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While I haven’t had a chance to analyze all of the changes, the major ones are:
1) Business class awards to Europe and Asia have decreased to 100k and 120k respectively (aligning with Delta, US Airways)
2) Economy awards under 700 miles will now be 20,000 miles roundtrip (down 5,000)
3) Business class North America to South Africa decreases to 120,000 (Delta increased theirs to 140,000, US Airways is at 110,00)
1) Economy awards to Europe, South America, Africa, and Middle East are increased 5k (to mostly align with Delta, US Airways levels)
2) Intra Asia awards go from 20k coach, 30k business to 25k coach to 35k/40k based on within a region or between
3) Business class awards to Middle East are now 120k (to align with Delta, US Airways)
3) Upgrade co-pays on almost all awards – from $75 Domestic US to $600 for Australia
Overall, for me, these changes are generally positive since I don’t take advantage of paid upgrades (because I don’t accure elite status on United/ Star Alliance). However, I imagine a lot of United elites are not happy about the increases in upgrade thresholds. I personally like the 20k 700 or less mile rewards because those flights can often be the most expensive. And remember, United miles can be now be combined with Continental miles (and thus American Express Membership Rewards points can be transferred to Continental and then United) and they can be used for one-way awards, even on partners.