United Changing How Travelers Earns Mileage Rewards

United Continental
Mark Lennihan/AP

DALLAS -- Travelers who fly the most and pay the most will soon earn more miles on United Airlines' frequent-flier program.

The change will help elite members of United's loyalty program -- those who fly at least 25,000 miles a year on the airline. It will be far less-rewarding for people who currently rack up miles by taking occasional long flights at bargain fares.

Starting next March 1, elite-level members of MileagePlus will earn between 7 and 11 miles for every dollar they spend on tickets, not counting taxes. Regular members -- people who fly less than 25,000 miles and spend less than $2,500 a year on United -- will get 5 miles a dollar toward free travel.

United (UAL) joins Delta (DAL), Southwest (LUV) and JetBlue (JBLU) in basing awards on money spent, not miles flown.

Since 1981, when American Airlines started the first big loyalty program in the airline industry, fliers were rewarded for the number of miles they flew regardless of how much they paid for their ticket.

In the last few years, however, Virgin America, JetBlue, Southwest and Delta have retooled their programs to favor passengers who spend the most. It's part of a larger strategy to appeal to high-spending passengers, especially business travelers who buy expensive, fully refundable tickets, sometimes in the first- or business-class cabin.

"These changes are designed to more directly recognize the value of our members when they fly United," Thomas O'Toole, president of the airline's MileagePlus program, said in a statement.

While basic MileagePlus members will earn 5 miles a dollar, awards for top fliers will depend on their status level. For each dollar, they will earn:
  • 7 miles for "silver" passengers (25,000 miles and $2,500 in spending the previous year).
  • 8 miles for "gold" status (50,000 miles and $5,000).
  • 9 miles for "platinum" (75,000 and $7,500).
  • 11 miles for "1K" passengers (100,000 and $10,000).
United didn't reveal any change in levels for redeeming miles. A spokesman said they wouldn't change.

Economy-class round trips usually cost 25,000 to 50,000 miles for U.S. flights; 60,000 to 130,000 miles between the U.S. and Europe; and up to 170,000 miles to fly from the U.S. to the Middle East, India, Pakistan, Australia or New Zealand and back. More miles are needed for first- or business-class.

United said that passengers will earn miles for every dollar they spend on base fares and the airline's own surcharges, such as for fuel. Money spent on bag fees and other amenities and taxes won't count.

The changes will apply to most tickets for United and United Express flights and tickets that United sells on partner airlines. There will be a maximum of 75,000 miles earned for each ticket.

United said that it would give members new ways to redeem miles. Beginning next year, they will be able to cash in miles to cover economy-class seats with more legroom and bag-checking fees.

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Those airlines are more greedy. Maybe you can consider taking a bus tour. Check this out:
They have tons of bus tours to choose

July 11 2014 at 1:59 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

They say this like it's a big surprise. United has ALWAYS awarded their elite-level fliers with higher mileage credits than Joe Schlub. Is there really ANYONE out there who didn't already know this?

June 11 2014 at 3:38 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

This is from 2008... "Reports: United to ground 737s, 747s to save fuel
Posted: 2008-06-04 04:13:49
CHICAGO (AP) - United Airlines is reportedly planning to ground dozens of its least fuel-efficient aircraft to conserve cash and cope with spiraling fuel prices.

The Chicago Tribune reports United escalated the plan last month as the Chicago-based airline backed off a potential combination with US Airways. The report cites unidentified sources familiar with the plan and says United will announce the decision today.

The Wall Street Journal reports the plan will lead to a large but undetermined number of furloughs of union workers and a major reduction of routes.

A United spokeswoman has declined comment.

The reports say United intends to retire 94 Boeing 737s. The airline had already planned to ground 30 of the decades-old aircraft. United also plans to ground some Boeing 747s, which are its largest jets.

AP Links

June 10 2014 at 6:16 PM Report abuse -1 rate up rate down Reply

Many of the air routes in the USA are too small to earn and make a profit, therefore the taxpayers chip in to keep the lines open; with United and other majors closing routes that they paid for, the burden of transportation will shift to the smaller puddle-jumpers and the burden of keeping these flying will tranfer to more taxpayers.

June 10 2014 at 6:14 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Southwest airlines and others like Jet Blue purchased jet fuel on futures several years ago and are paying nearly 50% of the current price; the problem is that they too will eventually have to pay full price and when that happens it will make today's airfares look inexpensive as competition vanishes due to bankruptcies.

June 10 2014 at 6:12 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Another Fool by the name of Mr. Denham (R-CA) has added an amendment that Prohibits money for High-Speed Rail in California, which is stupid as it will cost jobs, jobs for design, engineering, steel, concrete, painting, roofing, track laying, car construction, engine construction, computer systems, digital control systems, accountants, bankers, and more.

These moves by Denham and Sessons are dangerous to the overall transportation systems of people, mail, packages, fuel and other shipments as our rail system is the only system that can run on 100% clean energy from the sun and wind. All other systems, including busses, aircraft, cars, trucks currently run on fuels that pollute and are becoming scarce and expensive...

June 10 2014 at 6:09 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Airlines have to start "unionizing" into a group that purchases and refines their jet fuel, including the wells and distribution system. Else, they all are going to be held hostage by the oil companies and profits will plummet. In truth, most airlines will be put out of business by 2050 due to NO FUEL being available, thus we, in America, should back the expansion of light and high-speed rail in this country. Wake up America, we are in trouble and it will take 30 to 50 years to fix our transportation systems.

June 10 2014 at 5:52 PM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply

Aircraft future and you

Aircraft and flight safety are at an all time high, but many fleets are getting older and will have to be replaced, additionally the American Taxpayer is supporting many airlines and small airports and routes in an effort to keep the planes flying, this may change now that Washington has gone on a 'stop' taxpayer support for non-profitable items, thus more airlines may be laying off people and keeping aircraft longer. As for maintenance, there is a shortage of qualified people, and as for fuel, there is a shortage of fuel on the way. Airlines must look forward ten or twenty years and plan now, but most do not and therefore, will find jet fuel non-existent or too expensive in the future. We need high-speed and light rail (electric powered) to replace the pending transportation problems.....

June 10 2014 at 5:50 PM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply

Mr. Sessons of Texas has just added admendments to the 2015 Transportation-HUD Spending Bill; these admendments are to KILL AMTRAK starting with the Sunset Limited, and any route the cost 2 two times the revenue intake.

This is great as Mr. Sesson is trying to get rid of ALL AMTRAK ROUTES that are over 400 miles in length and has told people to FLY instead.

What Mr. Sessons fails to understand is that there are hundreds of Airline routes being paid for by the American Taxpayer and are operation at a loss...

Mr. Sessons also FAILS to understand that there are people that do not drive, do not enjoy flying, and do not under any circumstances wish to take the Bus as Sessons also suggest.

Mr. Sessons further FAILS to understand that AMTRAK has been upgrading and wishes to go to HIGH-SPEED RAIL, which when build will replace the airlines that are within the next 20 years going to be for the RICH ONLY as the FUEL and Labor prices are going out of sight.

Mr. Ed Pastor (D) is opposed to all of Mr. Sessons (R) admendments.

For those that do not know, the Sunset Limited brings thousands of Tourist to Wilcox, Benson, Tuscon, and other touring sites, and that those running the touring facilites, restaurants, motels, etc., will be losing money by this unwarranted move by Mr. Sessons...

June 10 2014 at 5:48 PM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply
Terry and Mandy

United used to have a good Mileage Plus award system. Now it sucks. More mileage and higher co-pays have made the program worthless for the infrequent pleasure traveler. My ticket to Chicago from Los Angeles for summer 2013 was $385. My ticket to Chicago summer 2014 is $668. The price of fuel this summer is the same as last year, so why the huge price increase? United is gouging its customers and nickel and diming them on additional fees. My upgraded seat to Economy Plus was an additional $90 each way. I'm done with United after this trip. Planes and seats are dirty, service is crappy, and personelle attitude is "I don't care"

June 10 2014 at 12:20 PM Report abuse -1 rate up rate down Reply