Newark Airport Family Day 2014

Finally, I can tell my nephew, who has been asking me about this since the beginning of summer, the great news.

Newark Airport Family Day is back for 2014!

We took my nephew the past 2 years and he absolutely loved it.

Here are the details:

October 4, 2014
8:00AM
Parking Area P4

Other than a date, time, and place, there isn’t usually much info posted about the event. I wish United and EWR would publicize this a little more but the crowds are bearable so I won’t complain much.

There are signs directing you to P4 Parking once you get into EWR and after you park, there are shuttles that will bring you to the cargo area where everything is staged.

As far as activities, there is plenty to do for both kids and adult aviation geeks. You are able to walk through United planes and FedEx cargo planes. Port Authority of NJ & NY have their maintenance vehicles on display to check out, as well as the fire department & ambulance corps.

There is also a petting zoo, face painting, free food all day (popcorn, soft pretzels, hot dogs, chips, etc.).

In 2012, United had a BusinessFirst configured 767 on display. Last year, they had a 777. Can’t wait to see what they have for us this year.

For more information on the Plane Pull for charity, please visit www.njplanepull.org.

Earning United Miles Just Went Revenue-Based

Well, United has just gone the way of Delta with their announcement today.

Starting March 1, 2015, United will change the way you earn frequent flyer miles. The distance flown will no longer matter; United will soon reward its biggest spenders (which may be great for business travelers who buy expensive tickets).

I won’t go into detail because bigger bloggers than me have already posted their thoughts and they are spot on:

What hasn’t changed yet is the redemption side of the MileagePlus program. For now, they still have a normal award chart with pricing based on zones (and not ticket price).

Hopefully, United won’t make any more changes to the redemption side since they recently had a major devaluation of their program last February.

Here are a few key takeaways from this announcement:

  • Earning miles & points through credit cards becomes even more important
  • Premier status will still be earned based on miles flown
  • You can still earn miles based on distance if you purchase a flight through a partner and credit to United

A lot of people saw this change coming; it was only a matter of time. The hope is that the last remaining major airline (American/US Airways) will hold out on their major program change until 2016 since they have bigger fish to fry with their merger.

With this news, I’m happy I went for American Airlines Executive Platinum status for this year. United is just full of bad news in 2014 for those of us who like to try and game their system.

United Award Accelerator Rates Improved

United Airlines Award Accelerator is a product that United offers on its itineraries, domestic or international, in order to allow you to purchase United miles. You can purchase both redeemable miles (miles for which you redeem an award) and Premier Qualifying Miles (miles for which you qualify for elite status).

These rates are dynamic. They depend on what type of itinerary you have and the time of year, among other things. I have a mix of domestic and international flights booked so I was able to check out some rates. The rates for PQMs are still terribly high, ranging from 11-14 cents per mile, so I disregard them.

The rates for redeemable miles on my domestic itineraries aren’t great at 3.3 cents per mile (CPM). However, on my international itineraries, the rates for redeemable miles have gotten to a low point that I haven’t seen in a while – as low as 2.1 cents per redeemable mile.

ua-award-accel-2

$378  for 18,000 redeemable miles works out to be exactly 2.1 cents per mile.

How to View Your Award Accelerator Offer

View your existing reservations while signed into your United account.

You will then see your award right below your flight details and it will look like this:

ua-award-accel-1

Click “Get Extra Miles” and you will see your offer.

Is it a good deal?

That’s always the question. For the most part, I don’t advocate buying miles at a rate of 2.1 CPM.

There are much easier ways of earning miles at much lower rates – credit card sign-up bonuses, Bluebird, buying & liquidating gift cards.

Even though the 2.1 CPM rate is the lowest the Award Accelerator has been in a while, the only reason I might utilize it is if I was just short of an award that I had to book right away and needed the miles ASAP.

Otherwise, look to more cost-effective ways to earn miles.

New United Award Chart Will Now Go Live February 3rd

As per UA Insider (a United rep) on Flyer Talk, the new United award chart devaluation that I previously posted about will now go into effect on Monday, February 3rd. They were gracious enough to move the date to a weekday for ease of implementation.

Also, if you were planning on booking an award that went down in points (were there any good ones?), you can book them now and United will retroactively refund the proper amount of miles “within 10 business days.”

So those of you who were on the fence and missed out have a 2 day stay of execution!

Use it wisely…

One Week Remaining to Book Your Pre-Deval United Awards

With the United devaluation looming, I hope everyone’s ducks are in a row when it comes to booking awards. I’ve been busy booking awards for friends, family, and clients who definitely want to use their United miles before they become worth a lot less.

As I detailed before, the biggest hit comes to the best part of the United MileagePlus program – premium cabins on partner airlines. Some awards are going up as much as 80%!

Should you burn your United miles?

Yes… but only if you have somewhere you’d actually like to go! If you’re planning a trip in 2014, definitely figure out if you can utilize your United miles for it before February 1. Consider this your last minute push to start planning a trip.

If you primarily redeem your miles for Economy travel, I wouldn’t worry so much. Most coach travel will remain unchanged. The ones that do increase only do so by 5-15K miles; nothing outrageous.

Here is the differences in the current and future award chart in Google doc form.

Am I burning my own United miles?

Not exactly. While I have just booked 3-4 awards out of my own United account (for my parents), they were in Economy. As I said before, most Economy awards are either staying the same or going up a reasonable 5,000 miles round trip.

However, the North America to South Asia coach award is going up 15K miles round trip.

ua-south-asia

Since my parents travel to the Philippines often, this would be a problem. That’s why I booked a few trips for them while the award only cost me 65K round trip. Saving 15K miles per trip is definitely a reason to burn miles!

In Closing

So long to some of the greatest travel experiences I’ve had in First Class thanks to United miles! No need to sulk; it’s just time to hustle harder and find the next big way to game the system!

Seat 2A

Thai Airways First Class – Seat 2A

Royal Orchid Spa

Royal Orchid Spa

Notice those sweet lamps

Swiss First Class. Notice those sweet lamps

Laurent-Perrier champagne

Laurent-Perrier champagne

All the first courses

All the first courses