United MileagePlus Devalues Program…By Copying Delta

United has announced that they’ll be switching to a fare-based earning model (like Delta) next March.  There’s certainly more information to come, but based on the great research done by other bloggers about the Delta move, I can’t help but think that the mileage earning potential will be limited on United now.

Details are at http://mileageplusupdates.com/

The miles you earn will now be based on the price of your fare with a multiplier that depends on your status level in the MileagePlus program.  This doesn’t affect how you earn your status.

So, the positive news is at least they have given everyone almost 9 months of notice.  The bad news is this means American will likely switch to the same model when they announce their 2015 program.

What is hilarious is how much a race to the bottom this has become.  United didn’t even bother innovating this new program, they just copied every bit of it from Delta’s new program.

Delta’s new earning policy

United’s new earning policy

This will eventually make cards that transfer to United points that much more valuable.  We’ll see how everything shakes out and keep everyone posted.

12 Comments

  1. Thanks for the heads up. I am gold on United. Because I live Houston, their largest hub location, United is my go to airline.

    Reply
    • It’s tough to get out from under an airline in a fortress hub like that (I’m in DFW, so I’m pretty much forced to fly AA).

      Reply
      • I think DFW offers more alternatives. This is going to be a drastic change for leisure travelers. Right now Houston to Hawaii fares are about $1000. The round trip is about 8,000 miles, but a gold member gets 12,000. Under the new system it will be 8,000.

        Reply
        • The benefit is for business and full-fare economy passengers almost exclusively. What is different between this and the Delta program is the mileage cap. Delta implemented (and United copied) a 75000 mile cap per ticket. This wasn’t as big of a deal for Delta as they do not offer First Class on any of their flights. United does, however, and many First Class purchasers will hit the cap on nearly every flight.

          Reply
          • For me the real benefit is not free tickets, it is access to international lounges and guaranteed seats in premium coach. The airlines are trying to clamp down on people buying heavily discounted tickets to Hong Kong and giving what they save to their best customers.

          • I think your strategy then should be to start counting all of your United flying towards Aegean Airlines. You can very quickly earn Gold status with them, which translates to Star Alliance Gold status, which gets you United Club access even on domestic flights.

          • I’ll be doing an article on that very soon.

          • Send me an email, some things I don’t want in public comments.

          • I don’t think I have your addy, can you shoot me one? andystravelblog at gmail [dot] com

  2. It seems there are several ways in which an airline can tweak (devalue) 1) the mile redemption abilities or 2) miles earnings potential of it’s least profitable customers… And the action taken by United (as you said above) seems to be #2…

    I’m United Gold status with ~180k miles sitting idly in my account (I used to travel every other week, but now only 3-4x/year). As you look to the future of the MileagePlus program, does this signal future actions by United to devalue #1… implying that I should book some travel in order to spend my existing points ASAP?

    Reply
    • It doesn’t look like any more redemption devaluations will happen for the rest of the year, but you never know.

      Reply

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