If you spend $1 on a United base fare, you can earn 11 miles per $1. General Mileage Plus members earn 5 miles per $1.

Chances are you have built up a good amount of United miles if you frequently fly on United.

It is almost certain that United will not be honoring its reduced PQP status requirements next year. Since you can't earn PQP on award tickets, I'll have to fly a lot in the years to come.

Since I re qualified for my status this year, I'm going to spend a lot to earn PQPs. I'm taking the rest of the year to redeem the mileage I have accumulated.

This December, I used 198,000 miles for over 25 hours in business class.

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Choosing the right airlines

Swiss is one of the many Star Alliance airlines. KYLE OLSEN/THE POINTS GUY

United's non-alliance partners like Aer Lingus can be redeemed for mileage on the Star Alliance network.

The price of partner award bookings was raised by United in the early days of the coronaviruses epidemic. I decided to go with the Star Alliance partner airlines over the United metal ones.

The service and food on United's Polaris cabin aren't the same as they were when the product first launched. Polaris passengers used to enjoy wine tastings, a special predeparture beverage service, teddy bears and paper menus, but not anymore.

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The "Gold standard" in ANA's business class was what I looked for. I was able to get an ANA flight from the East Coast even though I couldn't find award space on the most recent product.

The Excursionist Perk

I'm looking forward to some Thai food on Thai Airways. JAVIER RODRIGUEZ/THE POINTS GUY

I used the Excursionist Perk to add a free stop on my flights from the U.S. to Southeast Asia. I suggest you look into our full guide on the Excursionist Perk and some sample itineraries where you can use it.

The Excursionist Perk is giving me a free 3-hour flight from Bangkok's BKK to Manila's MNL on Thai Airways' Royal Silk BusinessClass.

My itinerary


It takes me from Washington's Dulles International Airport to BKK via Tokyo's NRT on ANA in business class. The connecting flight from NRT to BKK is in economy class, but I have set a business class award space alert on ExpertFlyer.com. I can call United to upgrade my ticket if a business class seat becomes available. Since I've already spent 99,000 miles on this flight, there won't be any more miles needed to get to business class.

The Excursionist Perk made the second leg free.

For my flight back to California, I chose to fly through the Incheon International Airport in South Korea. Unlike most flights that leave Manila before the crack of dawn to North Asia before connecting to the United States, this one gives you time in the lounge. It costs 99,000 miles one-way like the flight there.

Bottom line

I'm happy to be spending less than $100 round trip in taxes and fees since United doesn't charge fuel surcharges.

I know I'm going to return to the hamster wheel of United status next year without enough time to redeem my miles. Since I re qualified this year, it's time to spend those miles.

I'll be traveling on a multi-thousand dollar business class ticket thanks to my United miles. We're into the points and miles game because of that.