Minnesota-based Sun Country UFly Rewards is following a recent trend and has transitioned to a revenue-based program. Previously, members earned five points per one-way flight in coach (seven points in first class) and roundtrip coach award tickets started at 100 points. Under the new rules, members will earn points based on how much they spend instead of the number of flights flown. Members now earn 10 points per $1 spent on base airfare, excluding taxes and fees. Award tickets start at 6,500 points and members can redeem for roundtrip and one-way flights and upgrades.
Furthermore, the program has relaxed the rules around pooling miles. Formerly, members were prohibited from pooling miles but now up to 10 people can combine their miles to redeem for award tickets. A group of people who would like to pool their miles selects one person to be the “pool administrator” who then sets up an account and invites up to nine other UFly Rewards members to join the pool. The pool isn’t restricted to family members and the administrator can invite friends, co-workers and anyone else they’d like to invite. Each member can contribute all or a percentage of their earned points to the pool and the combined points can be redeemed for an award ticket for any member, but only the pool administrator can request the award ticket. Setting up a pool is free and there are no fees to transfer points.
Bottom line: Whether you like revenue-based programs or not, they are here to stay and we expect more airlines to adopt programs based on money spent instead of miles flown. The miles pooling option is a new addition that will be valuable for members who fly infrequently and may not earn enough miles for a free ticket. By combining miles with friends and family, members can reach award thresholds more quickly.
Under the old program, members could earn a roundtrip coach flight after every 10 roundtrip coach flights. With the new program, it’s not so straightforward. When we searched, fares from Minneapolis to Orlando ranged from $156 to $631 one-way. A member who booked a $312 roundtrip flight would earn 3,120 points per trip, or 31,200 points after 10 roundtrips, which could be enough for a roundtrip flight. The cost of awards fluctuate and a one-way flight between Minneapolis and Orlando may range from 11,500 to 20,000 points, depending on your flight dates.