Let's focus on the positives. . .

Discussion in 'United Airlines | MileagePlus' started by Dozer, Nov 7, 2013.  |  Print Topic

  1. Dozer

    Dozer Silver Member

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    It’s been a tough week to be a loyal United Airlines fan. The devaluation to their awards chart was killer and pushed many frequent fliers to other programs. But if the devaluation didn't upset you too much and you plan on sticking with them, there are still some positives to the United Airlines Mileage Plus program. Here are 3 positive things about United Airlines that I can think of.

    1. United Airlines Mileage Plus still does not charge a fuel surcharge for award redemption. This is an incredible benefit. Both Delta and American Airlines levy outrages fuel surcharges when redeeming on some of their partner airlines that can rack up hundreds of dollars in fees. Want to fly to Europe on British Airways’ First Class? Expect to pay over $1000 in taxes, fees and fuel surcharges. Want to fly any of the Delta Sky Team partner flights anywhere? Expect to add several hundred dollars in taxes, fees and fuel surcharges also. Think you’re exempt from fuel surcharges if you’re flying on Delta metal? Wrong again, add fuel surcharges if your flight is originating outside of the United States. So as you can see, the devaluation did hurt the redemption rate but at the end of the day, it may cost you more in miles to redeem a Star Alliance partner flight, but it will save you hundreds in cash compared to Delta or American Airlines.
    2. United Airlines is currently offering a 20% discount on Economy Class award redemption to Europe. That brings the total cost down from 60,000 miles to 48,000 miles. It’s not much but it’s better than nothing. Assuming United miles are currently worth about 1.4 cents/mile. That’s a savings of $216. You have to book by November 19, 2013 and travel between January 13, 2014 and March 11, 2014. You must travel on a round trip ticket on a United Airlines plane. No partner flights on any segments are allowed. Open jaws are permitted but stopovers are not. More information on the discount can be foundhere.
    3. And lastly, United Airlines just joined Delta, JetBlue and American as the only airlines that are authorized by the FAA to allow the use of personal electronic devices from gate to gate. And with WiFi being rolled out throughout their fleet, this will allow you to stay connected and be productive throughout the entire flight.
    So, these factors aren’t earth shattering by any means but they are worth mentioning. For me personally, I’m still up in the air about United (pun intended). My initial reaction when I learned of the devaluation was to dump United Airlines and switch right over to American Airlines. But now that I had some time to think about it, there are still some great positives about the Mileage Plus program to consider. I still have to forecast my future travel plans and evaluate which frequent flyer program will work out best for me. Luckily, I don’t have to decide until the end of this year and these little perks will allow me to enjoy my relationship with United for just a little longer.

    Thoughts? Can you guys think of anything else that I missed?

    http://pursuedadventures.com/3-positive-things-united-airlines/
     
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  2. MX

    MX Gold Member

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    I believe this condition is called "Stockholm Syndrome" or capture-bonding.:D
     
  3. viguera
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    viguera Gold Member

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    I think there's very little good that will come from this, except for other people and not the UA elites.

    Anybody that can still book LH F using miles from other programs should be extremely happy, as the general consensus from the outrage I see is that it's now prohibitive unless you have a mountain of miles. So, you should see a bunch of more seats open as people with UA miles to burn would supposedly prefer to fly on UA metal.

    Other than that, the only people I can see benefiting from this would be non-revs, since increased redemption rates means more open seats.

    Seriously though I really don't see a lot of positives, other than the fact that things could have been worse. And the PED business is borderline, since everyone else can do it now so it's just bringing UA in line with the other competitors.
     
  4. Dozer

    Dozer Silver Member

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    You're totally right and I completely agree. I'm not denying all the negatives at all. I did my fair share of negative complaining also. All I was trying to do was, like the title says, focus on the positives.

    The way I look at it, we can keep complaining about something that we have no control over or we can choose to move on. Maybe I've just moved through to the acceptance stage of grieving. Lol. Or maybe it is Stockholm Syndrome. :)
     
  5. Garp74

    Garp74 Gold Member

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    Isn't an effect of the mileage devaluation that elite flyers on international fares have a better chance of upgrading cabins? Less award ticket use = more free seats for those us wanting to go from Y to J or J to F.
     
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  6. HaveMilesWillTravel
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    HaveMilesWillTravel Gold Member

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    OP, with the fuel charges, are you creating a to-do list itemfor UA here? ;)


    You forgot or missed US -- http://milepoint.com/forums/threads/electronic-devices-now-officially-allowed-gate-to-gate.74280/

    Besides, was there ANY reason to believe that UA or any of the majors would not allow this? I could see Spirit or Allegiant not spending the time/money on getting the authorization, but not anyone else. So seeing that as a positive for UA seems strange.
     
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  7. newbluesea
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    newbluesea Gold Member

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    OP are sure you really really want to continue this discussion?:rolleyes:

    Rationalization is your friend:)
    You posted two lame reasons ( 2 and 3) where UAL is supposed better than other airlines.
    (BTW Citicard holders have gotten 10% discounts on award redemptions on AA for about a year added to that there are quarterly discounts of up to 15% up on all classes of awards
    not only coach to select destinations ....this has been on-going for 4-5 yrs??)

    As for # 1 even that when examined by knowledgeable travelers is pretty flimsy.
    So you mentioned BA YQ charges for F transatlantic... fair enough that's accurate but that example happens to be the most egregious charges in the industry but but how about using
    BA miles LHR/FRA for a measly 4500 miles or LHR/FCO for 7500 miles? Does super UAL have anything comparable???

    Even when flying TA on AA's other partners there is a very small YQ on IB and none on AB or AY
     
  8. viguera
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    viguera Gold Member

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    That's my line of thinking as well. With a devaluation comes loss of interest, which will probably thin the elite herd, provide more inventory on UA metal, or both.

    I think overall it's bad, but for some people it's actually good.
     
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  9. Wandering Aramean
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    Wandering Aramean Gold Member

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    Everyone will be on board with this in a matter of days to weeks. It is not a competitive differentiation.

    The sky isn't falling. The world isn't ending. The program got worse but it is not the worst. Points are now worth less, not worthless.
     
  10. KenInEscazu

    KenInEscazu Gold Member

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    Personally, I'm still quite bitter about one change in particular. As with any change, it's a YMMV situation depending on one's travel patterns. For me, it's the removal of CPU and RPU availability on northern South America to North America flights.

    It makes no sense to me. I can still fly SJO-PTY-MCO and receive CPU or RPU availability, but I can't fly MDE/BOG-PTY-MCO with that availability, even though the distances are almost identical and they are all shorter than many domestic flights. I can't dwell on it, or it raises my blood pressure.

    Since I don't fly to Europe from anywhere, nor do I fly to Asia or intra-Asia, Oceana, Australia or New Zealand, none of those changes hurt me one bit. They do scare me, however, as I think they are insupportable with logic outside of short term earnings improvement. While it is every company's job to make money, keeping customers happy is the only way to really sustain profits. Last week's announcement clearly made no customers happy. Indifference is now the top of the satisfaction scale, and I doubt there is a high percentage of HVFs who remain indifferent.

    The general consensus seems to be, "What's next?" That isn't meant in a positive tone. There is a lot of fear about what they will do to devalue our loyalty further. I share that fear.

    Until the US/AA thing is resolved, I'll stay on UA. Once the dust settles there, I'll be able to make a more rational decision. Jumping ship now would be purely emotional, and that seldom ends well. So UA can still have my business, but I'm now a very dissatisfied loyal customer - if that makes any sense. It's a purely self-serving position.
     
  11. bmg42000
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    bmg42000 Gold Member

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    United still has one way awards which is ahead of Usair and Delta. I suspect people now need to figure out how to get more miles to make up for the higher cost of the 'F' seats.
     
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  12. Randy Petersen
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    Randy Petersen Founder

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    A few things just from my perspective (and for (no) arguments sake, I'm not saying UA is better nor am I saying I'm happy with these changes):
    • United has offered award sales for years both domestically and internationally. I recall 25% discounts to Europe last year and also to South Africa. Frankly outside of the credit card discount with AA I don't recall many if any programs the size of MileagePlus doing anything like that. Heck, I recall maybe three-four years ago they did a sale of Saver awards to Phoenix in the winter time for only 19K. I've been fairly grateful of these opportunities that my other programs have not been offering. So count me as appreciative of the miles I have saved in the past from opportunities like this.
    • Devaluation? My guess is that these changes do not have any affect on more than 87% of all awards redeemed with UA and likely don't affect more than 6% of all the members of the program counting just actives. I realize it is an issue with those who fall into the common use part of the award chart changes, but the reality is that most members will not likely be moving on as MileagePlus remains just as it was to them to weeks ago.
    • With the changes they don't seemed to have priced themselves out of the competition. While there are some very egregious examples in their changes to first class, their biz class changes to Europe seem middling if anything at all at 115K with (I think) 100K for AA and 125K for DL and Australia in biz again seems middling at 140K with AA at 125K and DL at 160K. Let's see, we'll either be going to AA (and likely should have already been there since their award chart on average has always been better than United's) or DL (Not), or WN (Not), or US (Maybe), or JetBlue (Not), or Virgin America (Not). It would seem that there's really not many places to fly to. Oh, I forgot, we could go to Lufthansa, Air France, British Airways or Singapore. Really, you want to split up your currency accumulation? So I guess we really only have a very small number of places to run to. Feeling lucky? And despite our huff-and-puff bravado online, we really don't go very far if at all. In the past there has been absolutely no major tilt of members moving from DL when their award chart was clearly priced well above the present UA and the present AA.
    • And I'm really not sure sure of those that are claiming the sky is falling and pointing out that (paraphrasing) this is likely the worst changes to programs ever. Actually I'm sure that claim is a result of being just too young! I recall when there was truly a devaluation. I think it was back in 1995 when most major programs changed the Saver award from a common 20,000 miles to 25,000 miles. Now that was a devaluation since at the time more than 93% of all awards were redeemed at those award levels. That was a full 25% increase for literally everyone. Of course that was 18 years ago (the same year that FlyerTalk was founded) and lucky since that popular Saver award is still priced the same (I'll go ahead and add it before anyone else does ... "if you can find an award at that level").
    SO again, I'm really not anywhere on these changes because i still need to analyze my savings, my future plans, my choices and balance my other benefits against these changes. But I thought I would pass along a few loose thoughts and with some luck may have some others to share.
     
    Last edited: Nov 7, 2013
  13. Wandering Aramean
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    Wandering Aramean Gold Member

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    A few interesting points, mostly right on target.

    While UA offers the reward sales (there is one right now for economy to Europe for travel in the winter) AA and US have the off-peak awards which cover more destinations and are easier to plan around. That's not to say that the UA sales are a bad thing but they also aren't quite as great a differentiator as they could be.

    To the point of the business class seat pricing not being egregious, I mostly agree but the split chart for partners sucks. AA has something similar thanks to the YQ fee on BA awards. DL's foreign origination surcharge is similar as well. Aeroplan has YQ on many partners, too. It could be argued in some ways that UA is just "catching up" to the bad the others have, just in a different form. And while that may be true, it doesn't take the sting out of the situation. One of the main appeals of MileagePlus is the Star Alliance network. They've used that in a pre-flight video for the past several months. Now they are telling us that we can still go to all those same aspirational destinations but if United doesn't fly there (or doesn't have seats available that day) then we get to pay a lot more for that privilege. I get that their costs went up. Doesn't mean I have to like it.

    Finally, I booked my most recent 25k award just last week for travel next week. Crossing the country, no less. Those awards are out there reasonably often, at least on United.
     
  14. newbluesea
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    newbluesea Gold Member

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    Actually AA does have " regular" discounted awards ( domestic only ) but for some reason it appears that their existence seems to be somewhat under the radar.

    Although only available to elites I have found that when you check for Dynamic awards (which most seem to think are only useful when regular awards are not available) one can find awards
    usually based on one way travel up to 20% lower than the 25k regular award.
    Added to that I often observed better inventory at these lower rates ( Ie more flights available) even when the regular 25k can be found on the normal award booking page of aa.com
     
  15. HaveMilesWillTravel
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    HaveMilesWillTravel Gold Member

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    The way I see it:

    1. I still earn the same number of miles, which will buy less travel. So even if there were more seats available, I may not have the miles to get them.

    2. I used to mostly buy UA-metal C awards to Europe with my miles since I like their seats better than LH. Now there will likely be higher demand/more competition for those UA-metal awards from those folks who previously bought LH. Which leaves me with fewer seats or perhaps the more expensive options (see #1).
     
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  16. NYCUA1K

    NYCUA1K Gold Member

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    I could have written this post and, in fact, have.;)
     
  17. kwai
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    kwai Gold Member

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    As someone who flies awards intra-Asia and Asia - US these changes are catastrophic.

    The positives?



    well that was quick.
     
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  18. estnet
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    estnet Gold Member

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    No b/c UA has a different bucket for ug and award tickets
     
  19. estnet
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    estnet Gold Member

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    As for fuel surcharges, yes I'd rather not have them, but if my choice is a $500 fuel charge or 60k more miles - I'd chose the surcharge.
    AA routinely has a much lower redemption rate off season - so UA's "special" is not so special
    You forgot that UA suddenly and with NO notice started implementing the 4 segment rule which made many awards impossible to redeem.
    call me - "used to be a loyal UA fan"
     
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  20. Misplaced Texan
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    Misplaced Texan Gold Member

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    Other positives:
    • At least they didn't go back to *Net blocking. Partner awards cost more, but you can still get them. That wasn't always the case on pmUA, even when the partner was releasing the seats.
    • UA.com still has a very good award search engine. Much easier to use than DL and somewhat easier (and listing more partners) than AA.
     
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  21. Kalboz
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    Kalboz Gold Member

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    Agreed, this devaluation is especially more egregious when needing 4 tickets to Asia ... I guess we are in the minority (the 6%)!
     
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  22. NYCUA1K

    NYCUA1K Gold Member

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    Let's focus on the positive and one way to do that is to try to understand why loyalty programs must periodically devalue their points. To understand something that affects one negatively can sometimes lessen the sting. I just posted a version of this elsewhere but feel that it belongs here.

    Point/mile 'devaluation' is a sound business move and not a whimsical decision taken by UA or any program simply to be mean or to try to 'destroy' their own loyalty program. For the airline industry, DL started the latest wave, then UA joined in, and AA that looks quite favorable now is not too far behind because they cannot afford not to devalue. The reason is that there are now simply too many loyalty miles and points out there, requiring a necessary course correction before the companies' finances collapse under the weight of mountains of loyalty miles/points. Kalboz wants 4 free tickets to Asia, as do I and my next door neighbor, and so on and on. Then, how do these companies make money if there are so many miles and points out there that everyone is redeeming for free flights or hotel stays? Filling planes or hotels with non-paying customers is not profitable. There is quite likely a formula that suggests the ratio of non-paying to paying customers that a loyalty program can live and remain profitable with. Beyond this ratio, profit falls and a course correction is required. So, UA did really mean to devalue their miles as a business decision and have no inclination to take the sting away. This also means they are prepared for defections and other threats, but 'devaluation' will remain. However, because 5 or 10 years from now loyalty programs will be even more popular than ever, 'devaluations' should simply be seen as bumps on the road.

    In short, what loyalty program members need to do is simply...to stop obsessing with something that is beyond their control. There will always be devaluation in the industry. Just make sure that you redeem your miles/points regularly and frequently or get out...
     
    Last edited: Nov 8, 2013
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  23. Kalboz
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    Kalboz Gold Member

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    The reason as to why there is too many loyalty miles and points out there, is the programs are "printing the currency" and this is not the fault of the consumer who is merely earning his/her way through ....

    They are not free tickets, that is an assumption ... they were earned the hard way! Also, I (we as consumers) did not start the program, the airlines are the ones who started the so-called loyalty programs - made promises and now, in a way, are reneging on them.
     
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  24. NYCUA1K

    NYCUA1K Gold Member

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    They created the currency, and they control it --- just like any central bank. ;)
    Just like the price of tickets purchased with hard currency can be increased, so can the "value" of tickets purchased with miles or points, except that in the latter case we call it "devaluation". Loyalty miles and points are currency and, as such, they are subject to and obey the basic laws of economics. When supply of a commodity (free tickets or rooms) is limited, while the demand for it is high (everyone has loads and loads of loyalty miles/points and wants the limited free tickets or rooms), the cost of the commodity will go up. Devaluation simply "restores" or "preserves" the value of airline tickets and hotel rooms by increasing their costs. Like I said, it is a sound business decision.

    As for the promises made and not kept, United MP (and all loyalty programs) tells prospective member in their T&C that they should be okay with "devaluation" if they wish to join MileagePlus. Nothing is hidden and there is no cabala. It is just business as usual: "..."United has the right to terminate the Program and/or the Premier Program or to change the Program Rules, regulations, benefits, conditions of participation or mileage levels, in whole or in part, at any time, with or without notice, even though changes may affect the value of the mileage or certificates already accumulated."
     
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  25. HaveMilesWillTravel
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    HaveMilesWillTravel Gold Member

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    Kalboz presumably paid for his miles in some way, as did your neighbor. The airline collected money for the miles and knew exactly how many they were issuing, and they control the number of award seats they offer. And the price for miles for me has gone up: tickets I purchased this year were significantly higher than last year. They are not filling their seats with non-paying customers. I have never flown on a free ticket, and I don't recall having ever gotten free miles. I wonder, do you think issuing (selling!) a huge number of miles was a sound business decision, too?

    Let's revisit this in a year or two to see how sound of a business decision this was.
     
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