Award Fee Changes - Eff. Jun. 15, 2011

Discussion in 'United Airlines | MileagePlus' started by UA Insider, Apr 14, 2011.  |  Print Topic

  1. UA Insider
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    UA Insider Official Representative

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    Hi Everyone, About a month ago, I shared with you the details of our award chart changes for Mileage Plus and OnePass taking effect on Jun. 15, 2011. Today, I’ll share the details of the award fee changes that will take for awards redeemed on or after the same date. I'll also do my best to highlight some of key points along the way. Here they are:

    Close in Booking Fee: This fee will apply to awards redeemed less than 21 days before departure. They’ll be $75 per person for general members, $50 for Premier and Silver members, $25 for Premier Executive and Gold members, and will continue to be waived for 1K, Global Services, Platinum and Presidential Platinum members.

    Worth noting: For OnePass members, there’s no change. For Mileage Plus members, this is the re-introduction of the close-in booking fee, but with Elite-based discounts.

    Award Change Fee: This fee will apply to award changes that are not considered ‘simple changes’. They’ll be $75 per person for awards redeemed by general members, $50 for Premier and Silver Elite members, $25 for Premier Executive and Gold members, and will continue to be waived for 1K, Global Services, Platinum and Presidential Platinum members . Also starting Jun. 15, we’ll offer Mileage Plus members a flat change fee of $75 for awards issued prior to Jun. 15. The Elite discounts, however, will only apply to awards issued on or after Jun. 15.

    Worth noting: For OnePass members, there’s no change. For Mileage Plus members, this is a reduction of 50% or more, depending on your Elite status.

    Simple Award Changes: Simple award changes will remain complimentary across both programs; however, the definition of what a “simple change” is will continue to be different between our two programs for the time being. Specifically:

    For Mileage Plus redemptions, the origin, destination, carriers and routing would have to remain the same.

    For OnePass redemptions, the change would have to be made at least 21 days in advance and the origin and destination must remain the same. The routing and carrier, however, may change.

    Mileage Re-Deposit Fee: This fee will apply to awards that are cancelled and re-deposited. They’ll be $150 per person for awards redeemed by general members, $125 for Premier and Silver members, $100 for Premier Executive and Gold members, and will continue to be waived for 1K, Global Services, Platinum and Presidential Platinum members.

    Worth noting: For OnePass members, this is an increase for general, Silver and Gold members. For Mileage Plus members, the fee is the same for general members, but will decrease for Premier and Premier Executive members.

    Whether it’s having high fees in some areas and none in others, or having lower fees across the board – we’ve found the bottom line result to be about the same. Our goal with this new structure is to ensure that our most commonly-used fees are as low as possible and that our Elite members are rewarded with tier-based discounts. We’ve seen a lot of feedback on this, and hopefully this explains where we’re coming from.

    United.com and continental.com will be updated later this afternoon with these details. Thanks as always for your feedback.

    Scott O'Leary
    Managing Director, Customer Solutions
    United Airlines
     
  2. Mackieman
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    Mackieman Gold Member

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    Really liking the reduction in fees for award changes on the UA side.
     
  3. EWR764
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    EWR764 Silver Member

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    No arguments from me. This seems pretty fair.
     
  4. JLSocks
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    JLSocks Silver Member

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    Overall it's seems to be a plus on the UA side, however the re-introduction of close-in booking fees is garbage in my opinion, even though it doesn't directly impact me.
     
  5. DenverBrian
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    DenverBrian Silver Member

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    It impacts me and thousands of others, and it's excrement.
     
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  6. Ygor
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    Ygor Gold Member

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    It does stink, but it's not like you would be able to find availability after 21 days prior to departure :D
    This is, however, a buzz kill for last minute getaways, and for emergency situations where one would want to use miles (death in the family, illness, new baby, etc)

    It doesn't affect me either, but who knows if I will be able to maintain 1k/plat for next year?
     
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  7. davidavid237
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    davidavid237 Active Member

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    For me, close-in booking necessitated by deaths/illnesses is one of the greatest uses of my miles. I'm resigned to the fact that my last minute award ticket is going to cost me 50k miles, but to add additional fees feels like a big hit to the value of my miles. As a 1P it's not a lot of money, but it's still more than it was prior to this change.

    Perhaps this is a place where United could help out their loyal customers with a "bereavement fare"-type situation where they waive the close-in fees.
     
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  8. sunseeker
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    sunseeker Silver Member

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    I especially think there should be no short notice booking fees for standard awards!
     
  9. Sean
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    Sean Gold Member

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    WOW this is a change I like! $25 for changing an award seat as a 1P is huge! This is the best benefit for 1P star gold I've seen so far!
     
  10. sdcarver
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    sdcarver Silver Member

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    Currently this has no affect on me as a 1K and I am conflicted on how I feel about the fee changes if I were to lose my 1K status...
    sdcarver
     
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  11. brahms77

    brahms77 Silver Member

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    I certainly welcome this 'reduction' in change fees! Working my way back towards UA elite status, this allows me to change tickets for much less than what was previous emposed, which I think is 150 USD!

    Thanks UA/CO.
     
  12. ifly153
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    ifly153 Gold Member

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    My take - No changes for 1Ks, HUGE benefit increase for 1Ps, nice for 2Ps, and a wash for GMs.
     
  13. jimster

    jimster Silver Member

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    What is good about this? It goes from 0 to a minimum of $25 depending on your status. Personally, I think this stinks. As for changes in award tickets, this also stinks. If you keep your same routing it used to be free.
     
  14. HaveMilesWillTravel
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    HaveMilesWillTravel Gold Member

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    Of course you do. Or, well, I do at least.

    Exactly. And what annoys me most about it is that there is no incremental cost to UA for those bookings, so the fee is pure profit. I could sort of understand it for the regular (non-saver) awards that take away a seat that might be bought for a high fare at the last minute, but if those 25k saver award seats exist 21 days prior to departure, they exist for one reason only: because IM doesn't think they'll sell for $$$.

    As you said, right now it doesn't affect me as a 1K, but I have been seriously contemplating dropping down to 1P and burning more miles this year. This adds another factor to the decision...
     
  15. sdcarver
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    sdcarver Silver Member

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    UA Insider,
    Thank you for the transperancy in your post on the fee changes. (Not referring to the changes as enhancements etc....)

    sdcarver
     
  16. ifly153
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    ifly153 Gold Member

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    Changes in award tickets with the same routing is still free (i.e. Simple Award Change). The fee is only if you make complicated routing changes, which used to be $150.

    IMO, that lowering of $150->$25 is huge and really a negligible fee that gives 1Ps a benefit that 1Ks have been enjoying. The trade off for 1Ps of increasing to $25 for close-in award changes is well worth it.
     
  17. jason8612
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    jason8612 Gold Member

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    hmm seems fair, but as everything is free for me (1K) it doesn't affect me.
     
  18. gleff
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    gleff Co-founder

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    No one likes close-in booking fees, but in terms of aligning the programs this really isn't bad at all. And it's a pretty decent improvement for United's non-top tier elites. The close-in fee does annoy for most members but improved change policies are IMHO a reasonable tradeoff. And of course the transparency in this, and the lack of marketing spin, are certainly appreciated.
     
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  19. catgirl
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    catgirl Gold Member

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    As a 1P, the close in fees are the big downer for me. The other changes are great, but I have been known to book a last minute trip (as in days) using the miles+co-pay option.
     
  20. MrAOK
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    MrAOK Silver Member

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    It's not fair. It also doesn't make sense for United.

    Aside from the obvious, which is the close in fees negate one of the big reasons for having a mileage program --being able to do last minute trips without having to pay a bundle thereby devaluing the program--the fees don't work for cheaper flights.

    Generally the fees makes mileage unusable for short, last minute, flights

    Under United's fees, it would cost $75 to use miles to book a short flight that would cost $200 or $250. So if I want to go from Washington to New York, or LAX-SFO or WAS-ORD or ORD-NYC and don't decide at least three weeks ahead, it's now unlikely to be worth using miles.

    That hurts United in several ways. First United loses the flexibility of using frequent flyer seats to fill short hauls at the last minute. Then it means that United will have to honor miles on longer flights, leaving more travelers upset about being unable to use their miles. Finally it sharply depresses the value of the MileagePlus program for short haul travelers, making discount carriers more attractive.

    Last time United imposed the fees, they suddenly had to do special mileage discounts for 700 mile flights to balance it. Even with that, the fee needs some sort of exception for shorter, cheaper flights to make sense.
     
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  21. Misplaced Texan
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    Misplaced Texan Gold Member

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    Just wanted to add my thanks to Scott for sharing this with us in a detailed and fact-driven manner.

    I got the e-mail about this either yesterday or Thursday and it was nice to glance at it and say "oh, I already know this."

    Makes me feel good to know that the new UA values this community and goes out of its way to communicate things to beyond just the typical e-mail blast. :thumbsup:
     
  22. goalie
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    goalie Gold Member

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    Imho, just another change we're not gonna like :mad: and sadly, methinks we're gonna have to get used to things like this thanks to Uncle Jeff's "it's all about the almighty dollar and screw the loyal (n.b. loyal) customers :mad:
     
  23. Rob
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    Rob Gold Member

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    Major thumbs up to UA and Scott for communicating the changes here (and on FT) in a straightforward, no-BS fashion. The return of the close-in booking fee has no immediate effect on me, although I'm still somewhat sad to see it return. What I'm happy to see is not the specific award fees being lowered for mid-level elites, but that the philosophy of discounting fees by elite level has spread from CO to UA. It struck me as strange that there was this all-or-nothing approach to fees where if you were a Premier Executive, fees were full price but as 1K certain fees are eliminated. Hopefully standby fees will change in the same fashion so that instead of charing a Premier Executive the same fee as a non-member, the PrExec gets a lower fee (of course, while still keeping it free for 1K :)).
     
  24. wombat18
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    wombat18 Silver Member

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    I, too, appreciate the notification and explanation. Some changes we like, some we don't like. But, the explanations help us understand what is going on - that can only be good.

    I really dislike airline programs springing enhancements changes on us unexpected and unexplained. It just gives the impression they are re-arranging the deckchairs more than improving their service.
     
  25. PanAm
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    PanAm Silver Member

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    My question is, what exactly differentiates a "change in routing" that does invoke a fee (under the current UA rules)? Obviously the O/D can't change but how do the connecting points factor in - does any variation in connections cause the fee to kick in? e.g, if I have AKL-LAX-DEN-CVG booked and want to change to a different departure time on the same date, but only LAX-ORD-CVG is available for the domestic portion, does that no longer qualify as a "simple change" with no fee?
     

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