About 3.5 months ago Delta came out with the 2015 SkyMiles program that had one major, mostly negative change that the program was moving to a revenue based model in 2015. What this meant was that you will no longer earn SkyMiles based on the actual flight distance but on how much you spend on the ticket. It seems United liked this idea so much that it has copied Delta SkyMiles as they move the MileagePlus program to a revenue based model in 2015. We highlighted "copied" as they literally have copied the earn rates of the new SkyMiles program and even the maximum amount of miles you can earn on one flight. Now you will have United, Delta, WestJet Rewards, Virgin America Elevate, Southwest Rapid Rewards, JetBlue TrueBlue and a handful of smaller European and Asian programs all operating on a revenue based model.
Revenue Based Mileage Earning
In a nutshell if you don't feel like reading this entire post, the changes starting on March 1st, 2015 will provide a handsome reward to those who spend a lot on their airline tickets with United while seriously devaluing the program for those who don't and tend to buy less expensive tickets. Overall from what I have read on other blogs and news sites the changes in a whole are not good for most MileagePlus members as it appears they will earn less miles with their travels and when you consider the award chart devaluations that the MileagePlus program announced late last year (see: Huge devaluation of the United MileagePlus program - what does it mean for Canadian MileagePlus members?)
United MileagePlus members will earn the following as of March 1st (miles are per US$ spent on the actual fare and any carrier surcharges. Taxes do not count towards mileage earning)
- General Non-Elite members will earn 5 MileagePlus Miles per dollar
- Premier Silver members will earn 7 MileagePlus Miles per dollar
- Premier Gold members will earn 8 MileagePlus Miles per dollar
- Premier Platinum members will earn 9 MileagePlus Miles per dollar
- Premier 1K members will earn 11 MileagePlus Miles per dollar
- Plus U.S. and select international United MileagePlus Credit Card Members will continue to earn up to an additional 2 miles per dollar (or corresponding earning rate) on purchases with the cards. This doesn't affect us here in Canada as there are no current MileagePlus credit cards for Canadians.
But to put it in perspective, if you are a last minute buyer of tickets, say in business class and hold status with United a then you stand to reap some huge mileage earning rewards:
As you can see a Premier Gold member flying on a $5,000 Business Class fare Toronto to Paris will earn 40,000 miles which is more than double the miles they currently do.
What about mileage earning on United's partner airlines?
This is the good news for us Canadians, as long as those flights are not a United ticket (016) you will earn miles based on the actual flight mileage. In fact if you were to buy an Air Canada ticket that includes a leg on United but has Air Canada's 014 ticket code you will earn the actual flight mileage in your MileagePlus account. On the other hand if you buy a United ticket that includes a leg on Air Canada or other Star Alliance airlines (hence have a ticket starting with 016) you will be subject to the new earning rules.
Does this affect how Canadian's earn MileagePlus status?
No, unlike the changes for U.S. based members where they need PQMs (Premier Qualifying Miles) and PQDs (Premier Qualifying Dollards) Canadians only require the PQM portion of elite status qualifying. PQM's will still be awarded on a 1:1 basis on your actual flight mileage.
What other changes are happening?
United has also announced some other changes on the redemption side of things although all details are still not out yet:
Want more details on the new MileagePlus program? Click here to visit United's page for the 2015 MileagePlus program
This doesn't affect me much as I don't use MileagePlus anymore and I am happy that I made Alaska Airlines Mileage Plan as my primary U.S. carrier program after Aeroplan a little over a year ago. That was not because of this or the past changes to MileagePlus but rather the great one way awards and coverage that Alaska provides out of YYC with their own fights and flights on KLM.
I am keeping my fingers crossed that Aeroplan does not move this direction albeit at 5 miles per dollar Aeroplan members flying on Tango fares may actually earn more miles than they do currently.
What are your thoughts on the changes? Will they be a devaluation for you or will they be a boon? Are you going to stick with MileagePlus or move to another program? I know a lot of you frequent travellers moved to United MileagePlus after the last few years of devaluations to Aeroplan. Will this make you reconsider that move? Who do think will follow suit and be the next to introduce a revenue based program? Let us know by commenting below!
(and to those of who click the link to the post about Delta's changes will note the extreme similarities between that post and this one, well United made it easy by essentially copying Delta so I copied my old post and updated as required!)