Rate United MileagePlus

Discussion in 'United Airlines | MileagePlus' started by Lynda, Mar 26, 2014.  |  Print Topic

  1. Lynda
    Original Member

    Lynda Milepoint Staff

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    InsideFlyer magazine is reviewing United MileagePlus in our May 2014 issue and would like your input.

    If you would like to participate, please post your response in this 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 lynda@insideflyer.com if you would prefer.

    Thank you! You can see the completed review at InsideFlyer.com in May or on our BLOG
     
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  2. gleff
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    gleff Co-founder

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    Prior to the February devaluation their redemption program was absolutely world class. Now partner awards in premium cabins are much more expensive than awards on United flights (devaluing their alliance relationship) and awards are up in some cases over 80% more expensive. In recent times they've also taken away the (official) ability to hold award tickets.

    Their international upgrade program lags American's, and even Delta is now catching up (in some ways better, in others worse).

    Domestically their upgrade program is good... when the computer works properly, a constant nagging issue across a variety of airline experience and program experience topics (see what happens when you try to issue an infant as part of an international award ticket online; and make extra certain partner airlines can see your ticket number when redeeming so those flights don't cancel out of your reservation).

    In the leadup to the merger with Continental, United became much better -- better routing rules, a loosening and then elimination of "Starnet blocking" or "throttling" of award inventory (denying availability existed on partner airlines even when those partners were offering space).

    But since the merger they've done a lot to destroy the airline -- and the frequent flyer program.

    Now, overall, I'd give them a B-. Two years ago I'd have given them an A.
     
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  3. Captain Oveur
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    Captain Oveur Gold Member

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    I have to give Mileage Plus a D+. Not just for the simple fact of program changes, it's the amount of changes, how sudden and the changes made were done to the most important elements of a frequent flier program.

    It's very hard to ignore the degradation of the program over the past few years:
    - Additional tier of status
    - Lowered lifetime status of one-million milers (the category I fall in to)
    - Reduced bonus miles based on status
    - Complimentary upgrades that are much fewer and much farther between.
    - Upgrades that used to be rewards for loyalty are now sold.
    - Recent increased mileage needed for partner flights
    - Loss of dedicated '1K' line, reduced to 'premier' line.
    - Much longer turnaround times and non-sensical, boilerplate responses from 1K Voice

    The plus for the program is indeed the network, but even that comes to a minus in a way. Specifically, the increased number of miles needed and increases on fare buckets that accrue fewer, if any, miles on carriers such as Air Canada or Lufthansa.

    There's only so many masturbatory comments that can be made by a CEO about a network. But when there are fewer rewards or redemption possibilities with them, that weakens the overall usefulness of the network when it comes to a frequent-flier program.
     
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  4. qquixotic

    qquixotic Active Member

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    They have almost completely turned me off their program. For example, the new and poorly defined PQD system has given them another opportunity to screw their loyal customer base, in this instance by upselling seats that otherwise would have gone to complementary upgrades while obscuring the fact that only certain such upgrades are rewarded with PQDs. How many learned this lesson the hard way?

    I give them a C- now, and see a clear downward trajectory.
     
  5. canucklehead
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    canucklehead Gold Member

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    I would give it a C overall (from a B last year).
    Pros
    good availability for rewards
    CPUs when available
    hard product is better than the US-based competitors (though that can be separated into United, not MP)
    some good value merchandise reward redemptions
    partnership and reciprocal Elite status with Marriott

    Cons
    Fewer CPUs (hovering around 20-30% for me)
    lack of advanced R space (even months in advance)
    PQD should be clearly stated on fares to help customers do the math
    unresponsive/less helpful agents, no 1K desk, agents saying blame management
    still no 1K card (blame the vendor when its UA who made that decision)
    point devaluation for partner rewards

    I am sure there's more I have left out, but that's it for now.
     
    Last edited: Mar 29, 2014
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  6. dc3
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    dc3 Silver Member

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    ===
    I could not have said it better. United is trying and succeeding to bring the value of the program to the level of Delta Skypesos. The race is to who can give the customer the least in return for the most they can collect. I suppose they could take the lead and start with pay toilets requiring only Chase United credit cards.

    I rate them D.
     
  7. 8MiHi

    8MiHi Silver Member

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    As a primarily domestic traveler I find myself in full agreement with gleff. I still find that I like the program despite some of the recent changes, so I also give it a B-. The Pros/Cons listed by canucklehead would be mine as well except my CPU rate has been higher and I have talked to knowledgeable agents on the phone. My one additional criticism has been that Saver awards often seem to have different routings than the cheapest fares, PMCO did this for a time, but then seemed to stop it. This can make trying to fly a family using a mix of reward travel and paid fares challenging to arrange.
     
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  8. NYCUA1K

    NYCUA1K Gold Member

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    Heck, with all the negative comments, for a minute there I thought that I had accidentally joined the DL or LH or AC or AA forum at TOBB!
     
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  9. HubletUAFlyer

    HubletUAFlyer Gold Member

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    I have very few issues with the MP program apart from devaluation of MM lifetime benefits.

    Problems with UA reliability, lack of customer service etc are a separate matter
     
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  10. Seacarl
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    Seacarl Gold Member

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    In my opinion the United Mileage Plus program is still one of the best USA programs and I would give it at least a B+.

    Here are some of its positive attributes:
    Great worldwide network of redemption partners, including some very high quality international carriers.
    Good web-based tools for finding awards and routings.
    Reasonable availability of award space
    Still reasonable pricing of awards, despite the increases in partner awards
    Good earnings opportunities for actually flying - not just on United but also on most of the partner airlines
    Excellent worldwide lounge network if you earn Star Gold status

    I really don't see that many negative attributes of the award program itself.

    There are some who don't like United's own product. While I find it acceptable, I do think that the relentless focus on cutting things (costs, routes, services) is misguided and there ought to be more focus on enhancements... But that's the airline, not the awards program.
     
    Last edited: Mar 27, 2014
  11. NYCUA1K

    NYCUA1K Gold Member

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    The following is recycled from another thread but it seamlessly fits here and saves me some typing...

    Got some hard numbers to back your claim, or are you just 'projecting' your own disappointment onto others. I have been with UA for a long time and I am happy as a lark, maybe because I do not pay attention to serial complainers and am not as demanding. I go by my own experience, which does not paint the picture you just did.

    You could replace HHonors for UA MileagePlus in the preceding and pretty much get my position on the purported 'devaluation' at Hilton that has 'killed' their frequent guest program, when every program has done pretty much what Hilton has done.

    The 'echo chamber' that a discussion board sometimes can be is a terrible impediment to independent thinking

    No complaints here about UA!

    Sent from my DROID4 GLOBAL using milepoint
     
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  12. Black Cloud
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    Black Cloud Gold Member

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    I'd give MP a C, which is supposed to mean average. They've done a great job this year making sure MileagePlus is indistinguishable from the other competitive FFPs. It's not terrible, and it's not great.

    As @HubletUAFlyer noted its difficult to rationally separate UA's operational performance and customer service from the FFP. If you include UA as an airline into the equation you're approaching D+/D territory. It's just painful some days to do business with them.
     
  13. NYCUA1K

    NYCUA1K Gold Member

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    I then wonder which FFP in your opinion is better since they are all now "indistinguishible"....
     
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  14. NYCUA1K

    NYCUA1K Gold Member

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    Here's someone who seems to have their head in the right place...

    I love to stay at Hyatt properties, especially in Asia, and the service at their hotels is second to none, but Hyatt GoldPassport is laughable as a loyalty program.
     
  15. Seacarl
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    Seacarl Gold Member

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    Either you are trolling.... or you have not properly compared the value and availability of redemptions at aspirational properties, which is generally where the real value lies. As for elite benefits, Hilton's mid-level benefits are great, but Hyatt far outshines Hilton at the Diamond level, and generally Hyatt's properties are far superior to Hilton's, including Conrads. Oh, and how was the treatment that last time you were at a Waldorf-Astoria, where they only look down at you while giving you just about nothing.
     
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  16. Black Cloud
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    Black Cloud Gold Member

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    I didn't think this was a task to rank FFPs.
    I'd give SkyMiles a C and AAdvantage a TBD (jury is still out on how that all plays out with US).

    The reality is I don't fly United for their FFP. I fly them to get me places.
     
  17. NYCUA1K

    NYCUA1K Gold Member

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    No trolling here. :confused:I have no idea what you are referring to but I just spent 6 days in December at W=A Shanghai on a reward stay upgraded to a suite! Try getting a suite upgrade on a reward stay at Hyatt.

    Just go here where I did say my piece and call me in the morning...
     
  18. NYCUA1K

    NYCUA1K Gold Member

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    Well said.
     
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  19. Seacarl
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    Seacarl Gold Member

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    Hyatt publishes a chart for suites on reward stays. It is about 50% more points.

    I get treated exceptionally well by Hyatt around he world. I have top status at HH by credit card spend, and I am routinely disappointed by chintziness, such as at the San Jose Doubletree that wants a significant surcharge if you want anything other than cold carbs at breakfast. And I virtually never get an upgraded room. And in North American W-A's, no breakfast at all. Things may be different in Asia, but Hyatt is certainly opulent there. With the exception of a very few properties, Hyatt is almost always better than Hilton, in my experience.
     
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  20. NYCUA1K

    NYCUA1K Gold Member

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    Elite perks are better at HH, quality of product, including service, is better at Hyatt but one pays a bit more. Service at HHonors properties is a lot better in Asia than in the US, where it generally sucks (like no B-fast at W=A, which is a royal feast at W=A Shanghai, e.g.). Hyatt has a huge presence overseas but quite limited domestically. There are more Hilton properties in just the NY-NJ-CT area than there are Hyatt properties worldwide.
     
    Last edited: Mar 28, 2014
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  21. Seacarl
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    Seacarl Gold Member

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    This is just plain false at the Diamond level. Hyatt gives full hot breakfast, lounge access, internet, welcome amenity, and four confirmable suite upgrades for up to a week each.

    HH promises continental breakfast only, except no breakfast at W=A. There are no suite upgrades other than totally at the hotel's discretion which is similar to Hyatt, and generally no welcome amenity.
    Hilton is at least a factor of 10 larger that Hyatt though a huge percentage is in the brands of Hampton Inn, Hilton Garden Inn, Homewood suites, and the 3 1/2 star Doubletree and Embassy Suite products. I use Hilton for geographic reach when Hyatt and Starwood don't work for me, but the HH program is inferior to Hyatt.
     
  22. NYCUA1K

    NYCUA1K Gold Member

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    .
    Look, I already had a lengthy debate on this. Please go and do your point-by-point rebuttal there. GP simply isn't the program that HHonors or Marriott Rewards is. GP is like an afterthought. It was initially loaded with perks, which have been taken away.

    Below are the Marriott Rewards Gold perks...better than those of GP Diamond because upgrades are unlimited. HHonors takes that further and offers upgrades even on award stays. Hyatt? Four guaranteed upgrade certificates a year, and now that upgrades must be paid for per night rather than per stay, GPDs are at the mercy of the stingiest program around.

    MAR Rewards Gold perks -- 2nd tier. Digest and compare with GPD. Got it?....

    DURING YOUR STAY
    25% Bonus on Marriott Rewards Points
    Gold Elite members who choose to earn points are credited with a 25% bonus on base points earned during stays.

    Priority Late Checkout
    Call the front desk the morning of your check out, and let us know your planned departure time. Late checkout is based on availability and offered at all participating Marriott hotels, except Marriott Vacation Club®.

    Marriott Gift Shop Discount
    Get a 10% discount when you present your Elite membership card at participating Marriott-operated and managed gift shops. (At participating EDITIONSM hotels and The Ritz-Carlton, discount applies to logo-merchandise only.)

    Weekend Discount
    Enjoy a 10% discount on regular rates for your Friday and Saturday night stays at participating Courtyard® and SpringHill Suites® locations.

    Free Internet Access - Premium Tiered Service
    As a Gold Elite member, you get free Internet access across all Marriott brands, including The Ritz-Carlton, JW Marriott® Hotels, Autograph CollectionSM, Renaissance® Hotels, AC Hotels by Marriott®, Marriott Hotels & Resorts®, Gaylord Hotels and Courtyard (outside the U.S. and Canada only). Not available in meeting rooms.
    Free premium tiered Internet access is now available at participating Marriott hotel brands and The Ritz-Carlton hotels in the U.S. and Canada only. Not available in meeting rooms.

    Room Upgrade
    For Gold Elite members the best way is up! Based on room availability at check-in and limited to a Member's personal guestroom, we’ll do our best to upgrade your room. Upgrades may include rooms with desirable views, rooms on high floors, corner rooms, rooms with special amenities, rooms on Executive Floors, or suites, subject to availability identified by each hotel. See terms and conditions for details.

    Guaranteed Room Type
    When making a reservation, be sure to note both your Marriott Rewards membership number and room/bed preferences. At locations throughout the U.S. and Canada, we'll always honor your bed type request. Outside the U.S. and Canada, smoking/nonsmoking preferences are honored based on availability; exact bed sizes may vary. Learn more

    Lounge Access/Free Breakfast
    Free daily continental breakfast, light snacks and beverages for members and one guest in the Executive Lounge*. In the U.S. and Canada, choose between 750 bonus points or breakfast in the hotel’s restaurant if the lounge is closed. Select hotels will provide 1,000 points in lieu of breakfast in the event the lounge is closed. Learn more

    * At JW Marriott®, Autograph Collection®, Renaissance® and Marriott Hotels® (resorts excluded)

    Free Local Phone
    Stay connected with free unlimited local phone calls to any U.S. or Canada destination when you stay at participating JW Marriott Hotels, the Autograph Collection, Renaissance Hotels, Marriott Hotels & Resorts, Gaylord Hotels, Courtyard, SpringHill Suites and Fairfield Inn & Suites® locations in the U.S. and Canada.

    Free Local Fax
    Stay connected with free faxes (up to 15 pages per day) to any U.S. or Canada destination when you stay at participating Courtyard, SpringHill Suites and Fairfield Inn & Suites locations in the U.S. and Canada for a flat rate.

    Discounted Long Distance Phone Calls
    Unlimited long distance calls are available at participating JW Marriott, Autograph Collection, Renaissance Hotels, Marriott Hotels & Resorts and Gaylord Hotels locations in the U.S. and Canada for a flat rate.

    Hertz® #1 Gold Membership
    You’re invited to take advantage of a complimentary 1-year membership with Hertz®. Learn more

    AFTER YOUR STAY
    Elite-Only Rewards
    Elite members enjoy exclusive reward redemption options. Sign in to view and book your Elite-only rewards.

    -----------

    I will have really nice things to say about Hyatt when I do a report on my recent stay at Park Hyatt Siem Reap.

    Until then, Over and out.
     
    Last edited: Mar 28, 2014
  23. tom911
    Original Member

    tom911 Gold Member

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    Were you also wanting feedback on Marriott?

    I left UA after they announced changes to the million miler program in late 2011. After 1 million miles on UA metal, I felt I deserved better and haven't booked a paid flight on them since. As I am not currently flying on UA metal, I'll let those that are offer their reviews on the current product.
     
  24. 8MiHi

    8MiHi Silver Member

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    Its funny since the MM program in the merged company is substantially better than it was at Continental. I greatly appreciate that in a PQD world I am guaranteed Gold. I have been told what PMUA MM's had been used to so I understand your disappointment, but I believe MP and its MM program are above average in the present day world of commercial travel, especially for those who do not pay for more than Economy. To me the companion benefit is a very big deal.
     
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  25. NYCUA1K

    NYCUA1K Gold Member

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    Well, I'd hope so. There is something called RewardsPlus, a JV of UA MileagePlus and Marriott Rewards that's in its second year. The program awards Gold status in the Rewards program to UA elites. By all accounts, many (me included) have been happy with their Rewards Gold status, which is something that InsideFlyer Magazine ought to consider reporting for a complete look at UA MileagePlus.;)
     
    Last edited: Mar 28, 2014
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