Back in June, United Airlines announced significant changes to the MileagePlus program—some good, some bad—but these changes take effect Nov. 1, so take a look at what to expect.
Saver Award Changes
Redemption rates will increase on select United-operated flights as well as flights operated by alliance partners. For example, United-operated flights from the mainland U.S. to Hawaii in business class will go up from 40,000 miles to 50,000 miles each way. Also, business flights to Europe will increase in cost from 57,500 miles to 60,000 miles.
As far as Star Alliance awards, one-way flights from the U.S. to South America in business class are going up from 55,000 MileagePlus miles to 60,000 miles. Business-class flights from the U.S. to the Middle East are going up from 80,000 miles to 85,000 miles, and business flights from the U.S. to Australia/New Zealand are going up from 80,000 miles to 90,000 miles. For more award chart pricing, click here.
If you have upcoming travel to any of these regions, I recommend booking your award before the changes take effect.
A popular redemption includes flights from Australia to Singapore, or vice versa, on Singapore Airlines. A one-way flight in business class between Australia and South Asia is increasing from 30,000 United miles to 50,000 miles, which is a significant change. If you’re looking to book this award on a Singapore-operated flight, it’s time to book it now.
This change concerns domestic awards on flights operated by United. Similar to Delta Air Lines’ system, United is introducing dynamic pricing to its award chart. Based on demand, some award flights will require fewer miles, and others will require more. Although significantly higher priced than Saver awards, Everyday Awards will have caps on point redemptions, and these flights will not require more miles than a set cap.
For example, a one-way domestic economy flight currently requires 12,500 MileagePlus miles at Saver level and 25,000 miles at Standard level on United-operated flights. An Everyday Award could require a varying number of miles up to 32,500 miles each way, but not more than that cap.
Keep in mind that Saver awards are not going away and will keep being offered at the currently available redemption levels.
Short-Haul Awards on Star Alliance Partners
Short-haul award flights operated by partner airlines that are 800 miles or shorter and are within a single award region will cost 8,000 MileagePlus miles. This can be beneficial for those who can’t find availability within the oneworld alliance using British Airways Avios. For example, one-way flights from Venice, Italy, to Zurich on SWISS International Air Lines are dropping from 15,000 MileagePlus miles to 8,000 miles. And one-way flights from Ho Chi Mihn City, Vietnam, to Singapore are decreasing in cost from 17,500 miles to 8,000 miles.
United will start charging a $125 redeposit fee for passengers who book award flights and do not show up for their scheduled flight. All MileagePlus members, including elite flyers, will be subject to the fee. To avoid shelling out cash, simply cancel your award flight before departure and ask for a mileage redeposit.
Overall, this is a positive change. For example, a passenger books an award flight, finds an alternative flight with another carrier but doesn’t cancel the original flight. Then nobody can book the space that would have been available. Perhaps, imposing a $125 fee will prevent people from hogging seats with no intention of using them.
Have you made your travel arrangements according to the new chart?