IslandSkies, a UA employee who is active on Flyertalk, posted the following details about changes to United Airlines' Star Alliance award rules coming on 15 Februrary:
Steps to Validate Routing for One Award:
*Outbound and return routings must be validated.
*MPM plus 15 percent is allowed on all awards.
*Access the "Mileage Information" menu
*Enter all cities in one direction of travel from Origin to Destination.
**Include all connection/stopover points. (Do not activate "short display")
*Review the Mileage Information Table comparing CUM (Cumulative Ticketed Point Miles) to MPM (Maximum Permitted Miles).
*Check the bottom of "LVL" (level) column to determine if CUM is greater than MPM:
M = CUM does not exceed MPM
5M = CUM exceeds MPM by 5 percent
10M = CUM exceeds MPM by 10 percent
15M = CUM exceeds MPM by 15 percent
20M = CUM exceeds MPM by 20 percent
25M = CUM exceeds MPM by 25 percent
EXC = CUM exceeds MPM by over 25 percent
*Award Travel is valid up to 15M
But wait! There's more!
Double-Open-Jaw trips will be allowed, and no "shortest-leg" rule for Single-Open-Jaw rule will apply for award travel.
Stopovers will be allowed on Round Trip or Open Jaw itineraries between two award regions. Stopovers will not be allowed on One Way awards or when travel is wholly within the same geographic region. Stopovers will be allowed in a third geographic region if it is not over the MPM plus 15 percent. Must use "Highest Mileage Award* if over the allowed MPM (0M)
Now if all this info does not make a lot of sense to you, do not worry: you are in good company. The bottom line, though, is that these are good changes.
First, we can now exceed the published mileage limit for an award by 15%. It would be too much for this post to explain MPMs in depth here, but essentially each departure and end point on an award trip has a mileage limit (for example [and I'm just pulling these numbers out of thin air]), LAX-LGA is 4,000 miles. That means you can fly LAX-SAN-SFO-ORD-LGA if you wanted to, but you couldn't fly LAX-IAD-MCO-PHL-BOS-LGA which comes in at over 4,300 miles. With the change in rules, that 4,000 mile limit becomes 4,600. Now, that LAX-IAD-MCO-PHL-BOS-LGA routing works. Extra mileage is particularly useful for maximizing international award trips in first class and taking advantage of the ability to layover in cities for up to 24 hours (without limit as long as routing rules are followed) on a United award without using your stopover and destination.
That is the other big piece of news: like Continental, we will now be able to have both a stopover and an open-jaw trip. Even more importantly, the "shortest leg" rule will not apply (where the open jaw [point between your destination and departure airport] had to be less than the shortest leg of the trip).
This good news gives me the sneaking suspicion that mileage redemption rates are going to go up soon. But at least for today, let's celebrate!