Making a mileage run out of the Denver-Tokyo United route


It is not at all uncommon for new routes to have fare sales associated with them to build hype and attract new customers. So it is not much of a surprise that United Airlines is doing exactly that with their new Denver-Tokyo route.  What is somewhat surprising, however, is just how available the deal is.

Rather than booking the sale in one of their lower fare buckets, limiting the number of seats available, the current deal of $980 all-in ($298 r/t base fare) is actually booking in to the B fare class. That’s the second highest fare bucket in the coach cabin and it comes with no co-pays for miles-based upgrades (30K points each way) and it also earns 150% PQMs towards elite status. Oh, and it is basically wide open for availability any day you want to fly.

There was some concern yesterday that the fare was going to be updated and pulled from the system. It was updated, but the update actually wasn’t too huge a deal.

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So, no, you can not book to join the inaugural flight on this deal any more, but any other trip in the first three weeks should be just fine. The fare has a 3 day minimum stay as well, so there’s an opportunity to explore Tokyo, too. The fare must be purchased by 24 May 2012, so another 36 hours or so before it vanishes. It certainly isn’t the best mileage run ever, but it is a pretty good deal and there is some 787 novelty value, too. Plus, it makes for a huge chunk of points in one trip.

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Seth Miller

I'm Seth, also known as the Wandering Aramean. I was bit by the travel bug 30 years ago and there's no sign of a cure. I fly ~200,000 miles annually; these are my stories. You can connect with me on Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn and .

24 Comments

    1. I did book already, David, but just the DEN-NRT-DEN flights. Adding on the NYC-DEN positioning as part of the same ticket was a bit more pricey and I figure I’ll find positioning at some point between now and then for less.

  1. @Kathy
    I’m still seeing $980, but there is a three day minimum stay unfortunately, so I won’t be going on the inaugural one. I’m sure I’ll find my was onto a United 787 before this flight though.

  2. yeah, I posted without reading Seth’s post entirely (and I apologize). my comment re: $1,707 was for the inaugural flight (3/31), which is no longer included. I never heard of the “farelock” before last night (as I tend to fly Delta), and I did lock in the 980 fare for 3/31 to 4/3. I guess that means I’m going.

    1. I have seen other cities price out as end-on-end with this fare, Carl, but the fare is explicit that it is only available for the non-stop flights.

  3. Many thanks! Just booked SEA-DEN-NRT-DEN-SEA. Price went up a little, but still OK. Is PN space (B-up) released before RN space?

  4. I believe you lose the 150% EQM if upgraded. Correct? (I am on a B to LHR with an instrument waitlisted)

    1. You still get the 150% PQMs based on the original fare purchased. The website displays it badly but it will credit based on the originally purchased fare.

      PN does generally open up earlier than R (RN isn’t in use yet) but that will only apply to the domestic portion of the itinerary; the DEN-NRT GPU upgrade is still going to need to book into R.

  5. Thanks again – I had not read the float over on EF. The domestic portion booked into K. Curiously, the eTicket Itinerary and Receipt lists the equipment as A320 on all 4 legs. Some parts of SHARES must not have been updated yet!

  6. Well, I blew that one. By tagging on the SEA-DEN-SEA K legs I was not eligible for a GPU upgrade, and the mileage upgrade grew a big copay. I tried re-booking, but the B fare was gone – replaced by an S fare. Also tried cancelling just the K legs, but that needed a re-issue, and hence a re-pricing. Seth’s approach of isolating DEN-NRT-DEN was the way to go.

    1. Call back and ask them to only upgrade the DEN-NRT-DEN legs if they can. As they are on a B fare they should be eligible for the GPU. Also, the domestic segments are GPU-eligible on any fare, so those can theoretically be added, too. You just need an agent with some patience and willingness to try.

  7. I have GPU upgrades waitlisted on DEN-NRT-DEN – showing in Coach(R)!! Agent refused to add the domestic segments, and the web site is not clear: “…and Y, B, M, E, U, H, Q, V, W, S, T, L, K, G, N (for upgrades from United Economy Plus® to the next class of service on all aircraft). Note that on some flights, Global Premier Upgrades are not available for fare classes Z, P, S, T, K, L, G, and N.” Do you have a definition for “some flights” that is more specific?

    1. The B fares is not available on the 31st of March. If you are looking after that and before the 24th of April and have a 3 night stay it should show up just fine.

      As for the GPU, the W+ fare requirement is for cabins marketed as BusinessFirst and served by aircraft configured with the premium cabin. The domestic flights are eligible but my guess is that they’re getting caught up on the fact that the long-haul part of your award would require the W+ fare. At least you got listed for the long segments; that’s definitely a big win. I’d try another agent or two on getting the same GPU extended to the other segments or just hope that the CPU works.

  8. @Paul – last I looked the B fare was gone. There is an S fare at the $980 level, and the B fare is now $4,000+

    @Seth – thanks, I’ll keep plugging away…

    1. Ahhh….I saw the $980 still and didn’t think to dig deeper. Alas, it is now the S fare and not the B fare. Not quite as good a mileage run at that level, but still a pretty good fare for Tokyo in April.

  9. Third time lucky! I was just starting on the explanation, and she interrupted with “But the fare class doesn’t matter on domestic segments”. Still took her 30 minutes to do three segments…

    1. Yes, I only booked one of them. Had the fare lasted I probably would have booked a second to position for another Asia trip a couple weeks later but the timing on that got to be difficult to make work. On the plus side, another 50 hours in Tokyo and plenty of time for sushi and awesomeness.

      Glad to hear that you got it worked out, Biggles!

  10. Didnt get in on the B, but do have an award ticket booked instead… See you all onboard!

  11. Got upgraded (RN) DEN-NRT. I was poking around, and saw PN space was available on both flights (PN 5, RN 2 out; PN 2, RN 0 back). So I called and asked if I could get upgraded into PN. Long time on hold, and the answer was no (not suprising) – but they have no idea why the space is being shown.

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