I often get questions from people asking for the best ways to stretch their United miles. I pull my hair out when friends and family members tell me that they limit themselves to just one or two NY-LAX round trips with their United miles and then wonder how they could have booked an aspirational international trip instead.
This post is dedicated to my friend Lauren who reached out to me via Facebook asking me where she could go with her United MileagePlus® Explorer Card.
57,000 United miles can book a one way award in economy to anywhere in the world. To some of the more expensive regions like Australia or the Middle East, you’d need to earn more United miles or more of another type of miles to book a return one way award.
To cheaper regions, 57,000 United miles is enough to book 1-2 roundtrips. I’ll break down the options by region.
Continental United States and Canada
- Economy roundtrip within continental United States/Canada: 25,000 miles (saver award level)
- First Class roundtrip within continental United States/Canada: 50,000 miles (saver award level)
57,000 United miles is enough for two roundtrips in economy within the continental United States and Canada or one roundtrip in First Class, both of which would cost 50,000 miles.
The best First Class route is on United’s flights between New York-JFK and Los Angeles or San Francisco because they feature fully flat beds.
For trips to Canada, don’t forget that United partners with Air Canada, so you can fly to many more airports than just those served by United itself.
Alaska and Hawaii
- Economy roundtrip to Hawaii: 45,000 miles
- Economy roundtrip to Alaska: 35,000 miles
- First Class roundtrip to Alaska: 60,000 miles
57,000 United miles is enough for one roundtrip to Alaska or Hawaii in economy. On a roundtrip to Alaska, you can even go one way in First Class and one way in economy for 47,500 miles.
United has excellent award space to Oahu, Maui, the Big Island, and Kauai from its hubs. United flies to Anchorage from its western hubs, but award space is not very good.
Mexico, Central America, and Caribbean
- Economy roundtrip to Mexico, Central America, and the Caribbean: 35,000 miles
- Business Class roundtrip to Mexico, Central America, and the Caribbean: 60,000 miles
57,000 United miles is enough for one roundtrip to Mexico, Central America, or the Caribbean in economy. You can even go one way in Business Class and one way in economy for 47,500 miles.
United flies throughout the region and partners with TACA and Copa, two Central American carriers, that both offer excellent award space to and within Central America.
Business Class between the United States and Central America will resemble domestic First Class. It will be a big recliner at the front of the plane, but it will not feature lie flat seats.
Northern South America
- Economy roundtrip to Peru, Ecuador, Colombia, Venezuela, and Guyana: 40,000 miles
- Business Class roundtrip to Peru, Ecuador, Colombia, Venezuela, and Guyana: 70,000 miles
57,000 United miles is enough for one roundtrip to Peru, Ecuador, Colombia, Venezuela, or Guyana in economy. You can even go one way in Business Class and one way in economy for 55,000 miles.
If you choose to fly one direction in Business Class, the only route with lie flat beds is United’s daily flight from Houston to Lima. It has the same fully flat BusinessFirst that I recently flew and enjoyed on my way to Nice, France.
While we’re on the subject of Peru, keep in mind that any United roundtrip award can include an open jaw at your destination. That means you could fly into Lima and out of Cuzco for the same price as a pure roundtrip.
United partners Avianca, TACA, and Copa have great award space to Northern South America and within Colombia and Peru.
Southern South America
- Economy roundtrip to Brazil, Argentina, Chile, Bolivia, Paraguay, and Uruguay: 60,000 miles
- Business Class roundtrip to Brazil, Argentina, Chile, Bolivia, Paraguay, and Uruguay: 110,000 miles
57,000 United miles is 3,000 miles short of one roundtrip to Brazil, Argentina, Chile, Bolivia, Paraguay, or Uruguay in economy. You could get the extra 3,000 miles by spending another $3,000 on the United card, or other ways (dining programs, Ultimate Rewards transfers, the MileagePlus shopping portal, etc.).
57,000 United miles is enough for one way to Brazil, Argentina, Chile, Bolivia, Paraguay, or Uruguay in Business Class.
United partners Copa, Avianca, Air Canada, and TACA have good award space to Southern South America.
United flies its fully flat BusinessFirst product to Brazil, Argentina, and Chile, which is a great value for 55,000 miles one way. Air Canada flies its fully flat Business Class to Chile and Argentina for the same price if you don’t mind connecting in Canada. (You could always take a free stopover there one direction.)
- Economy roundtrip to Europe: 60,000 miles
- Business Class roundtrip to Europe on United flights: 115,000 miles
57,000 United miles is 3,000 miles short of one roundtrip to Europe in economy. There many ways to earn the extra 3,000 miles (here are some tips).
57,000 United miles is 500 miles short of one way to Europe in United BusinessFirst. I wrote about some of the options and strategies to find United BusinessFirst award space to Europe last week. Business Class on United’s partner airlines to Europe costs 70,000 miles each way.
United has tons of partners with flights between the United States and Europe including:
- Air Canada
- Austrian Airlines
- Brussels Airlines
- LOT Polish
- TAP Portugal
- Turkish Airlines
Plus it has other partners with award space within Europe like Aegean, Adria, and Croatia Airlines, so it is fairly easy to get anywhere in Europe any time of year with United miles.
57,000 United miles is enough for 1-2 roundtrips to much of the world including many regions where United and its partners have great award space. Also, if you are using your United miles for an international award flight (yes, even the Caribbean counts), don’t forget to tack on that free domestic one way to truly get the most bang for your buck.