United Details Award Chart Changes Effective June 15 — And it Really is Just Tweaking! No Big Changes.

Wow, that was fast. Right after I published my post on upcoming changes to the United award chart on June 15, Mileage Plus comes out with their actual new award charts.

It really makes me wonder why they’d put up notice of coming changes, lots of marketing speak, without publishing the actual charts themselves — when they were planning to publish the charts a very short while later? Why not just wait and stick up the new chart all at once?

And why scare everyone with marketing speak in the first place, talking about how some awards will go up and a couple of regions will stay the same when several awards were even going to go down in price?

In this case, I read the marketing speak and assumed the worst, based on past experience and the seemingly normal cycle of devaluations over time with Mileage Plus.

Though at least I did note in the end that I’d have a hard time imagining a gutting of their award chart during the merger honeymoon period. And a hope that modest changes now, during the merger-induced euphoria, might forestall bigger changes for awhile and we could all breathe a sigh of relief!

Indeed, that appears to be what happened! I just don’t’ get the marketing-speak, appearing to bury news of big award chart changes when the actual changes aren’t bad at all and when there are even some real improvements for members!

Changes really do seem to amount to tweaking, e.g. for routes to or from North America:

  • Oceania goes down by 10,000 miles roundtrip in coach. North America to Australia remains the same.

  • Central and Southern Africa goes down by 10,000 miles roundtrip in coach, 5000 miles roundtrip in business class, and 10,000 miles roundtrip in first class.

  • Northern Africa goes up by 5000 miles roundtrip in all cabins, aligning award pricing with North America to Southern Africa.

  • Middle East goes up by 5000 miles roundtrip in all cabins, making it as expensive as travel to Africa.

  • North and South Asia goes down by 5,000 miles roundtrip in business class and first class. Business class to Japan goes down by 5000 miles roundtrip as well.

  • Europe goes up by 5000 miles roundtrip in coach, and down by 5000 miles roundtrip in business class.

  • Northern and Southern South America go up by 5000 miles roundtrip in coach.

  • Hawaii, Central America, and Carribean awards do not change. And there’s no change to the domestic award chart.

I haven’t yet gone through awards for non-North America travel.

I do note that there’s no change to United’s Round-the-World awards, which leads me to guess we’ll wind up with United’s more expensive version of the awards — 200,000 … 300,000 … 400,000 for coach/business/first class — rather than Continental’s generous 160k / 220k / 280k version.

About Gary Leff

Gary Leff is one of the foremost experts in the field of miles, points, and frequent business travel a topic he has covered since 2002. Co-founder of frequent flyer community Milepoint.com, emcee of the Freddie Awards, and named one of the "World's Top Travel Experts" by Conde' Nast Traveler (2010-Present) Gary has been a guest on most major news media, profiled in several top print publications, and published broadly on the topic of consumer loyalty. More About Gary »

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  1. UGH.. domestic upgrade is going up for certain fares. up from 15,000 to 17,500 for V/W, and 20,000 for S/T/K/L/G, with co-pay increased from $50 to $75.

  2. Thanks for the very helpful summary, Gary. I hadn’t yet heard of the new chart, and it was nice to have it to tidily served to me.

  3. Intra-asia awards went up by a hefty amount though. It used to be 30k in business R/T but its a 50% increase to 45K now.

  4. at least they are COMMUNICATING their changes with their members vs. changing things in the middle of the night like another “un-named” carrier… I also see these as minor tweaks, nothing to get too worried about for now.

  5. @Gary How about some more details on RTW awards? The note at the bottom of your post here piqued my interest since its free to transfer UA miles to CO. Doing so would allow me to book 2 RTW trips in first for the same airline.

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