Loyalty programs giveth, and loyalty programs taketh away.
Airlines are always making changes to their loyalty programs. Sometimes, they add a new benefit in order to attract new customers, or to keep them from straying over to another program.
But not all changes are so great, at least from the consumer side. No airline, no matter how profitable, has an unlimited promotional budget. So sometimes in order to provide an offer over here, an airline has to take money away from a promotion over there, usually in the form of cutting it outright or a partial reduction of benefits.
And that’s the situation that members of United Airlines’ (UAL) – Get Free Report MileagePlus program now find themselves in. In the past several years, you could get a flight from the continental U.S. to Europe for 30,000 miles in economy and 60,000 miles in business class. Sometimes, if there was a promotion and you were lucky, you could even find something for less than 30,000 miles. And during the early part of the pandemic, United increased its partner award rates by 10% and added mileage charges for close-in bookings.
Image source: Shutterstock
But nothing gold can stay, and now United has increased award rates in both cabins to 40,000 and 80,000 miles, respectively. This essentially means that Europe saver award rates are now 33% less valuable than they were just a few days ago.
At least Premium Plus awards are still unchanged at 45,000 miles one-way, that’s still just 5,000 miles more than economy-class awards.
While its a tough look for MileagePlus members, at least take comfort in the knowledge that another promotion might be just around the corner.