0 min left

“Surprise and Delight” Less Delightful at United

A longstanding policy to reward United Airlines frequent flyers will go away later this year as the carrier invests in new products.
Another loyalty benefit for United Airlines’ frequent flyers is going away, potentially leaving the top elites “Frustrated and Dismayed.”


TheStreet reports United’s policy of “Surprise and Delight” will end in August 2023 for flyers traveling aboard the Boeing 767-300ER and 767-400ER.


United Upgrade Policy Affects Small Handful of Domestic, International Flights

For most flights, United’s “Surprise and Delight” policy allows customer service agents to upgrade United MileagePlus elites just prior to the flight. Primarily offered to the carrier’s top MileagePlue Premier passengers, including the secret Global Services tier, the Surprise and Delight program stands as a way to thank travelers for their particular loyalty to the Chicago-based carrier.


However, the policy will no longer apply to certain airframes starting in August 2023. The carrier will discontinue the surprise upgrades for those flying aboard the carrier’s aging 767 aircraft, as they work to retrofit them with premium economy seating. In order to move up on flights on the 767-300ER and -400ER, all flyers – some elites included – will have to use cash, MileagePlus miles, or PlusPoints.


The good news is that the lost policy will only affect flyers on a few select routes. According to FlightRadar24, United is currently flying eight of their 38 767-300’s, which service select long-haul domestic and international routes. The aircraft have been seen traveling between hub cities and Honolulu, as well as international trips to Rio de Janeiro/Galeão International Airport (GIG), Lima Jorge Chávez International Airport (LIM), and London Heathrow Airport (LHR).


United Policy Change Coincides with Other Cuts

The upcoming change to Surprise and Delight comes as United considers the future of certain routes in their network. In April 2023, the carrier announced 4,300 cuts from their schedule in New York and Washington, D.C., in order to keep flights moving during the traditionally busy summer 2023 season.


How do you feel about Surprise and Delight going away on United’s 767 routes? Share your thoughts on the FlyerTalk Forums.

Lux Flyer April 19, 2023

This is downright bad reporting. There was no "surprise and delight" upgrade on the 767 fleet, the ability to "get premium economy" without paying was a side effect of the fleet only being partially modded with premium plus, so it wasn't known in advance whether the airframe operating was going to be premium plus equipped or not, and therefore PE never being sold on those routes where it was 767 equipped. The "removal" of this "perk" corresponds with completion of the 767 retrofits, so there will no longer be uncertainty whether the frame will have Premium Plus or not and UA can sell it as a cabin since it will exist regardless of which tail is used on a particular day.

Your "surprise and delight" was a gamble of which tail you get on a particular day, whether it was retrofitted or not. Which is not at all what UA marketing recognizes as "surprise and delight".

philf April 14, 2023

Um, Joe, where did you come up with the factoid that only 8 of United's 38 767-300s were flying?  If fact, the -300s were never parked during Covid.  A quick peek at the United Fleet Website (https://sites.google.com/site/unitedfleetsite/mainline-fleet-tracking) should show you where all 38 of them are, and while a couple are in heavy maintenance, the rest are in the air.  Stuff like this makes it very hard to trust any other "facts" that you offer.

c1ue April 13, 2023

A damn shame...not for me.
As someone who has traveled 1.2 million miles on United - with not one single mile in paid Biz or First class or mileage tickets even - I can say authoritatively that this policy has never once benefited me.
Thus it ending is equally not going to have any impact.