One Mile at a Time wonders whether Mileage Plus is ‘worth it’ anymore, with their much more expensive award charts (post-December 31) and extensive Starnet blocking of partner awards (just go try to book anything on Lufthansa most days).
And he’s right to a certain extent, United has massively devalued their mileage. And most Star Alliance carriers offer more valuable currency. United’s award chart used to be favorable, but now is average at best. Air Canada’s is better, US Airways’ is better. And United frequently prevents you from booking awards with their partners, whereas the rest of Star Alliance carriers offer currencies without such restrictions.
But that doesn’t mean there’s no more value there. It makes sense to credit flight miles to United to requalify for 1K (or until one requalifies). Because United 1K and American Executive Platinum are the only reasonable elite levels among US carriers, and the perks while flying matter at least as much or more than the redemptions.
All non-flight miles should go to other programs, there is almost no reason to carry a United Visa for instance.
So as a United 1K, One Mile at a Time accumulates these United miles that pair with an expensive award chart and frustrating blocking. But that doesn’t mean you can’t use your miles. I just finished my 5 Star Alliance carrier first class award using United miles. Today two friends just returned from a South Asia on a first class award trip involving two long-haul segments in Asiana First Class and a short-haul segment in Asiana first, and 2 mid-haul segments in Thai First. It CAN be done.
I often think that Starnet blocking would be far less frustrating if United offered web functionality similar to ANA’s site. In other words, if they let you piece together your award yourself with transparency as to what they were actually making available. Then you could find the award within the constraints they’re imposing, and not have the tremendous frustrations of calling knowing hte seats you want are being offered by partners and just being told no. And you could call when you know (on the couple days a year!) that they are actually permitted Lufthansa redemptions.