Yesterday United finally unveiled the details of their 2012 Mileage Plus program.
Many of you probably remember that I posted about rumored changes to the Mileage Plus program back in August based on what I was told by an inside source. Ultimately there were six weeks between when I posted the rumor and the program was officially published, so it’s no surprise that some things changed. Actually, what I was told six weeks ago was spot in, with the exception of two things — top tier status will be called Premier 1K status and not Premier Diamond status, and there won’t be a revenue requirement to qualify for status. Of course that latter point is HUGE.
When I published the rumored changes post it was based on a possible program they were considering. I wouldn’t be surprised if that was the program United was actually planning on implementing until they saw the outcry online over the possible changes. After all, feedback to airlines can make a huge difference. We saw this in the past with the elimination of 500 mile minimums for elites, and also with the expiration of 500 mile upgrades, where online feedback changed their mind.
Anyway, UA Insider‘s post is very thorough and self explanatory for the most part, so check it out here.
If you’re a 1K this announcement is probably a relief, since 1K status isn’t being devalued, at least on paper. The one key thing to keep in mind is that all elites on a full fare ticket will clear ahead of 1Ks on a non-full fare ticket. Furthermore, upgrades supported by mileage or instruments will be prioritized over complimentary upgrades. This means that a non-elite using miles will now clear their upgrade ahead of a 1K hoping for a complimentary upgrade. Does that make sense? I don’t know, on one hand they are paying for the upgrade, so I see where they’re coming from, though I suspect these two changes will impact 1K upgrades in a substantial way.
If you’re a Platinum (or fly more than 75,000 miles per year), you win and you lose. Your mileage bonus goes from 100% to 75%. That being said, you’ll finally clear ahead of those that fly 50,000-74,999 miles per year. So I’d say it’s a wash for the most part.
If you’re a Premier Executive (or fly more than 50,000 miles per year), you’re getting screwed pretty bad. Your mileage bonus goes from 100% to 50%, and you’ll now clear your upgrades behind those that fly over 75,000 miles per year, while it was previously a free for all for those that flew between 50,000 and 99,999 miles per year.
If you’re a Premier you’re also getting screwed. You can now only select Economy Plus seats at check-in (within 24 hours of departure), and your upgrade window is only 24 hours before departure. Furthermore, you can now only check one 50 pound bag for free.
Overall the changes are… fair. As we saw, it could have been a lot worse.
The one huge positive is United’s new million miler program. They’re literally taking the best of both worlds. When’s the last time that happened with a merger?
United and Continental will be combining previous totals for million miler programs, though starting next year only actual flown miles will count towards million miler (Continental previously counted all elite qualifying miles).
One million miler gets you Gold status, two million miler gets you Platinum status, three million miler gets you 1K status, and four million miler gets you Global Services status. Furthermore, million milers can appoint the same elite tier to a companion, even if they earn a higher status level than their million miler. That means if I were a 1K million miler, my companion would be a 1K as well as long as I maintain it. They just don’t earn the upgrade instruments.
So the only major thing they’re eliminating is a lifetime Red Carpet Club membership at two million miler, but with the other gains with the million miler program, that’s a very fair trade off. And all of this comes as American substantially devalues their million miler program.
Anyway, aside from the new million miler program these changes aren’t really positive. They’re negative for anyone that flies under 100,000 miles per year, and for those that fly more than 100,000 miles per year they’re only slightly negative given that non-elites using miles will now clear an upgrade list ahead of them (don’t expect to clear upgrade lists on Airbus 320 transcons anymore!). Still, they’re better than they could have been…