airlines to Zurich for 30,000 miles in Economy or 70,000 for Business class.

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Let’s not forget the not-so-secret United MileagePlus price of only 8,000 miles for short flights within the same region. I’m still hoping to use this to book our flights on Austrian from Frankfurt to Salzburg.


I could always save the miles for a flight to Oslo, Norway on Scandinavian Airlines. From there, it’s just two short flights to our bucket list resort in Lapland, Finland (not Iceland, despite what Sharon keeps telling people) (Note from Sharon: Shut up, Joe. It’s not my fault I can’t remember that) where we can watch the Northern Lights while staying in an igloo.

Once again, flights would cost 30,000 miles for Economy and 70,000 in Business Class.

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There are other options besides flying to Europe. We’re going to Japan in 2020.

photo of himeji castle behind white cherry blossoms

Photo by Nien Tran Dinh on Pexels.com

We’d be able to fly on ANA (for the third time) and would have our choice of Economy flights for 35,000 miles, Business Class for 80,000 miles or First Class for 110,000 miles.

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We’ve traveled on First Class with ANA before and it’s an experience. However, 220,000 miles for a round trip ticket is a whole bunch of miles and I think they’d be put to better use somewhere else.

It seems like we have plenty of choices of where to fly with our United miles without ever stepping foot on a United plane. That’s just what I came up with with a quick look and sticking to non-stop flights from nearby airports. I’m sure that any one of these trips would be amazing and I’m not going to lose any sleep about finding a way to put those miles to good use.

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This post first appeared on Your Mileage May Vary



Christian July 13, 2019 - 4:29 pm

I’m in a similar situation with Skymiles. While I strenuously try to avoid flying Delta (guaranteed fight with my wife if I even mention flying them), sometimes there’s no practical alternative. If you’re willing to stand on principle to the point where you can avoid United and you have alternatives, good for you.

OR97 July 15, 2019 - 10:00 pm

Are all partner award flights searchable on United.com? Or are there other methods to use?


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