One of my friends called me this week and had a great problem. After getting the Chase Sapphire Preferred with a 40,000 Ultimate Reward Point sign up bonus and the limited time Chase Ink Bold with a 60,000 Point bonus, he was ready to redeem his points for a free trip but wasn’t sure how! Today I will cover how to check Star Alliance availability and book using United.com.
First go to United.com and log in using your Mileage Plus account. I use my Awardwallet page to autologin for me which saves some time. In the top left corner there is a flight search section. Here, put in whether you want one way or round trip, where you want to fly to and from, some approximate dates, and make sure you check Award Travel under Search By.
As you can see from the color coded chart, availability is pretty wide open for next summer. On the dates with the green, both economy and first / business are available. On the dates with the yellow, only economy is available. If the date you want isn’t available you can click on the color coded date to see which dates are available. The default sort is by increasing travel time. They list flights first that are all on United planes. In this case there isn’t any low level availability on United (which is fine, because other Star Alliance flights are nicer especially in business class)
If you scroll down, you will see Star Alliance Partner flights availability. We are looking for saver availability so we get the minimum amount of miles.
I like to fly business class for any flight over 5 hours so for the purposes of this example I will choose the blue button next to the 50,000 mile and $19.10 option on a TAP Portugal flight. I go through the same process for the return flight. The return flight has US Air and Swiss Airlines availability. I know that Swiss Air flights are much better than US Air in business class so that is the one I would choose.
Hitting the blue button next to the flight I want takes me to a summary screen.
Trick 1. Especially if you are looking for a specific airline, search for the individual flights that make up the journey, starting with the transatlantic flights which are typically harder to find. For example, if you wanted to to find available flights on TAP Portugal only then a good way to go would be to search for the MIA to LIS flight first (since Lisbon is one of their hubs), then once you find availability, find the LIS to BCN flight. You can combine this with trick 2 as well.
Trick 2. Use the nonstop search at the bottom of the search results to search for only one segment. At the bottom of the first search results page, there is a section where you can specify to only search for non stop flights. Using the above Lisbon example, we can search for just the MIA to LIS leg by entering that and checking the non stop only checkbox.