This Workaround Saved Me 16K United MileagePlus Miles

by joeheg

Back in the old days (pre-2020), you were stuck with the miles paid once you booked an award ticket. There were some exceptions if you had premium status, but for the unwashed masses, you better be happy with what you booked. If you wanted to make a change to a ticket, it would cost a hefty fee to redeposit miles, which is why the common wisdom was to wait for the airline to make a change to your itinerary. If the change was significant enough, you’d be able to cancel the ticket for no fee.

The one airline that allowed you to cancel or rebook flights without a penalty was Southwest. That made it possible to rebook a flight when the price dropped and get a flight credit or mileage refund for the difference.

Needless to say, everything changed because of the Covid pandemic. Most airlines did away with cancellation and rebooking fees and the majority of of them haven’t brought them back. That was helpful over the past two years when we’ve had to make backup flight reservations in case our original flight was canceled.

That doesn’t mean I can’t take advantage of airlines allowing passengers to change or cancel flights with no fees. In fact, I was able to rebook us on the same United flight for 16K fewer MileagePlus points.

Only a few years ago, this wouldn’t have been possible. While it still wasn’t easy, it took less than 5 minutes to save 8,000 miles each for two award tickets.

Less than a month ago, I booked two United one-way tickets from Newark to Orlando for 27,300 miles plus $5.60 each.

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Sure, it stung to pay more than 25K miles for a one-way Economy ticket, but we had to fly from Newark and United had the best selection of flights home.

In the past weeks, flights from Newark to Orlando have gone down in price. In fact, I saw the same flight available for 19,300 miles. Unfortunately, the United website will not allow you to rebook a trip on the same flight. I could have canceled the trip, received a refund of the miles and rebooked, but I wanted to try another option.

The United website allows you to rebook on a different flight. I decided to change to a flight leaving 2 hours after our initial booking, which was around the same price as our flight.

a white rectangular box with black textRebooking the flight saved me 14.8K United miles. But I wasn’t done. I had to change back to our original flights.

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This saved me an additional 1,200 miles. That’s 16K United MileagePlus miles in our account for rebooking the same flight at a lower price.

If you’re close in to your flight it might be more difficult, but not impossible to rebook for a lower price. That’s because United may charge an additional close-in booking fee. There are ways to work around this but I was happy I was able to rebook our flights with little effort.

Now I don’t feel so bad about having to pay over 25K for a one-way award ticket from EWR-MCO.

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