Dilution at the top for

Dilution at the top for United? I sent this email last night to a friend that’s a top-level elite (“1K”) with United:

    Looks like I was right about Systemwide Upgrades being useable on Lufthansa (though on a standby/day of departure basis only). Of course, you can still use miles to upgrade LH flights on the higher fares (as long as it’s on a LH flight number, not a UA codeshare).

    In other news/rumors, it looks like the promised extra goody for elites who requalified “the real way” (rather than through the extended qualification period) is only going to be a free companion ticket (not upgradeable). Also, it looks like the new Systemwides are only going to be valid on “H” fares and above. 🙁

That means no more upgrading the lowest fares internationally, folks.

United figures that it can increase revenue by either selling the seats that currently go to cheap upgraders or convince passengers flying discounted fares to pay more for the ability to upgrade.

The problem is that many 1Ks use their Systemwide Upgrades on inexpensive fares for personal travel, and give United much pricier and more lucrative business travel as well. Without the ability to do this, there’s little reason to give United that lucrative business instead of, say, American — which still allows its top level elites to upgrade from any fare.

There is a rumor that American could be headed in the same direction as United — but if they stay put they’ll offer a real competitive advantage and will likely pick up the business of many of United’s top flyers.

If you’re a United 1K, drop a note to the 1K email address and let them know if you’re unhappy. Also, check out 1K Flyers.com — where United’s top flyers gather and can speak with a single loud voice to let their preferred airline know how they feel.

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 InsideFlyer.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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