Will United Follow Delta’s Lead and Devalue Miles Again?
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TPG reader Jason tweeted me to ask:
@thepointsguy—”We’ve seen Delta devalue SkyMiles lately, should I be concerned as a United 1K flyer that United will follow?”
Jason asks a very valid question, considering that United mimics pretty much everything Delta does. When Delta announced plans for a revenue-based program, United basically copied and pasted the entire plan.
United went through a massive mileage devaluation last February, so I think it’s unlikely that there’s any imminent threat of further devaluation on the horizon. That is, United most likely won’t raise the number of miles needed for specific awards, but there are plenty of other ways the program could devalue.
In the past, United has blocked certain Star Alliance partner awards because paying partners for the tickets was expensive, like blocking Lufthansa first class redemptions, for example. We haven’t seen much of this lately, but it could come back.
I don’t see United making too many negative changes soon, but frequent flyer programs aren’t really known for their stability, so it’s hard to say. We don’t actually own our miles, and the airlines have the right to alter loyalty programs at any time. I wouldn’t be too nervous, but I always advise readers not to hoard points and miles. When you find a redemption that offers good value, don’t sleep on it, because you never really know what the program will do next.