Hurry: Under $550 Roundtrip to Asia from Several Cities and How to Still Earn Full Mileage!

Usually we see the best airfare deals when one airline attacks another airline’s hub cities with cheap deals. For instance United might offer great fares from American cities like Dallas and Charlotte and Delta cities like Atlanta and Detroit.

You don’t usually see an airline offering the cheapest fares from its own hub cities. That’s because they are usually thought to have pricing power there — the best schedules with the fewest connections that people will pay more for.

Right now though United appears to be offering amazing cheap fares to Southeast Asia from its own hub cities.

I flew a United 747 on my first trip to Ho Chi Minh City

Loyalty Traveler is highlighting several of these deals. He points out that you can fly roundtrip for as little as $557 from United hubs:

  • San Francisco
  • Los Angeles
  • Chicago O’Hare
  • Houston
  • Newark

To cities including:

  • Bangkok
  • Kuala Lumpur
  • Manila
  • Ho Chi Minh City
  • Singapore

Great Pho at Pho Hoa on Pasteur Street, Ho Chi Minh City

These are publicly available fares, seachable on any travel site. Loyalty Traveler makes it easy, though, offering direct links to searches that are bringing up these fares so check out his post.

Here’s a sample itinerary:

Here’s the breakdown of this fare:

While crediting this flight to United’s revenue-based MileagePlus program will only earn about 2300 miles, this is a United ‘K’ fare which earns 100% of flown miles when crediting to Singapore Airlines KrisFlyer (.pdf). That means you earn over 17,000 Singapore miles for the trip!

While Singapore miles do expire after 3 years (not 3 years of inactivity), you can top off a KrisFlyer miles account with transfers from American Express, Chase, Citi, and Starwood.

The Chicago – Ho Chi Minh City roundtrip is fare basis KKX0ZEM9. (Incidentally, ‘SGN’ is the fastest growing airport in the world.)

  • Travel must be Sunday through Thursday for each transpacific flight.
  • This is available for outbound travel September 1 through November 30
  • Must fly transpacific on United or ANA. Intra-asia segments may be on other Star Alliance airlines.
  • There doesn’t appear to be a minimum stay requirement however there’s a 6 month maximum stay.
  • 2 stopovers are permitted for an extra $100 each (though the stopover may not be in Guam presumably to avoid cabotage issues)
  • 6 transfers are permitted in each direction (1 in Canada, 2 in the U.S., and 3 in Asia)
  • The fare expires July 31 but I’m confident it will not last that long. It may not last longer than today or through the weekend.
  • There’s a $300 change fee

View from the Presidential Palace Museum

Since these fares aren’t eligible for United 1K member Global Premier Upgrades, the only way to upgrade is with miles and that’s 30,000 miles and $600 cash co-pay each way — mitigating the fantastic value of the fare. So if you ticket this, you’re going to wind up flying economy.

About Gary Leff

Gary Leff is one of the foremost experts in the field of miles, points, and frequent business travel - a topic he has covered since 2002. Co-founder of frequent flyer community, emcee of the Freddie Awards, and named one of the "World's Top Travel Experts" by Conde' Nast Traveler (2010-Present) Gary has been a guest on most major news media, profiled in several top print publications, and published broadly on the topic of consumer loyalty. More About Gary »

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  1. If you book on United, what do you have to do, to get the 17,000 miles credited to your SIngapore KrisFlyer account instead of getting the lower miles for your United account?

  2. Not related, do you know what the fees are to turn a one way united award to a round-trip award? Their site doesn’t say. Thanks

  3. Angie- easiest would be to just do another one way award, the other direction.

    If you want to book a round trip to get the stopovers, then the redeposit fee for an award ticket is something like $100- less if you are a top tier elite.

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