Could it be? United LOWERS the prices of many awards

As I blogged about this morning, United announced that they were making changes to their award chart as of June 15, 2011, though the new award chart didn’t go live until now.

In my post this morning I mentioned how I thought it was funny that they didn’t include the word “increase” when describing the changes, though they did include the word “decrease.” Well, it does appear that they listened, since they added/revised these bullet points:

• Some United and Star Alliance™ Award amounts will go up; however many popular award routes, including North America to Hawaii and the Caribbean, will remain the same.
• Some Mileage Plus Upgrade Award and Star Alliance™ Upgrade Award amounts will increase.

So I was expecting a mild devaluation, which is only natural over time. I was especially expecting it because they recently liberalized their award rules, now allowing one open jaw AND one stopover on awards between regions, and making the routing rules themselves more generous, allowing one to go 15% over the maximum permitted mileage for a given city pair.

Well, it appears my prediction was wrong for the most part. United actually lowered the cost of many of the most popular awards. A few of the highlights:

  • Awards under 700 miles each way are now 20,000 miles roundtrip
  • The cost of business class awards to Europe went down 5,000 miles per roundtrip (105,000 to 100,000)
  • The cost of business class awards to most of Asia went down 5,000 miles per roundtrip (125,000 to 120,000)

Now, there are some increases as well:

  • The cost of economy class awards to Europe are up 5,000 miles per roundtrip (55,000 miles to 60,000 miles)
  • The cost of business class awards to the Middle East are up 5,000 miles per roundtrip (115,000 miles to 120,000 miles)
  • The cost of standard awards has largely increased, especially business class, to more than double the “saver” cost
  • The cost of many co-pays are up

So it’s not that all the changes are good, but on the whole it’s at least a wash. I’d say for those that want to maximize their miles (those that use their miles primarily for international premium cabin saver awards) come out ahead here

So on the whole I give United a thumbs up on this. They could easily have increased award prices across the board, justifiably, since it’s been a while since they’ve had an increase, not to mention they just made the routing rules more generous.

Comments

  1. I agree with Marc, and hope that there will be fewer capacity controls for saver awards. While the mileage requirements for some saver awards have fluctuated (with some increasing, and others decreasing), it seems very clear that the mileage requirements for standard awards – especially in business class for int’l destinations – have gone up exponentially. Let’s just hope that the decrease in mileage for certain saver awards isn’t really a pretext for capacity controls to force us to buy standard awards.

  2. Did you notice that North America upgrades w/ miles also went up (not just the co-pays that elites are exempt from). It will not cost 20K each way to upgrade ps on a discount economy fare. Don’t even get me started on the HI flights.

  3. My biggest issue with the change is the RTW award change… F is now 120K more for CO people… I was hoping they would change it to a level between CO and UA rather than just going with UA’s level…

    I am happy that upgrades have gone up… That will make it easier for me to use my SWUs…

  4. I am not so happy about the award changes — which are a terrible for people looking for upgrades to Asia or the Middle East. Not only are the copays up by $100 each way but the mileage cost also went from 12.5/25K to 15/30K.

    On top of this, the B class fare now is charged the higher mileage, meaning only the expensive Y class gets an upgrade for 15K. For B class, the cost went from 12.K to 30K.

    Outside these regions, it’s hard to see how much higher copays and mileage fees for most inter-region travel are a step forward to travelers. I feel like I was just robbed.

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