RUPA Pass Travel Report June 2018
Captain Pat Palazzolo
Employee Travel Center (ETC) +1 (877) 825-3729 – firstname.lastname@example.org
Hello fellow aviators,
Based on your feedback, I think I almost got nominated for the Pulitzer for my column in April about the My UA Discount (Sometimes referred to as the 20% discount, even though it’s much greater than that most of the time).
But there’s more that I didn’t have space to add in that column, so I’ll tell you about it today. In addition I’ll cover the best ways I’ve found to get the best deals on hotels — almost always the most expensive part of our trip!!
My UA Discount, Part Deux
To summarize the last column, I pointed out that the 20% discount is often far more than that. In the screenshots from the last issue, the flights from SFO to Seattle were 72% off the rate for mere mortal people.
But another really nice feature of the My UA Discount section on Flying Together is the ability to check the box that says, “My Dates are Flexible.” In college my dates were never flexible. But I digress. So I thought I’d check the box anyway. Lo and behold a map of the entire 30 days around the date you requested pops up and shows you the cheapest fare for each of those 30 days.
This is great if your departure date really is flexible. The differences can be quite significant as you can see from the example below for SFO- London. And if you click on the box, the fares will expand to show you the Business Class fare for employees, as well.
That’s right! We’re not just chopped liver anymore. We can even buy a revenue ticket in Business Class for peanuts. …OK, lots of peanuts.
I chose a random date a few weeks ahead for Sydney to San Francisco. These are the revenue fares for the regular customers, and the fares for us.
|Cheapest normal fare:
|My UA Discount
(These savings are not typos)
Remember, if you use my name, you’ll also get two free checked bags, waived fees for unaccompanied minors, and waived fees for in cabin pets. Plus, you have 24 hours to change your mind and get a complete refund after buying your ticket.
But here’s one more thing I can’t emphasize enough. You’re buying a revenue ticket and all the other restrictions that apply to mere mortals, also apply to us. If there is no cancellation for them, then there’s none for us either. If there are humongous change fees for them, then ditto for us.
One other caution. Always check another airline booking web site to see if flying on another airline may be cheaper. On my last attempt at buying a MyUA Discount ticket, I ended up passing on a $102 ticket from SFO-BUR and took Southwest instead for $49.
One more item on the My UA Discount. United also allows us to book offline.
For example, if you pull up a flight from SFO to Saigon, it will display a price with a connection on another airline since we no longer fly to Saigon.
In the example I pulled up, it was $547 with a plane change in Hong Kong and continuing on Hong Kong Airlines. If you bought the tickets separately, it would be $322 on UA and $255 on Hong Kong Airlines to SGN. So in this example you’d save a little buying it from the My UA Discount website.
Now the bad news. Many of the routes that include offline travel are usually more expensive than buying a regular ticket from say, kayak.com or some other airlines booking site. But there are a few gems, so check it out if you’re interested.
The days of the airline employee discount for hotels have mostly gone the way of the DC-8. I remember getting a $36 rate at the Sheraton Maui. But I digress. Again.
Many hotels will tell you they have an airline rate. But when you compare that with their rates for AAA, AARP, Costco, etc., they’re the same. And sometimes they’re more expensive than the rate they charge everyone else via some hotel booking sites.
But I’ve found three web sites that have been quite useful to me. The first two are found on Flying Together > Company > Working Together > Employee Discounts. You might want to book mark that page or save it under your favorites.
The third one, ID90T, can be conveniently found on the left column on the EmployeeRes page.
The Accor Hotel chain consists of Raffles, Fairmont, Banyan Tree, Sofitel Legend, Rixos, So Sofitel, Sofitel, Onefinestay, MGallery, Dhawa, Cassia, Pullman, Swissôtel, Angsana, 25hours, Grand Mercure, The Sebel, Novotel, Mercure, Mama Shelter, Adagio, ibis, ibis Styles, ibis budget, JO&JOE, hotelF1, Thalassa sea & spa. If you’ve never heard of Mama Shelter, it probably means you’re over 35.
The best part of using Accor’s United discount is that most of the hotels have a 24 hour cancellation policy, whereas most hotel booking sites have zilch. They also offer no-cancellation rates that are a bit cheaper.
The second best thing about the Accor United discount is that it includes all taxes and it’s significantly cheaper than what you can find on other web sites.
Another nice thing is that if you’re having a hard time navigating the United employee’s Accor website accessible from Flying Together, you can call them on their 800 number and they’ll tell you all the United rates and book it for you over the phone. The rates are the same as if you had booked it on Flying Together.
In both cases, either doing it yourself via Flying Together, or calling them, you must type in the United Contract Code and Access Number, found on Flying Together, or tell the person on the phone in order to get the special United rates.
Best Western’s United discounts are also available via United’s Flying Together web site. Their rates do not include tax, but are cheaper than you can find by getting a Best Western room on other web sites.
The best thing about Best Western, other than their ubiquity, is that most of them have same day cancellation policies.
ID90T is an airline-owned web site offering hotel, car and flight discounts to all airline employees. I’ve found their rates normally range from cheaper to break-even, compared to the other web sites.
They have one feature that you might find useful. If you select it, they’ll send you a daily email with the latest price for the hotel(s) and date(s) you put on their watch list, so you can keep an eye on the price trend.
Disclaimer: I have no financial interest that I know of in any of the hotels or web sites mentioned.