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rated:
When I price a trip via Ultimate Rewards, the cost is 97,460 points. However, I can transfer 30,000 points from Ultimate Rewards to United to take the same trip as award travel. I realize that award travel requires seats to be available and I may lose out on some perks being non-revenue. Is there anything else I'm missing? The price different makes me think I'm missing something.

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rated:
It's always better to transfer to airline, then get "mile saver" class fares.

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Not necessarily. In some scenarios, paying $$$ for an off peak destination 21-days advance might be a better use than miles.

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Thanks for your responses. Good to know I should look at it both ways.

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Booking directly with the airline reduces the risk of issues during IRROPS, schedule changes. If you are going to use a third party, make sure your credit card offers trip interruption coverage, or buy separate travel insurance. This is particularly important for airlines like Southwest, who do not interline.

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You have to figure it both ways before booking. Generally, buy cheap tickets with points and expensive tickets as awards. The crossover point is your cents per point you get when purchasing.

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shank said:   Booking directly with the airline reduces the risk of issues during IRROPS, schedule changes. If you are going to use a third party, make sure your credit card offers trip interruption coverage, or buy separate travel insurance. This is particularly important for airlines like Southwest, who do not interline.
  Buying direct with airline has no effect on IRROPS handling.  Prior to date of travel, handling of shedule changes is dependent on getting a competent agent.  You get incompetent agents whether you deal with a travel agency or the airline itself. 

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