I wouldn’t call this the sale of century, but if you are planning an economy class award redemption to the lower half of Africa or Europe (not recommended–go in business or first), you can save 20-25% off the published mileage rate through United and Continental for travel occurring in the next few months.
The Points Guy sums up nicely the key points of this offer:
- Book by January 16, 2012
- Travel between January 27, 2012 and March 22, 2012
- Available only on economy awards
- Offer valid for flights originating in the U.S. (including Alaska), excluding Hawaii.
- Valid only on United flights*
- 21 day advance purchase
- Roundtrip travel only**
- Saturday night stay required
- 20% off on peak travel days (Thursday, Friday, Saturday and Sunday)
- 25% on off-peak travel days (Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday)
Note the asterisks, though. The terms and conditions of the offer state that you only get the discount on United metal when booking through United and only on Continental metal when booking through Continental. That does not appear to be the case, though–at least on the Continental side. Virgin Atlantic and Aer Lingus are also showing up as discounted, although that may be partially explained by the unique codeshare agreement Continental maintains with Virgin Atlantic (most Virgin Atlantic flights between the U.S. and London bookable on continental.com are coded as Continental (CO) rather than Virgin (VS) flights.
Second, although the rules say round-trip only, if you want to do an open-jaw in the same region, the discount seems to apply.
I haven’t tried it, but United and Continental allow free date changes on awards–I wonder what would happen if you didn’t want to stay on Saturday or wanted to travel during the summer instead? If you are in that boat, you might want fool around a bit (and report back here what happened). Afterall, you have 24 hours to cancel whatever you booked without penalty. A quick booking online and a follow-up call to United/Continental to change dates may be worthwhile.
But back to my opening sentence–I do not mean to denigrate economy class awards, but for a token amount of additional miles you can make the trip part of your vacation rather than as a means to get to your vacation. That just makes a lot of sense to me, especially when revenue economy class tickets to Europe this time of year are reasonably priced.