Taking Advantage Of United’s Close-In Award Space

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As a Tampa-based flyer, one of my biggest challenges is finding domestic short-haul award space to an international gateway. Over the last year, I had two Star Alliance awards for my wife and I where this was an issue:

— A mix of Swiss Business Class and Singapore Suites ORD-ZRH-SIN that I booked approximately 10 months out via Singapore KrisFlyer
— A First Class SFO-AKL flight on United booked 330 days in advance via United MileagePlus for the day after Christmas

In both of these instances I booked the award well in advance knowing I would need a positioning flight. My research on FlyerTalk and blogs regarding when United releases domestic award space resulted in “It can be at any time and possibly never. Don’t count on it.”