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"Dynamic Award Pricing" by UA; questions, experiences, .... {Archive}

"Dynamic Award Pricing" by UA; questions, experiences, .... {Archive}

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Old May 1, 21, 8:07 am   -   Wikipost
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This is an archive thread, the active thread is "Dynamic Award Pricing" by UA; questions, experiences, .... (No Award Chart Nov 2019)

Award travel updates

Introducing a broader range of award prices

Updates to award travel are on the horizon. For flights on or after November 15, 2019, we’ll no longer publish an award chart listing the set amount of miles needed for each flight.

The details:
  • Some award prices will be lower than what’s currently published in our chart. You may have already seen these prices, and you’ll be able to get them immediately.
  • Other award prices may be higher than what you see today, especially if you’re traveling at a popular time. These prices will take effect immediately for travel November 15 or after.
  • Starting November 15, we’re removing close-in fees, so you won’t be charged the extra fee of up to $75 for booking last-minute award travel.
  • A flexible award travel calendar is available on united.com or in our app.

Frequently Asked Questions

  • What is changing?

    For travel on or after November 15, we will no longer publish an award chart listing the set amount of miles needed for award flights. Award pricing will now fluctuate based on a variety of factors, including demand. Additionally, starting November 15, we will no longer charge a fee of up to $75 for award flights booked within 21 days of departure.
  • When will these updates take effect?

    The award pricing changes apply immediately to flights on or after November 15, 2019. Until then, award prices will be the same as or lower than what’s currently published in our award chart.
  • How many miles will I need for award travel after November 15?

    Award prices will now fluctuate based on a variety of factors. Some air awards will be available for less than what’s listed in our chart, which you may have already noticed. After November 15, award prices may also be higher, especially if you’re traveling at popular times. Use our flexible award calendar to get a monthly view of the award prices for a specific destination.
  • Why are you making these changes?

    Increasing award prices for the most in-demand flights allows us to offer better returns for our shareholders. If your award travel is flexible, these updates will help you make the most of your miles.
  • How will these updates affect award travel availability?

    United MileagePlus members with Premier® status and qualifying United Chase Cardmembers can continue to book award travel without blackout dates. For other members, most award flights that are available today will continue to be available after these updates take effect.
  • Do the lowest-priced awards have any extra flight restrictions?

    No. Our lowest priced awards do not have any added restrictions; the fare rules for all award travel apply.
  • How can I find the lowest priced award for my travel?

    The award calendar on united.com or in our app will continue to show the lowest available price for your destination.
  • Will I earn miles on my flight if I book an award?

    No. As with current award bookings, award travel in the future will not be eligible to earn miles with MileagePlus or any other loyalty program.
  • What if I need to change my existing award?

    If you need to change your award ticket, you will be issued a new ticket for which new pricing and additional fees may apply.
  • What if I purchase a close-in award before November 15

    The close-in booking fee will still apply to all tickets booked within 21 days of departure prior to November 15, 2019. We will not refund fees paid prior to November 15, even if travel occurs on or after November 15.
https://www.united.com/ual/en/us/fly...l-updates.html

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Old Apr 2, 15, 1:04 pm
  #1  
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"Dynamic Award Pricing" by UA; questions, experiences, .... {Archive}

Details are scarce right now as to exactly what the implementation will be but a company spokesman confirmed to me earlier this afternoon that United Airlines expects to "begin introducing dynamic award pricing" within the year.

[W]e’re interested generally in giving customers a broad set of redemption options, as evidenced by our extensive non-air redemption offers and our focus on ensuring saver-award availability in general.
The quote mostly avoids the issue, though being able to say that there are seats available more often - even when rates start to increase - is still good for marketing.

Lots of open questions about what it means for partner awards, too.

n.b. The link above is to my blog or to one which I am a regular contributor. FT rules require that I disclose that in the post.

Last edited by J.Edward; Oct 17, 17 at 7:01 pm Reason: update title
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Old Apr 2, 15, 1:12 pm
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Thanks for checking in.

If UA strictly follows DL, it will mean things like

(1) low middle and high prices,
(2) no low prices available within a few weeks of travel,
(3) applying married-segment logic to award inventory such that while SEA-EWR may be available "low" and EWR-BOS may be available "low", SEA-EWR-BOS prices "medium" or "high",
(4) removing the award chart from the Web site and no longer actually publishing what the low/medium/high values are.

Unclear how effective these tactics are at cost-cutting.

Alternately, UA could move to a pure Virgin-America-style "redemption costs based on ticket price". That, along with "mileage earning based on ticket price", could make it a bit easier for the IRS to decide that frequent-flyer miles earned from employer-paid business travel are taxable.
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Old Apr 2, 15, 1:18 pm
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Originally Posted by mherdeg View Post
...

Unclear how effective these tactics are at cost-cutting....
Cost cutting? No.

Customer screwing? Yes.

Delta copying (surprise, surprise)? Yes.

I think the last innovative product concept that came out of United was smashing cashews into little pieces...every single product change since the merger has been a copy of another airline, usually Delta.

What horrible management we have
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Old Apr 2, 15, 1:18 pm
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Regardless of the details, I think the endgame will be the same... most of us who like to use miles for premium travel options will lose out. Again. Call me cynical.
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Old Apr 2, 15, 1:22 pm
  #5  
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Originally Posted by TrayflowInUK View Post
Regardless of the details, I think the endgame will be the same... most of us who like to use miles for premium travel options will lose out. Again. Call me cynical.
No need to be cynical - I think we'll soon be seeing award redemption costs go through the roof. I've seen 130,000 Skymiles rewards for coach flights from Florida to Seattle and 400,000+ Skymiles rewards for international business on Delta - so this is probably another customer-screwing change we'll like thanks to Smisek, or that jackass really in charge at United - Keayes.

When you merge that reality with 70% cuts in RDM earnings for many customers, it effectively renders these programs useless for most travel redemption purposes - unless of course you're in the "top 1%" who flies full fare business/first internationally, and frequently (in which case the last thing you want is to redeem a free ticket to travel anywhere).
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Old Apr 2, 15, 1:29 pm
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Delta is itself rumored to be migrating to a dynamic award pricing model too, based much more closely on the actual cost of the ticket. AFAIK, it was the planned final stage of SkyMiles evolution from the get-go. Not surprised United has similar plans.

Enjoy whatever remaining time you have in the program in its current form...smart money got/is getting lifetime status and expecting only slightly more comfortable travels going forward.
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Old Apr 2, 15, 1:29 pm
  #7  
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Originally Posted by mherdeg View Post
That, along with "mileage earning based on ticket price", could make it a bit easier for the IRS to decide that frequent-flyer miles earned from employer-paid business travel are taxable.
I *doubt* this will happen, as it would have a wide range of unintended consequences, most of which will be bad for the airlines and fliers alike. The airlines collectively own enough politicians to prevent this - I would think...

In fact, it would probably force all of the miles issued today to be grandfathered in their existing state (no value, not treated as an asset or tradable commodity) and entirely new loyalty program structures to be built from scratch. Those programs would be regulated by some new or existing Federal bureaucracy.

I still think that could only go badly for everyone involved.
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Old Apr 2, 15, 1:33 pm
  #8  
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Originally Posted by sbm12 View Post
Details are scarce right now as to exactly what the implementation will be but a company spokesman confirmed to me earlier this afternoon that United Airlines expects to "begin introducing dynamic award pricing" within the year.



The quote mostly avoids the issue, though being able to say that there are seats available more often - even when rates start to increase - is still good for marketing.

Lots of open questions about what it means for partner awards, too.

n.b. The link above is to my blog or to one which I am a regular contributor. FT rules require that I disclose that in the post.
This will gut the availability of UA award space available to Star Alliance partner airline programs. Much the same as has taken place as AA and DL moved to more complex, multi-tier award pricing schemes.

My response to US3 airlines' gutting of value to be had from redeeming AA/DL/UA miles for AA/DL/UA flights: back off from crediting partner activity to AA/DL/UA accounts; and instead go for alternatives to airline-controlled "currency", such as hotel or credit card program points, car program points and cash-back cards.

Kissing goodbye to DL Sub-SkyPenny program.
Walking away from sub-AAdvantage penny.
... and will do the same when UA transitions to MileageMinus penny status.

Last edited by GUWonder; Apr 2, 15 at 1:43 pm
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Old Apr 2, 15, 1:35 pm
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I would be OK with this if it were not to the exclusion of existing redemption options, which, for the most part (at least the desirable possibilities) are already capacity-controlled, and therefore somewhat 'dynamic'. I think a 'pay with points' option like Singapore has, or a points + cash mechanism, like pre-merger United, would be a reasonable value-add for most travelers.

Unfortunately, the cynic inside me says the 'old way' of redeeming miles is sadly on the way out, and UAL is moving toward a fixed-value system for the currency. That's likely to be the straw that breaks the proverbial camel's back for me, and as it would probably coincide with my MM status, which would mean that I'll be moving along, as many others have.
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Old Apr 2, 15, 1:44 pm
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April fool's was yesterday
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Old Apr 2, 15, 1:54 pm
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All things considered, if you're still sitting on a pile of miles, you're nuts. (btw, that's a very gentle term - "nuts"). Hoarding miles is so yester-decade.
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Old Apr 2, 15, 2:29 pm
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Originally Posted by mherdeg View Post
Thanks for checking in.

If UA strictly follows DL, it will mean things like

(1) low middle and high prices,
(2) no low prices available within a few weeks of travel,
(3) applying married-segment logic to award inventory such that while SEA-EWR may be available "low" and EWR-BOS may be available "low", SEA-EWR-BOS prices "medium" or "high",
(4) removing the award chart from the Web site and no longer actually publishing what the low/medium/high values are.

Unclear how effective these tactics are at cost-cutting.
Arrgh. Is there any reason-whatsoever-to believe they will not follow Delta's lead in lockstep? Speaking of $2 billion in cuts, I hope whatever strategic planning department responsible for FF direction has been reduced to one flunky reading Delta's press releases.

A key signpost will be item 4-the elimination of award references.
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Old Apr 2, 15, 2:33 pm
  #13  
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Originally Posted by bocastephen View Post
When you merge that reality with 70% cuts in RDM earnings for many customers, it effectively renders these programs useless for most travel redemption purposes - unless of course you're in the "top 1%" who flies full fare business/first internationally, and frequently (in which case the last thing you want is to redeem a free ticket to travel anywhere).
Yes this is no big deal for those now earning 75,000 RDM per ticket based on spend, but for the average flyer it will be a massive devaluation.

And will take much of the fun out of this "hobby."

Originally Posted by nerdbirdsjc View Post
Enjoy whatever remaining time you have in the program in its current form...smart money got/is getting lifetime status and expecting only slightly more comfortable travels going forward.
+1
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Old Apr 2, 15, 2:47 pm
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Originally Posted by izzik View Post
All things considered, if you're still sitting on a pile of miles, you're nuts. (btw, that's a very gentle term - "nuts"). Hoarding miles is so yester-decade.
RDMs via flying cost more to get now for a lot of frequent fliers, so old miles were "purchased" at a cheaper price than new ones are. If you like flying partners, there's been a devaluation of miles, but use on United hasn't changed that much - so far. As for mileage usage under upcoming scheme, looks like flexibility is going to be even more important.
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Old Apr 2, 15, 2:58 pm
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Originally Posted by Kacee View Post
Yes this is no big deal for those now earning 75,000 RDM per ticket based on spend, but for the average flyer it will be a massive devaluation.

And will take much of the fun out of this "hobby."

+1
It's not an issue of fun - it basically destroys the entire value proposition for a frequent flyer program for everyone except true HVF and big credit card spenders - everyone else is sent to kayak/orbitz and expected to contribute incremental margin for any product value-adds they want/need.

This is what happens when legislative idiots hands an already corrupt industry a true oligopoly, and weak-minded industry managers listen to idiotic analysts with mental issues.
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