This information comes from a reliable source under the condition of anonymity, so take it for what it’s worth. According to my source, below are the terms that United is considering for the combined Mileage Plus program in 2012.
Let’s start with the good news (and trust me, there’s not a whole lot of it for most of us).
Class of service bonuses:
Class of service bonuses for full fare tickets and paid premium cabin tickets will go up substantially, ranging anywhere from 125% for Y, B, and M fares, to 250% for F and A fares.
And now the bad news (get some popcorn, folks):
Status level names and qualification criteria:
(a) 25,000 elite qualifying miles AND $2,000 revenue AND 4 United segments,
(b) 30 elite qualifying segments AND $2,000 revenue AND 4 United segments,
(c) $5,000 revenue AND 4 United segments
(a) 50,000 elite qualifying miles AND $4,000 revenue AND 4 United segments,
(b) 60 elite qualifying segments AND $4,000 revenue AND 4 United segments,
(c) $10,000 revenue AND 4 United segments
(a) 75,000 elite qualifying miles AND $6,000 revenue AND 4 United segments,
(b) 90 elite qualifying segments AND $6,000 revenue AND 4 United segments,
(c) $15,000 revenue AND 4 United segments
(a) 100,000 elite qualifying miles AND $8,000 revenue AND 4 United segments,
(b) 120 elite qualifying segments AND $8,000 revenue AND 4 United segments,
(c) $20,000 revenue AND 4 United segments
Change in status benefits:
— Economy Plus can only be selected at time of check-in
— Only one free checked bag weighing up to 50 pounds per passenger on reservation
— Upgrade window goes from 48 hours to 24 hours before departure
— Mileage bonus goes from 100% to 50%
— Upgrade window goes from 72 hours to 48 hours before departure
— Mileage bonus goes from 100% to 75%
— Upgrade window remains 72 hours before departure
— M fares no longer offer instant upgrades for Platinum members
— Upgrade window goes from 100 hours to 96 hours before departure
Change in upgrade priority:
I’ll leave the exact details for another time, though the idea is that with the exception of Global Services members, full fare tickets clear first (so a Silver on a full fare ticket outranks a Diamond on a lower fare) and mileage upgrades with co-pays outrank systemwide/confirmed regional upgrades, which outrank complimentary upgrades. With this, there’s a possibility that fare restrictions will be eliminated on systemwide upgrades.
If the above were to be implemented, suffice it to say this would be a truly radical change. I suppose this would be an attempt to “fire” their most unprofitable customers. I’m guessing 80%+ of elites at each status level already requalify using the criteria above, though for the rest of us, well, that would be the end.
What bothers me about this more than anything, though, is that they’re simultaneously making it much harder to qualify for status unless you usually travel on full fare tickets, while substantially reducing elite benefits. The Gold mileage bonus going from 100% to 50%? Ouch! Silvers not being able to select Economy Plus seats at the time of booking? Ouch! Prioritizing upgrades with miles and co-pays over systemwide upgrades? Ouch!
With these changes United would be making sure that those at each status level are actually not only United’s most loyal customers, but also United’s most profitable customers. For that reason it wouldn’t make sense to me to prioritize upgrades from someone with lower status that’s on a full fare ticket ahead of a higher status passenger on a lower fare. I guess it just follows the general trend of judging a customer’s value to the company based on each individual transaction as opposed to their overall profitability/business/loyalty over years.
It’ll be interesting to see how much of this, if any, comes true. Again, I’m not saying this will be United’s 2012 program, so don’t panic… yet.