I’ve gotten quite a few emails from people confused over what I wrote about United’s mileage program last monday.
The main point was not that the Mileage Plus program is going to become worse than the other programs, rather that it will now come in line with rates from other programs.
Until now the Mileage Plus program had some great advantages over the other programs, it offered cheaper awards, and didn’t charge expedite fees. However now it will simply be “just another program.”
Also, there was a lot of confusion over the 2 kinds of mileage awards.
In short, every airline offers a 2 tiered system of mileage awards. The lower tier (Or in United’s nomenclature: Saver Awards)offers lower rates, but are capacity controlled and may be subject to blackout dates, and often aren’t available for your preferred travel date. Except for Australia, United left this tier mostly unchanged.
The higher tier (Standard Awards) are available whenever you want to go somewhere without restrictions. These are the true bargains of mileage travel, as last minute tickets can be astronomically priced-as much as 10 times the cost of a ticket bought in advance, but with mileage they are just double or so the cost of a regular mileage ticket. This is the tier than United made much more expensive across the board.
So, should this stop you from earning miles in the Mileage Plus program, or from earning 20,000 miles for opening a United credit card?
Should you go and book that vacation to Australia before rates skyrocket?