United has a new website, which on the surface is long overdue. When United and Continental merged they kept the Continental website (and everything else from Continental, for that matter). While functional, it certainly wasn’t the most modern looking website out there.
Well, United has finally created a new website which is now in beta, and should be replacing the old united.com across the board soon. It looks much more modern than the old site.
I’m guessing many people are interested in the award search functionality of the new united.com, given that United’s website is one of the best for searching Star Alliance award space (along with the websites of Aeroplan and ANA).
In many ways the award search is similar. They’ve basically made the calendar display look a bit more modern, though there aren’t many material changes there.
There’s one area where there are some material changes, though. Specifically, United offers only two levels of awards — saver and standard. As of now they’re the only one among the “big three” US carriers which doesn’t have more than two redemption tiers (Delta doesn’t publish redemption tiers at all anymore, and American introduced more than two tiers last year).
However, on the new website, United has columns specifically for “First Saver Award,” “First Standard Award,” “Business Saver Award,” and “Business Standard Award,” as you’d expect.
But when it comes to economy, they only have one column, which reads “Economy (lowest).” They no longer have separate columns for “Economy Saver” and “Economy Standard.”
Now I suppose this could just be bad IT or an oversight, though given the precedent set by other carriers (especially United’s idol, Delta), that seems unlikely.
In practice it doesn’t seem like any changes have been made to award pricing yet, as economy awards are still pricing out at the saver or standard level. That being said, this does seem like the start of adding a functionality whereby award pricing is more dynamic, at least for economy awards.
Perhaps United is trying to change peoples’ perception that award pricing is binary (either saver or standard), and they’re starting that process very slowly.
Nowadays we see Delta SkyMiles pricing is completely dynamic, both good and bad. I think we’re still a ways off before we have a purely revenue based program, even for Delta SkyMiles. But Delta is certainly pioneering the way when it comes to dynamic pricing, and United is eager to follow everything Delta does, so…
What do you think — is this “development” on the new united.com an oversight, or the start of something bigger?
(Tip of the hat to Dan’s Deals)