Tuesday, November 4, 2008

United Airlines Makes Changes To Frequent Flyer Program

United Airlines sent me an email today outlining the changes to it's frequent flyer program for 2009. There are some positives, they are restoring the 500 mile minimum accrual for elite members and also making it possible to use miles for upgrades to business and first on international flight, something that was previously only available for full economy fares although there will be a service charge.

Below outlines all the changes for 2009:

The changes to the Mileage Plus program for 2009 will reward our premium customers with highly competitive benefits, while responding to increased demand for United's new international first- and business-class cabins.

Please keep reading for a brief overview of each program change, then visit united.com for FAQs and details.

Restoration of 500-mile minimum accrual for elite members

Our elite members are the cornerstone of the Mileage Plus program. To reward these members and allow them to requalify for their benefits more quickly, the 500-mile minimum accrual on United flights will be restored for elite members effective January 1, 2009.

This policy change will be applied retroactively to flights between July 1, 2008, and December 31, 2008. For elite members who flew United flights of less than 500 miles during that timeframe, all affected mileage balances and bonuses and earned upgrades will be adjusted by the end of the year to ensure that your elite status is correct for 2009. Please see united.com for full details.

Mileage awards

Mileage Plus continues to offer members more awards to popular destinations. In fact, through August members redeemed 12% more awards in 2008 than in 2007. Also, United continues its policy of no fuel surcharges on award tickets. However, changes will be made to award levels on January 1, 2009. Note that our most popular Saver and Standard awards within the continental United States will stay the same, but other routes and classes will change.
View revised Saver, Standard and partner award charts.

Upgrade awards

As United continues to introduce the new international first and business class, which include lie-flat seats and other enhancements, demand has increased. To ensure that the upgrades adequately reflect the value of a first- or business-class seat, we are generally reducing the mileage requirements and will be collecting a co-pay when miles are redeemed to upgrade an Economy ticket. This change will be effective for upgrade awards requested on or after July 1, 2009.

The co-pay amount will depend on the origin and destination cities, as well as the type of ticket purchased. If you upgrade from a higher fare class, your co-pay will be lower or even non-existent. Upgrade awards from Business to First will not require a co-pay.

And to ensure that all Mileage Plus members have a chance to experience the new international first and business class, beginning July 1, 2009, all paid international Economy-class tickets can be upgraded with miles and a co-pay. Currently, only select Economy classes can be upgraded internationally.

Please visit united.com for details about these changes, including helpful FAQs and examples.

Thank you for choosing United and Mileage Plus.


Graham Atkinson
President, Mileage Plus

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