United Ends 500 Mile Minimums on Short Flights

Much virtual ink is being spilled hand wringing over United’s announcement yesterday that they would be following USAirways’ lead in no longer awarding 500 miles as a minimum for short flights. They’ll be awarding actual miles flown instead, and this change applies to both base miles and elite qualifying miles.

This means that those East Coast to California mileage runs can’t be supercharged with a few extra intra-California segments.

What it also means – for me – is that whenever I have flights meaningfully less than 500 miles I won’t be crediting those segments to Mileage Plus or to Dividend Miles. Instead, I’ll likely be crediting another Star Alliance program (bmi Diamond Club, no doubt).

It is possible, though admittedly a potential pain, to to credit more than one program on a single itinerary. I’ll have to pull up my notes on how this is done technically if anyone turns out to be interested in the strategy. (I don’t like to pull my Mileage Plus number entirely from the reservation since I will want to credit the longer flights to them in order to retain status, and I’ll want to use status benefits on the itinerary of course.)

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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  1. United is mostly going to hurt their frequent fliers, business customers, and commuters. That doesn’t sound very smart.

    Short haul flights cost me as much as flying cross country. Most routes are considerably profitable.

  2. Unbelievable! What’s United’s next move to tell Mileage Plus members that their business isn’ appreciated? I’m sure American will follow …

  3. The same thing happened with the checked baggage policy. One carrier started charging for a second bag (refresh my memory, but I also think that was US), and now (most?) everyone has followed suit.

    US dropped the 500 mile minimum a few months ago, other have waited to see if the sky fell. Apparently, it did not. I think we will see more airlines follow this lead, as well. In the meantime, rack up those 500 mile segments on airlines that still offer that minimum.

    You would think, though, with as fast as some airlines have been doling out mileage bonuses, they wouldn’t try to shrink mileage doled out on these short haul commuter flights.

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