Award tickets to/from Hong Kong pricing at 4 United MileagePlus miles one-way

Via Gary, all United award tickets from Hong Kong (or roundtrips to Hong Kong) are pricing at four miles each way (one-ways, roundtrips, saver awards, standard awards etc.).

While the first page does indeed list the “normal” price, the following pages (including the e-receipts) reflect the 4-8 mile prices.

On one hand I can’t imagine the tickets will be honored, though at the same time here’s what the new DOT regulations say on a matter like this:

Section 399.88(a) states that it is an unfair and deceptive practice for any seller of scheduled air transportation within, to, or from the United States, or of a tour or tour component that includes scheduled air transportation within, to, or from the United States, to increase the price of that air transportation to a consumer after the air transportation has been purchased by the consumer, except in the case of a government-imposed tax or fee and only if the passenger is advised of a possible increase before purchasing a ticket. A purchase occurs when the full amount agreed upon has been paid by the consumer. Therefore, if a consumer purchases a fare and that consumer receives confirmation (such as a confirmation email and/or the purchase appears on their credit card statement or online account summary) of their purchase, then the seller of air transportation cannot increase the price of that air transportation to that consumer, even when the fare is a “mistake.”

A contract of carriage provision that reserves the right to cancel such ticketed purchases or reserves the right to raise the fare cannot legalize the practice described above. The Enforcement Office would consider any contract of carriage provision that attempts to relieve a carrier of the prohibition against post-purchase price increase to be an unfair and deceptive practice in violation of 49 U.S.C. § 41712.

So how can they not honor it?

Comments

  1. Crazy! Just checked and two award tix for 8 miles. Wish I could get in on this to see what happens.

  2. Seems to me they’ll have to offer refunds and not just within 24 hours of ticketing, even if they pull the proper amount of miles (as they seem to be doing at least for some people who have the right amount of miles). Take a screen shot.

    Some folks have reported getting ticketed at the lower price, though I haven’t independently verified that they actually got tickets issued and only 4 miles pulled apiece.

    But I don’t think the DOT rules are that they have to honor, rather that they have to cover any expenses incurred by consumers in reliance on the idea that they would honor — in order words if you book non-refundable hotel based on their issuing tickets at 4 miles, if they want to cancel they’d have to cover whatever else you’re out of pocket. But I haven’t paid too close attention to these rules or how they’re applied in practice.

  3. Booked 2 F tixs and received eticket #’s
    Total Price 8 Miles and $144.80
    HKG-NRT
    NRT-DFW
    DFW-ORD
    ORD-SIN

  4. @ adam — Just about any date. Are you looking at either a roundtrip to Hong Kong OR a trip originating in Hong Kong?

  5. The way I read the rules they can still cancel the ticket. It seems to not allow the airline to go back into your account and just take out the difference from the miles you should have been charged vs the miles that you were actually charged.

  6. My united account is 120k miles less instead of 4 miles, but my e-mail confirmation shows 4 miles. Anyone else notice this?

  7. Now looks gone to me.

    Not sure whether the DOT rules apply to award travel (whether that counts as ‘sold’ and whether an increased mileage requirement counts as raising price) but will be interesting to find out.

  8. Not to be a buzz kill, but the way I read the rules they can still cancel a ticket. What they can’t do is just pull the mileage difference from your account

  9. It shows 4 miles in the itinerary, but my account was deducted 60k miles. the activities are not available at the moment though.

  10. I booked it though it hasnt confirmed I only have 7k miles in my account so we’ll see what it does.

  11. The correct miles are showing right above the incorrect miles.

    I think it would be treated like an incorrect credit card charge being trued up. If you are notified each step of the way it’s 160k, how can one successfully argue they thought it should be 4k.

  12. I booked a couple of trips. Both gave me confirmations followed by ticket #’s in about 5 min. However, no miles deducted from my account.

    Hope these stick!

  13. @ beachfan — The only page on which it shows the higher cost is the first page. All the subsequent pages show the lower cost based on what I’ve seen.

  14. I just tried it and it wouldn’t process my credit card. I don’t have enough miles to cover a normal award so maybe that’s why.

  15. i.e. that is what they pulled from my account. If I click on the itin on UA.com it still shows it priced at four miles. Don’t think it is going to be honored but I am not going to cancel quite yet.

  16. It works for standard awards on UA metal too… Just booked 3, already received etickets for two of them. I didn’t have enough (640k miles) in my account to cover the “non-sale” price, so I assume that’s why I haven’t seen any miles yet deducted from my account yet.

  17. I think the fact that the correct, higher amount shows above the incorrect “total”, and the correct amounts are shown where one selects the flights in the previous step, is going to make this easy for UA to get out of.

    OTOH, businesses do often set up sales/specials where the discount isn’t shown until the final step, in the grand total. So it wouldn’t be unprecedented by any means.

    I went in for 3 J tickets in December (only 900 miles in my account right now!). No real expectation that it will stick, but what the hell.

  18. FInally, just to add, even on the e-receipt it shows 4 miles as the cost. Again though, 140K were pulled from my account (yesterday’s cost).

  19. if you click view the itinerary after you completed the booking, it’ll show 1 award 4 miles, total 4 miles

  20. Booked a EWR>HKG ticket, got a confirmation number, no miles deducted, but my e-ticket shows the total price as 4 miles.

    I paid the remainder of my ticket with my Chase PresidentialPlus card which has a trip protection service. I have read into the TOS of the “Chase Enhancement Services” and trip protection covers Money & Miles trips, and Award Tickets. Therefore if they do raise the fair, I am theoretically covered up to 5k per segment. A lot of “ifs” on this ticket, but I think with enough follow through it will stand.

  21. I tried it again with a different credit card and it worked. Of course, the receipt says it’s processing so I don’t think it will actually be ticketed.

  22. it seems if you only have a few thousand miles in the account, they are not letting you enter passenger info. the page has been loading forever

  23. @ Kyle — Yep, it means it worked, but there’s no guarantee they’ll honor it. We can hope, though!

  24. @Ben @Lucky I tried safari and chrome, neither is working, but when I logged in with my other account that has over 200k miles, it goes right through. I did make one booking using that account, however 60k were deducted even when the receipt and itinerary both say 4 miles total.

  25. They deducted 70k amount from my account. What’s the award ticket cancellation policy if they don’t honor the published amount? Can someone call Jeff?

  26. @ Mike — Given that the e-ticket receipt should state the lower amount, at the very least I think it goes without saying that you can get a free refund after all of this unfolds.

  27. Tried firefox, finally went through. Awesome! BTW, I can cancel my previous booking within 24 hrs without paying redeposit fee, right?

  28. I booked a few awards, with the final price showing taxes +4 miles, but they have withdrew over 700k, what are people doing in this case? refunding?

  29. @ OG — I’d wait 24 hours for the dust to settle. You have the confirmation that indicates the price, so hold off.

  30. Lucky –

    If I just book SFO-HKG but then later decide to change dates and/or change my start say from IAD-SFO-HKG, will they reprice the reward?

    Meaning should I try to make the tickets I’m booking now as accurate to my real plans as possible or just get a few ones on the books and then later worry about specific dates and routings?

    I’m worried by later changing or updating my reservation, the award will be ‘re-priced’ and I’ll be charged a ton of miles.

  31. Well I also jumped on this and made two reservations on global first for labor day and thanksgiving at 8 miles and 80 dollars in fees.

  32. Looks like it’s dead 🙁 SFO-HKG inventory is pulled on multiple days on the UA metal, *A metal is pricing properly now.

  33. holy crap this is epic… im gonna be based in HK in two weeks time… but i have 0 miles in my united account! what can i do?!?!??!!

  34. Darn, boarding a flight to HKG in 2 hours, I was hoping to get a quick last minute upgrade. 😛

  35. question- im willing to take a gamble… however

    1. United says in order to buy 2000 miles, it takes 48 hours to post the miles- does anyone have experience with how long it takes to post the miles?

    2. I’ve got no issues with going the SPG route to buy 1000 miles (empty on SPG too) and do a transfer to United…. is this transfer instant?

    thanks!!! nervously pacing about ready to book about 30 flights

  36. @ Ed — Neither is instant. The only instant transfer is Ultimate Rewards. Truthfully the change of them honoring is very small, so I’m not sure I’d bother unless you’re doing it purely for entertainment.

  37. Have two bookings on hold but cannot ticket them because I don’t have any mile sitting in my account. I transferred miles from US Air via points.com but it can take a few days to process… Then tried to purchase 2000 miles but they don’t allow me to for security reasons.

  38. I am seeing the 8 for 2 ticket up until trying to apply payment then saying it is not working and to call UAL cust service which of course i’m not doing. Looking like it is dead or getting close to it.

  39. I’m really interested to see what will happen… I have a strange feeling that United wont pick up on this… but that’s just gut instinct… i’ve got no miles… so cant do anything…

  40. @Lucky thoughts on booking a ticket departing tomorrow morning? I wonder how they would handle it if my trip has already commended, not a whole lot they can do unless they catch it before I step on that plane right? I suppose they could cancel the return legs and it could turn into a nightmare…

  41. @ Ed — I’d say it’s unlikely they won’t pick up on it given that they’re deducting the full number of miles from accounts that have enough miles, and not deducting any miles for those without enough miles.

  42. @ HoKo — We’d love for you to be our guinea pig! Really am quite curious what would happen if you ticketed and then checked in right away. They’d have a pretty hard time canceling that, in my opinion, but it would be interesting to see!

  43. @Lucky, I’m seriously considering it. You got travel plans this week? How about we do dinner in SoHo tomorrow night (I’m half joking but half serious haha) Who’s joining us?!

  44. @David: How are you routing for LH F?

    The click-through to 8 miles is hard to predict it seems :/

  45. Just booked 1 HKG-BKK on TG A380 F for 4 miles plus pocket change. Let’s hope it sticks! *fingers crossed*

  46. Booked and ticketed for flights this afternoon for YVR-FRA-HKG in LH F. I can’t see LH denying me.

  47. just booked first class for my parents dec 30-jan 13 ORD to HKG for 8 miles and $71.00. i guess United’s going to have to refund or honor, correct?

    thanks lucky!!

  48. Is it dead? I’m getting this message on multiple tries:

    united.com could not find any available flights for award travel meeting your requirements.

  49. Just got two round trip tickets IAD-HKG, routing through SFO there and NRT back right after Christmas. Only 8 miles and about $114. Fingers crossed.

    @Lucky – when/if these are cancelled, think it is worth it to call and ask for miles for the “inconvenience?”

  50. ticketed a few of these, routing through YVR on air canada, went to book more and cant get anything to show up

  51. Why am I getting this message every time I search: “united.com could not find any available flights for award travel meeting your requirements. You may modify your search criteria or contact United Reservations in United States at 1-800-300-1547.”

  52. Is anyone getting a “Ticket Issuance Delay” e-mail? I’m hoping it’s just because I screwed up and double-booked…

  53. I just booked 2 flights SFO-HKG in December. I tried to book another flight for someone, but the deal seems to be dead. No award availability is appearing for HKG this year.

  54. Yup, me-thinks Hong Kong has finally gotten on United’s award-booking radar. let the real fun begin!…

  55. So, if the deal is dead, is it inappropriate to start a discussion thread on FT or MP? We really need a consolidated place for the discussion and the ‘7 steps of mistake fares’!

  56. Booked 2 sets of two tickets each. 8 miles for each set… Had 12,000 miles in the account before the tickets were booked.

  57. Woohoo! Managed to book a trip before it’s dead. I should have booked earlier when it showed all BusinessFirst / First products. Now I only have NRT-SFO UA838 in First.

  58. Definitely dead… tried Routing SFO-BKK… all the stops are via Tokyo… seems as if Hong Kong as a city has been pulled off the reservations website

  59. I have another reservation with BA on YVR-HKG booked yesterday. Should I call to cancel? it’s free within 24hrs, right?

  60. Crazy timing since so many had emptied their accounts or at least mostly drained them in last week’s Singapore Swing and only had a few miles left at the moment….. Let the waiting begin (*lucky* ticket #’s in hand)!

  61. Would suck for JN if they allowed JN to fly the first leg and then cancelled the ticket while in the air… 😐

  62. 1) Why – when every other day I check yours and Gary’s blogs first thing in the morning – did I start today off with cereal and Facebook?! I’m sooo mad I didn’t get on this 🙁

    2) Why couldn’t this have come last week IN CONJUNCTION WITH the SQ Christmas-in-July? Haha – can you imagine? 8 miles for four long-haul 777-300 SQ F flights?? Haha

  63. my segments between HKG and NRT were showing in first, then automatically booked into coach..

  64. Anyone willing to help me with 1000 Ultimate Rewards Points?? I could send you a paypal transfer. I have two confirmed itineraries but can’t ticket it now. Waiting for the transfer from US Airways… 🙁

  65. *edit
    3) Why do I live on the west coast?! Had I been up on the East coast, I would have had plenty of time for this!

  66. @ Zach — You sure there wasn’t a “mixed cabin” warning when you booked? No Star Alliance airline even operates a first class product between Tokyo and Hong Kong.

  67. There’s a report on Gary’s blog that other cities (CAN/SZX) are working. I can’t replicate that. Anybody have any luck?

  68. Booked and ticketed for my family of 5 around noon.

    Just tried for my brother-in-law and his family and I’m getting no award availability for any routing.

  69. @lucky My itineraries are on hold and it still shows 4 mile + taxes. It should not be too late to confirm with payment.

  70. BY THE WAY– I think the SMART thing to do here is to NOT NOT NOT call United… assume everything is fine unless you hear otherwise. The last thing any of us wants is a bunch of folks calling United to “check” on these very special itineraries. Best case you could get your ticket cancelled… worst case you could jeopardize everyone who is on this deal. Not to be dramatic or anything. 😉

  71. @ eric — Well said, and you are of course correct! Just give it 48 hours, folks, for this to unfold, before calling United about ANYTHING related to these itineraries.

  72. @eric m – the ship has sailed on that* – regardless of whether anyone calls. Once it hit the BA blogs and FT there are way too many bookings for this to skate by unnoticed. The first person, or few people, who discovered this may have had a shot at it flying under the radar.

    *Though I agree it’s never a good idea to call, and I still wouldn’t in this case regardless…

  73. @eric should highlight this in the posts on MP and FT ASAP! I’m sure ppl are calling UA right now.

  74. @zach @lucky I have noticed that ANA flights were not showing the mixed cabin notice for me when booking an F award. It showed it as fine with 3-cabin F though when I got to the page to price it booked in to Biz (I inventory).

  75. Had I thought about it sooner, I would have loved to be a guinea pig for this today or tomorrow!

  76. @ Lucky: Instead of moving to HK, now you could just go back and forth whenever you like for the next year (and just dumping the extra tix when other business comes up or you don’t feel like it).

    If this does go through, United should sign a big deal with the China Tourism board and at least get a big bunch of advertising out of this!

  77. Booked:
    JFK-FRA/FRA-BKK/BKK-HKG/HKG-DOH/DOH-JFK Ticketed! Sweet!
    Lufthansa/Thai/Qatar A combination of business and first including the A-380 and 777.

  78. I have no united miles. anyone who is nice enough to book one for me?I We can arrange some sort of exchange.

  79. Well though it says 16 miles on my receipt, it deducted 130k miles though that is for four tix. Not as good as 16 but buy 1 get 3 free would be a good enough deal. JFK-ord-hkg round trip. Mix of biz and first.

  80. shoot, some of the segments are automatically downgraded to economy. I only found out after they were ticketed. I don’t suppose there’s a way to change it back? lol

  81. @ Joe — So you knew about the deal before it was written about on the Internet? Also angry about us sharing the Singapore deal?

  82. Blogs didn’t kill this, people. It’s not fucking happening, and you’re crazy if you think otherwise.

  83. My account just dropped 70k in the last 5 minutes. Two hours after booking the ticket for 4 miles.

  84. Although it appears that I was late to the game on this one, I appreciate it and all deals being posted here. I have gotten in on many a deal thanks to this blog, FT, etc., including, most recently, the SQ deal. So, I, for one, appreciate the effort and time spent posting and responding. Thanks, Lucky!

  85. There is ZERO chance of United honoring this. United clearly prints a chart of award travel mileage rates. This was just some sort of computer error.

    Further there have been many mistake fares that U.S. carriers have not honored. This is not even a mistake fare, it is a computer error.

  86. @ John — While I’m not convinced they’ll honor them, it’s not that straightforward. The CoC award chart doesn’t supersede DoT regulations, so I don’t think it’ll be quite as easy for them as you assume.

  87. Mine now says 4 miles in both the “1 Award” and “Total Price” sections of my reservation. Before it said 65,000 miles in “1 award”

  88. On the bright side, at least UA’s transportation law counsel will be billing some heavy hours over the next day or two.

  89. I was able to ticket two seats in May of 2013. Originally, my account was untouched now 140,000 miles have been debited. If I cancel the reservation, do I get my miles back?

  90. What happens after 24 hrs? Can I still cancel and get my miles back then? I was under the assumption that the cancellation was only good for 24 hours

  91. If you went to the store and the cashier punched in $1.99 instead of $1,990 , collected a $1.99 and gave you a receipt for $1.99, would that be right just because the cashier made a mistake?

  92. @Kyle Dunst– Upon checking, everyone should see the low miles posted in reviewing their reservation(s). Your “receipt” should show the same. United issued a lot of documentation showing only the 4 or 8 FF mile cost.

  93. @ Lance — Usually you only have 24 hours to cancel, but if you agreed to pay four miles but were charged 140,000, you could definitely get a refund at a later time.

  94. @ Michael Mays — Ah, but the airlines claim FF miles have NO cash value! That being the case, your comment isn’t comparing “apples to apples” —-

  95. @Klye Dunst– No problem. I was referring to my “MileagePlus eTicket Itinerary and Receipt” e-mail sent by United. It shows the Conf.#, ticket #’s, itinerary, $ cost and miles(8) debited. If you received one, check it out. — Rich

  96. So, we booked 2 flights in an account with a hefty balance. All receipts show 4 miles per itinerary, but they had just deducted 70,000 miles per itinerary. I don’t think they can do that? The other account that didn’t have a big balance still shows with a 70K reduction. Lucky, any advice? Receipts are clear they are 4 miles each plus taxes.

  97. Interesting. My seats were all chosen and confirmed but now United says seats cannot be assigned in advance when I went to check the seating. So I think they are running through these reservations in some sort of way.
    The reservation is still showing as ticketed. The seats are shown on the receipt and are still showing in the Lufthansa booking reference.

  98. @ WDH — They obviously can’t do that, and at the very least you’d get a refund. I’d suggest waiting at least another 24 hours to see how they decide to settle this. Obviously they can’t deduct more miles than the receipt shows (though that doesn’t seem to stop them).

  99. Lucky, I appreciate all your work and posts. But I think most lawyers would not agree with your reading of the DOT regulations. Administrative law is extremely complex and few regulations are as black and white as you suggest. Not only is there a problem assuming a mileage ticket fits under any of the defined terms in the regs (which it doesn’t), there are long held doctrines of “unclean hands” and mutual mistake which my guess is DOT would apply here. Unclean hands: “I know they’re making a major pricing mistake, but if they try and fix it, I will say “hahah DOT Reg.” Mutual Mistake: You know that there’s a clear mistake, and you try and take advantage of it; when the other party figures out the mistake, they try to undo the transaction; the transaction can be undone. People debate this all the time on FT and the like, but the legal principle isn’t particularly debatable. Your blog and others arguably would be proof that this is a mistake (though the mere pricing of 4 cents per mile is so obvious a mistake unto itself). Moreover, if someone booked a ticket that had $400 above the line and $4 in the total line, its not an unfair/deceptive trade practice to charge them $400 — which they said was the price at time of booking.

  100. They’re certainly going to cancel. The tariff for their mileage tickets is their published award booking charts, not what the website says on the second screen. Don’t think this would hold up in a court of law.

  101. @ jn YAY!

    @lucky do u have 4 chase ur to spare? I managed to get a ow reserved, but I don’t have ua miles. Can u help please?

  102. While I can see United as possibly canceling itineraries that include partner flights, they may allow those that are UA metal only. Either way, JN is already on a plane and was able to utilize this glitch to his advantage instantly. I’m sure major meeting will be called tomorrow in Chicago to discuss how to handle this, and folks from management, revenue management, finance, interline, and public relations all in attendance.

  103. @JN, you are our hero for sure.
    This may be the only one who gets it honored.
    btw, when / how are you coming back?
    Tell us after you return.
    Will be sad if they catch you in FRA or in HKG.

  104. i booked HKG-NRT-SFO-JFK OW in F for 4 mines & 54 bucks ! got e-ticket alrady & even seats in the F class cabin. my total mileage balance is 751 miles, no miles been deducted so far. My e-ticket shows Award Used: 4/XF72 go figure.

    i note now that my HLG-NRT sector is in Y w Air Japan (BOOKED IN CLASS X) BUT MY NRT-SFO-JFK are both in FX class.

  105. The DOT Reg is really the wild card here. While “unclean hands”, mistake, etc. would normally apply in this and situations like the KE fare ($125 for first class RGN-USA is obviously a mistake and this is from someone who got in on it), the DOT has decided that it is not a defense when it comes to a mistake fare paid for with money. I was relatively shocked to read the guidance that DOT issued with the reg. The idea that award miles and/or taxes also would fall under the regulation is not that far-fetched. It will be interesting to see how the DOT interprets it and it will not be as clear-cut as some of the commenters above claim.

  106. Booked 9 F tickets total. 3 sets of 3 for my family and I. If this is honored I will use 2 sets of them. So far seats have stuck, but miles have not been deducted (booked at 10:00 AM PST on 7/15). We’ll see what happens.

    Thanks Gary and Lucky

  107. Rahul- any interest in selling me the other set? On award flights you can switch names. I am willing to pay you now- gambling that they wont be cancelled. Even if it gets cancelled, you keep my money, in return you give me a good deal on a set of flights- what you say?

  108. I booked a BOS-HKG round trip in March 2013, it was confirmed and ticketed…However, I made the stupidest mistake in the world…I calculated the return day wrong and it turned out the return trip was one day after my ideal day to come back to the states…So I called UA Hongkong and asked them to change the flights for me in order to push the date forward for a day. My heart was literally on string when I was calling them. And the agent seemed to be unaware of the wrong price 4 miles that I used to booked the standard BOS-HKG first class trip which requires 32W normally…And then she successfully change the return trip day for me. However, It took forever for she to ticket it. Finally she said there was something wrong with the system and she cannot ticket it but can confirm it for me at that time. And she said she will call me tomorrow and try to ticket it tomorrow…What should I do? Will they ticket my trip???

  109. UPDATE:I called the UA America and they realize that I used 4 miles to book the trip. And they said I am in the calling list and there will be someone to discuss it with me……

  110. Why the hell would you call now for a MARCH 2013 booking?? Did you not read **ANYTHING** Lucky and others wrote??

  111. they made clean up(disappear) the reservation hasn’t been ticketed. it was holding status. Anyone have same happens?

  112. @ J.R — If you weren’t ticketed last night and just had the ticket on hold I’m not surprised to hear they canceled or repriced it.

  113. CC has been charged but ticket is not issued.

    the reservation supposed to hold until mid night today as 24H.

  114. @Kyle D

    Don’t worry.. there is always one in the group that feels exempt from the rules. UA knew it had a drama yesterday anyways…otherwise they wouldn’t have shut off HKG reward bookings

  115. @J.R. – no, your credit card just has a temporary authorization on it. It’s not “charged” until actually ticketed and it shows up in on your account as charges that have gone through.

  116. Looks like according to their twitter that United is too busy cheering on the Archery team at ORD to worry about this 🙂

  117. So, do we have more confidence that this is a “go”? I have confirmed and ticketed for at least 24 hours now for my departure next week, and not a peep from United.

  118. @Ren – Same for me. If nothing develops, Im going to be a little worried getting on my flight with the fear of them canceling my return trip.

  119. So the tickets are showing confirmed in my United account and my credit card charge was processed ($40.50 x 2). Can I assume that my tickets are good?

  120. All this unrealistic angst over a computer glitch award no one in their right mind would expect to be honored. Sort of funny how easily United put all this embarrassing drama to an end with one little post. Anyone who cries foul over this will only be embarrassing themselves even more than they’ve already done.

  121. I wish i got in time to book. I book these not because I expect them to be honored but for what compensation i may get for the inconvenience.

  122. “but for what compensation i may get for the inconvenience.”

    The inconvenience? Seriously? Wow….

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