Best Ways to Book United Business Class Using Points [Step-by-Step]

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The last few years have been tough for United Airlines. Beyond the controversial exit of a CEO and multiple failures of their online platform, United’s business class product has received lower marks than many of their competitors.

Now, United is in the process of phasing out their Global First product and upgrading their business class cabin. Their new Polaris business class product is much better than what was previously offered; the sooner more of United’s aircraft are outfitted with Polaris, the better!

When you consider that United’s first class product has been lacking, moving to a nice business class product could be a welcome improvement in value.

Let’s discuss how you can book United’s new Polaris business class.

A Look Inside United Airlines Business Class

United Polaris Cabin
United’s new Polaris seats are all lie-flat with direct aisle access. Image courtesy of houstonchronicle.com.

For years, United’s business class product has been considered subpar. With the launch of their new Polaris business class product, though, their reputation is changing for the better. Currently, the only flights with the new Polaris seat are operated on the Boeing 777-300ER (also known as the 77W).

Starting in early 2019, United will also fly the brand-new Polaris business class product on the 787-10 for these flights:

  1. Newark to San Francisco: twice daily from February 14, 2019; 3x daily starting March 8, 2019
  2. Newark to Los Angeles: daily from January 7, 2019; twice daily starting February 14, 2019

Keep in mind that the majority of the flights between these cities won’t have the new Polaris class, so you’ll need to confirm that the brand-new Polaris class is available on your particular flight.

Unlike United’s old business class product, all Polaris seats are lie-flat with direct aisle access to make your long flight more comfortable.

Hot Tip: If you are traveling alone, odd-numbered seats by the windows will give you the most privacy. If you are traveling with someone, even numbered seats in the middle section are your best bet.

United Polaris Lounge
United is stepping up their game with the Polaris lounge. Image courtesy of united.com.

United is also revamping their business class lounge experience by introducing Polaris lounges. If you aren’t departing from a location with a Polaris lounge, you can still access United clubs and other Star Alliance business class lounges.

Unfortunately, you won’t be able to access any of these lounges with cards such as The Platinum Card® from American Express.

If you want access to United Clubs (not Polaris lounges), check out the Chase United MileagePlus® Club Card and the Chase United MileagePlus® Club Business Card.

How to Fly United Airlines Business Class Using Points

Star Alliance has 27 member airlines, which means there are plenty of programs you can use to book a United flight.

United Airlines MileagePlus

You can book business class flights on United Airlines through their MileagePlus program. All you have to do is find award space online and you can take care of the whole booking process right there.

United Award Chart
Booking business class through United’s MileagePlus program is an easy way to book award flights.

You can book your flight online by following these steps:

  1. Visit United’s website
  2. Sign in to your account
  3. Select “Search for award travel”
  4. Select your travel dates and your desired route
  5. Select “Business” as your cabin
  6. Select your flight (make sure it is operated by United!)
  7. Review your flight choice

Chase Ultimate Rewards transfer at a 1:1 ratio and are your best option when you need more United miles. Before you transfer your Ultimate Rewards points, make sure there is award space.

Hot Tip: There are tons of ways to redeem United miles, so make sure you check out the other fun ways United miles can help you travel.

Air Canada Aeroplan

While United is the most obvious choice for booking a business class award, don’t forget to check Air Canada Aeroplan as you might find an even better redemption.

Aeroplan Award Chart
For those with Membership Rewards, Aeroplan could be your go-to for booking business class United award tickets.

You can book United awards online through Aeroplan’s website.

  1. Visit Aeroplan’s site
  2. Log into your Aeroplan account (you’ll need your account number)
  3. Under “Use Your Miles” select “Travel”
  4. Select your travel dates, cities, and class of service
  5. Select your flight and complete your booking

While Aeroplan does hit you with carrier-imposed surcharges, you won’t get hit with these fees if you book a flight on United Airlines. This can really help keep the cash component of your booking to a minimum.

The best way to earn Aeroplan miles is to transfer Membership Rewards points. They transfer almost instantly and at a solid 1:1 ratio.

Hot Tip: Check out our Aeroplan region definition guide to make it easy to find out how many miles you need to book your award.

Asiana Club

Using Asiana Club miles to book United award flights isn’t what comes to mind first for many people, but it’s an option that shouldn’t be overlooked.

Asiana-Airlines-Award-Chart
Booking United flights to Europe with Asiana Club can save you some serious points.

Booking award flights on Asiana’s partners requires a call to Asiana.

You must reserve and have your ticket issued 3 days prior to departure, which prevents snagging last-minute awards.

Follow these steps to make booking easy.

  1. Search for award space using United’s site (follow the steps under the United booking instructions above)
  2. Call Asiana at 1-800-227-4262
    • The U.S. call center is open between 8:30am-5:30 pm PT (Monday-Friday)
  3. Tell the phone agent that you’d like to book an award on United Airlines
  4. Provide your desired travel dates and flight numbers
  5. Once you confirm space, you will be prompted to give your credit card for any necessary taxes and fees

Other Options for Booking United Airlines

As a member of the Star Alliance, you have plenty of options to book award flights on United Airlines. A few other options to consider are ANA Mileage ClubAvianca LifeMiles, or Singapore KrisFlyer.

Great United Airlines Business Class Redemptions

Redeeming United miles for business class award flights on United might be the most common way to book, but there might be some better options. Check out the comparisons below for some redemption ideas.

Asiana Club and United have similar redemption rates if you want to fly from the West Coast to Hong Kong.

San Francisco to Hong Kong (one-way)
United MileagePlus75,000 miles
Air Canada Aeroplan75,000 miles
Asiana Club67,500 miles

However, Asiana Club sets itself apart if you want to book business class from the East Coast to Tel Aviv.

Newark to Tel Aviv (one-way)
United MileagePlus75,000 miles
Air Canada Aeroplan82,500 miles
Asiana Club60,000 miles

Aeroplan doesn’t always provide superior redemption rates, but their miles are very easy to earn thanks to a partnership with Membership Rewards.

We’ll keep an eye out as United adds more routes with the new Polaris product.

How to Earn Enough Miles for United Business Class

Earn United MileagePlus Miles

To top off your United MileagePlus account, you can transfer points from cards that earn Chase Ultimate Rewards:

Recommended Chase Cards (Personal)

Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card - This is our favorite beginners travel rewards card which has a 60,000 point bonus (highest ever) after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening.

This sign up bonus is worth $750 in travel purchases (flights, hotels, car rentals etc) when you redeem your points through Chase's travel portal, which works like Expedia. The bonus alone could get you multiple round-trip flights or hotel stays.
Chase Sapphire Reserve® - Consider this premium card if you want to get into a lot of airport lounges. The current sign up bonus is 50,000 points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. You'll also get a $300 travel credit per year which wipes away a big chunk of the $450 annual fee.
Chase Freedom Unlimited® - A simple, no annual fee card that earns you 3% cash-back on all purchases in your first year (up to $20,000 spent), then 1.5% on all purchases after that. Just know that you won't get any travel benefits or the ability to earn bonus points with this card.

Recommended Chase Cards (Business)

Ink Business Preferred℠ Credit Card - This is our #1 recommended business card and comes with a whopping 80,000 sign up bonus after you spend $5,000 on purchases in the first 3 months after account opening. This bonus is worth $1,000 when you redeem through Chase Ultimate Rewards for travel purchases (flights, hotels etc). Also, if you pay for your cell phone bill with this card, you can get up to $600 in cell phone insurance coverage per year.
Ink Business Cash℠ Credit Card - earn $500 bonus cash back after you spend $3,000 on purchases in the first 3 months after account opening. In addition, get up to 5% cash back on a range of business expenses. A simple, $0 annual fee card.

…or cards that earn United miles directly:

Recommended United Cards

You can earn Marriott points and transfer those to United at a transfer rate of 3:1.1. Plus, for every 60,000 Marriott points that you transfer, you’ll receive a bonus of 5,500 MileagePlus miles.

Recommended Marriott Cards

Marriott Bonvoy Boundless™ Card - earn 75,000 bonus points after spending $3,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. Get automatic silver elite status each account anniversary year; and a free night award (valued up to 35,000 points) every year after account anniversary.
Marriott Bonvoy Business™ American Express® Card - earn 75,000 bonus points when you spend $3,000 on purchases in the first 3 months of account opening. A solid card for business owners who will get complimentary Marriott Bonvoy silver elite status. Annual fee is $125. For rates and fees of the Bonvoy Business Card, click here.

Earn Air Canada Aeroplan Miles

If you need more Aeroplan miles, you have plenty of cards to choose from that earn Membership Rewards points.

Recommended Amex Cards (Personal)

The Platinum Card® from American Express - There's currently a welcome bonus of 60,000 points after spending $5,000 in your first 3 months. This is our favorite card for getting into 1,200+ airport lounges worldwide (including Priority Pass) and we get about $1,500+ in value from the card every year.

Plus, get up to $200 in Uber credits annually ($15 per month and a $20 bonus in December) — and up to $200 in annual credit for airline incidental charges (e.g. baggage fees). For rates and fees of the Platinum Card, click here.
American Express® Gold Card - We love using this card as it earns 4x points at restaurants worldwide and 4x points at US supermarkets (up to $25,000; then 1x). There's no better card in our opinion if you eat out and/or shop at supermarkets regularly.

With a welcome bonus of 35,000 points after you spend $2,000 in your first 3 months and a $100 airfare credit per year, for many this is an easy addition to your wallet. For rates and fees of the Gold Card, click here.

Recommended Amex Cards (Business)

The Business Platinum Card® from American Express - Right now, there's a HUGE welcome bonus of up to 100,000 bonus points. We get ~$1,250+ in value per year by leveraging as many of the benefits/perks card which more than offsets the higher annual fee. It's also a card we use for larger transactions ($5k or more) as it earns unlimited 1.5X points.

Get access to 1,200+ airport lounges worldwide, $200 in airline fee credits for incidentals (e.g. baggage fees) and more. For rates and fees of the Business Platinum, click here.
American Express® Business Gold Card - probably our favorite Amex business card because we earn 4x points across the top 2 select categories that we spend the most money in each month. The 4x points applies to the first $150,000 in combined purchases from these 2 categories each calendar year. This means you'll max out at a (whopping) 600,000 points per year. After that, you earn 1x. For rates and fees of the Business Gold Card, click here.
The Blue Business® Plus Credit Card from American Express - This is a real simple card that earns you 2x points on business purchases up to $50,000 annually (then 1x). There's no annual fee. For rates and fees of the Blue Business Plus, click here.

Earn Asiana Club Miles

You can earn Marriott points and transfer those to Asiana at a transfer rate of 3:1. Plus, for every 60,000 Marriott points that you transfer, you’ll receive an extra 5,000 Asiana Club miles bonus.

When Should You Search for Award Space?

Business class space can be tough to find on flights with the new Polaris product, so it’s best to start your search early and check back regularly if space is not immediately available. You can start looking for availability 338 days prior to your date of departure.

What Makes This a Great Redemption?

United’s new Polaris business class is definitely an upgrade from their older business class product. From the Polaris Lounge to the new cabin layout, the experience on the ground and in the air has come a long way.

Polaris Lounge

United Polaris Lounge Bar
Wait for your flight with a fine cocktail and something to eat. Image courtesy of usatoday.com.

United has already launched the new Polaris lounge at Chicago-O’Hare, and they’re expected to open 8 more locations in the next few years :

  • Houston International
  • Los Angeles International
  • New York-Newark
  • San Francisco
  • Washington-Dulles
  • Hong Kong
  • London-Heathrow
  • Tokyo-Narita

From the choice of food at the buffet to the bar with an extensive selection of beer, wine, and spirits, the Polaris lounges are getting great reviews so far.

Arrivals Lounges

As a business class passenger, you have access to United’s Arrivals Lounge in both San Francisco and London-Heathrow.

This is a great perk! Even with the new Polaris seat on the Hong Kong-San Francisco route, it’s a very long flight and you might like a shower before a day of tourist activities or a business meeting.

Final Thoughts

United is in the midst of a big shift with their business class inflight and lounge offerings. While many business class flights do not have the new Polaris seat and only 1 Polaris lounge has opened, we look forward to these improvements being expanded.

With only 2 routes operating the new Boeing 777-300ER with the new Polaris product, award space won’t always be easy to find — but the experience will be much better if you can find it!

FAQ

What’s the best way to book business class on United Airlines?

United’s own Mileage Plus program is a great way to book. Asiana Club often has the cheapest redmeption rate. Don’t forget about Aeroplan or one of several other Star Alliance programs.

What credit cards can help me earn miles to fly United Airlines business class?

There are several credit cards you can use to earn the miles and points necessary to fly business class on United.

First, you need to decide which program you are going to use.

Here are the credit card programs that have partnered with some of United’s partner airlines:

United MileagePlus – Chase Ultimate Rewards

Air Canada Aeroplan – American Express Membership Rewards

What do I get when I fly business class?

When you fly United’s new Polaris business class product, you can enjoy a nice meal paired with wine or beer. You can even start the flight with a little champagne before takeoff.

During your flight, you will also have a lie-flat seat complete with Saks Fifth Avenue bedding. Each seat also has direct aisle access.

Spencer Howard

About Spencer Howard

Always a fan of flying, it was only natural that Spencer was drawn to finding a way to improve the travel experience. Like many, he started this journey searching for cheap flights to take him around the world. This was fun for a while, but Spencer was intrigued by the idea of flying in business and first class! Throwing himself into what became an extensive research project, Spencer spent 3-4 hours per night learning everything he could about frequent flyer miles over the course of several months (he thinks this is normal).

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