United Frequent Flier Changes To MileagePlus Increase Airline Fees


As a business professional, you are likely required to take trips as a business traveller across the country. Consequently, you may been a member of a frequent flier program. United’s frequent flier program, in particular, was one of the most commonly used. This is due to their presence as a reputable domestic airliner. Their recent revamping however, has brought a slew of changes to their frequent flier program. Some have been incredibly detrimental for customers. If you are a member of United’s frequent flier program, you need to educate yourself on how their changes affect you. Here are the details surrounding the changes made to the United frequent flier program.

Mileage Earned Is Now Revenue-Based

Previously, United’s frequent flier program allowed you to earn miles based on how many miles you traveled. For instance, if you flew from New York to Los Angeles, you would have traveled 2510 miles. Therefore, you would have earned 2510 frequent flier miles. If you were flying to the Australian Geographic headquarters, you could have made an incredible amount of miles. Unfortunately, United has changed this entirely. Now, mileage earned is based on how expensive your ticket is. Non-elite members earn 5 miles for every dollar spent. Therefore, a $375 ticket would earn 1875 miles instead of 2510. That is a massive reduction. Depending on how expensive your ticket is, you may end up earning less miles overall. This is the primary change to United’s frequent flier program.

Budge Travelers Suffer The Most

Now that United’s program is revenue-based, your mileage earned will depend on your membership status. Non-elite members earn 5 miles for every dollar spent. Typically, that will result in a lower number of miles earned compared to when it was travel-based. Budget travelers suffer even worse consequences. They earn 2.5 miles for every dollar spent. A $300 ticket would now only bring in 750 frequent flier miles. Compare that to a 2510 mile trip like New York to LA, and you are looking at a 75% reduction. In terms of negative consequences, this is the worst of what United’s changes have brought to their frequent flier program.

Elite Passengers May Benefit

If you are an elite passenger, you may actually benefit from the changes. Elite members can earn as many as 11 miles per dollar spent. With a $375 ticket, you would earn 4215 miles. This is an enormous upgrade compared to the 2510 miles you would have earned for the entertainment expenses under a travel-based system. It is also vastly superior to the loss being suffered by non-elite members and budget travelers. If you are an elite member of the United frequent flier program, you have very little to worry about. Given your ability to buy more expensive tickets, you can use their new system to earn more miles than you would have prior. This is a great advantage for the upper echelon of the United frequent flier program.

MileagePlus Status Levels

MileagePlus membership status levels have stayed the same. However, the fee structure for varying levels has changed. United MileagePlus status includes five levels: Premier 1K and United Global Services, Premier Platinum, Premier Gold, Premier Silver and General Members. Premier 1K and United Global Services members will still have the benefit of no fees for cancellations or redeposits. However, everyone else will have to pay fees amounting to anywhere from $50-$125. If you are a MileagePlus member confused about the United frequent flier changes, make sure to check the fee structure for the program, to ensure you do not have to pay any fees going forward.

The Changes Are Meant To Drive Up Prices

United has stated that the main reason for changing their frequent flier program is to weed out low-revenue fliers. Since consolidating, their frequent flier membership has increased exponentially. This is a result of savvy passengers who know how to work the system. United and other airliners have had difficulty matching their loyalty perks with their supply chain management practices. They want to offset the loss by ensuring that their elite members are actually worthy of being elite. This is bad for a majority of customers. Most simply cannot meet current elite membership requirements. However, it is mainly a move meant to increase profits for United. This is important information for those who were wondering why such changes were being made to the previous United frequent flier program.

United and several other airliners have been making changes to their frequent flier programs. Previously, you earned miles depending on how many miles you traveled. Now, it is based on the cost of your ticket, excluding any goods and service tax. This change was made as a way to increase revenue for the airliners. While it may benefit them, it may have a negative impact on your status as a frequent flier. By reading through the information in this post, you will have a better understanding of how the changes to United’s frequent flier program affect you.

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