United Devalues Partner Earning Structure
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On the heels of the recently announced British Airways devaluation, United has updated the partner earning charts on its website for flights taken on or after March 1, 2015. Similar to other airlines switching to revenue-based programs, expensive first and business class fares will earn the most, whereas discounted economy fares will earn only a fraction of the miles flown.
Here’s a look at the new earning structure on the following airlines for travel after March 1, 2015. Note that if your ticket was purchased directly from united.com or over the phone with United, from a United rep at the airport, or through a United ticket office, then the ticket should start with a 016 number, which means it will fall under United’s earning structure even if it’s operated by a partner airline.
The earning structures below are for tickets that do not fall under those categories, such as those booked directly with a partner airline.
When it comes to earning on Air Canada, be on the lookout for discounted Economy fares, as they will only earn 25% mileage accrual for flights within Canada.
For United MileagePlus members flying on a Lufthansa ticket, deeply discounted economy fares earn 50%, and discounted economy fares earn 75%, so be sure to check your fare classes when booking.
Think earning 75% or 50% mileage credit is bad? If you’re a MileagePlus member flying on Turkish Airlines on a W, G, or P fare, you’ll earn no mileage credit at all if you credit to United.
How This Compares to Delta’s Partners:
Here are the earning structures of several Delta partners when booking with the partner airline directly.
If you’re a Delta SkyMiles member booking through Air France, you may find yourself only earning 25% of the mileage flown on cheap R, G and V economy fares. Economy fare classes H, L, Q, T, E, and N are better, but offer a still dismal 50% of mileage flown.
As a Delta SkyMiles members booking with Alaska Airlines, you’ll earn only 50% mileage on economy fares in the K, G, T, and R classes.
The majority of Virgin Australia economy fare classes only earn 50% mileage, including E, N, V, Q, T, U, S, and M fares.
Is Alaska Airlines Any Better?
The short answer is yes, since Alaska Airlines offers full mileage credit for flights on partners like American Airlines, British Airways, Air France, and others. However, crediting partner flights to Mileage Plan isn’t always the best idea, as Alaska does reduce mileage earnings on Delta (as well as Korean Air, Cathay Pacific, and others).
If you thought you could get away with crediting to Alaska as a Delta Air Lines flyer, think again. You’ll be earning earning 25% of the actual miles flown for E class fares, and 50% of the actual miles flown for L,U, T, X, V. However, you’ll earn a 100% mileage credit if you’re on a F or P class fare.
Despite not earning full mileage on Delta, I think Alaska offers the best value among US carriers with respect to earning mileage and elite credits on partner airlines.
How Do American Airlines Partners Compare?
American does discount mileage earnings from some partners, but only for the cheapest fares, and for partners I would rarely use for revenue flights anyway. Overall, I think the hit to mileage credits is less damaging than on United or Delta.
If you were to purchase a Qantas ticket as an American AAdvantage member, you would only earn 25% mileage credit on O and Q fares (the airlines discounted economy classes), and 50% credit on N, G, S, K, L, M, and V fare classes.
American Airlines AAdvantage members flying on Cathay Pacific on K, M, L, V, Q, S, G, and N fare classes will earn no mileage when crediting to American.
If you want to maximize your points earning, it’s a good idea to book through the airline that you want to earn miles on. For instance, if you’re a Delta SkyMiles member and want to fly on a cheap Air France flight, instead of booking with Air France directly (and only earning 25% mileage credit), book with Delta as a codeshare flight operated by Air France to have this fall under Delta’s earning structure.
While United’s recent change to partner earnings is negative for passengers who mainly purchase cheap economy fares, it’s not much worse than the partner earning structures on other airlines.