United announced some changes today to their MileagePlus scheme and it’s likely that it’ll turn out to be extremely negative.
For starters, they’re eliminating their award chart for all flights on and after November 15, 2019. That’s because there’ll no longer be a minimum or maximum number of miles required for award flights. While this could result in cheaper award flights, there’s a limit to how low award flights can go. By contrast, there’s no upper limit for how expensive award flights could be, so it’s likely that we’ll see ever-increasing mileage requirements.
It remains to be seen how closely United will follow Delta’s lead with dynamic award pricing. Premium awards can be obscenely expensive when using Delta, such as 305,000-465,000 SkyMiles for a one-way flight in Delta One from Los Angeles to Sydney.
On the other hand, Delta frequently offers flash sales which can dramatically improve the redemption value of SkyMiles. For example, I just got back from a trip to Europe that only cost 35,000 miles round trip flying from Boston to London and then back to Boston from Amsterdam. American Airlines and United both wanted ~60,000 miles for similar flights, so dynamic pricing and flash sales have the potential for some bargains to be had.
One potential silver lining is that in addition to eliminating award charts, United will also be eliminating close-in booking fees. If last-minute award prices don’t increase exponentially, that’s a positive development. I suspect though that what we gain in not being charged $75, we’ll lose in how many more miles we have to pay.
Until we have some real-life examples of United’s new pricing strategy, we won’t know for sure how bad this will be. Let’s just hope United doesn’t Bonvoy their loyalty scheme and change it from MileagePlus to MileageMinus.
h/t View From The Wing and Live & Let’s Fly
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I’m surprised they didn’t have a huge point sale first then they could make double.
There is absolutely no way that this will be a net win for the customer. We’re getting Bonvoyed.
I’m most curious to see how this affects the availability seen by Avianca LifeMiles…..(and other partners for that matter).
Will the Singapore points costs by United go UP too . What does it cost to change a date on a Singapore ticket .
Just prepaid $2500 on Fed taxes hope it’s on 4/8 statement so can Book a ticket for Feb.. Singapore has no seats yet and Who Knows what will Happen .
Called Chase will post on the 8th can Transfer to United on 9th then Book OOG>ORD …I don’t want a 44k ticket But 22.5K will work.
UA is already pretty worthless for premium cabin, and I’ve already seen jacked up award rates even on coach. I mean who cares if it’s 60k or 100k for coach, either way none of us are going to waste the miles. To me, UA is now only good for coach, and MAYBE their ultra-long-haul Biz to Asia. For everything else I’ll use other miles.
On the other hand, I welcome the lack of last minute fee. I often don’t know my plans until the end, and if it’s not busy season I can get a reasonable rate potentially. We’ll see how it goes.
I stopped crediting *A flights to UA awhile ago, but it still always sucks to see devaluations because they spread like wildfire. UA used to have such a nice program – I remember some great redemptions leveraging nuances of the old MP system in years past. Sad to see.
Sounds bad, but aren’t they doing this already to an extent? For example, for LAX EWR, despite what the award chart says (e.g. that saver coach is 12.5k miles and that standard/everyday business class is 60k), I often see prices that don’t agree with that (e.g. saver coach can be 12.5k, 15k, 17k, etc., and every business is often 50k).
Also, I’d assume that for the flights/periods where the price shoots way up (say, Thanksgiving weekend), there would never be saver availability anyway, and it’s rare that paying the everyday award price makes sense over just paying cash.
So, count me as being cautiously optimistic that this won’t actually hurt that much…
As UA has a history of copying DL on the bad changes while copying none of the good, I have some doubts about seeing flash sales on MileagePlus anytime soon…