By now, you’ve likely heard about the changes to United’s MileagePlus award charts that become effective February 1, 2014. And if you’re anything like me who almost exclusively uses their United miles for premium cabin awards on Star Alliance airlines, the changes are a monumental kick in the gut.
First, here’s a look at what exactly is changing come February 1. Note that the current Star Alliance/partner award levels are the same as if you were flying on United exclusively (at the Saver level). All mileage amounts below are roundtrip (one-way awards are half the posted rates) and I’ve bolded the increases.
I nearly spit coffee all over my laptop this morning when I saw the new Star Alliance/partner rates, particularly for the first class cabin to Europe, Asia, etc. The United-only changes I can handle, and I’m a bit surprised they didn’t increase the first class rate to Australia at 160,000 miles roundtrip.
Also, not mentioned in the chart above is a new 10,000-mile roundtrip surcharge for routes between Alaska and the continental U.S., or between Alaska and Canada. So, if you book a trip on/after February 1 from Anchorage to Seattle (for example), it’ll actually be 35,000 miles for a roundtrip coach ticket, 60,000 for business and 80,000 for first on 3-cabin aircraft.
Here’s the link to the current charts (PDF) and the new charts (PDF) if you want to take a closer look at mileage required for other origin-destination combinations. Both also contain a list of destinations by region (N. Africa, Central Asia, etc.).
Even before this change, I had planned on making 2014 the year I burn my miles, but now I’ll certainly get everything booked before February 1. It’s important to note that the new levels will apply if you make routing or airline changes to existing award bookings on/after February 1, as well. My understanding is that if you’re able to change to the exact same flights only modifying the date of travel, no additional mileage will be collected.
It hasn’t been a very “flyer friendly” week for United news. If you missed the announcement earlier this week, United pulled upgrade and elite award availability from ExpertFlyer effective today.
I’ll have a bit more to add on this devaluation, as well as an update to the ExpertFlyer changes, sometime over the weekend.
– Follow Darren Booth on Twitter, @FrequentlyFlyin, for more airline, hotel and travel industry news, reviews and opinions.