Rate United MileagePlus

Discussion in 'United Airlines | MileagePlus' started by Darcie, May 14, 2012.  |  Print Topic

  1. Darcie
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    Darcie Silver Member

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    InsideFlyer magazine is reviewing United MileagePlus in our July issue and would like your input.

    If you would like to participate, please post your response in the thread with the pros and cons of membership in MileagePlus and grade the program from A to F (A being the highest grade). You can include a plus or minus with the rating.

    You can also respond directly to the editors at InsideFlyer at dmankell@insideflyer.com if you would prefer.

    Thank you.
     
  2. Lufthansa Flyer
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    Lufthansa Flyer Gold Member

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    PRO's - excellent availability for reward redemption for business class to Europe on Star Alliance Partners (Lufthansa, Swiss).
    - Complimentary Upgrades: As a Premier Gold, I have cleared 80% of my eligible flights this year.
    - Honolulu Customer Service Center: Best In Class
    - Miles earning opportunities like Foursquare and Mileage Plus Dining programs.

    CON - Phantom first class inventory with Star Alliance partners to Europe. Many times Lufthansa First Class seats are shown, yet are not bookable. EXTREMELY Frustrating
    -Non Honolulu Call centers tend not be as well versed with MileagePlus rules and policies.
    -Promo miles take too long to post (It took me nearly 5 months to get promo bonus miles credited after flights to HKG).

    I give the program a B
     
  3. PhlyingRPh
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    PhlyingRPh Silver Member

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    "It is what it is" - PhlyingRPh 2012
     
  4. RestlessLocationSyndrome
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    RestlessLocationSyndrome Silver Member

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    MileagePlus provides 50% bonus miles for being a 50k flyer (Premier Gold) vs. 100% at AA and DL for the same level/tier. The program is not as rewarding as that of the other legacy carriers and they rely heavily on the Star Alliance and size of UA's route network as their main value propositions. MileagePlus gets a C
     
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  5. KenInEscazu

    KenInEscazu Gold Member

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    Although I am reading different reports about upgrades, I consider them a con at this point in the process. My experience between SJO and IAH has gone from 100% prior to 2/2012 to 0% thereafter. Most of my upgraded flights prior to the merger were as a CO Silver, with Gold having been my new status as of mid 2011. I am now Platinum and must buy or use miles/RPUs BC tickets on this route to have any chance of making the upgrade.

    My next flight is 5 days away. I used 17,500 miles to wait-list SJO-IAH connecting to IAH-MCO. IAH-MCO cleared instantly, thus taking all 17,500 miles, and SJO-IAH now looks impossible. I want a do-over.

    Although I recognize that this is a very complicated transition, the assistance available from Platinum CS has been far worse than before. The quality of staff is outstanding, but their ability to correct errors, illogical involuntary schedule changes, etc., has been very disappointing. My complaints to untied.com have been unanswered. My email to Smisek resulted in a phone call from a member of his team who seemed very concerned, but I have been severely inconvenienced several times and have received no compensation of any kind for my troubles.

    The one big plus is my ability to book SJO-BOG for 20,000 miles RT, saving me a ticket price of more than $900 for each trip. Even purchased miles result in significant savings. That could easily be viewed as a con, since a RT ticket of less than 800 miles each direction is extremely expensive for this heavily traveled route. Most flights are less than half full. This con can be blamed on Copa, but they are a fully active part of the MP team, with flights on Copa counting as UA metal.

    Overall, I give the entire program a D.
     
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  6. lhrsfo
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    lhrsfo Silver Member

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    I give the program a B, down from A before the merger.

    PROS: Generally upgraded domestically.
    Good (but declining - loss of BMI) Star Alliance route network.
    Still good reward availability and excellent emergency availability
    Good recognition (but not as good as before the merger)
    Good IRROPS handling (but, in my one experience post-merger, not as good as it used to be).
    CONS: International upgrade program now effectively useless because of fare class restrictions
    Random mileage postings and chaotic call centers mean small amounts get lost.
    Too many code-share flights, with inconsistent handling of UA pax and impossible-to-determine mileage rules.
     
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  7. riceoven

    riceoven Silver Member

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    Agree with Ken about upgrades. As a business traveler that travels during peak business travel hours, my upgrades clear about 20% as a 1K (most of the 20% are the short connecting flights to my smaller local airport). I spend most of my weekly flying in economy plus. Yesterday I just flew ORD-SFO on a 757 with 26 seats and didn't even see myself on the upgrade list. United assured me that I actually was, and was just not visible on the screen due to post-merger bugs. Not sure if that was BS or not... Not very happy about post merger issues, including mileage that I flew during the week of system transition that didn't post until more than 1 month later. Rating: C
     
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  8. downhillcrasher

    downhillcrasher Gold Member

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    Do-over? Call and ask to cancel the upgrade. You should be able to get those miles redeposited.
     
  9. MadameConcorde
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    MadameConcorde Silver Member

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    Million Miler Premier Executive Gold --> downgraded to MM Premier Gold
    100% bonus miles for Premier Exec --> downgraded to 50% bonus miles
    Million Miler yearly SWUs --> downgraded to no more.
    MM'ers complimentary upgrading at the gate --> much less than before - if ever

    Pros?
    companion card --> I can't make any use of it as I have got no companion/sig. other

    My rating for the Mileage Plus program: F

    2012
    I chose to jump ship - always bought from other airlines and will keep doing so until Continited restores all pre-merger Million Miler lifetime benefits.

    :mad:
     
  10. Gtitan
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    Gtitan Gold Member

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    One of the main value propositions that the other programs do not feature, but UA MP does, is the 24-hour same day confirmed window changes. The utility of this alone is quite striking.
     
  11. radonc1951

    radonc1951 Gold Member

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    So, for the traveler who uses a service such as same day change frequently, MP has a big plus.

    For the traveler without a companion, the loss of benefits is a big minus. No surprise.

    I look at FFPs in a somewhat different manner. To me, they are like the icing on a cupcake. I don't buy a cupcake for the icing. I don't fly airlines for the FFP. Anything a FFP gives me is the icing. My objective in flying is, believe it or not, to get from A to B safely, on time and in comfort. I also want a good schedule of available flights. If I want to be assured that I will be up front, I will pay for it. I will admit that being a top tier FF allows me to us Y, B and M ups but these tickets are still more expensive than S,L or T fares. I rarely use miles to UG, but I have used my SWUs for int'l UG once, successfully. (However, the angst of having to wait for a battlefield UG on a flight to HKG from EWR was not worth it to me, and will never be repeated!). Domestic free UGs are icing. If I get it, fabulous. If not, I got what I paid for. The company does not owe it to me, and if they can sell the seat up front for revenue, they should be allowed to. All I ask is that the offer to sell be transparent and open to all. (I do believe that elites should be offered first, however).

    So, my opinion is that MP is a work in progress. I like that they recognize me as a FF, and that this translates into perks. But the perks are icing. Just make sure that the cupcake is fresh and tasty ;).

    Oh, right now, MP rates a B-. Once they reimburse me for global traveler, it will be a B :p
     
  12. Sweet Willie
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    Sweet Willie Gold Member

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    Pros:
    E+ seating is still my biggest pro with UA
    Excellent Y saver award availability both international & domestic
    Good alliance global coverage
    Million Milers being able to designate a sig other with same status

    Cons:
    -After YEARS of excellent service, being protected when irrops occurred, they have dropped the ball twice w/me, follow up customer service is horrid and paltry in response compared to the old UA, CO is far too miserly.
    -50% mileage bonus for Premier Golds/MMs vrs 100% bonus on AA & others.
    -Back in the day, agents would let you know the flights where your SWU/GPU would clear upon booking (this for reservations many months in advance) and the W fare buyup was only a couple hundred dollars more (at the most). Now W fares are much higher (at least on routes I used to fly) and forget knowing about if a SWU will clear at time of booking unless close in.
    -Million Milers no longer receive two CR1s/regional upgrades per year
    -rediculous wait times to speak with an agent

    I’d rate Mileage Plus as a D and I’m being generous
     
  13. mhnadel
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    mhnadel Silver Member

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    I have to question rating Mileage Plus right now, while UA is in the midst of the post-merger chaos. Restaurant reviewers wait until a restaurant is open a few month and make multiple visits. I'd suggest waiting a year for things to shake out is appropriate in this case.
     
  14. cvsara
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    cvsara Gold Member

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    Wait another year? This merger had been in the "works" for a year!
     
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  15. genemk2

    genemk2 Gold Member

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    But the PSS merger only happened in March. That's when things actually impacted customers.
     
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  16. NYCUA1K

    NYCUA1K Gold Member

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    I fully agree with the above. Folks might recall my complaint (http://milepoint.com/forums/threads/upgrade-drama-at-the-leading-airline-a-cautionary-tale.34067/) about a "supervisor", who royally screwed up on my upgrade to MEL, claiming -- swearing, in fact -- that I had not put down any GPUs to secure that upgrade, even getting testy, while every available evidence showed that she was dead wrong. Well, that was a little over 3 weeks ago. Here's an update:

    May 3 was the departure date for MEL and everything looked great. My JFK-LAX (p.s.) and LAX-SYD-MEL upgrades had cleared. We boarded on time and pushed back to take off on time. Then suddenly, the plane came to a halt and the Captain announced: "Folks, I regret to inform you that due to bad weather along the east coast from DC to Boston, all planes are grounded until that situation clears." I looked out the window and the procession of planes that was going to take off had stopped. About 15 min later, the Captain spoke again: "Folks, I regret to inform you that we have been instructed to return to the gate due to some mechanical problem." Double whammy! So, the crew manipulates the plane back to gate, where what ever problem was going to be taken care of. Normally, none of these "acts of God" would have bothered me except that I just had 1hr:15min of connection time in LAX to catch my MEL flight, and at the rate that things were going it looked like we would be delayed by more than an hour at JFK. Concerned, I told a FA about my little connection problem and asked her whether our delay in leaving JFK might prompt the LAX-MEL flight to also be delayed. She said that she doubted it because intl flights are rarely delayed on purpose to accommodate late arriving passengers. For a number of reasons, things looked grim, but at the very top was the fact that if I missed the connection to MEL from LAX, I might not be rekoobed in C, forcing me to do 14+ hr in Y -- a truly lousy prospect. An hour later, with the mechanical and the weather problems having cleared, we pushed back out of the gate again. Suddenly, there was an alert from my DROID, which I had forgotten to switch off in all the commotion. It was a flight update message from UA: for a reason that would become clear after we got to LAX, my LAX-MEL flight had been delayed by more than hour. Yeah! It turned out that I was not the only person traveling to MEL who would have missed that flight had it departed on time. Loads of passengers, many of whom I knew, were also arriving late from the east coast and Europe and would have missed it because we were all headed to MEL to attend a 4,000-participant international congress; *A had been designated the "official alliance" for the congress, which explained why there were so many folks on this flight to MEL. Clearly, it was easier for UA to delay the LAX-MEL flight than to try to rebook everyone on another flight or keep them overnight in LAX. It was another close call but we made it!

    From there on, things only looked up. I got on the LAX-SYD-MEL flight and to my great surprise, there was no one assigned to the seat next to mine in BusinessFirst! I was in seat 6K and 6J remained empty, not only to SYD where we stopped for about an hour with no plane change while folks got on or off, but also from SYD to MEL. After almost failing get to this upgrade, twice, to then get it and to travel without anyone sitting next to me to MEL was simply sweet! It seemed that my luck had just changed because I checked into Hilton South Wharf in MEL and was upgraded to a suite without asking (but that is a story for another thread)!

    The conference in MEL ended on May 11, and I was scheduled to return on May 12. Again, it was time to be concerned about being upgraded because with less than 24 hr before departure, I was still waitlisted. Then at 8 pm that evening, I got an email from UA:

    Not good, however, looking at the seat map showed several F and C seats still available, so I was still hopeful that I might be upgraded at the gate. Then, I decided to check the "R space" and to my astonishment I found R8/RN8! I quickly connected to my skype account and called 1K desk to request the upgrade and, in stark contrast to 3 weeks earlier, I got one of the R seats with no fuss nor questions asked! From there it was smooth sailing back to NYC as the LAX-JFK p.s. UG had cleared weeks before the trip. The service aboard the aircraft was very good (better than usual, I thought) and the hard product in C on this particular 744 was solid.

    Question for the aficionados out there: How come I received an email telling me that my upgrade could not be confirmed while at the same time the "R space" showed R8 ( and this is not the first time this has happened)?

    Now for the icing on the cake. After I had posted about my ordeal with a 'supervisor' 3 weeks ago ((http://milepoint.com/forums/threads/upgrade-drama-at-the-leading-airline-a-cautionary-tale.34067/), I had taken the same post, put it on my letter head and submitted it to UA Customer Care. I had forgotten all about it until I checked my account last night and, out of the blue, I found that I had 10,000 extra miles marked as "Customer Care Compensation"!

    And, one more thing: All the miles associated with this trip have posted correctly and relatively quickly (within 3-4 days).

    My Interim Rating of MP: compared to where we were a month ago (remember that things were supposed to improve on tax day? Today is exactly one month later), the new UA's performance has improved dramatically on just about every front:

    1. Earned miles are posting correctly and fairly quickly. Grade: A-
    2. They seem to be listening and responding: response on the 1K line has been as quick as before the merger, and I complained about an incompetent 'supervisor' and got 10,000 RDM from customer care! They did listen. Grade: A
    3. I have gotten every segment of 3 out of 3 (100%) GPUs upgraded, although with some contortions, but being pro-active and checking the R space seems to do the trick for now. Actually, I need to update that: 4/4 GPUs have cleared as I booked a trip to EZE last night and put one of my 3 remaining GPUs to upgrade only the return trip: It cleared instantly. With a 100% record of upgrades clearing, my Grade is A-, only because of the contortions.
    4. Website has good functionality but the info could be presented better (e.g., the tabular form in which .bomb presented the info on redeemed, reserved, deposited upgrades, the balance and their expiration date was by far superior). The current colors are awful, as is the look 'n feel. Grade: C+. The website has got to go.

    Overall score: B++

    A month ago, it would have been a solid D.

    In conclusion: We need to wait a few more months before passing final judgment. My interim judgment is that the signs of a "leading airline" in the making are now quite strong...;)

    ***Post is long and had many typos that have been corrected.
     
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  17. KenInEscazu

    KenInEscazu Gold Member

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    Thanks for the great tip! I'm still in the back of the bus, but your tip made me 17,500 better off. I think my chances are fair for an UG on the IAH-MCO portion of the trip that the mailes were going to cost me. Even if I don't get it, I'd rather rough it than spend 17,500 miles for an UG on a 2 hour flight.

    Never knew I could change my mind. Thanks again!
     
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  18. Misplaced Texan
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    Misplaced Texan Gold Member

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    First I'm assuming that by asking about MileagePlus, you want us to separate that from the airline UA. Things like IRROPS handling, phone agents, etc. etc. seem to me to be non-program elements. Otherwise, as radonc1951 said upthread, the program is really the icing on the cake and we'd have to rate UA as an airline.

    Also, I can't help but look at this question comparatively. There are four major U.S. carriers that also provide intercontinental service: AA, US, DL, and UA. To me that's the pool of comps.

    So...here are the four elements of the program that matter to me (and my thoughts based only on my situation):

    Earning
    • You can basically fly anywhere in the country or the world and get full RDM and EQM on even deeply discounted tickets on either UA or a partner. There are a few minor exceptions (short-haul domestic on a few foreign carriers, a few minor partners, and of course SQ).
    • You can basically fly anywhere in the world on a full-fare economy or a business ticket and get bonus RDMs and EQMs (you have to be slightly more choosy about carriers for discount business or full Y).
    • As a 1K, the bonus RDMs for me are the same that I would get on most any other carrier.
    • Both AA and DL have major partners who don't give full miles for discount economy fares, leaving big holes in their international rout networks for low-fare flyers. They also have some wonkiness with bonuses for full Y or discount business flyers. I haven't given it enough study to know for sure that there are major portions of the world you just couldn't get to at full earn with either, but I have a suspicion it's true.
    • US awards less than full miles on some discount economy partner tickets (including with partners with whom UA would award full miles--because US isn't part of the intercontinental J.V.s) and fewer/no bonus miles for full Y or discount business with some partners.
    Burning
    • Mileage plus, due to the access to *A carriers, has the best selection of international premium products available for redemptions of any of the major domestic network carriers other than US which is also a *A carrier.
    • There are, as far as I have experienced, no carriers whose awards result in fuel surcharges to MileagePlus members. I could be wrong about that, but I can't think of one. This is a huge advantage over AA and those painful BA (and less painful CX) surcharges.
    • MileagePlus miles can be used for international F cabins on partners where that is still a product worth paying additional miles for. This is an obvious advantage over DL whose miles can only be used for the J cabin.
    • MileagePlus has a comparable award chart to AA & US and a generally better one for international premium awards to that of DL. Some awards are better on the AA or US chart but some are worse.
    Upgrades
    • Domestic: Complimentary and unlimited, just like the top-tier of other major programs. Also complimentary and unlimited for lower tiers, which is an advantage over AA. Upgrade rates are very individual based on ticket price (fare class), routes, times, and days so it's hard to compare between my experience as a UA 1K and what I might experience with AA/DL/US flying to the same destinations on the same set of days and times. The policies all seem pretty much identical though and just loads and competition different.
    • International: UA's offering of six on W fares and above seems squarely situated between AA (eight, good on any fare) and DL (six for diamonds, but on a more restrictive set of fare buckets) . US offers two (technically exploitable to four, if I understand correctly, but only if used with a companion on the same PNR to leverage two upgrades per cert) on any fare.
    MMer Program
    • This isn't an issue for me yet, but will be shortly and UAs seems (despite what some perceive as recent downgrades) still the best at the simple 1MM level.
    • Gold status within alliance (highest alliance status) compared to silver for AA (lowest), skyteam elite with DL (lowest), and *S with US (lowest).
    • Within program mid-tier (2nd out of four) with UA versus sliver (bottom of three) with AA, silver (bottom of four) with DL, and silver (bottom of four with US).
    • Companion granted your current (flown if higher than lifetime) status. As far as I can tell, the only domestic carrier with this benefit at 1MM.
    • Additional benefits for additional MM amounts including access to the highest elite tiers. Not matched by any other major domestic carrier.
    Overall Grade: B+
    What would it take to get an A? Match AA with eight SWUs that can be used to upgrade any economy fare to the C/J cabin and Z fares to the F cabin.
     
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  19. NYCUA1K

    NYCUA1K Gold Member

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    Great post except that sometimes it is tough to differentiate UA from MP, and, while the comparisons to the FF programs of the major US carriers are great, such comparisons have been going on for years. The one comparison that I believe would be more revealing on all fronts (including with respect to the other FF programs) would be UA vs UA or MP vs MP now and then, i.e., UA or MP needs to beat or match its former self...
     
  20. stephenbgarvan

    stephenbgarvan Silver Member

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    Each of us has varied perspectives, travel needs/priorities, $$ spendables,domestic vs international variances, companion variances, for MMs its LIFETIME ie the rest of ours-status,unless we exceeed levels in any given year.

    CONS:
    Million Miler Premier Executive Gold -- downgraded to MM Premier Gold(incl only 48 hour window vs 72)
    100% bonus miles for Premier Exec -- downgraded to 50% bonus miles
    Million Miler attainment SWUs - downgraded to zero
    Regional upgrades- gone with the wind too.
    MM'ers complimentary upgrading at the gate --> much less than before - if ever

    PROS:
    Companion Status match- Mine doesnt fly much..
    Baggage allowances
    E+
    *A status ,for infrequent need.

    Thus C at this point in time..last year B -B+ and hoping it goes back up later this year, etc The timing of Inside Flyer's survey is fine- its a good time to take a pulse- and may 2013 be even better for all of UACO and all of us.
     
  21. demkr
    Original Member

    demkr Silver Member

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    Overall Grade for the new "MileagePlus": F-


    CONS:
    --Comp Upgrade percentage much lower than pre-merger as a top tier (They are upgrading *anyone* who uses miles or instruments over a 1K on a non-Y/B/M fare) Loyalty now means less.
    --"Tens of dollar" buy-ups for first class upgrades offered at check-in while MileagePlus members remain on the upgrade waitlist.
    --Meal choice in first class is no longer based on your status unless you're Global Services
    --No upgrade transparency. Does not show you if Complimentary Upgrade is waitlisted or pending, you have to "trust the system"
    --No more separation of 1Ks between the other elite tiers (no more dedicated 1K desk or 1K priority security/check-in).
    --Requires a W fare or higher to upgrade internationally (Unlike AA AAdvantage). If you don't get upgraded, you pay the higher fare anyway.
    --Can no longer use miles to purchase a United Club membership.
    --The program is labeled "MileagePlus" but it is really "OnePass DBA MileagePlus" - they made upgrade priority and benefits more like sCO, and much less like sUA.

    PROs:
    -Global Entry Fee being covered by MP, though there seems to be delays when it comes to this.
     
  22. NYCUA1K

    NYCUA1K Gold Member

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    F- is that an "E+"?:D


    CONS:
    I know little about this as my domestic travel is very limited.
    Does not seem to affect intl travel at all. Is it cheaper to buy-up than to purchase a premium seat outright? My sense is that UA is in the business of making money, and if there are people with the resources to purchase buy-ups then more power to them and to UA!
    This is a downgrade that I just noticed on p.s. because I was asked to select a second choice on the menu in case they ran out of my first choice. They did not use to make this request as the top tier elites usually got their first choice due to prioritization. Check.
    This is a downgrade. Check.
    This has not been my experience, as of this past week. I have reached the 1K desk every time I have called, and both JFK and LAX (on the return trip) have a 1K/elite priority line.
    This is a long-standing policy so it should not affect anything.
    This does suck. I purchased an extra year of United Club membership with miles at the prospect that this option would go away, although they made it sound at the time as if it were a temporary thing, a "suspension" I believe they'd called it. Check.

    Whether this is the case can be debated, but I think that MP retained a stronger PMUA MP flavor than it acquired of the OnePass. My success rate with upgrades has not changed at all...maybe because I do not do domestic that much...

    Good perk that one can get from other companies (AMEX, e.g.), but it is truly great to just zip by all the passengers waiting to clear immigration!
     
  23. desamo

    desamo Gold Member

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    Earning

    Having had to deal with low/no earning on OneWorld, I'm far more of a fan of how UA handles partner mileage credit tables, especially on low-cost transpac and transatlantic fares. A

    As a Premier Silver, my 25% RDM bonus is pretty much what I'd get on other carriers, too. A

    Burning

    Great Saver award availability on United flights, both domestic and international. A

    However, less premium cabin saver award availability on partners than, say, on Air France. B

    Great co-pays on premium cabin awards, especially on other Star Alliance carriers. A

    Doesn't allow burning miles for the United Club, which has disappointed a number of people I know. This seemed like it was a temporary change, but it's now been months. Every single other domestic program with a club allows one to burn miles for membership. F

    Upgrades

    I have gotten one complimentary upgrade so far (out of two eligible flights, and on the longer one at that), so I'm a happy camper. On the other flight, I got complimentary Economy Plus. A

    MMer Program

    They have one. Many other airlines do not. That's got to rate at least a B for this section. Some other carriers, like US Airways, only comp you to Silver for life for flying 1MM. Gee, thanks.

    Miscellanea

    I really like that you can't explicitly buy status through credit card spend alone like on Delta. For that, United gets an A. Status should be for people who fly. (Yes, I know there are loopholes, but there are on many other carriers, too.)

    Global Entry: some of us aren't 1Ks, but might be more prone to flying int'l if there were a Global Entry carrot further down the ladder. Why not allow 25% credit for Silver, 50% for Gold, etc.?

    Overall: A-.
     
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  24. MileCards

    MileCards Silver Member

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    73
    Likes Received:
    136
    Status Points:
    300
    Not to be an apologist but let's not forget things that improved vs pre-merger United Mileage Plus...

    - Ability to change partner tickets while en route (remember the old 'no changes once you're underway' rule)
    - No more Starnet blocking, at least with the exception of those phantom LH F seats
    - Open jaw stopover awards
    - Same day change within 24 hours, vs 3 hours prior

    The first 3 meaningfully increased the value of miles for PMUA.

    Overall grade: A-
    Elite program: B (Pros: SWUs helpful to Europe, domestic upgrades decent, E+, Cons: SWU fare eligibility, mile upgrade copays, lessening upgrade rate)
    Redemption: A (Pros: Best partners, good UA availability, flexible routing, Cons: Few...would like stopover on one ways, but that's a lot to ask, no enhanced upgrade availability for elites)
    Earning: B+ (Pros: full miles on all fares, including partners, good credit cards, Cons: Lower elite bonuses, few promos)
     
    LETTERBOY likes this.

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