United MileagePlus Changes to Occur March 3, 2012: How Do They Affect You?

United Airlines officially announced last month that its MileagePlus frequent flier loyalty program is officially scheduled to begin March 3, 2012 — and several changes for customers and employees will occur, according to FlyerTalk member UA Insider, who is the director of customer insights for United Airlines:

  1. 2012 Premier status levels and associated benefits will officially begin March 3, 2012. For those of you who have qualified for 2012 Premier status, you will receive a new credential card in late February with your permanent MileagePlus number. As a reminder, for those who have linked your OnePass and MileagePlus frequent flier loyalty program accounts, your 8-digit alpha numeric OnePass account number will become your permanent MileagePlus number.
  2. 2011 Elite status and credential validity will be extended through March 2, 2012. If you are an Elite status member, you received a letter in the mail with a special hologram sticker that, when affixed to your 2011 card, will extend its validity through March 2, 2012. The sticker is designed to outlast the everyday wear and tear that a card may encounter during this short transition and will allow Star Alliance Gold members access to applicable airport lounges when traveling internationally.If you earned a higher status for 2012 than what is reflected on your 2011 credential, you will continue to receive benefits based on this higher status when traveling on United or Continental — still using the 2011 Elite tier mapping and program rules. If you will have a lower status in 2012, you will continue to receive benefits based on your 2011 status through March 2, 2012.
  3. Members will be able to log in to view personalized details for the 2012 program. You should now have access to view a customized page that will include confirmation of your 2012 Premier status — including invitations for Global Services membership — as well as information on your overall lifetime flight mileage balance that will be effective as of March 3, 2012.
  4. A special note on timing. Due to time zone differences and the roll out of various systems, some member benefits may begin a few hours before or after 12:01 in the morning on March 3, 2012.

However, some FlyerTalk members have been noting that perhaps United Airlines did not allot enough time for this transition to occur, as there are employees who still do not know about some of the changes and MileagePlus members who reportedly still did not receive their stickers. Other FlyerTalk members have been wondering about what devaluations to the MileagePlus frequent flier loyalty program might occur.

One supposed devaluation was reported here today where as of March 3, 2012, the newly merged United Air Lines will expect an advance payment of co-pays — typically $550.00 each way — when wait-listed for international upgrades, allowing for United Airlines to keep that money interest-free from the time a passenger books and requests an upgrade until the upgrade clears. If the upgrade does not clear, United Airlines will of course refund the co-pay.

If this policy is actually implemented, it is a creative way to use other people’s money — and FlyerTalk members are not happy about it.

There is also the announcement that Miles and Money will be temporarily suspended. More ominious sounding, however, is that award fees will be updated in the later part of the first quarter — although it is expected that the current policies of United Airlines will be more in line with the policies of Continental Airlines, bringing a mixed bag of positive and negative changes.

The reduced mileage bonus for MileagePlus members with 1P and 2P status is also expected to take effect — also considered a devaluation by many FlyerTalk members.

As for million miler benefits, many FlyerTalk members believe that a devaluation will come in the spring of 2012 with this announcement first posted several months ago regarding lifetime benefits:

  • Continental and United lifetime earnings will be combined. Starting in 2012, the MileagePlus frequent flier loyalty program will be based on actual flight miles; however, a one-time adjustment on the United side to boost the lifetime earnings of all members to elite qualification miles dating back to the beginning of the program will occur
  • Lifetime premier benefits for 1 million miles = Premier Gold, 2 million = Premier Platinum, 3 million = Premier 1K, 4 million = Global Services
  • Million miler members will be able to designate a spouse or significant other to always have the same premier tier as them — which includes when the million miler member earns a higher tier — as the spousal premier benefits will be identical as the million miler member, except they will not include RPUs and GPUs; and this spousal benefit will replace the one-time and annual upgrade gifts
  • Infinite Elite members of Continental Airlines will be grandfathered in and given lifetime Premier 1K status, but without the GPUs.

I was close to earning Infinite Elite on Continental Airlines back in the early 1990s, not realizing what ramifications earning this benefit might have brought to me. Then again, it would have meant a lot of extra flying and years of transfers at Newark Airport from one terminal to another, meaning having to re-screened at airport security. I still have mixed feelings about this.

Anyway, how do you feel about the upcoming changes which are expected to become official on March 3, 2012?

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Comments (Showing 2 of 2)

  • Denny Crane at 10:50pm March 02, 2012

    I am annoyed that as a premier silver member under the new regime that I can’t select seats until check in time. Anyone else caught in this devaluation?

  • Joeinpdx at 11:42am March 04, 2012

    The change in upgrade priority to allow any elite to jump above 1K, Platinum and Gold just because the had no choice but pay a last minute Y or B fare is a major benefit reduction for elite fliers. Also travelers without any status using miles will be upgraded ahead of all elite.

    The following is the order of upgrade priority for Complimentary Premier Upgrades:

    1)Premier members on eligible Y- and B-class fares, as well as Premier 1K members on M-class fares: Instant upgrades that weren’t confirmed in advance, sorted by fare class, then Premier status

    2)All travelers on waitlisted Global Premier Upgrades, Regional Premier Upgrades, and MileagePlus Upgrade Awards: Sorted by Premier status of the redeeming account, then fare class and time of request

    3)All remaining Premier members using Complimentary Premier Upgrades**: Sorted by Premier status, then fare class and award travel***

    Elite members unite! Let UA know how you feel about this downgrade. For 1Ks you will notice how you move from formally 1 or 2 on the upgrade list to 10 or 11 on the list. Other elites better get used to coach travel.

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