United’s Newest Customer Unfriendly Campaign: Increase the Cost of Award Tickets

by on November 1, 2013 · 102 comments

in United

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In a bold move to become the world’s most “flyer un-friendly” airline, United announced that starting February 1, 2014 they will require more miles (a ton more in some cases) for award travel – especially on partner airlines. While these drastic changes are no doubt consumer-unfriendly, we shouldn’t be too surprised since United has been on a roll since their merger with Continental to shred any goodwill Continental had built up with their flyers. Whether it is mind-numbing technical failures, flight delays or a fractured/non-transparent elite program that preferences non-elites over top tier members, United has worked extremely hard at disenfranchising their most loyal customers.

Although I don’t fly United very often (mostly because when I do I deal with nasty/clueless employees or my travel reservations simply aren’t honored), I rank their frequent flyer miles as the most valuable mileage currency out there thanks to low fees on award tickets, the ability to book one-way awards and great airline partners in Star Alliance. I have used them to fly the world’s longest commercial flight in Singapore business class, to hob knob with celebrities in first class on transcontinental flights, and soon I’ll be flying on a one-way award from New York to the Maldives in business class on EVA and Singapore that I was able to book using 60,000 miles and about $20 in taxes and fees. If were to book the same trip after February 1, it would cost me 80,000 miles one-way- a 33% increase.

That’s because United announced this morning that it would be raising the mileage redemption levels for some awards over 60%, and upping the mileage necessary for some of the most popular redemptions such as those to Hawaii. The airline has also created a whole new chart for redemptions on partner airlines (it currently uses a single chart for all awards, whether on United itself or otherwise). The new changes will go into effect for award tickets booked on or after February 1, 2014, so if you plan to use miles for any of the affected award zones and classes, book your tickets by January 31, 2014.

Explaining the move in an interview with Today in the Sky on USA Today, United spokesman Rahsaan Johnson said, “We’re increasing miles required in these markets for the first time in several years to account for the increased cost of providing transportation, particularly in the premium cabin and particularly on the Mileage Plus partner carriers.”

Johnson also had this parting shot to add in the interview: “We faced a decision other airlines have faced — to either increase the number of miles required for partner awards or to eliminate them altogether.” That smacks too much of a scare tactic for my taste, and the thought that United would eliminate partner awards altogether is just plain ridiculous.

This really reminds me of the Hilton devaluation in February and stings even more than other airlines including Delta and Air France/KLM who have announced major award chart mileage devaluations in the past several months.


Here's what the new chart will look like from North America.

Here’s what the new chart will look like from North America.

Before I get into it, here are links to the current chart and the new chart:

Old United Award Chart Through January 31, 2014

New United Award Chart Starting February 1, 2014

United Redemptions

First, the good news. Many redemptions on United itself aren’t changing and many of the devaluations occurring are on business and first class redemptions. Domestic redemptions on United will remain 25/50/70 for economy, business and first.

Now the bad, a lot of other popular redemptions will change. One big difference here is that awards to Hawaii will now cost 45,000 miles in coach instead of 40,000 miles roundtrip. 5,000 miles isn’t much, but that’s still a 12.5% increase.

If you’re flying to Southern South America, you’ll now be paying 10,000 more miles roundtrip in business class and 5,000 more miles roundtrip in first.

Premium awards to Europe will be going up.

Premium awards to Europe will be going up.

However, the other major change that caught my eye is that business and first class redemptions from North America to Europe are going up. They are currently 50,000 miles each way in business and 67,500 miles each way in first. After the devaluation, they will be 57,500 miles in business (115,000 miles roundtrip) and 80,000 miles in first (160,000). That represents a 15% increase for business class redemptions and an 18.5% increase in first class.

If you’re flying from North America to the Middle East, roundtrip you’ll be paying 5,000 more miles in coach, 20,000 more miles in business and 20,000 more miles in first (but wait till you see how high partner redemptions in this zone are going to get!).

Screen shot 2013-11-01 at 9.15.58 AMRedemptions to Africa will now be 80/140/170 roundtrip, whereas they used to be 80/120/150, so you’re paying 20-30,000 more miles for business or first.

Finally, using United miles to Asia can be a great option since the airline has its own extensive list of routes to major destinations there. Here’s how much it’ll currently cost you to fly to various parts using United miles.

Japan: 65/120/135
North Asia and South Asia: 65/120/140
Central Asia: 80/120/160

Post-devaluation, here’s what it’ll cost you.

Japan: 70/130/160
North Asia: 70/140/160
South Asia: 80/140/160
Central Asia: 85/140/180

Though many of these awards are up just 5,000-10,000 miles, that jump from 135,000 miles to 160,000 miles for first class to Japan and the fact that all these business class awards are now going to cost 140,000 miles roundtrip is going to make redeeming miles a much more expensive proposition for a lot of flyers.

Business and first class redemptions to Oceania will also go up 10,000 miles each, while business class redemptions to Australia/New Zealand will be up 5,000 miles and economy and first remain the same.

United now has a Star Alliance partner chart that's distinct from its own.

United now has a Star Alliance partner chart that’s distinct from its own.

Partner Redemptions

Here’s where all of the truly depressing news is, though. One of the best reasons to rack up United miles is because you can use them on its fantastic network of alliance partners including Lufthansa, Singapore, ANA, South African Airways and more, but if you want to do so, it’s going to take a lot more miles starting next February.

First the not-too-terrible news – redemptions in the US the Americas will remain mostly the same – the changes that do occur are the same as on United’s chart, so 5,000 more miles to Hawaii and more miles to Southern South America. Now let’s get into the downward spiral.

Awards to Europe currently look like this:

Screen shot 2013-11-01 at 9.30.42 AM60/100/135 for economy, business and first class. Post-devaluation, they’re going to look like this:

Screen shot 2013-11-01 at 9.31.31 AMEconomy awards will remain 60,000 miles roundtrip, but business class awards are increasing 40% to 140,000 miles, and first class awards are up to 220,000 miles – up 85,000 miles or 63%! I love Lufthansa first class as much as the next person, but there’s no way I’m paying 220,000 miles to fly it.

South America business and first class awards are only up 5,000-10,000 miles over current levels, which hardly seems much at all after those Europe numbers.

Screen shot 2013-11-01 at 9.33.42 AMTo get to either Northern or Southern Africa, you’ll be paying 80/160/260, instead of 80/120/150 for economy, business and first. That’s right – a first class ticket will now be 110,000 miles more expensive – that’s a 73% jump.

Screen shot 2013-11-01 at 9.35.22 AMIn what is the largest bump, first class redemptions to the Middle East will now be 280,000 miles roundtrip! That’s up from 150,000 miles – an 87% jump.

Screen shot 2013-11-01 at 9.40.10 AMSo whereas before you’d be paying 80/120/150 for economy, business or first, you’ll now be paying 85/160/280.

Now let’s get to Asia, where using United miles on Star Alliance partners like Singapore, ANA and Thai has been a great deal in the past. Here’s what the new chart will look like for that region:

Screen shot 2013-11-01 at 9.41.55 AMAnd just to give you the quick rundown of mileage increases by award here…

Japan: +5,000 in economy, +30,000 in business, +85,000 in first
North Asia: +5,000 in economy, +40,000 in business and +100,000 in first
South Asia: +15,000 in economy, +40,000 miles in business and +120,000 miles in first
Central Asia: +5,000 in economy, +40,000 miles in business and +120,000 miles in first

Finally, getting to Oceania and Australia/New Zealand is also getting a lot more expensive. Though economy award remain the same for both, to get to Oceania, you’ll be paying 150,000 miles instead of 120,000 miles in business, and a whopping 220,000 miles instead of 150,000 miles in first class – an increase of 70,000 miles!

To Australia/New Zealand, business class redemptions will be up 25,000 miles to 160,000, and first class awards will require 260,000 miles roundtrip – an increase of 100,000 miles.

All in all, this is a lot of very disappointing news, but it is not the end of the world. These devaluations always and always will happen periodically and the key is to stay ahead of the game. While it stings, it is a good reminder of why it is important to diversify your points and miles portfolio to maximize your earnings however possible. There are more ways than ever to accrue miles on everything from everyday spending to lucrative credit card sign-up bonuses and those will still be around.

Speaking of which, although your first impulse might be to complain to United – and you should do so constructively by calling MileagePlus and formally voicing your concerns and dismay – if you are a Chase credit cardholder of one of the products that accrues United miles like the United Explorer, Sapphire Preferred or Ink Bold and Ink Plus, it would also be a good idea to call the bank and tell them how frustrated you are because the points you earn with their cards are worth much less now. Chase is a major partner of United and pays for the miles it distributes to cardholders, so they have a huge stake in the value of the MileagePlus program, so it’s important that you let the bank know that these devaluations really impact consumers. They’ll relay that negative feedback to United, and possibly effect some positive change.

If you wish to do so, you can contact Chase Customer Service here, or call 1-800-432-3117. In the meantime I’m off to start booking all my Star Alliance awards before this devaluation goes into place!

Disclaimer: The responses below are not provided or commissioned by the bank advertiser. Responses have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the bank advertiser. It is not the bank advertiser's responsibility to ensure all posts and/or questions are answered.

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  • D

    … united moving towards sky pesos?

  • Dieuwer

    After this devaluation, it seems the Chase Sapphire Preferred is MUCH MORE valuable than the United Explorer card.

  • thepointsguy

    Correct.. better earning and more options to transfer to other partners, unless you get tons of value out of the free checked bag benefit/auto insurance coverage on the Explorer

  • thepointsguy

    United miles are still wildly more valuable than SkyMiles.. but it is a step in that negative direction!

  • Dieuwer

    It a shame because the one thing that made United more attractive than Delta was their mileage scheme. However, now that is it almost on par with Skymiles and taking into account the jaded and disgruntled UA employees, I can see a lot of high-value customers moving to Delta.

  • thepointsguy

    Yea- even though SkyMiles are worth less, the experience on Delta is night and day. And with the ability to generate tons of credit card points it may make sense to fly an airline that is run well and then redeem your points on other airlines, which is kind of what I do right now with United. Fly Delta, redeem United when I want valuable awards (though that may change come 2014)

  • Paul

    if i book now and make a change after 2/1, will i be forced to pay the new rates?

  • Traveler

    So what’s the best Star Alliance carrier now? Air Canada? Thinking about putting more spend on Amex and less on Sapphire Preferred because of this.

  • thepointsguy

    Sadly Aeroplan has had a ton of devaluations and they charge crazy fees, so United still may be the better option. Amex also has Singapore and ANA, but you may get hit with fuel surcharges on both depending on your redemption and ANA doesn’t allow one-way awards.

  • thepointsguy

    I believe so, yes

  • Diotallevi

    I fly out of EWR a lot so I naturally used to fly United a lot. I pretty much shit-canned United when I lost lounge access via the Amex Platinum Card. I can fly to most of my former United destinations using a combination of Delta and US Airways, and I love the little Delta lounge at the Delta terminal at EWR.

  • Jared

    I fly United for work because of the one-way trip to Lagos so have a ton of miles. I couldn’t stomach barely realizing $.01/mile for domestic or most flights to Europe so I just book the wife and I a trip to Seychelles for anniversary. I got two business class tickets for 240k round trip…….regular price would’ve come in somewhere around $25k+, so I’m pretty pumped about to realize $.10+/mile! The flight to Fiji was pretty tempting as well but much better value to Seychelles. It hooks into Ethiopian Air with StarAlliance. Does anyone have any experience flying EA?

  • Alex

    Do you know if the free stopover will still be allowed, such as stopping in Europe on the way from the US to South Asia?

  • nsfw

    I would guess yes. Otherwise people would book ten months out and then 9 months and 29 days later they would call up to move the trip out another 10 months.

  • Jerryxe

    With this devaluation, I will probably change to Amex SPG from Chase Sapphire Preferred, as SPG offers 25% extra AA miles, and now in my valuation, UA is the same with AA.

  • Dieuwer

    LOL! That’s what I do as well!
    I find Delta flight attendant very….classy. Very courteous and friendly. Compared to UA or US in F where they said: “he bro, here’s your drink”… and slammed it on my tray table.

  • JTP

    Saw a post on FT that called the new program PillagePlus…. haha

  • Justus

    Funny that nobody mentioned that the coach awards did not increase much. People are complaining that business and first class awards went way up. Didn’t you understand the message hat UA and Star Alliance partners are sending here? They DO NOT want credit card collectors flying in their premium cabin. They are tired of seeing pictures of their napkins, soaps, socks, etc… on blogs. People that pay for those seats probably complained so they sent the message.

  • pete

    I use United for their MileagePlus Dining and also their shopping portal because I read that they have the most valuable points. Would you suggest switching to a different program now? Which has the best value after this devaluation? Thanks!

  • GAM

    I called in to Chase and voiced my concern, citing the % increases. The rep was shocked too, as even she used UA miles (a fellow mileage nerd!) and she credited 5,000 points on the spot for my trouble. Definitely give Chase a call because, as she pointed out, if this devaluation makes you switch cards, they want to know why.

  • Tyler Brown

    You make a good point. However, even though I’d probably never use miles for first class (I’m a cheapskate), this moves award redemption for premium seats essentially unachievable for anyone who doesn’t own a business.

  • mmm,no

    you keep cross-posting the same comment, but it simply is not true that coach has not been affected by much. Standard to Europe has gone up by 10k miles each way. For a family of four that is an additional 80k miles, just to be able to go home and see family, go on holiday, etc…. that makes a difference

  • Diego

    Wow. After the news, I´m glad I decided months ago to diversify star alliance miles with Lifemiles (though they have had unpopular unnanounced changes)

  • dividedmileageplus

    Not surprised, saw this coming for UA after the HHonors devaluation. Luckily for me unloaded $ 6k worth of UA to a mil eage bro ker …. Intl coach for me now :^(

  • JTP

    ehhhh. More like shift from Freedom to SPG (on non-bonus categories) but.. still think CSP is more valuable than SPG.

  • Justus

    I read many blogs and wanted to leave the message to different readers. Bloggers do a great job by informing us readers of great deals but over communication and bragging about how cheap is to fly first class with points also kills the deals. Swiss did this the other day by shutting down first class award availability. People pay sometimes $20k to fly on those seats and they do not want to share the cabin with sometimes very un classy people that are only there because of credit cards. I am sorry if I am being to radical here but this is the truth.

  • Ryan

    65,000 r/t to SE Asia to 80,000 r/t economy?? Holy crap that is a HUGE increase…did anyone know this was coming? Goodbye mileageplus explorer card….what a waste!

  • Joe S.

    Brian-you should write a piece on alternatives to UA. I loved redeeming for Star Alliance premiums, but will do so no longer using UA miles. Write something to counter this…tackling ANA mileage-based, US Airways, and Lifemiles. those are still really good options and maybe the best replacements for UA. I am certainly no longer xfering my UR points to UA for redemption.

  • Jay

    That may be true, but earning points has never been easier.. all the MS strategies and sign up bonuses..and hundreds of miles blogs touting free/cheap ways to fly first class.. this was inevitable.

  • LarryInNYC

    What other CSP Star Alliance transfer partners exist, if any.

  • thepointsguy


  • jackdaniels2

    Thats what you call bullshit

  • Ben

    So sad. The whole point of these mile programs was to keep you flying on their airline. With all these increases you have to fly quite a few round trips to get a free flight. Due to this fact, now its all about spending $ on a credit card to get miles. I think this will happen every few years for the foreseeable future. As inflation drives up the cost of living, and we are spending more $ on credit cards and miles become easier to attain. Plus, now you can earn miles through portals, dining out, renting cars etc. Heck my business even gives miles away to people who buy computers!

    To me, the increases seem inevitable. I don’t want them to happen. But, I wouldn’t be surprised to one day see premier qualifying miles become more valuable than the normal miles. Like ACTUAL miles flown and PAID FOR will have lower redemption, or maybe you have to couple them with regular award miles. I know many people including myself who haven’t actually paid for a flight in years.

    I don’t know which is better however. Increasing miles or fees. The airlines will continue to do both but I’d take the increase in miles over fees any day.

  • Nick

    Just called Chase to voice my displeasure. Hope other people do as well.

  • hdawg

    Are you a United Chase card holder or CSP/INK?

  • RG

    this just sucks and too think I had wanted to switch from AA to UA as my main airline because chase has become my main bank now; partially thanks this blog for teaching me how to use BA miles… honestly I wish chase could do something about the high BA fuel charges for international travel …. Especially in light of the UA deval…

  • Fair Dincum

    May be for you but not in general. United Explorer gives a 10K bonus after 25K spend, which is way better than the 7% of CSP, plus other things like a free checked bag and priority boarding. I’ll likely keep both.

  • GAM

    CSP & Freedom holder.

  • Larry D

    I’m intrigued on the separate Award Chart for United vs. Partners. Miles and More limits (and in most cases prohibits) first class redemptions on their airlines. United changing baggage policy for Star Alliance Gold (now 1 bag) and Silver (now zero bags), and Air Canada space not being equally available among partners? (See MileValue’s post on Oct 22). Sounds like there’s a lot of issues at Star Alliance.

  • joeypore

    I just spoke with a Chase rep who noted my concerns about this change.
    She refused to see how this would affect Chase customers, citing that the majority of people transfer to Southwest or cash out their points. Pretty sad to hear that, if it is true.

    But in any case, I should have hung up and tried to get another rep. She wasn’t seeing the issue with the card, and kept trying to offer alternatives that weren’t really alternatives… Wish there was a direct corporate number to people who really understood the weight of things like this, but I’m just dreaming…

  • Matt

    Very disappointing. There have been two major blows to the program in the last few months. First was the change fees for award bookings and now the hefty miles increase. Looks like I may be moving my credit card and preferred flights to US or American.

  • Flyer Fun

    I agree. I am going to get rid of my Mileageplus explorer card. And tell Chase why. Star Alliance is one of the main reasons I wanted to be !K. Oh, by the way, am about to complete my status match with American to Executive Platinum.

  • ROB

    i called chase exec office, i explained to them that they may have less people applying for chase cards in future and not happy with their reward partner UA devaluation.212) 270-3928 He told me if they receive more feed backs and learns more about this, they will look to see if UA broke the rules cos chase has agreement with UA.Absolutely disgusting! start a Twitter campaign.
    Include United and chase in every tweet with the hashtag
    #unitedunfriendly. Spread it everywhere and overwhelm their Twitter

    [email protected] needs to hear from everyone

    twitter/united facebook united airlines

    Two tier award charts? What’s the purpose of being in an alliance, then??

  • Rashad Powell

    I’m still fairly new to the frequent flyer game (11 months). I don’t really have any united miles except for the UR points that I could transfer. But I did take it upon myself to tweet united and I also called chase to voice my concerns. I’ve done my part

  • Michelle S

    “United has worked extremely hard at disenfranchising their most loyal customers” <—This is an understatement!

  • Skyy

    do you mind telling me what this is “complete my status match with American to Executive Platinum?” Thanks

  • SE Asia Flyer

    According to US Insider on FT,

    “Our existing change process will apply. Changes to awards that require a change in date do not result in a change to the award price. Any other change will require an add/collect in miles and fees for changes or cancellations will still apply as per our existing rules
    Aaron Goldberg
    Sr. Manager – Customer Experience Planning
    United Airlines”

    So the question is how many time could we change the date? Can we book multiple award tickets now and keeping changing dates after Feb 1, 2014 so that we could use them in 2015, 2016, 2017, etc? Any other restrictions to do that?

  • UnitedChase

    No credit points were given after calling Chase MileagePlus customer service.

  • Flyer Fun

    I am 1K but fly on my own dime. To get 1K I have been flying to Asia for vacation, plus a few extra side trips (like Dublin last year, thank you points guy), to put myself over the 1K threshold. My flying spending in was between $5,000 and $7,500 inclusive of taxes.

    When they announced the $10,000 spending requirement (excluding taxes), I called up American Airlines and asked if they had a Status Match or Challenge to Executive Platinum for 1Ks. They said said yes. They gave me a match (match is free, challenge costs money (around $200 for Platinum, no idea what it would be for Executive Platinum) Immediate Executive Platinum status from 10/1/13 to 12/31/13. Continuance of Executive Platinum status (including the 8 eVIPs) until 2/28/15 if I fly 25K points (elite miles) in the 3 months period from 10/1/13 to 12/31/13. I will complete the required flying by 12/15/13.

    I am so so so so so so glad I did this.

  • ben

    no points given to me either. She was rude, said its not chase’s fault and to call united to complain. All in all, Chase/United are about the 2 most customer unfriendly companies out there. I spend so much money with them yet they just don’t give anything back.

  • Rufuss C. Kingsotn

    Forget about changing dates…. what about changing carriers and routes. I can book stuff now for UA flights, but in the weeks or days before departure I could change to LH or ANA as seats open up. Same thing for after departure for the way back as stuff opens up… How does that work?

  • Gopal

    I think, deadline is 1 year from the original booking date.

  • Dieuwer

    The 10K bonus is only once. The CSP gives you 7% every year.

  • trey

    not true. award seats are generally unsold seats and there is capacity control on how many biz/1st class seats are designated as one. it’s not as though the premium cabins are getting filled up by mainly non revenue flyers.

  • trey

    you can change but isn’t there a 1yr expiration on the award? say, U redeem 80000 miles in Jan’14. trip must be made by Jan’15.

  • Seri Kelana Mokhtar

    It’s either this or fuel surcharge … lesser of two evils perhaps..

  • Jay

    Contact Chase, this is their response:

    “Thank you for contacting Chase about your Ink Plus


    I wish to inform you that there are no changes to the

    points transfer from your Ink Plus account to United

    MileagePlus. In the past you could transfer points to

    your United MileagePlus account at 1:1 value. 20,000

    Ultimate Rewards Points = 20,000 United MileagePlus Award

    Miles. This had not changed and remains the same. You

    can continue to transfer points to your United MileagePlus

    account at the same value. Points can only be transferred

    in 1,000 point increments.

    For questions regarding the change in the value of miles

    while redeeming them at United, I request you to contact

    United Airlines directly.

    I appreciate your business with Chase. If you have any

    further questions, please reply using the Secure Message


    AKA go contact United if you have a problem, not us.

  • shay peleg

    Let’s do it everyone!

  • Ryan

    I don’t have any status on any airline, but I am a frequent traveler for pleasure (especially internationally). I used to work for a travel company and spent a lot of time in Thailand from 2007 – 2011 in which I made many friends. Whenever flying in the past domestically I have always tried my best to book United to accrue enough miles to fly to Thailand to see all my friends on leisure trips. I’ve since gone 3 times via miles for 65000 round trip. A jump from 65000 to 80000 r/t to SE Asia is HUGE for someone like me. I will now simply book whatever airline is cheapest for my future domestic flights. It’s no longer worth putting the extra money into United to accrue miles that hold much less value. Sad day. Don’t most airlines give their FFs 6 – 12 months to book when this sort of thing happens? Having to book by Jan 31 is crazy. No warning, no time – “you were loyal to us and flew our airline exclusively and have our credit card, now its time to redeem your award….oh wait sorry – that’s too bad! Thanks for being a loyal customer though…”

  • shay peleg

    Actually if you wanna fly sky team partners then sky miles are wildly more valuable compared to wanting to fly star alliance partners

  • Fred R

    Does it still make sense to accrue miles on UA or is there another Star Alliance FF card that would now make sense. I have an AC Aeroplan one just for the AMEX transfer points (I also have ANA but since they don’t do one-ways I figure I’ll never use it… I guess it could make sense if you can change the return date for free or for a very low fee…). Should get a a Singapore FF account?

  • Rich

    If I book award travel before February 2014, but the travel dates are after Feb 2014, will it be on the old rates or the new devalued rates?

  • Dee

    Hmmm. This might explain why I got a call from Chase today asking if I was happy with my two Ink business cards and the transfer partners they offer. They also asked if I used any other business cards regularly. I was honest and told them I use the Amex SPG and the benefits they offer. I was perplexed about why they called. I did get the rep to order new Chase Sapphire cards for me while I had her on the phone. Had’t read this post yet, or I would have told her that I wasn’t happy about it.

  • ben

    No its every year, you get 10k after 25k spend

  • Matt

    I called as well. I was basically asked why I was calling Chase and not United. I have the CSP and Freedom card. Those are my main spending cards.

  • Gregory Feczko

    Vote with your points people. United doesn’t give one red cent about you — only its bottom line. The more we ignore United, the better off everyone is. Fly another airline :)

  • thepointsguy

    Yep.. Stay tuned

  • thepointsguy

    It is actually a yearly benefit of the card, so it might make sense to still keep the card

  • thepointsguy

    As long as you book before feb 1 it will be at the current rates- even for future travel up to a year later

  • ROB

    United’s Newest Customer Unfriendly Campaign: Increase the Cost of
    Award Tickets,raising the mileage redemption levels for some awards over
    60%. We don’t have to take this sitting down!

    -Retweet my Tweet here and send your own tweets to @United with the hashtag: #UnitedUnfriendly

    The more you post the quicker mainstream media will pick up on this story. Let’s get it trending!

    -Express your displeasure to Chase (Twitter: @Chase, @Chase Support)
    about these changes. Chase buys billions of dollars of United miles and
    isn’t likely to be happy that they’ve been devalued. They’re especially
    not going to be happy to lose customers to cards like the Starwood AMEX.
    If anyone has the power to put pressure on United it’s Chase.

    -Contact United CEO Jeff Smisek and let him know how these changes
    will affect your travel patterns and credit card spending. He can be
    reached at [email protected]

    -If you feel that an 87% increase is just flat-out unfair you can
    also file a complaint with the US DOT. Sure United is free to do what
    they want, but this devaluation simply doesn’t happen if Continental and
    United were still competing. Delta and Northwest miles have gone from
    being worthwhile to being worthless thanks to their merger. Let the DOT
    know that you feel an 87% increase in the cost of some awards is unfair
    to consumers and that you want to see the DOT keep fighting the
    American-USAirways merger in court. If that merger goes through you can
    be sure we’ll be seeing more painful changes like this one. To Europe

    Business class increases by 7,500 miles to 57,500 miles each way on
    United flights and by 12,500 miles to 80,000 miles each way in First

    Business class increases by 20,000 miles to 70,000 miles each way on
    Star Alliance flights and by 42,500 miles to 110,000 miles each way in
    First Class.

    This is clearly designed to get you to stop redeeming for First Class awards on partner airlines!

    4. To India

    Coach award increase by 2,500 miles to 42,500 miles on United
    flights. Business class increases by 10,000 miles to 70,000 miles aeach
    way on United flights and by 10,000 miles to 90,000 miles each way in
    First Class.

    Coach award increase by 2,500 miles to 42,500 miles on Star Alliance
    partners such as Lufthansa etc. Business class increases by 20,000 miles
    to 80,000 miles each way on Star Alliance partner flights

    And increases by 60,000 miles to 140,000 miles each way in First Class. It used to be 160,000 miles for a round-trip!

    This is clearly designed to get you to stop redeeming for First Class awards on partner airlines!

    5. To South Asia (Thailand, Singapore etc.)

    Coach award increase by 7,500 miles to 40,000 miles on United
    flights. Business class increases by 10,000 miles to 70,000 miles each
    way on United flights and by 10,000 miles to 90,000 miles each way in
    First Class.

    Coach award increase by 7,500 miles to 40,000 miles each way on Star
    Alliance partners such as Lufthansa, etc. Business class increases by
    20,000 miles to 80,000 miles each way on Star Alliance partner flights.

    And First Class increases by 60,000 miles to 130,000 miles each way.
    This is clearly designed to get you to stop redeeming for First Class
    awards on partner airlines!

    6. To Australia or New Zealand

    No change to coach awards (40,000 miles) on United flights. Business
    class increases by 2,500 miles to 70,000 miles each way on United
    flights and remains the same in First Class.

    Coach awards remain the same (40,000 miles) each way on Star Alliance
    partners such as Lufthansa, etc. Business class increases by 12,500
    miles to 80,000 miles each way on Star Alliance partner flights.

    And First Class increases by 50,000 miles to 130,000 miles each way.
    This is clearly designed to get you to stop redeeming for First Class
    awards on partner airlines!

    7. To Japan

    Coach award increase by 2,500 miles to 35,000 miles on United
    flights. Business class increases by 5,000 miles to 65,000 miles each
    way on United flights and increases by 12,500 miles to 80,000 miles each
    way in First Class.

    Coach award increase by 2,500 miles to 35,000 miles each way on Star
    Alliance partners such as Lufthansa, etc. Business class increases by
    15,000 miles to 75,000 miles each way on Star Alliance partner flights.

    And First Class increases by 42,500 miles to 110,000 miles each way.
    This is clearly designed to get you to stop redeeming for First Class
    awards on partner airlines!

  • Mohsin

    Does this change how much you value Chase Ultimate Rewards vs AMEX?

  • Paul

    per this page, the 10k bonus for 25k or more spend is each calendar year.

  • Karl Mitchell

    Definitely a painful devaluation, and I’d go so far as to say that I now value AA miles (1.8) more than UA (1.75 down from 2.0). I’d also go so far as to say that, as of February 1st, I will value Amex Membership Rewards higher than Chase Ultimate Rewards, in part thanks to their transfer bonuses, whereas before it was marginally the other way around. Air Canada and British Airways are suddenly looking like good value! Oh how things change.

  • RogerKint

    Platinum on both United and Delta – need to pick one for next year (unlikely to fly enough to keep both) – which should I pick?

  • RogerKint

    LAX based if that makes a diff…

  • Danny

    Depends on what you care about more. Delta is widely considered a better product/experience, and has a little bit better reach. United miles are still more valuable than Delta miles (even after this devaluation). Do you care more about the service/experience during flying, or more about accruing the most valuable miles?

  • Chris

    No points for me as well. Not only that, but the guy on the phone was just listening, not even an attempt…Then he said, it is not Chase’s fault, anything else I can do for you!

  • shay peleg

    How big are the changes if you are not originating from the states? for instance i noticed middle east to Australia is not so bad right?

  • shay peleg

    This is a blog for those credit card people

  • r0m8470

    Does UA use their own award chart on long haul trips when the trip is mixed between UA and one of their Star Alliance partner? Say, fly to SE Asia, the first leg is on UA, the second is on ANA or Thai … which chart apply? The UA chart or the Star Alliance chart?

  • r0m8470

    Wondering if anybody start thinking about what to call this program? MileagePuss? MileageCuss? MileageMinus? MileageBust?

  • GettingtoAsia

    @TPG: Seems to me that one of the biggest impacts is travel to Asia! United metal has pretty good frequency to Europe, but more often that not getting to Asia required flying on a SA Partner. Could you please post on the best ways to get to Asia considering these changes! Would be very helpful for all of us who travel to Asia frequently on miles. Thanks in advance!

  • chris

    If this isn’t strong evidence (that consolidation hurts consumers) against a US/AA merger, I don’t know what is.

  • ohsosudden

    The front-line advisors at Chase should never be informed of anything that will impact their line of business by a client.
    Being “shocked” is not in the job description. Keep your advisors abreast of information; the response of the reps needs to represent the position of the institution.

  • Lizzie Rosenberg

    I agree! Would love to know which new direction to take :)

  • RW

    United is the worst. I had a cross country flight booked with my wife, so we opted for the economy plus at $59 each both ways. Shortly after we booked, my wife was diagnosed with cancer, and her surgery meant cancelling the trip. I was given a credit, and they’ll refund part of the $200 change if I rebook within the expiration, but they never credited me for my extra fare seats. The policy on the website says the upgrade fee is automatically credited (it is billed separately and not part of the ticket). For months, the credit failed to materialize, so I requested a refund. Credit for my wife’s extra fare was given immediately. My first request was rejected because it didn’t match the invoice number (the invoice number I was given had one more digit than the website form expected). The second fixed the invoice problem, but rejected my credit claiming that the extra fare was not refundable if the tickets weren’t used (despite the fact that they had already refunded my wife’s fare on the same reservation number). My last attempt to resolve this over the phone was so frustrating I gave up. A travel agent suggested going to the airport and working with a counter agent, they’ll know the rules and will probably treat us with a bit more compassion than the drones on the phones. I don’t want the ticket
    credit because I don’t want to fly on their airline.

  • BriCo

    Points Guy: Information like this should somehow be pointed out to the Justice Department in their list of reasons why the AA-US merger will be harmful to consumers. The kinds of changes United is doing (and undoubtedly which other airlines will copy), show what real [negative] leverage they have when competition is curtailed.

  • Leon Rbibo

    I just called Chase and gave them hell. Problem with booking ahead of the devaluation is that I use most of my miles with United for Lufthansa business and first class, which only allows bookings 14 days within departures and really 48 hours before departure at the earliest of you’re booking for a difficult airport like LAX

  • Gatorgirl

    ok so I have just applied for the Ink bold and the Mileage explorer card in an attempt to accrue miles to get to south Africa. Now I hear this news-ugh!! what to do now? Just changed everything over to these and already have Chase sapphire Preferred. Any advice? they still have best alliance partnerships but sucks that it will take so much more to fly business/FC. any ideas

  • Alexander Onishchenko

    First they give you 25% bonus for transferring your all other points to them, a month later they increase the reward levels.
    If I took advantage of that promotion to consolidate my leftover points in other programs, I’d be pissed.
    Well, I’m pissed nonetheless.

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  • 1k, Diamond, and Exec Plat

    The expected partial fallout of mileage junkies (including me) might be a good thing. Maybe this will help them become a better airline rather than focussing on bribing passengers to fly them despite their bad service, old fleet, and sub par on time rate.

    Case in point: Delta has improved tremendously over the last few years. The only complaint could possibly be the devaluation of miles. But if it was a zero sum situation (which it might well be – I am not completely aware of airline’s cost structures in order to make that judgment) – I would much rather have an airline that provides great service, punctuality, and better amenities – than higher valued miles.

  • Disunited

    Frustrating! Not to mention time becomes so much more precious after hearing such news. I am so sorry.

  • Glw

    The increase in miles required to fly on partner airlines us a clear indication of how much better the partner airlines are, or…. how much worse UA is. I have used miles to fly Thai FC from the US to Bangkok; on similar routes the UA FC product is indescribably poor in comparison. I was wedded to UA miles because of the Star Alliance partners but now it’s time for a rethink. Agree with others that have voiced the view that It would be good if UA was an airline of choice because of a quality product rather than mileage discounts.

  • Mathew

    So then which Star Alliance airline should one switch too? Who offers the best combo of award ticket cost/gold status/etc…?

  • matthewsf

    Brian: was this ever answered/clarified….if a change (21+ days) in DATE also happens to have a change in the carrier and routing (but same origin/destination)..will that trigger newer point levels?

    “Our existing change process will apply. Changes to awards that require a change in date do not result in a change to the award price. Any other change will require an add/collect in miles and fees for changes or cancellations will still apply as per our existing rules
    Aaron Goldberg
    Sr. Manager – Customer Experience Planning
    United Airlines”

  • GSales

    After screwing up our entire weekend plans to attend a once-in-a-lifetime wedding in Seattle, United Airlines offered a canned apology and 2K miles… less than 1/10 a price of a domestic ticket!! If you’ve ever waited on tables, it’s like getting a $2 tip on a $100 check! No thanks. (Just imagine how much I’d have to pay if I had to cancel and rebook a flight!)

  • dcdlh

    Did anyone happen to save the “unfriendly” notification United put on their website: UA would not credit frequent flyer miles unless
    the ticket is purchased using the passenger’s own credit card effective January
    2014. It’s no longer there but I’ve had three people tell me this in as many days.

  • Jesse

    I just want to make sure of what I have read. I am traveling to Australia on Jan 8, 2015 but as you know, I cannot book them yet and I am returning Jan 31, 2015. If what I read is correct, I can pick 2 dates, inbound and outbound in Dec 2014 and change the dates once my travel dates are released by United at the lower rate of 160000 miles in Global First for no extra charge???

    I hope you answer this before the 31 of Jan.

    Thank you!

  • FYI

    United Airlines LAX-TYO United Plus seat Cost:

    From Los Angeles to Tokyo on a United 787 Dreamliner the Plus section of seats ranges from $139- $177 extra depending where the seat is. Middle seats were only $5-$10 cheaper.

    From Tokyo to San Francisco on a United 747 ranged from $113-$139.

  • FallSky

    But it really isn’t Chase’s fault.

  • FallSky

    I agree this is pretty customer unfriendly. If they’re going to do something like this they should at least follow Delta and Southwest and make it where points are earned according to how much one spends with the airline while at the same time make it easier to redeem miles that are earned. This redemption increase not only does not award the highest paying customers but punishes everyone in the FF program.

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