United Moves to Revenue Frequent Flyer Program for 2015

by on June 10, 2014 · 110 comments

in United

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Airlines are big copycats when it comes to negative changes and it looks like United and their un-creative folks in the MileagePlus program are proving that once again. Today United confirmed that starting in March 2015, like Delta, they will be moving to a revenue-based frequent flyer program in 2015. Simply put, they’ll stop awarding you miles based on the distance of your flights, but instead based on how much money you spend per flight. There will be a number of total factors taken into account including: “..the actual ticket price, purchased ticket routing, fare class, Premier status, residency and ticket issue date.” Simple, right? Ha.
United Revenue Mileage

The amount you earn depends mostly on your elite level.
General members: 5 miles per dollar
Silver Premier: 7 miles per dollar
Gold Premier: 8 miles per dollar
Platinum Premier: 9 miles per dollar
1k: 11 miles per dollar: 11 miles per dollar

I wonder where they came up with these earning amounts. Actually, never mind, they just copied them from Delta’s earning ratios, which are the same for their general and 4 elite tiers:

Delta's revenue earning tiers

Delta’s revenue earning tiers

If you book tickets on Star Alliance partners (and they are not ticketed on United as a codeshare) you will still earn miles flown, but remember they will not count towards United Premier Qualifying Dollars, which is the revenue elite status program that is already in place. This may still be an option though if you are a United credit cardholder who spends $25,000 or more and is exempt from the Premier Qualifying Dollar program (note: 1k Members cannot spend on the credit card for the revenue exemption- they must spend $10,000 or more on qualifying flights).

Redemption Side
United is touting “exciting new ways” to use your miles in 2015 as well, including Economy Plus upgrades, subscriptions and checked bags. I don’t suspect these redemption options will offer remotely decent value (of more than 1 cent per mile), but we will have to wait and see because no details were given. Hopefully United is satisfied with their massive devaluation in February 2014 that they won’t need to water down their program even more in 2015.

Bottom Line
This change is good for those of your who spend huge amounts on tickets and fly shorter distances. For the general traveler, this is a reduction in value earned from the program, but to see whether you come out on top or bottom, calculate how many miles you earned from flying last year and how much you spent. It isn’t an easy calculation and I’m pretty confident that most people are not on the winning end of the equation.

I’m very happy that I am an American Airlines elite member who doesn’t have to deal with revenue requirements and now revenue based mileage earning. Will that change? Potentially, but until then I’m going to give American my business and I suggest if you’re a United flyer and unhappy with these changes, you let United know via letter, call, Twitter and Facebook or simply vote with your wallet and status match/challenge to an airline that better rewards your loyalty.

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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  • tigermark82

    I think this would actually help me compared to actual miles flown since most of my flights are short east coast flights. I don’t think this is so bad as long as they don’t devalue the miles (more). I’m married to US/AA though since I live in CLT.

  • SeaBee3

    I doubt there is any “potentially” about AA – they will follow suit next year. No way Parker is going to watch this massive shift for the airlines’ bottom line and not jump in with both feet (if not make it worse).

  • thepointsguy

    Well, then at least I have one more year of better earning and I don’t reward those who are fundamentally watering down the value of frequent flyer programs.

  • thepointsguy

    Some people definitely make out in the revenue based programs. And United isn’t threatening “new award tiers” or a fundamental shift in redeeming YET, so I was less worried about their announcement than Delta’s earlier this year when they teased huge changes to redemptions, but provided no details.

  • Craig Chu

    Can’t wait to see how they reconcile this with transfer partners like Starwood and Chase. Sigh.

  • Daniel

    Let’s not complain … This is good for credit card users—it makes flying less relevant, and MR/UR/SPG point rewards and sign-up bonuses (especially) valuable. And I think it makes it less likely that there will be another immediate devaluation on the award charts.

  • Koalakins

    I usually just read the articles and go on my merry way, but when I read this on United’s website this morning I immediately came here to see what everyone thought about it. To be honest, for someone that has traveled to Brazil and back and is on her way to another far away land, I think this is the worst possible change and this is the exact reason I have stayed so far away from Delta… Not to mention their terrible airplanes… Hehehe. But seriously, an approximate 8,400 miles for a trip that’s a little less than that for ONE WAY? No. I think not. I am rethinking my status with United. I might have to hop on over to American Airlines where my miles will be counted as such and not go through a huge devaluation. Adding positivity, this is great for those that fly to the next state over. You will most likely earn a lot more miles than before.

  • HenryJMorton

    It isn’t an easy calculation and I’m pretty confident that most people are not on the winning end of the equation.

  • Doug

    This is really disappointing. I analyzed my 2014 YTD flying, and of my 22 flights on UA metal, only one of them would have earned more miles under this system. Overall, I would have earned 22,147 LESS miles under the 2015 system. As a UA 1K and AA EP member, I have always chosen UA first, but it looks like that is about to change.

  • Sales Result Inc.

    My bet AA will follow within 60 days!!!

  • Mike

    This is simply another massive devaluation, and to be honest I am struggling to understand how United plan on retaining long haul/international routes.

    As an example, SYD-LAX return flights are about USD$1500. The trip is also about 15,000 miles return. So, in the current program if I fly United I accrue 15,000 miles (as a general member). In the new program, I will earn 7,500 miles. That’s a 50% decline.

    If I fly with another Star Alliance member (not United) – say Air NZ or Thai – then I get the full 15,000 miles.

    So, how does United intend on retaining market share on these long haul (i.e. international) flights?

  • Jeremy

    Does anyone know what effect (if any) this would have on our ability to transfer Chase UR points to United’s program?

  • George

    Is this same formula how they’re going to calculate premier status too??

  • Darth Chocolate

    Just wait. Airlines make NO money on CC churners (they probably lose cash) and it is worse for the CC companies. I aplaud the day when they eliminate those scams once and for all! And I tell DL and AMEX about that every chance I get. Once those two figure it out, the rest will follow.

    All is proceeding as I have foreseen.

  • United GS flyer

    This actually makes sense from a business perspective; they are better aligning their incentives to the metrics that matter – revenue in this case. This should have happened a long time ago. (though I understand why folks who enjoy “mileage run deals” would be disappointed).

  • carmelsown

    How does this impact purchases done through third party travel agencies like Orbitz or UR?

  • AmericanRoadKing

    As a frequent flier on UA flying regionally every week, this looks to be a good change for me. I was getting frustrated that people that make 2-4 trips a year to the other side of the world (4-8 segments) would have higher status than me flying 2-4 segments per week, and I’m flying far more with UA and spending way more. It looks like I’ll make out nicely with earning status. Not sure about earning miles yet.

  • sunglassesadvil

    Um, what? This only applies for economy tickets. Most people flying economy are leisure travelers, and I know very few of these that are loyal to one airline for every vacation. Unless they are in a captive market, almost everyone I know picks their flights based on whatever is cheapest – people only go on a few vacations a year, chasing status is rarely worth it unless you also travel for work.

    For business travelers, on the other hand, this is probably a gain. Many (most?) companies allow employees to travel in business class when traveling internationally. While the route you gave as an example is an extreme, as it is one of the longest routes you can fly, most routes business class travelers would come out ahead under the new program. For my job I frequently see business class tickets to Europe for $5-8k (we often book last minute refundable fares, so it can go even higher), so a 8,000 mile RT flight would have previously netted me 14,000 miles without status will now net me 40,000 on the same flight. Big gain for international business travelers.

    This same analysis was done when Delta switched their programs. It really helps short-haul and international business travelers, and hurts transcon economy travelers. As for non-business travelers, those that cared enough to have status are probably hurt unless they are buying premium cabin tickets, but like I said earlier, I know so very very non-business travelers that care about loyalty to an airline – they (rightfully) think all American carriers suck, and as a result book on the lowest priced ticket.

  • sunglassesadvil

    Why would this impact that at all? UA has already sold those miles to transfer partners. Also, Starwood was never really a viable transfer partner to UA. Why would you transfer 2:1 from SPG to UA when you could transfer 1:1 to so many other good airlines?

  • joeypore

    AA, if you’re somehow reading this, you have a HUGE opportunity to gain new flyers. All you have to do is… NOTHING. Leave your reward charts as they are, leave the way you earn miles as is, and even possibly make a marketing push to show how the negative changes Delta & United have made will NOT find their way to American. You guys have a huge opportunity to emerge from the merger successfully, and this aspect is key.

  • sunglassesadvil

    This doesn’t change how you earn status. It’s only a change to how you earn redeemable miles.

  • Mike

    Re first paragraph. There aren’t that many carriers between Australia and USA, and you will find the price difference negligible.

    “Many (most?) companies allow employees to travel in business class when traveling internationally.”
    Not my company (and its a globally recognised IT supplier).

    “While the route you gave as an example is an extreme….”
    Well, I don’t really know what to say to that… It’s not really ‘that’ extreme (for Australians anyways)… You gotta appreciate that Australia is relatively remote. Sydney to Europe is 24 hours each way…. And we don’t have a domestic Star Alliance airline (Ansett was, but that airlines gone for many years now).

    Yes, you make a valid point regarding international business travellers. I acknowledge that. So, essentially, as a non-business traveller, I suffer a 50% decline….. again, remember there aren’t that many carriers offering direct flights between Australia and USA. For decades it used to be a protected market with UAL and Qantas (their cash cow).

  • Brian C. Lee

    I’m OK with this, as long as they don’t touch redemption. Revenue based redemption would be a killer, but revenue based earning is OK, IMO.

  • sunglassesadvil

    Fair enough, but you kind of shot down your own point. If there aren’t many options to fly that route, the UA planes are going to be full anyway. Enough people don’t care about status that even if some people jump to the limited other carriers, the other carriers flights will fill and everyone else will be left to book on UA.

    From a business standpoint, I think this makes a lot of sense still.

  • Mike

    I see where your heading with your first para, but I don’t necessarily agree. I might not take a direct flight, instead I might go AirNZ (via Auckland) or Thai (via Bangkok). I get the miles based on distance. In some cases the fares are actually cheaper than United.

    Maybe better to pose this question:
    Assuming the proposed changes are in place now, what incentive is there for me to fly to USA next week/month on United? Why wouldn’t I book a fare on AirNZ? (Assuming the fares are the identical).

    BTW: A lot of businesses in Australia stipulate that the staff member is to fly the cheapest available fare.

  • sunglassesadvil

    Well one obvious reason is it’s usually more pleasant and quicker to take a direct flight than one with a layover. Routing through NZ might not take a ton more time, but routing through BKK definitely does.

    Look, I agree with you. I totally understand why you personally would no longer remain loyal United.There will certainly be others like you. My point is, I don’t believe there will be THAT MANY people like you. Most people looking at these flights for vacation are going to go with the cheapest and/or most direct flights. And then like you said, for business travelers that have to go with the cheapest flight available, they don’t really have a choice anyway, so the loyalty program is irrelevant.

    I don’t know much about alternative mileage programs servicing Australia. But ultimately, United still has pretty good award availability globally (although not to Australia from the US). So while this shift sucks for some people, miles are still fairly easy to come by via credit cards and shopping portals, and saver tickets are easy to fine. The real kick in the teeth will be if they cut back on the amount of low-level awards tickets.

  • Stephen

    This would’ve helped me this year since I’m just flying up and down the West Coast…oh well! I’ll be on Delta for the rest of the year given that I’m getting 2x miles in and out of Seattle.

  • shay peleg

    They make loads of money from CC churners dude

  • Jay

    Think it depends on the fare as to whether you’d get the full 15,000 miles with Air NZ – their ‘discount’ economy fare only earns a portion (50%?) of the full miles. We’d have flown Air NZ many times to OZ, but each time when looking to book their least expensive fare, the fare did not earn the full miles to United – and comparable fares on other carriers earned full mileage in other programs. Air NZ lost lots of business from us. Not going to pay $200-$400 more per ticket to earn full miles. Took our business elsewhere a long time ago.

  • Mike

    As far as I can tell all Air NZ attract a minimum of 100%, even ‘discount economy’. I just checked and it appears to be the case.

  • Mike

    Yeah, via BKK can be a bit much ;)

    From all the customer posting’s on UAL’s facebook page, I think its safe to say their new program is not receiving positive feedback….

    “although not to Australia from the US”

    In fairness, UAL have (had prior to Feb14) great redemptions from Australia to Europe. But for everything else its pretty poor. Aus-USA is poor. Aus-SouthAm is very poor.

    The only alternative is OneWorld (Qantas) for Australia. There are many MidEast carriers (i.e. Emirates/Etihad/Qatar) that service Australia/Europe routes though.

    The kick in the teeth for Australia is the devaluation in February. Biz/First from Australia to Europe was devalued quite a bit.

  • Jay

    Maybe they’ve changed things. We had communicated with Air NZ regarding these fares and they acknowledged the fares did not earn full miles – they suggested paying >$200 more per ticket to move to a higher fare class that did earn 100% mileage. We flew Qantas, United, Eva.

  • sunglassesadvil

    Yea, of course it’s not receiving positive feedback. I just don’t think it’s going to negatively impact them much. Delta did the exact same thing – I’m sure they monitored that situation and reacted accordingly. Then again, maybe i’m giving them too much credit. Also, I see little reason to believe AA won’t follow, so all of the American carriers will be the same pretty soon.

    Also, I’m pretty sure that, at least in the US, more miles are earned from other means (credit cards, shopping portals, purchasing miles) than through actual flying. There are still tons of ways to get UA miles. I’m crossing my fingers that award availability stays relatively high. That, coupled with their generous routing rules, still makes UA a solid program.

  • Mike

    Maybe it has changed….

    “They suggested paying >$200 more per ticket….”
    I bet. I wish I could tell my clients that “Hey client, I suggest you pay $200 more for my services…” ;)

  • Flyer Fun

    Bingo! They won’t.

    There is a lot of sophistry about how this aligns high spenders with rewards, but at the end of the day, their uncompetitive product will lose market share on long haul flights, especially for those that pay business class. Then United will shrink their network, which will lose high spenders…and so forth. .

  • thepointsguy


  • thepointsguy

    See, they already eviscerated redemptions with the February devaluation… now with this earning devaluation, the value proposition has decreased dramatically in the past year for most people.

  • JRodg

    Similarly, I am a mostly business flyer on United and make many trips around the northeast on a weekly/monthly basis from EWR. I often make my ticket purchases only days in advance (at a premium price), so this will surely increase my miles. The change works in my favor so I’m pleased.

  • Mike

    Don’t get me wrong, I’ve been a loyal UAL member and have flown them where available – or flown Star Alliance where UAL haven’t been available. I always thought Mileage Plus was a solid program.

    I’m in a position now where I will be offloading my miles on a first class tkt to Europe and then I doubt I will maintain my membership, or at least I won’t be so ‘alligned’ with UAL/Star Alliance carriers. It’s a pity because I spoke highly of UAL, especially prior to Feb devaluation.

    That said, the last time I tried to book a flight from MEL to EZE the Mileage Plus girl on the phone tried to book me out of Melbourne Florida. LOL.

    I agree, there are a ton of ways to get miles, but they are predominately for US residents (I.e. the Mileage Plus Chase Card).

  • sunglassesadvil

    +1. I’m pretty sure all American FF programs make money independently of the airline, and this is through selling miles, both to individuals and to credit card companies.

  • thepointsguy

    Vote with your wallet!

  • thepointsguy

    Reward the airlines that reward your business the most…smart move!

  • thepointsguy

    These changes do not affect elite status.. only redeemable miles, so long haul flyers still have a huge advantage over you

  • thepointsguy

    No impact as long as you buy a United ticketed flight through that travel agency

  • thepointsguy

    No.. Premier Status is still calculated on amount you spend and how far you fly and in which fare classes

  • thepointsguy

    No major effect on Chase to United redemptions. They mention some more options to redeem next year, but I doubt they’ll be more valuable than award tickets

  • Brian C. Lee

    No way it’ll be that soon. They’re tied up with the merger, and they won’t do anything until that’s settled.

  • HC

    Unfortunately, in SFO and have the needs to fly to China and Europe, it’s hard to find better flights than United. At least they did not change the elite qualifying rules this time. So I will still get the elite status.

  • TJawesome

    Joeypore, you are so right. However, the “big 3″ are all in it together.

  • Jonathan

    I was planning on canceling my United credit card later this month, and this will for sure be helpful in getting extra miles when trying to cancel.

  • Alix

    Does this just mean you should not deposit miles into United but to another *A carrier instead? If you fly on United and deposit to say SQ, what happens?

  • Branden Wang

    Super happy with these changes, now my weekly last minute short hops up and down the east coast is actually worth something!

  • gpks00

    In response to your sentence ” This may still be an option though if you are a United credit cardholder who spends $25,000 or more and is exempt from the Premier Qualifying Dollar program”
    If they were to also change this with their credit cards, would that likely mean they will have a new card? (implying it would be good to get the current card maybe this year before the changes in early 2015?)

  • Matt C.

    Switched my business to Alaska Airlines when I moved to Seattle, still very happy. Mileage-based status and still get special benefits flying Delta, AA, and other partners.

  • LAKnight

    joeypore, it depends on “when” AA will follow Delta and UA. Speaking of AA, I am still mad AA took away the stopovers couple months ago…

    BTW, don’t forget Alaska Airlines. ;)

  • Vinyl Richie

    For me this is great. I frequently take shorter trips on late tickets. as an example. I am taking a day trip Houston to Dallas next week. I earned 432 miles on a $660 ticket. Unless I’m mistaken I’ll earn more than 10X as many miles with the new rules.

  • Ktzuki

    I pray they do not follow this senseless trend. Since they are merging (AA and USAir) they should look out and try to gather more FF not drive them away! :(

  • LAKnight

    Since Delta had “tweaked” its frequent flyer program, I shifted my focus from US based FF Programs to non-US based FF Programs (ex. BA, Lufthansa, Asiana, or Korean Air). God knows when the rest of US based airlines will follow suit.

    Besides, those non-US based FF Programs I mentioned above have their own co-branded credit cards in the United States.

  • Bob

    Just curious, why not use 4500 Avios or Southwest points for such trips, with all the ways to earn it.

  • Ailee Laham

    does this change anything if you just use chase sapphire card to transfer to mileage plus?

  • Darth Chocolate

    But the CC churners cost the CC companies money because they have to buy miles and get essentially bupkis in return. Especially for you MS freaks. Once they understand that, the programs will wind down.

  • shay peleg

    50k miles costs $250 or less for the credit card company so they are not losing that much but you could say they could be earning more maybe. Also do you really feel bad for the credit card companies which make billions ?

  • Darth Chocolate

    Yeah that’s me on DL. Soon to go on my 4th transatlantic flight in Business Class and my MQD with DL this year is north of $28K. My employer insists that we fly Business and who am I to argue?

    Just compare how much they make off of me and how much they make off of you. Think they profit more from me? And if they choose to reward that behavior with higher status, that is their choice and my benefit.

  • sunglassesadvil

    @darthchocolate:disqus I’m gonna go out on a limb here and say that the CC companies know exactly how much money they are making from these cards. They are financial services companies, after all, so they probably track this stuff closely.

    I’m also fairly certain they get something in return from these cards. There are enough people who keep the cards open and pay the annual fee and/or don’t pay off their statements in full and pay massive amounts of interest to make a profit for the CC companies.

    CC companies have offered bonuses for years and years and continue to post profits, so I’m not sure why people assume the sky is falling from this standpoint. Unless you can point to some information that show CC churners are on the rise and CC profits are declining, I’m pretty sure it will be business as usual.

  • Alex

    I switched all my mile earnings to Alaska. They have a great chance to gain more FF members from this. Banking to AS from DL and AA flights and a bunch of other different alliance members.

  • bluestravel

    I travel about 2/3s of the year and most of that is contracting through companies who pay for my airfare. I am responsible for hotel, rental car, and expenses so I can rack up points here. Bottom line: making a move like this will affect me because I do not pay for the ticket!

    I have noticed this (company benefits, not the traveler) with other travel bonuses/issues. I know it was addressed here I think in an earlier blog: when hotels discount my rate because of an issue with service or the room, I am not the benefactor – the company is. I have discovered though that if you ask, most places will offer compensation in points for example instead of a discounted rate.

    I just received an email from uber saying that for a limited time this summer in San Diego, they will be discounting the price of riding in an uberx by 25%. This is only of value for me if I am working with my own clients or if it is a personal need. I emailed the uber customer service to see if they had another way to offer the deal so that I can take advantage of the discount. Looking forward to the reply :-)

  • architrekt

    I would define myself as one of those like Mike regarding loss of loyalty. My business travel is all domestic US in low fare economy. My personal travel is more geared towards international economy or upgradable fares. Both in total averaging around $10K+ per year. This shift in calculation of award miles, PQD’s, and increase in award redemption levels no longer is in line with my priorities or where I see value. In essence, I have to invest 4 times the time or money into getting an award as I did 2 years ago. I will no longer be going the extra mile to have United as my preferred airlines and will base it on other factors now.

    I know I will still fly them just based on their market share, but if my spending on UA drops by 60% they have lost out on $6K+ per year just from me. Assuming the 2012 passenger total of 140M, and a total of 0.1% just like me, that could be a loss of $840,000,000. Can high-revenue fliers make up that difference plus the current losses of UA? I don’t know, and I don’t see what true extra value they are providing to those in premium cabins.

  • Vinyl Richie

    Personal preference going to hobby adds 2 hours in the car as I live near IAH. And I get reimbursed all the same.

  • carmelsown

    Ok, thank you!

  • Doug Odell

    For those of us who are already 1K, this is a sweet deal. So far this year I have right at 50,000 miles on a spend of about $7,000. Next year, I will have 77,000 miles on the same spend. Am I missing something?

  • Mike

    Honest question. What % of your total annual miles come from paid flights? Making it more difficult for the average person to earn miles makes churning more valuable. Now when they devalue the award chart that is a different issue. Everyone can kick and scream all they want and threaten to take their business elsewhere. If everyone moves to AA then AA will increase the price their flights as a result of increased demand. Bottom line is this is meant to reward travelers who pay the bills. Sure some people lose on the margin for their specific flight patterns but big spenders benefit and they should. Your $250 flight to see grandma doesn’t move the needle. What moves the needle is the business travel who will choose to spend $6k on a United flight vs. $5k on a Delta flight because United is their preferred carrier. My bigger concern is the general race to the bottom now that there are basically three carriers left (bag fees, change fees, close in booking fees, fees fees.) Thanks FTC!

  • Marcel

    Ive been Gold and Platinum with United for past 5 years, this changes things somewhat for me. I do a mix of planned and last minute flights and have made sure they were on UA or USAir pre AA Merger. I don’t know if status is really that important anymore per se, I can get the cards which give me a free bag, pay extra for a better seat and if I fly out of Lower 48 or Transcon company policy is business class. I can buy Global Entry and get TSA Pre with that so what is does United have to offer me? Its not like their planes or amenities/catering are that fabulous on domestic and while I’ve gotten a few UDU’s cleared, they have started to price them so low close to flight time that I have actually bought them a few times now.

    For me the biggest impact of this is the around $20k that I have been spending with them a year might be sprinkled around more liberally and in some cases more conveniently for me than UA. Its been a okay ride but since I get to buy and then expense my tickets on my own this opens up some new horizons.

  • The other mike

    Yes – the last minute business traveler benefits the most. So a small percentage of traveles will benefit and the rest shod be figuring out if it matters or find another airline.

    United has been going downhill for a while so it’s not a hard choice to do a status match and move on.

  • 1K Rick

    Are you basing your 50,000 miles as actual miles flown? Don’t forget the current program gives you another 100% bonus, which won’t exist in the new program, right? If this is the case, you would earn 100,000 miles for 50,000 miles flown. Based on that, you would earn 23,000 less with the new program.

  • Artpen100

    For me, the jury is still out on this. More than half of my miles are from credit cards. Status just does not make much of a difference anymore. At this point, I mainly pick flights (mainly for business that pays only for economy, half international) based on cost, quality of the product and convenience (times and directness). UA is usually not at the top of the list for quality of product, but for my routes they often have an advantage in direct flights. Where a need for direct flight or specific times does not drive me to UA, the only other thing that could get me to select UA would be ability to upgrade at booking with miles. But that rarely seems available the last year or so. Just yesterday, I was comparing direct UA business class flights to Europe in the fall to direct AF premiere. No upgrades with miles were available on United. UA had been cheaper for a while (a nice amount, but borderline as to whether it was enough for me to go UA), but then yesterday, AF matched it. Result is I bought AF.

  • Abhi

    So if I am doing the math right, I am Global Services and spend about $9000 every time I fly United for an Asia trip; then I will earn 99,000 miles?

  • TheyCallMeEllis

    You do know that many business travelers also fly economy based on policy, right? I work for a 50k+ person company, and the only folks that can fly business are SVP or above (which is a very small number compared to the thousands of the rest of us that fly multiple times per week, all in economy).

  • TheyCallMeEllis

    They never followed up with the qualifying dollars (MQDs) that Delta introduced and UAL immediately parroted.

  • sunglassesadvil

    Yea, I do know that, that’s why I said many companies, not most. And I was specifically referring to international travel, although I’m fully aware many companies do not allow business class on international travel. But United (and other carriers) clearly covet the premium cabin international travelers, as it makes them far more money, and this largely benefits those people.

    Obviously United is going to lose certain customers from this. But everyone fully suspects AA to follow suit, and if all US legacy carriers earn miles at the same rate, what does it matter? As long as united still has the best low-level awards availability and most generous routing rules, enough people will probably stick with them. On the other hand, if we’re all wrong and AA doesn’t shift their model… they could get a lot of people.

  • TheyCallMeEllis

    Well, AA didn’t follow on MQDs from Delta, although UA did nearly immediately. So AA does tend to follow their own path. We’ll see.

  • jim

    Does anyone know how this will effect you if most of your tickets are booked through a third party? My company requires using a travel agent that bills the company directly.

  • Brian C. Lee

    That’s because they had already started the merger integration process. No way they can make that kind of drastic change to AAdvantage where they’re in the midst of that. They won’t do anything until the dust from the merger starts to settle.

  • Brian C. Lee

    Redemptions for partners were eviscerated, certainly. But redemptions on UA metal weren’t too bad.

  • TheyCallMeEllis

    The part that really bugs me about all this: Why have separate airlines and the presumption of competition if they are all going to do the same thing? If this isn’t outright collusion, it’s at least an oligopoly. Good job congress. Keep approving those mergers.

  • Abhi

    I do not think it matters if the ticket is booked through a travel agent or the company directly. I have been using United for the last 3 years with my tickets always booked through a travel agent, but I have always got the corresponding miles.

  • granet

    Accumulated million + on United, Was awarded Lifetime Gold. Do you think this will change?

  • Brian C. Lee

    So you want Congress to prohibit businesses from pursuing certain business strategies, just because another business is doing it?

  • joeypore

    haha, thanks Brian. I know you agree wholeheartedly.

    It would be a strange world to live in where the term “miles” don’t truly have a relation to the word “miles” anymore… :(

    The airlines are basically creating their own shopping portals and bonuses (for elites)….. :/

  • TheyCallMeEllis

    No, but there needs to be competition in a market or we end up back with pure monopolies. That’s why we have anti-trust laws. A free market only works when it’s really a free market.

  • Josh

    There’s a cap of 75k per ticket.

  • Vivekapa

    I wanted to ask, which is the Chase Credit card in which yo can spend $25,000 or more and be exempt from the premiere qualifying dollar program ?
    Thanks for this enlightening information.

  • Rich

    I have flown Continental/United exclusively for years, but usually on a client tab. Thus, I have tended to buy non-refundable tickets. United now is telling me my business doesn’t matter, that in fact it does not want it. So, I will oblige. Even though I live only an hour from Bush Intercontinental, at the end of this year I will start buying on the open market, cancel my United President’s Mastercard, air club membership. I will only fly United when it is the cheapest ticket or to use up my 300,000 banked frequent flyer miles. After flying some 800,000 miles on the airline, I am being told go screw myself. OK.

  • gavingreenwalt

    This would have really helped me out for the last couple years. I often was flying short flights to expensive places (Lincoln, NE) where a ticket to a small airport like Lincoln or Pasco, WA would cost more than a flight to Paris.

    This is a great move by United. Now I don’t feel so resentful that I was getting 1,500 miles on a $900 ticket that could have under different circumstances gotten me 6,000 miles. Now admittedly I also made out like a bandit on a first class United/Copa flight to Chile last year (netting I think 30,000 miles total on a 2,000 ticket) but those sorts of sweet deals are the rarity.

    I also had to attend two funerals at the last second last year and each ticket was in excess of $1,000 and only got a fraction of the miles a $1,200 SEA -> SYD would have gotten me for the same price.

    Clearly this though is to attract first class Pacific flyers. First class tickets to China or Japan are 8x the price of economy but only give you 2x the award miles. Their most valuable (overpriced) customers were probably rightfully resentful.

  • flyfaster

    Do you get miles for expanded charges for luggage, food, seating preferences, use of toilets, charges for being allowed to put you seat back? How about a charge for using the jetway versus the rope hanging down from the plane. And yes, in the event of a water ‘landing’ do you get charged for using the seat cushion for a floatation device? These people are getting ridiculous. With all these charges there has been no additional increase of services or on time departures or lost luggage. It’s getting cheaper to ship your luggage by FED-X. The airlines are now being run by bean counters. Good luck with that!

  • bandersnatch

    As has often been said, depends. I calculated 5 consecutive United flights my wife and are taking this year. Both 1K level. 3 international (50% business seats, 50% coach), 2 domestic (coach). Bottom line: no trip gave us less miles under the new program; overall increase in award miles was 67% (range +24% to +123%). I’m estimating that for Gold members and above, it will be a wash to net benefit. So programs like United are trying to stack the deck for loyalty. It’s just business.

  • Ron Stevens

    I’ve been a big and loyal United airlines and Explorer card fan. I average about 28,000 miles flown yearly and a very large amount spent on the card. While this may not be big numbers to some I think I’m a valued customer. I WILL BE LEAVING UNITED ASAP. I do not want to accumulate any more miles with united and will be jumping ship to American airlines, along with their credit card. I only hope they don’t follow suite!!

  • Ron Stevens

    What happens if I open a Lufthansa mileage account and put in all my united flights into that? Will I not acquire mileage instead of based on dollars? Can I even do that? I’d also want their credit card of course.

  • alex

    I alway liked United Airlines and was satisfied with their services and their Frequent Flyer Program Mileage Plus. Sadly, last week I became aware of the changes United plans to apply the Mileage Plus Program, the more you pay for your tickets the more miles you get. This is just ……… For me and I guess for a lot of other not valued United Customers this means you virtually don`t get anywhere with the miles, sad but true. Is American Airlines really an option? The best I could do is probably use all my miles asap?

  • Jane K

    Oh SunglassesAdvil, you are the only person I’ve encountered claiming it’s a gain for business travelers while simultaneously pooh-poohing (is that a condescending sneer I detect) ‘leisure’ travelers. I fly international all the time but I am an academic. Ergo, my flights – for ‘business’, not ‘leisure’, my friend – come out of a research fund, given to me by the university. If someone just handed you a lump sum of tens of thousands a year for research and said, ‘Spend how you wish’, would you really be blowing it on your ‘business’ trips overseas on more expensive tickets? I think not.

    Oh, and PS, my spouse is an SVP of a major corporation. They do not fly first or business unless they’re upgraded, ESPECIALLY on last-minute tickets. Whatever delusional, self-satisfied place you come from, I’d really like to know where it is located so I can join the party.

  • sunglassesadvil

    Wow, you are reading a lot into a two-month old post. I was simply trying to point out that certain people will gain from this transition – people flying in international F and J class. I travel far more for leisure than business, so I definitely was not trying to be condescending towards leisure travelers.

    I’m sorry that you and your spouse are not able to fly in J internationally, but I did not say ALL business travelers get to. I said that many do. Most professional service industries fly business class when traveling internationally (consultants, accountants, attorneys, etc.). I’ve worked in two of those industries and know plenty of people in the third, and for the most part all can fly business when traveling internationally.

    In any case, enough businesses permit employees to fly J when traveling internationally to ensure that most J international cabins are relatively full. It’s called business class for a reason, after all. And it’s not a stretch to say that the high-price J tickets keep airlines afloat and somewhat subsidize the cost of economy tickets. From the standpoint of aligning rewards with profit, it kind of makes sense for airlines to give more reward to people who pay more.

    Long story short, this shift sucks for most, but some people do benefit. And you can’t really fault the airlines for rewarding customers who pay the most. Sure, AA hasn’t followed, but the consensus is that they almost certainly will once they complete their merger with USAir. So in the end, all legacy carriers will be the same and will essentially be back on a level playing field, earning-wise.

  • islandgirljenny

    From what I’ve seen on the United web site, as of now the PQD (premier qualifying dollars) requirement–that is, the minimum spending per year required to achieve each level of premier status–will not apply to those of us who live outside the U.S. But the revenue-based earning scheme will apply to all members worldwide.
    Sounds like it’s time to begin looking elsewhere! Or perhaps, for those who decide to stay with United’s Mileage Plus–now to be rebranded as “Mileage Minus”?–to book all flights except the four-segment minimum on partner airlines, where they will still earn mileage from United according to the actual distance flown?
    It really seems that United has shot itself in the foot on this one. If, for example, a Mileage plus member is flying to Japan, why shouldn’t they ditch United’s U.S.-to-Tokyo flights in favor of Star Alliance partner ANA’s flights on the same routes, in order to earn the actual miles flown? (or even give up on United altogether and switch to one of its partner’s frequent-flyer programs, some of the best apparently being Turkish, EVA, Lufthansa, and Singapore, now that Aegean has drastically changed its once-wonderful rules)

  • InfiniteLiberalThoughts

    i have mixed feelings on this. i am a corporate traveller. My company has spent more than $10,000 on tickets for real short distance flights this year for me – midwest to NYC. For that, i don’t mind being rewarded with Platinum/1K rather than the lousy 10,000 miles that i got from those trips …

  • roadwarriorrJeff

    I am in the same boat as you. I book all of my flight at the last minute and pay a ton of money and get very little miles in return. Why wouldn’t the airlines incentivize people who spend the most money not just fly a long way? I spent more money to go from Chicago to Cleveland last week than some people will pay to fly from New York to LA. I should get more points for that.

  • mitch

    looking at my miles earned and Premier Qualifying dollars for this year (Gold), i have flown 25,462 miles with $3826 YQD. This was mostly business travel. Assuming the dollar earned amount is the same amount they would use to calculate my miles earned next year, I would earn (as silver only this year) i would get 26782 miles. Slightly more. We’ll see

  • FBJ

    Looks like I am a bit late to the party here…but I am seriously trying to consider why I should stay with United next year. As an example, I live in China and fly to the USA often for work (I have been to the USA 26 times this year already and nearly always in economy). I am a 1K flyer. My question is this: after the changes begin, will I still get double miles for flying Air Canada (and Lufthansa)? It that’s the case, on a $1300 fare next year, for example, I will get 14,300 miles flying UA metal (1,300*11) and more than double that on AC metal (~16,000 eqm round-trip, so at least 32,000 with the bonus). Is that true? If so, it seems like UA is just begging me to move on…someone please point out anything I may be missing. Cheers!

  • FBJ

    I have to disagree with that one (for me, of course)…I travel extensively (cleared 700,000 eqm last year) and I am going to get pounded by the change because all of my flights are long-distance in economy…it’s as if UA is begging me to go to AA : (

    Cheers that it will work better for you, though!

  • Andrew G

    The rules state ‘Tickets for flights operated by a Star Alliance or MileagePlus partner airline that aren’t issued by United (ticket numbers that don’t start with “016”) will still earn award miles based on distance flown and the purchased fare class’ So if I book my direct UK-US longhall UA flights through Lufthansa’s web-site where the ticket will start with Lufthansa “202″ ticket code this will still earn miles flown.? Also as a Non-US resident MP memeber we are not required to meet the annual PQD $$ rules to keep Premier Status. If this is the case then using other Star Alliance members web-sites to book UA metal direct flights is an option?

  • e

    i’m going to fly just over 100k miles this year. I will spend just over $25k on airfare as well (per my expense department). as such, that will put me at 1K for next year. assuming i travel as much, and spend the same, i should accrue roughly 275K miles, or 75K more than i would have before the change (100k x 1 +100% bonus = 200k miles)

    taking this logic down the ranks, it would seem that only regular and silver members are going to see a reduction in benefits (but silver only minimally).

    it seems as though united is attempting yet again, to cater specifically to the business traveler.

  • e

    additionally, the new methodology discourages people from booking multi-leg trips in order to accrue extra miles for the same price and puts the emphasis back on a method which much more predictably forecasts the point program’s liability calculation.

  • Polarminus40

    50% cut in mileage on international flights by UAL. I flew Chicago to HK and got 100% Feb 2014 but on return flight in later April 2014, only got 50% mileage. Thought something wrong and was informed that April 1 (no joke) 2014, UAL cut rewards miles on economy tickets. Now on, when looking at pricing, have to take into consideration the reduction in mileage and perhaps for a little more money, will take the airline that gives full rewards miles.

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