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Rundown of United Airlines’ MileagePlus for Canadians (updated December 28, 2016)

I recently tried to redeem my Aeroplan miles for a United Airlines flight; however, there was no availability. But when I logged into MileagePlus, I saw the award flight available. Unfortunately, that means that the reward seat has not been released to Aeroplan yet. As we get closer to the date, if that award availability is not booked, then it will probably be send to Star Alliance partners, including Aeroplan.

So it got me thinking about switching some of my business over to another Star Alliance partner, instead of Aeroplan. One option is United Airline’s MileagePlus frequent flyer program.

Star Alliance Members with no Taxes and Fuel Surcharges

Below is a list of airlines that do not charge taxes and fuel surcharges when redeeming your Aeroplan miles.

  • Air China
  • Brussels Airlines
  • EgyptAir
  • Ethiopian
  • EVA Air
  • SAS Scandinavian Airlines
  • Singapore Airlines
  • SWISS
  • Turkish Airlines
  • United Airlines

As you can see, MileagePlus is included in the list. The challenge is, how do we earn miles as a Canadian?

Earning Miles

Personally, I find the 3 easiest ways for a Canadian to rack up MileagePlus miles is through airlines, car rentals and hotel stays. All the other alternatives are a little more challenging without a U.S. address. That being said, if you are a Canadian living in the United States, it would be a no-brainer to me that you earn MileagePlus miles.

Airlines

The most direct way of earning miles is flying with United Airlines, which has the following ratios:

  • Earn 11 miles for every $1 spent on the base fare as a 1k member
  • Earn 9 miles for every $1 spent on the base fare as a Platinum Premier member
  • Earn 8 miles for every $1 spent on the base fare as a Gold Premier member
  • Earn 7 miles for every $1 spent on the base fare as a Silver Premier member
  • Earn 5 miles for every $1 spent on the base fare as a General member

But you can also earn miles by flying with any of its Star Alliance partners.

Car Rentals

When you rent a car, you can also earn MileagePlus miles instead of car rental points, with:

  • Hertz
  • Dollar Rent a Car
  • Thrifty Car Rental

Hotels

Otherwise, you can earn miles through its hotel partners. Basically, when you stay with one of the following hotel chains, you can bank MileagePlus miles directly instead of hotel points:

  • Marriott Rewards
  • Hilton HHonors
  • Starwood Preferred Guest
  • IHG Rewards
  • Hyatt Gold Passport
  • Club Carlson
  • Wyndham
  • Choice Privileges
  • Golden Circle

Transfer Partner

If you have an E-Rewards account (invitation only), you can covert your E-Rewards dollars in the following increments:

  • $25 = 500 miles
  • $50 = 1,000 miles
  • $100 = 2,000 miles

Keep in mind that you can only convert once ever 30 days, which means that you can only redeem a maximum of 24,000 miles per year. Still a decent amount.

Destinations Departing from Canada

United Airlines may not make sense if you fly solely within Canada. However, if you are making international trips, chances are, you may be connecting through the United States. United Airlines or United Express both operate out of Canadian airports. 0

Below is an of flights departing out of Canadian airports (recent changes are in brackets or struck-through). Unfortunately, it seems like the list of available flights has continued to further trimmed down from last time.

Toronto Pearson International Airport (YYZ)

  • United Airlines: Chicago-O’Hare
  • United Express: Chicago-O’Hare, Denver, Houston-Intercontinental, Newark, Washington-Dulles

Vancouver International Airport (YVR)

  • United Airlines: Chicago-O’Hare, Denver, Houston-Intercontinental, San Francisco
  • United Airlines (seasonal): Los Angeles, Newark, Washington-Dulles
  • United Express: Denver, Los Angeles, San Francisco

Montréal–Pierre Elliott Trudeau International Airport (YUL)

  • United Express: Chicago-O’Hare, Houston-Intercontinental, Newark, Washington-Dulles

Calgary International Airport (YYC)

  • United Airlines: Chicago-O’Hare, Houston-Intercontinental, San Francisco
  • United Airlines (seasonal): Denver
  • United Express Chicago–O’Hare, Denver, Houston–Intercontinental, San Francisco

Edmonton International Airport (YEG)

  • United Airlines: Houston-Intercontinental
  • United Airlines (seasonal): Denver
  • United Express: Chicago-O’Hare, Denver, San Francisco

Ottawa Macdonald–Cartier International Airport (YOW)

  • United Express: Chicago–O’Hare, Newark, Washington–Dulles

Winnipeg James Armstrong Richardson International Airport (YWG)

  • United Express: Chicago-O’Hare, Denver

Halifax Stanfield International Airport (YHZ)

  • United Express: Newark

Victoria International Airport (YYJ)

  • United Express: San Francisco

Québec City Jean Lesage International Airport (YQB)

  • United Express: Newark
  • United Express (seasonal): Chicago-O’Hare

London International Airport (YXU)

  • United Express: Chicago–O’Hare

I really hope that United Airlines doesn’t get even more squeezed out of Canada as they are a valuable Star Alliance member when you redeem your Aeroplan miles. I really hope this has nothing to do with Air Canada squeezing them out, because Air Canada’s monopoly will continue to grow and that can’t be a good thing for Canadians.

What I would like to See

I would like to see a lot, but if I had to choose 1 thing, it would be a co-branded United Airlines credit card offered to Canadians. Even though I may have done relatively well with my Aeroplan account, I would still like to see some direct competition with them so that it keeps them honest.

Here’s hoping but not expecting.

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