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United recently announced a slew of changes to their MileagePlus program. While you might assume all would be negative, United has implemented some minor improvements as well. Unlike other airlines who have devalued overnight, United is giving its customers plenty of advanced notice, since the new changes will not be implemented until November 1, 2017. Until then, current rates/policies will apply.
Price Increases In Saver Award Chart
United is increasing some of the prices in its Saver Award Chart. Most price rises are relatively small and aren't a significant impact. Key changes include:
- Economy Saver awards will stay the same. Flights under 700 miles will still cost 10,000 miles; all others will still cost 12,500 miles
- Premium Transcon routes increase to 35,000 miles one way from the current price of 25,000. Also, flights to Hawaii jump from 40,000 to 50,000 miles
- United Business class to New Zealand and Australia jumps from 70,000 to 80,000 miles, while destinations in South Asia have increased from 70,000 to 75,000 miles
- United Business class to Europe has increased from 57,500 one way to 60,000 miles
On a positive note, United will be increasing the availability of Saver Award space by 10%.
International Short Haul Saver Award
This is a new sweet spot with United as they will be implementing a new short haul Saver Award with partner airlines for flights of under 800 miles outside the US. These flights will now cost 8,000 miles each way, which means you can pick an economy flight from Frankfurt to Paris for 8,000 miles. There is no change to economy saver flights within Japan which will still cost only 5,000 miles.
New Everyday Awards
United is introducing a new dynamic pricing model to its non-Saver awards. United is abolishing its standard award and is introducing a new Everyday Award level. With the new awards, prices will fluctuate between a minimum and a maximum. It is worth noting that the upper limits of all awards will increase except the following:
- Business and First-class Awards within the US, Canada, and Alaska
- Economy, Business, and First to North Africa
- Economy and Business to North Asia
This new system means you could pay less or more than you do today for a given award ticket, although United has not exactly specified how the prices will be determined. These new Everyday Awards are only valid on United and United Express operated aircraft.
No Show Fee
United will be charging award customers a no show fee of $125. While this will not be taken as an upfront deposit, if you don’t show up and have not cancelled prior to departure you will be charged $125 of your miles redeposited to your account.
It is difficult to judge how bad or good these changes may be in the long run. If you travel a lot in Europe the reduction in partner short haul prices is a good thing. If you travel on one of the routes hit with the biggest price increase, it won’t be the best news. Ultimately what will make or break this devaluation is the dynamic pricing chart, if United produces an even balance of cheaper award fares it won’t be too bad; on the other hand, if the prices stay very close to the new increased maximum, then everybody will lose. Either way there will definitely be some winners and losers with this change, which one do you think you will be?
Source: The Points Guy
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