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United Doubles Miles Between Chicago and L.A., San Francisco

When American launched its double-mile offer for flights between Chicago and Los Angeles or San Francisco, in response to Virgin America's new flights on those routes, it seemed a sure bet that United would be forced to match.

It's taken two weeks—an eternity in business time—but United has finally mounted a defense of its primary hub, Chicago, with a promotion clearly designed specifically to counter American's.

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Offer Details

Between May 19 and August 31, Mileage Plus members who have mailing addresses in California or Illinois can earn both double redeemable miles and double elite-qualifying miles for nonstop round-trip United or Continental flights between Chicago and Los Angeles or San Francisco.

There is no limit to the number of bonus miles that may be earned with the promotion.

Registration is required.

Deal or No Deal

Featuring both double redeemable and double elite miles, throughout the summer months, this is unquestionably a good deal. But so was American's. How do they compare?

United's offer differs in two respects from American's. First, American only allows the bonus to be earned twice, where United imposes no cap. And second, American will award the bonus for trips that include flights between Chicago and Los Angeles or San Francisco as part of a more extensive itinerary (i.e., Chicago-Los Angeles-Shanghai-Los Angeles-Chicago), where United will not.

So depending on your travel frequency and routing, one of the promotions may work better for you than the other.

Whichever you choose, assuming the price is competitive, the bonuses give American and United a significant value advantage over Virgin America, which has (so far) has declined to use frequent flyer points to promote its new service on these routes. Perhaps United's promotion will force Virgin America's hand.

Reader Reality Check

Double miles, anyone?

This article originally appeared on FrequentFlier.com.

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