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Flying the Friendly Skies Will Cost More United Miles

Flying the Friendly Skies Will Cost More United Miles

Those friendly skies United has been spending millions to tout? Not so friendly, it turns out, for members of the airline’s loyalty program.

In a significant devaluation of its MileagePlus program, United today announced on FlyerTalk a wide range of price increases for award flights set to take effect on February 1, 2014. The biggest hit is to award flights on United’s many airline partners, which are now priced separately. But there are plenty of increases to award flights on United as well, especially premium-class overseas flights.

Examples of price changes to award flights from/to North America:

  • Business class to Europe will increase from 100,000 miles to 115,000 miles on United, and to 140,000 miles on partners.
  • First class to Europe will increase from 135,000 miles to 160,000 miles on United, and to 220,000 miles on partners.
  • Business class to Japan will increase from 120,000 miles to 130,000 miles on United, and to 150,000 miles on partners.
  • First class to Japan will increase from 135,000 miles to 160,000 miles on United, and to 220,000 miles on partners.
  • Business class to North Asia will increase from 120,000 miles to 140,000 miles on United, and to 160,000 miles on partners.
  • First class to North Asia will increase from 140,000 miles to 160,000 miles on United, and to 240,000 miles on partners.

And so on. It’s a long list, without so much as a single positive change on it.

What to Do?

First, have a look at the current and upcoming award charts to see whether flights you plan to redeem for are affected by the upcoming changes. It’s possible that the new prices don’t apply to your situation.

If the changes will affect you, book your award trips before the new prices take effect on February 1.

And by all means, reassess your loyalty to United. Do you really want a long-term relationship with a company that oozes “friendly” even as it picks your pocket?

More generally, such changes are always a vivid reminder that the verbiage included in loyalty programs’ terms and conditions should be taken seriously. When they say “we reserve the right to make changes to the program at any time, for any reason,” it’s more than a hypothetical possibility. Devaluations are the rule, not the exception.

Reader Reality Check

Disappointment? Shock? Outrage? Meh? What’s your reaction to the upcoming MileagePlus changes?

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  • Shankar/Selina

    Time to dump ‘em! Can you buy tickets today for travel after the mileage increase?

  • DocSavage007

    An even bigger reason to stop showing any loyalty to UA. Crappy service, rare upgrades, and now they trash the value of any miles you already have.

  • arcticbull

    Hah, yeah, I’m done with UA. They’re a pretty bad product in general. I used to say “at least their miles are awesome!” but now they have nothing. A bad product, a bad mileage program. This bad relationship is over.

  • Shawn

    Disappointing. Once again airlines are showing that there really is no “loyalty” in their loyalty programs. Its getting to the point where there is no real value in the frequent flyer miles.

  • TomF

    It is certainly getting to the point where for MOST people, the rewards of loyalty are smaller than the costs of staying loyal. It’s been true for a long time that unless you’re flying more than 50,000 miles per year, the FF programs don’t do you enough good to justify participation. With United, MP was the main thing binding good customers to a bad airline. But even high-value flyers have been fleeing United since 2012 despite a relatively robust FF program, and now that it’s been badly devalued the smart thing to do for ALL customers is look after your own interests and wallet. UA will lose more high-spending customers because of this move – the awards they’ve repriced, for overseas travel in premium cabins, are the very ones those customers want.

  • pcpeeps

    Frankly, none of the major airlines FF programs are worth a hoot. Try redeeming miles on Delta for anything, anything at all. With their tiered system there are never anything of the base tickets available. American is almost as bad. So, who you gonna turn to?

  • Mavinsd

    I think they all suck but United sucks AND lies continuously. They keep kicking their most loyal travelers in the teeth and it’s time to move on.
    Has anyone else noticed the little BS game they’ve been playing with leaving on time or early? My last 20 flights they have shut the door, pulled back the jetway, then sat for 20 minutes to 1 hour before leaving the gate. If you check the flight status via your cell phone while sitting there you’ll see that you have actually left and are taxing to the runway!!!! Typical United. Close out the flight so they can claim they left on time. I’d bet money these crooks took lessons from Obama.

  • laughinghusky

    I haven’t flown United in years if there was any other garbage can around…..Now I sure won’t…..Do I sound like I don’t like them? Yup…..you have it in a nutshell….

  • 4theluvofdogs

    ALL THE AIRLINES DO THAT, not just UA. However UA sucks!

  • kvandermolen

    Seems like “loyalty” is just a one-way street…

  • BCM

    I have 620,000 points on UA but just got rid of my United Chase VISA where I earned a vast majority of those points. The points have become less and less valuable. Desirable destinations at desirable times are almost impossible unless you grab a seat many, many months in advance. Even when I have tried to use points to fly from Washington DC to Fargo ND, not a hot market, in order to get a “saver” ticket for 25,000 miles I’m offered a 5:45 am flight with a multi-hour layover and sometimes with two connections. It’s become a joke. So I just got a Capitol One VISA which earned two points for every dollar spent and I can use the points essentially as cash on any airlines at any time. I’ve did the math over and over before I switched and I have no doubt I will be much better off in the long run. Plus it feels so liberating!

  • kieranpwalsh

    I sensed that this was coming so I have maxed out the miles I need for a trip next March. Once I have taken that trip the card is gone and so is United. Finally they have competition in our area so my losing them is not a loss.

  • kieranpwalsh

    Alaska, if they are in your area. No question that they have the best FF program. You can book a flight today to fly tomorrow without paying a penalty.

  • Chambers John

    You are correct…million miler with United its time to change. Can I join AAdvantage and have the same statues…1k for that last three years. 2014 1K status

  • Chambers John

    I have the same issue. And the prices they charge for seats are outrageous. When you see the seat availability, there are still many open seats. United Service and program is getting worst day by day.

  • Chambers John

    I have been thinking the same. Its not worth it being a loyal member as there is no loyalty by United. Since the merger with Continental, they have changed my MP number, screwed all routes and flights are routed to airports you dont want to fly through. I am ready to dump my million miles and 1k status.

  • Thomas Mccall

    Sure Its disappointing, but today the money crunchers have gotten this down to a science, they look at numbers not people and are willing to risk the loyalty loss because they know the choices are going to be so narrow with the the mergers that it won’t matter. The times are changing, still over all as a million miler (who got screwed in the merger) I think United has been more than decent with me over the years and even to late they have helpful in many ways. So I still like them and will continue using them as long as the “numbers” work for me.