How I'll Earn 40,000 United Award Miles Flying from Seattle to Newark

Last night a friend alerted me via e-mail that something fishy was going on with Continental flights between Seattle and Newark. While CO usually limits connections to one or two at most (and those connections are usually restricted to UA/CO domestic hubs and do not permit backtracking), the routing rules on this particular flight were much, much looser.

People were finding connections in São Paulo, Honolulu, Anchorage, Bogota, Lima, or even Buenos Aires and it wasn't altering the price.

Acting swiftly (becuase you never know how long these deals will last), I recalled that my brother is graduating in early May and I'll need to make a trip home from Germany for that. Why not tack on a two-day mileage run as well?

Booking was tricky because Continental's website was spitting out some weird pricing. First it would look like you hit jackpot, then the itinerary would reprice once you chose your third or fourth leg. Even when I was able to get an itinerary to price out, I'd get an error message when I tired to pay for it.

Keep in mind, this all took place after midnight German time last night. By the time the clock struck two, I was about ready to give up. But I did not (my red eyes vouch for that) and am pleased to present the following itineary:


That's nearly 20,000 status miles (19,871 to be precise) and 40,000 award miles--15K shy of an economy trip from the United States to Europe.

And I could have done better--SEA-DEN-KOA was available as well, but I ended up choosing SEA-SFO-KOA instead to avoid having to fly up to Seattle the night before the trip.

But I'm quite happy with my itinerary, which came to a grand total of $233.

Just think--five of these trips and you've got 1K status for $1165--no vouchers necessary.

My next task will be to secure a Brazilian visa. Under most circumstances, I wouldn't cough up the $140 for a layover, but I also plan to return to Brazil later in the year on TAM and might as well see a bit of São Paulo after many hours of flying.


FriendlySkies March 14, 2011 at 05:17 pm

What program did you use to generate that map?

magiciansampras March 14, 2011 at 05:25 pm

Well done. Very similar to my routing. :)


(you used this too on FT, no?)

Guess you won't need to sweat about hitting 1K again for 2012, now will you? Well done, Matthew!

FriendlySkies March 14, 2011 at 05:56 pm

Mine looked much different..

@FriendlySkies: You can specify three type of maps (just under the map display).

Shareholder March 14, 2011 at 08:32 pm

Managed to get one of these too, though a bit more modest as I stuck to an all-domestic routing: EWR-HNL(CO)-SFO(UA)-SEA(UA) stopover for a day at $220 a/i then SEA-SFO(UA)-HNL(UA)-ORD(UA)-EWR(UA) at $209 a/i. Mine comes to a shade over 16K EQMs and 32K redeemable miles as I'm a 1K. All UA segments already show as Upgrade Pending (NF) but front cabins are all wide open and likely to be on Tuesday/Wednesday and Thursday flights in early May. With the exception of one flight, all aircraft are 763s or 757s with lots of F seats. (New status matching between UA and CO means I will have CO Plat for extra priority on the CO metal flight too.) This one's almost as classic as the legendary AC Mexican Hat Dance!

Wish I'd booked a couple more of these to synch 1K again, but this one'll get me half-way by May so can't complain...

AS March 14, 2011 at 09:14 pm

This is seriously hardcore - congrats on the fare / routing.

How long does this take in total - I guesstimated 3 days (midday Monday-midday Thursday or the equivalent) with a 12 hour stop in GRU but otherwise essentially nonstop flying?

And, can you upgrade all the segments?

Fozz March 14, 2011 at 11:19 pm

I managed to score a few as well. My personal fave was SEA-PDX-ORD-GRU-MCO-EWR in Business. I didn't have quite the same amount of time as you to jump around, but all in came out to $1048. Not too shabby for almost 19k EQMs.

@Fozz--nicely done. A B-fare?

@AS: Yes, all segments are in W class, though GRU-ORD will have to wait till day of departure. I also need to get my hands on a CO SWU.

Fozz March 15, 2011 at 08:19 am

Matthew, no it ended up being a straight Z fare.

@Fozz--Nice! I thought about trying for business class, but the extra $800 is just not worth it to me!

David March 15, 2011 at 02:10 pm

So I got in on this a little late...has anyone seen this still available?

Sadly, the deal is gone!

StarPMO May 14, 2011 at 04:40 pm


Wow, very impressive. I'll understand if you don't want to sit down much back at work Wed;-)

Regards, JD

@John: Thanks! Let's hope for no delays this time.

Chris June 3, 2011 at 09:58 am

Matthew! Next time you find a deal like this, would be great if you shared with your readers as welll so we may also be able to book sthing! I understand of course your concern over the deal dissapearing. that's something that Gary Leff does well, he always shares deals with his readers.

@Chris: In this particular case, I was up till 0500 booking, went to sleep for two hours, then got back up and booked another one just minutes before the deal was pulled.

But next time I will make it a point to put out a quick blog post (as I have in the past) when a good deal comes up. Actually, I think a tweet would have been more appropriate. Maybe it's time for Twitter?

Alan August 19, 2011 at 02:48 am

@Matthew A blog post with a tweet linking to it. :)

chris December 3, 2013 at 09:47 pm

Well it is now December 3, 2013... How can I do this now? I look at flights but maximum connections I ever see are three of them! I wanna try this :)


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