United Devalues MileagePlus Premier Program

Nov 20, 2014

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Delta recently devalued it’s SkyMiles program by increasing the Medallion Qualifying Dollar thresholds, and United quickly followed by raising their Premier Qualifying Dollar thresholds for 2015. This time around, United decided it was time to make some of their own changes to their MileagePlus program, and not just follow in Delta’s footsteps. These latest changes have to do with their Premier program and the benefits that members receive.

United Airlines
United Airlines is making several changes to their Premier program.

Here’s a rundown of the United’s changes to their Premier program:

Removing Global Entry Fee Waiver:

  • As of February 1, 2015, MileagePlus will no longer provide a payment code which can be used as the form of payment for the $100 Global Entry application fee. Eligible members may continue to request a payment code until January 31, 2015.

Reducing Free Checked Bags To 2 Bags for Premier Gold Members: 

  • For all United Economy tickets issued or re-issued before February 1, 2015, Premier Gold members are eligible for three complimentary checked bags at 70 pounds (32 kg) each. For United Economy tickets issued or re-issued on or after February 1, 2015, Premier Gold members are eligible for two complimentary checked bags at 70 pounds (32 kg) each for travel between the U.S., Canada, Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands. For travel to and from select international markets, Premier Gold members are eligible for three complimentary checked bags at 70 pounds (32 kg) each.

Upgrades to Transcontinental Mileage Upgrades:

  • Premier members who request a MileagePlus Upgrade Award on or after February 1, 2015, for a p.s. route between New York JFK and Los Angeles or San Francisco will no longer be exempt from the co-pay.

Removing Premier Benefits on Award Tickets for Others:

  • Effective April 15, 2015, Premier travel benefits for customers traveling on an award ticket for United- and United Express-operated flights will be determined by the traveler’s own Premier status, even if another member’s miles were used to purchase the award ticket.
Ripping away visibility for frequent flyers to see upgrade space doesn't seem so friendly to me
United’s latest changes aren’t very flyer friendly.

My Thoughts:

These changes that United made are just another further devaluation of their MileagePlus program. I think the biggest hit is that Premier members are no longer exempt from the co-pay to upgrade on transcon flights from New York (JFK) to Los Anegeles or San Francisco.

The co-pay to upgrade can be as much $500 roundtrip plus the cost of miles, which is absurd considering American Airlines offers Executive Platinum members free complimentary upgrades on that route, and Delta has brought back complimentary Medallion upgrades from New York (JFK) to Los Angeles, San Francisco, and Seattle for Platinum and Diamond Medallions on revenue tickets.

Last week, United announced that they would be increasing Premier Qualifying Dollar Thresholds in 2015, which means not only do you have to spend more money on United next year to maintain your status, but United is taking away benefits, further devaluing the MileagePlus program with these changes.

What are your thoughts on United’s latest change to the MileagePlus program?

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