This week our series Award Success features a United Airlines Mileage Plus mileage ticket I was able to redeem for a Thai Airways flight from Frankfurt to Bangkok with a connection to Seoul.
United has modified the Mileage Plus program in a way that the number of award miles required for the entire ticket will be reduced if one of the sectors is operated in a lower class and the discount can be quite substantial.
The way United prices this is actually very fair compared to most programs where always the highest class of any segment on the ticket will be used for the pricing no matter if there are segments in a lower class of service included as well.
I’ve seen some interesting award models from United in the past but this current one was very attractive so I couldn’t help but to ticket it instantly when I saw it.
Initially I was searching for a flight from Frankfurt to Bangkok and there were pretty much no Business Class award options displayed for this search to begin with and the regular pricing for this route is 115,000 miles in Business.
Just for fun and because I also considered stopping in Seoul I searched for Frankfurt-Incheon and suddenly a Thai Airways flight option appeared for FRA-BKK-ICN around my desired dates and at a much lower price of 86,300 miles.
The combination of flights sees the Frankfurt-Bangkok flight operated by TG being in Business Class and the connection 11 hours later from Bangkok to Seoul in Economy Class. The united booking engine has then priced it lower than a full Business Class routing, saving almost 30,000 miles:
Korea has the visa waiver program in place again (+ PCR Result), so check-in isn’t a problem, although with the long layover, I will check in only to Bangkok and “use a dayroom at a hotel” before returning to the airport for the Seoul flight late at night. Unless I miss that flight for whatever reason, which might or might not happen.
Over the years there have been several flight combinations with different programs that very extremely cheap to book and which allowed or let’s say made it possible to throw away the last segment. Tokyo-Guam was one such route but also Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan comes to mind.
This is a very decent use of 86,000 United miles. This ticketing case is slightly different from past experiences as the price isn’t modified based on selecting a destination in another (cheaper) award region nobody intends to go. United simply prices tickets differently when one of the flights has a lower class of service, giving a discount on the total.
It worked out really nicely for this FRA-BKK-ICN and even more interesting that it wouldn’t offer the FRA-BKK on its own but just with the married segments and Korea as the final destination.