Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Decisions, Decisions

One of the great perks of having Platinum status on United is the ability to redeposit miles used for booking a trip, without incurring a redeposit fee. I've made good use of this perk over the years, having had several occasions where my plans changed (dates, departure cities), and I either needed to cancel a trip, or make changes to my itinerary. I've just come across a situation that has me seriously considering another redeposit...

I'm traveling to Hawaii with the in-laws this fall, and so have 6 tickets booked on miles. Looking at recent fares, it appears that the competition that Hawaiian Air's new direct flight has brought to the route (the source of the promotion I recently won), has helped to push costs down: United's direct flight from Newark to Honolulu is now coming in just under $800 for the dates we're traveling. It's not quite the ~$685pp we snagged for our honeymoon a few years ago - but still a pretty solid deal!

My dilemma is whether to redeposit the miles used to book the ticket, and then pay out of pocket - or just leave things as-is. The reason this is a dilemma for me is that tickets booked using miles don't earn miles, and there's a lot of miles to be earned flying round-trip to Hawaii:

4962 miles from EWR to HNL

4962 miles each way x 2 = 9924 miles

That's how many you earn flying this route. Now I'll have 1K status by the time I take the flight, which means I'll get a 100% bonus on top of that. So now we're up to 19848. Add to that the 40,000 miles the ticket costs, and we're basically at 60,000 miles. So the question is, would I rather have 60,000 United miles or $800?

I'm leaning toward spending the money, because in addition to the redeemable miles I'll "gain", I will also get ~10,000 more elite-qualifying miles. I expect to be well past the qualification threshold for 1K, and while there are no levels above that, you do earn an additional 2 regional upgrade certificates (good for upgrading flights within North America essentially) for every 25,000 miles flown past 75,000, and 6 2 global upgrade certificates (good for upgrading any United flight worldwide, but subject to fare restrictions) for every 50,000 miles flown past 100,000. Those extra 10,000 miles could be the difference between 140,000 and 150,000 for me this year (which would make a big difference) or something like 130,000 and 140,000 (which would make them essentially useless). Decisions, decisions.

What would you do?


  1. Spend the cash. That's a no-brainer to me, unless you don't actually have the cash on hand.

    And if you have any RPUs left then apply them after spending the cash.

    1. I'm very much leaning that way - the two things that give me pause are the possibility of needing to change departure dates, and the fact that I'd likely only make the change for myself (since I'll actually benefit from the bonus RDMs and the extra EQMs) - but then I can also only apply 1 RPU for an upgrade.

  2. Also, every 50K only gets you 2 more GPUs, not 6 more.

    1. Thanks for catching that - I've fixed it in the post