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Will United’s new ‘rewards experience’ be good or bad news?

by on Mon July 15, 2013 • No Comment

Screen Shot 2013-07-12 at 9.43.58 AMUPDATE 7/15: Turns out it is good news – All Gold and higher Premier level United MileagePlus members can register to receive free Marriott Gold Elite status which offers free breakfast at many Marriotts, as well as free Internet and late check-out.


Over the last 24 hours United has been posting on social media about “A new rewards experience for MileagePlus members” with a photo of a tropical beach attached.

Frequent flyers are rabidly speculating this means United is about to de-value its program with a number of scenarios:

  • Increasing the miles needed for the current award chart
  • Changing redemption to be based on the cash price of a ticket
  • Adding a middle reward tier to the chart like Delta and U.S. Airways

That’s the doomsday view – that United award availability will start looking like Delta. And United’s CEO has said he wants his airline to be more like profitable Delta.

But there are other scenarios, less threatening:

  • A new reward booking interface online (it’s already pretty good)
  • Adding a cash + miles redemption option like British Airways
  • Adding a ‘pay with miles’ redemption option like Delta
  • Letting you use miles for vacation packages

For now, we sit and wait. A few people  are already creating a ‘run on the bank’ and redeeming all their miles because they’re worried United miles won’t be so darn useful and valuable for international travel in first and business class. They consistently rank near the top in award redemption and satisfaction studies.




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