Did United leak the Mileage Plus changes?

A few days ago I leaked possible details of the changes United will be making to their 2012 Mileage Plus program, which were quite substantial. Damian at Upgrd writes a post suggesting that United was actually behind the leaking:

As “rumors” about the new UNITED mileage plus program has hit the Internet, and is now all over frequent flyer blogs and forums some might think the people at the top of UNITED are mad about the “leak”. A confidential insider at UNITED tells me this is “all part of the PR plan”, he adds “This is a free way to gauge the reaction of program members”.

Hah! Clearly we have different “confidential insiders” (or I’m just a really good liar)…


  1. FWIW, another FTer mentioned these changes (independent of Lucky), so I could totally buy into the PR test run.

    For me, I’ve been a 1k the last 3 years (will requal this year) and I’m hedging my bets by burning 2 x o/w Saver First awards NA-Asia for next year …

  2. Or it was all devised to drive page views and ad revenue, or devised by someone that wants to see how far their made up story can reach.

  3. I am a Delta Diamond, AA Gold and Continental/United Gold. I have begun flirting with dumping all my AA spend into United to puush up my status. My annual airline spend is around $50 K. As someone who flies from NY and has lots off options I will immediately quit (100%) flying CO/UAL if they make this change.

    Open message to other carriers, my measly $50 K is all yours if youu keep mile based points and the others change.

  4. I had a friend that worked in marketing at WHQ. He told me UA always got info out to ‘test the waters’. He said that UA would analyze the results/comments on Monday. He said Flyertalkers were in-house test market.

    What really ticks me off is that peole are saying, ‘well we knew this or that would eventually come to an end’. Comments like this only encourage UA to take benefits away.

  5. @David: If you are in the 50K/year range you are looking at Global Services should you put that all on UA which I think most see as the best single level tier in any US FF program. With that said, I thank you for also looking for small guys like me 😉

    @Lucky: Regardless of whether the leak was intentional or you are a secret mole (or double-agent, or super secret double-double agent) working for either United or the people, I am sure United is gauging the reaction and actively reading posts. I think they realize they are on the brink of really shaking things up and it will look even worse if they come out too strong armed and do a 180 because of such a negative reaction (its happened many times before [CR-1s, e500 deposits, domestic co-pay]). The darker the rumor about the future of the program may also lighten some of the heat they receive should reality not be as bleak as you made it look last week.

  6. Ok UA, I’ll bite:

    1. I am not my fare! I am not my fare! I am not my fare!
    2. Reinstate the quarterly regional upgrades for 1Ks, which have now been cut in half.
    3. Reinstate the 100 segment criteria for 1K. I do not qualify that way, but respect my fellow travelers who do so.
    4. Please don’t make fare basis the 1st criteria for upgrades and keep the Hawaii UDUs.
    5. Give 1Ks and 1Ps the first shot at exit row seating.
    6. Publish the Global Services criteria.

  7. I am sure the info given to you was a controlled PR leak. I suspect you may have been used. You will soon see.

    The mandatory UA segments will be implemented, but not the revenue component.

  8. As a flyer out of PDX and I’ve been loyal to UA for years this is an extreme game changer. I think I’m going to move to DL mainly because of their partnership with AS.

  9. United is usually smart enough to back down when it raises the ire of its customers. When it implemented SWUs valid only on H and higher class fares some years back, customers raised hell. What was United’s response? It issued 2 SWUs called Sweet Spots valid on any fare, and they reinstated SWU validity back to W fares and higher.

    When it planned to only issue 1Ks 2 CR1s at 75K & 2 more at 100K, United, then backed down due to the ire of 2010 1Ks and allowed them to continue earning CR1s quarterly for flying 10K in a quarter in 2011. They simply should reward 1Ks with 2 Cr1s for every 25K EQMs earned in 2012.

    If United is savvy, they will back down and keep the program as it currently exists, but they could then add status qualification for high spending customers, so the person with a 20K spend gets 1K. I have no problem with this. However, imagine you earned 100K EQMs but only spent $6800 on tickets and are denied 1K status due to not spending $8000. Are you a low ball customer? Certainly not. Most airlines would be thrilled to have this business. Your business should be valued and rewarded with 1K status. Come on United, do the right thing. I have gone out of my way for over 20 years to give you my business, the last decade as a top tier elite flyer. If you implement these changes, you will drive me and others to your competitors. Will I be seduced by the dAArk side? The choice is yours.

  10. @Kent,
    you ever consider AS rather than DL.
    having similar dilema…but SQ or OZ doesn’t look so bad if UA/CO goes off the deep end…

  11. I don’t doubt this is all part of a game, for UA and others. But one thing I know, the uncertainty is making me consider directing the money I was going to spend on MR to requal 1P to an AA challenge this fall. At some point I need to fish or cut bait and UA isn’t winning hearts and minds where I sit, with screwing around like this – and already it’s getting into late August.

  12. I don’t think we should be surprised or shocked about the leak. I didn’t think it was a surprise that it came from united. Who else could it come from? Are we to believe that lucky’a source is a good friend of a janitor who works at UA Corp hq and really cares about the ff program? It was either made up somewhere along the way or it was leaked from within. Duh.

    Just look at apple. They have been known to purposefully plant leaks in order to manage shareholder expectations. It’s not just some crazy coincidence that by the time an apple keynote comes around, the Internet has always guessed 90% of what will be announced with about the same percentage of accuracy.

  13. It’s an easy way for UA to communicate to DL and AA how they want the 2012 programs to look like.

    UA’s changes are so massive that they’ll crater unless DL/AA do something similar. Antitrust law forbids them to form a cartel, but airlines copy each other and a “leak” is a great way to provide advance notice of intentions.

  14. The whole part about Premiers only being able to book Economy Plus on check in really stinks. These proposed changes are enough to make me consider my 18 years of either Premier or Premier Exec and to go to AA.

  15. United and Continental understood brand loyalty and recognition when they announced the merger to keep the United name and the Continental logo.

    I personally like the names “Premier, Premier Executive, Premier Executive 100,000 or 1K” much more than silver, gold, plat, and diamond.

    I prefer them to keep the old names over the new ones since this is what MileagePlus is known for over the years. I associate Silver, and Gold with Star Alliance.

    Does anyone feel the same way I do? 🙂

  16. @Andrew Chan

    Absolutely. The rumored new names are terribly generic. But I worry it comes down to choosing one’s battles, and I’ll admittedly take decent benefits under a bad name, if that’s what it comes down to.

  17. I agree it is all UA’s plan. If this was my company and someone leaked confidential info, heads would roll.

  18. @nulle I was matched about 5 years ago to AS MVP but I stopped being a MVP last year after my work travel changed and it didn’t allow to me to hold a 1P status and a MVP status at the same time.

  19. @Reader – well they couldn’t manipulate yours because it’s not hosted by Boarding Area anymore.

    Have a nice day 🙂

  20. One only has to HOPE it’s a balloon – personally don’t object to that – but it has got me thinking about what I really want from a scheme – pretty much a self-funded 1K based in the Uk. Seems like UA really doesn’t care about my business any more!

  21. @Andrew Chan
    I hate those new tier names too. But I am not holding any hope for a reversal. The way I see it, UACO needs to introduce a whole set of new names to kill off your old identity and to confuse you about your place in the new 4-tier elite hierarchy. After the big jumble of qualification, benefits and upgrade priority, it will be hard for elites to figure out what they “deserve” in the new landscape.

    This tactic reminds me of the food price hikes of the recent years. The breakfast cereal makers changed the weight of content, the cereal-to-filler ratio, size of the box, the package design and the price. It has become difficult to impossible for me to know how much real cereal I am getting for each dollar spent. I probably need Excel to figure out the extent of price hikes.

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