Will United stop offering miles for their lowest fares?

Today in the Sky notes that United’s latest round of “Twares” (Twitter Fares) come with a special restriction:

not eligible for Mileage Plus accrual.

Ouch! Is the sky falling? Not quite. This definitely sets a bad precedence, given that up until now all revenue fares on United earned miles. For a second I figured all the low fare buckets were screwed, but then I noticed something which made me feel better. When I priced out the “Tware” it’s actually a “G” bucket fare, which is typically used for consolidators. While those fares did (typically) earn miles in the past, they’re hardly for “published” fares.

Therefore I doubt we’ll see United all of a sudden not allowing mileage accrual on low published fares. Another thing that makes me feel better about this is that the fare earns no miles. Why’s that a good thing? Well, if United ever reduced mileage eligibility for lower fare classes, I highly doubt they’d totally get rid of mileage accrual, but instead give maybe 25-50% so people still have a (small) incentive to stick to the airline they’re loyal to.

At the same time I have to wonder what they mean by “not eligible for mileage accrual.” I assume that means no redeemable miles, but does that also mean no elite qualifying miles, no lifetime miles, no miles towards 500 mile upgrades, etc?

Comments

  1. another possibility is that they might do like some airlines and make mileage accrual a “travel option” where you pay a small fee to be able to accrue miles on the cheapes fares (which could also be presented as offering a “discount” to people who opt not to accrue miles.) Another star alliance carrier that comes to mind works on this model.

  2. Not all revenue fares earned miles.. G never did. Perhaps they realized that LAX-DME in W for $600 wasn’t a good thing.

  3. i hope this isn’t the sign o’ future times..especially as we approach Oct 24th and feel the effects of the chilly Continental cold front approaching….

  4. I don’t think this idea will have legs.

    Twares work because they are deep — but temporary — discounts that undercut the lowest market fares. On the margin, people may decide forgoing the RDMs is worth getting the lower price. But cutting the RDMs earned on, say, LST fares is an entirely different matter. Either UA offers market prices, in which case why would non-elite travelers want to pay the same money and not get miles, or they underprice the market, in which case others match via fare wars. The only way UA comes out ahead is if they can get lower fares to stick, but we’ve seen how that happens.

    No, Americans want their cheap fares and they want their miles too.

  5. @ Scholar in Training — The only thing that keeps me a bit optimistic is the fact that UA is doing this to compete with the competition in select markets. Ex-Europe that’s common, but still, I’m not looking where this is going. As soon as we see any “legit” (non-Tware) fare sales ex-US with the same restriction you can bet I’ll be screaming that the sky is falling.

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