Another United MileagePlus devaluation–revenue based earning–will go into effect March 1, 2015. This follows the United Award Chart Devaluation earlier this year, and the Delta Devaluation with SkyMiles Earning Becoming Revenue Based (and United appears to have definitely taken a page from Delta here).
Currently MileagePlus members earn 100% to 250% of the miles flown, depending on their fare class and class of service, plus bonus miles depending on their elite status.
Starting with flights flown March 1, 2015, MileagePlus will go revenue based and United miles earned will depend primarily on ticket price:
- General MileagePlus members (non elites): Earn 5 miles per dollar spent
- MileagePlus Premier Silver members: Earn 7 miles per dollar spent
- MileagePlus Premier Gold members: Earn 8 miles per dollar spent
- MileagePlus Premier Platinum members: Earn 9 miles per dollar spent
- MileagePlus Premier 1K members: Earn 11 miles per dollar spent
And here's the current MileagePlus Chart for earning miles, based on flown miles and fare class:
Let's take an example. Sure, it's just one example and there are examples (as noted in the FAQ below) where members can come out ahead with revenue based earning, but even for many top MileagePlus elites, they'll earn fewer MileagePlus miles from their flying than they do under the current MilagePlus program.
NYC to LAX Roundtrip
MileagePlus General Member (non-elite) on discounted economy fare (fare classes S, T, L, K, G, N)
Currently: 100% of flown miles = 2454 + 2454 = 4908 miles
Post-Devaluation 3/1/15, assuming a $398 roundtrip fare: 1990 miles (40% of miles earned currently)
Premier Silver MileagePlus Member on discounted economy fare (fare classes S, T, L, K, G, N)
Currently: 2454 + 2454 (100% of flown miles) + 613 + 613 (Premier Silver bonus miles) = 6134 miles
Post-Devaluation 3/1/15, assuming a $398 roundtrip fare: 2786 miles (45% of miles earned currently)
Premier 1K Member on discounted economy fare (fare classes S, T, L, K, G, N)
Currently: 2454 + 2454 (100% of flown miles) + 2454 + 2454 (100% 1K elite bonus miles) = 9816 miles
Post-Devaluation 3/1/15, assuming a $398 roundtrip fare: 4378 miles (45% of miles earned currently)
Will the Revenue Based Mileage Earning Apply to All Tickets Sold by United?
It will apply to most tickets operated by United and United Express, and also to tickets operated by Star Alliance or MileagePlus partner airlines where the ticket number starts with “016”
What About Flights Operated by Other Star Alliance or MileagePlus with Ticket Numbers That Don't Start with 016?
These types of tickets will still earn United MileagePlus miles based on distance flown and the purchased fare class.
Is There a Maximum Number of Miles That Can Be Earned per Ticket?
Yes. As with Delta, the maximum number of United MileagePlus miles that you can earn with a single ticket is 75,000 miles.
So Does Everyone Lose? Who Wins with These Changes?
The main winners here, compared to current MileagePlus earning, are those flying:
- Short, expensive domestic flights in uncompetitive markets
- ~$7000 tickets as a United Premier 1K (earning the maximum 75,000 miles per ticket)
Other MileagePlus members, even MileagePlus elites, will mostly lose, unless they normally book expensive flights.
Is United MileagePlus Credit Card Earning Affected?
No–that remains unchanged. The revenue based changes are only for paid tickets.
Where Should I Credit Miles If I Fly United After March 1 and Don't Want to Credit to United?
I would recommend another Star Alliance partner, such as Singapore KrisFlyer or Turkish Miles & Smiles. Just keep in mind that of the discount economy fare classes, you need to be booked in S, T, L or K to earn 100% of the flown miles for Singapore Airlines. All United discount economy fare classes earn 100% of the mileage flown for Turkish Airlines' Miles & Smiles program.
Personally, as someone who flies 1 or 2 domestic United flights a year and primarily earns United miles in the context of credit card bonuses and 5X Ultimate Rewards spend, I'm not much affected.
But if you do earn a good number of United miles from flying, you may want to do the math to see how this will affect you and determine your strategy going forward, whether that means shifting your flying elsewhere or crediting United flights to another frequent flyer program.
What do you think of the United MileagePlus revenue based changes?
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