UA Insider Re: Changes to MileagePlus Award and Upgrade Policies - Eff. Feb. 2014

Discussion in 'United Airlines | MileagePlus' started by mfeltz, Nov 22, 2013.  |  Print Topic

  1. mfeltz

    mfeltz Active Member

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    I am just a lowly Platinum (though the kind UA should like as it is business travel and I achieved status on SEGMENTS) thus generating significant revenue for the airline.
    I am, along with everyone else, very surprised at many of the decisions United has made to devalue the benefits to frequent travelers and revenue generators for the airline. The one real remaining perk was the ability to access flights and Star Alliance partner flights using award miles for our families during the few weeks we are not traveling for work. It seems this is now gone. I can ALMOST understand many of the changes prior to this, but these changes to award and upgrade policies are really almost insulting.

    I am sure you can tell by the overwhelming response on this forum that this may have been a decision that made sense in the boardroom, but may not pay off in the long run. I appreciate the service, aircraft and regional flight options from UA, but think at this point I will accept the Status Challenge from AA> While I prefer UA metal and UA customer service, the lack of direct flights to Europe from ORD, the inability of UA to get me to the Caribbean without a huge hassle from a HUB in Chicago and the fact that my miles are now worth 15%-40% less has led me here. All this with a stronger competitor on the horizon in US/AA after the merger

    Sad but true, I would be curious as to the logic of this decision and interested in what those hardened travelers who do have options decide as these aggressive changes continue to come forth from UA Corp.

    Regards
     
    Last edited: Nov 22, 2013
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  2. Wandering Aramean
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    Wandering Aramean Gold Member

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    You can still access the partner flights; they just cost more. The reasoning is that the partners and United negotiate contracts to determine what the cost of the award flights are. The partners raised the rates. UA is now compensating for that. Yeah, it sucks. But that's what it is.

    As to your other comments, AA has 7 routes from ORD to Europe; UA has 6 and is adding EDI as seasonal this summer. To the Caribbean AA has a much stronger footprint (and US will help that) but a connection will still be required in most cases.

    The upgrades change affects 5 or 6 markets in the Americas and a dozen or two in Asia. If you are flying to CCS, UIO or BOG a lot or HKG-SIN or out of GUM I can understand the concern. If not then the impact should be pretty minimal.
     
  3. mfeltz

    mfeltz Active Member

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    I would say a 15% increase to price of UA Europe award and 40% for partner awards (mostly end up on Lufthansa) is more than "minimal" that is 30k R/T and 80k R/T respectively. Fairly steep. My point is simply at some point have to justify the takeaways with a bit of a kiss or it just feels wrong and forces otherwise happy customers to look at options. Basic sales process I think.
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Nov 22, 2013
  4. LETTERBOY
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    LETTERBOY Gold Member

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    When he said "minimal" he was referring to the upgrades, not the increase in award prices.
     
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  5. Wandering Aramean
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    Wandering Aramean Gold Member

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    And not quite accurate. It is actually only 15K more for a return trip on UA metal in biz US-EU and only 40k on partners, not 30/80K as you've suggested.

    And the minimal was with respect to the upgrade changes. It was in a whole separate section of the post.

    As for it being part of the "basic sales process" I'd say that even more basic is to not sell your product for less than it costs to produce/procure it. You cannot sell something at a loss and hope to make it up in volume and believe that such a plan really will be profitable in the long term.
     
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  6. LETTERBOY
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    LETTERBOY Gold Member

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    Agreed. If you're looking to redeem on UA metal, the increases, while bad, aren't terrible.
     
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  7. mfeltz

    mfeltz Active Member

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    [And not quite accurate. It is actually only 15K more for a return trip on UA metal in biz US-EU and only 40k on partners, not 30/80K as you've suggested.

    Fair enough, I may have had the information incorrect so thanks for that clarification. I do think it is slippery slope though to justify any increase as a necessary means to profit. While I acknowledge the increase in operating costs in the industry, it is quite easy for Mr. Smisek and staff to simply justify a reduction in service levels and award benefits while tacking on extra fees whenever possible as the only way to offset the government taxes etc. I know we have all seen the articles in Hemispheres numerous times mentioning the over regulated and highly taxed airline industry (which I agree is terrible), but to simply accept all of the changes (most of which are detrimental to the "frequent flier") as a necessary change simply emboldens them to make more instead of changing their philosophy or business strategy in a way that improves competitiveness without multiple takeaways.

    Nevertheless, I watch your posts often and respect what you have to say.
     
  8. Wandering Aramean
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    Wandering Aramean Gold Member

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    The taxes story in Hemispheres is bullshit relative to partner award costs. The taxes are pass-through to the customer - not really a direct burden on the company - though they do affect the revenue realized when they sell you a ticket. In this case the issue is quite simple: the cost of the product was higher than the revenue they were getting from you (in the form of points) to deliver it.

    Let's say points have a value to UA on their books of a penny each. That means your 100,000 point redemption is worth $1,000.00 to them to offset the costs of the award. If Lufthansa, Swiss or any other partner decides that TATL business class now costs $600 each way then the 100,000 points no longer covers the cost of providing that service to us. So what do they do? They can continue to sell us the awards at that price point, losing money on every transaction, or they can raise the redemption costs. They chose the latter.

    I'm not a fan of "profit by any measure" as a justification for actions by any company. And, less it appear otherwise here, I'm not happy that the redemption rates went up. At the same time, however, I know that we're living at the very, very, very front edge of the curve in terms of redemption value maximization. We get tremendous value for our points so it is very easy to feel beat up and abused when something like this happens. But trying to "rally the masses" is going to fail miserably, mostly because so few ever even consider this sort of award. Somewhere around 80% of the award seats booked are for domestic US/Canada awards. And a decent number of those are booked at the "standard" rates rather than saver levels. Most customers simply don't care.
     
  9. HaveMilesWillTravel
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    HaveMilesWillTravel Gold Member

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    But is that 25k US domestic award what UA tries to get people to think about when earning miles? Is that what they use as a motivator for me to get the UA Visa card? That I can visit aunt Melba in Fargo, ND in mid-February... for free? :)

    The less achievable the aspirational awards are, the less interested I am in being engaged with a particular program.

    I think the idea is to make people think about their dream trip to Paris, but then count on most of them not actually booking that and instead flying to aunt Melba. But if the price for a "free" ticket to Paris seems unachievable, that won't work for me. I might as well get a 2% cash-back card.

    By the way, did the *A members suddenly all gang up on UA and raise their prices for award tickets at the same time? Or is this something that built up over time, and now someone with a spreadsheet at UA MP decided that enough was enough? Did they charge US higher rates, too?
     
  10. KenInEscazu

    KenInEscazu Gold Member

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    The impact of the changes for this 1K is to now use Copa exclusively for Latin America-USA access. Copa still offers CPUs and will accept RPUs for confirmed upgrades on any route they fly, while UA now requires GPUs as the only means of receiving an UG from northern South America. Absurd, IMHO.

    So although I have solutions for the drastic changes, I still strongly dislike them. They cause me to distrust my chosen carrier. With every change of late being negative, I can't help but wonder what will next disrupt my travel patterns. But...

    Moving to AA is likely going to be jumping from the frying pan into the fire. I understand that they currently have a better offering for many, but I also have been an AAdvantage member for something like 28 years. I was once hub-captive as a Dallas resident, and I received consistently poor service and downright rudeness on far too many occasions. I won't rehash the experience that made me jump ship to CO, but it was bad. Worse yet, it wasn't uncommon. They became much more customer friendly when they were trying to save their butts and get out of BK.

    With Doug Parker taking the helm, I can't imagine that AA is going to do anything but depreciate the customer experience at every opportunity to save a cent. So they will exit BK, have a known benefit-cutter running the company and return to their roots of arrogance with little to no consideration for customer satisfaction, IMHO. If it weren't for my years of first-hand experience combined with Parker's reputation, I, too, would be tempted. But as bad as UA is right now, I'm not tempted to jump to AA. I hate to write this publicly, but it needs to be said.

    Maybe with Parker's history of DUIs, he will fit in well in Dallas. He and Jerry Jones may become good drinking buddies. They seem to me to be cut from the same cloth. Elsewhere, most of us Texans despise this kind of behavior and find it to be an embarrassment to the community. I may no longer live there, but that's where I was born and spent most my first 49 years. Trust me... We native Texans are a very proud bunch.
     
  11. Wandering Aramean
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    Wandering Aramean Gold Member

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    It might not work for you, but that's mostly what works for others. Almost hard to believe, but it is true.

    My understanding is that the rates have been raised a few times over the past few years. No idea if they were raised against US, too, but I'd assume they were.

    It is 4 or 5 destinations out of 300+ the carrier operates. There are more affected destinations in Asia than in the Americas. I understand that it affects you personally and that's fine but from the bigger picture are you sure that it is really absurd overall or just a personal bias on the issue.
     
    Last edited: Nov 23, 2013
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  12. HaveMilesWillTravel
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    HaveMilesWillTravel Gold Member

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    Christine A. from the Explorer Card application page didn't want to fly to Fargo, ND. Hopefully she got her flights booked before the deval kicks in :)

    melba.png
     
  13. Wandering Aramean
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    Wandering Aramean Gold Member

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    Flights in Y are still the same price. ;)
     

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