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Big United Miles Devaluation – Coach Increases Slightly, but First Class Star Alliance Awards Almost Double!

Big United Miles Devaluation – Coach Increases Slightly, but First Class Star Alliance Awards Almost Double!

Million Mile SecretsBig United Miles Devaluation – Coach Increases Slightly, but First Class Star Alliance Awards Almost Double!Million Mile Secrets Team

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Thanks to Million Mile Secrets reader David for alerting me to a big change in United’s award chart.  The  new chart goes into effect on January 31, 2014.

Somewhat Good & Very Bad News

The good news is that flights on United metal (i.e. United flights) & partner airlines (Lufthansa, Thai, etc.) increase by a reasonable amount in coach, which is how most folks use their miles.

And there are NO changes for domestic travel within the US (excluding Hawaii & Alaska).  If you redeem your United miles for coach travel within the US, stop reading!

Sure, the amount of miles required for some flights increased slightly.  But it could have been worse!

The bad news is that awards on business class on Star Alliance partners (think Lufthansa or Thai, etc.) are ~30% more expensive.

And the really bad news is that First Class Awards on partner airlines like Lufthansa are MUCH more expensive than before!

I was expecting United to increase the number of miles needed for award tickets, but I wasn’t expecting them to double the amount of miles for travel on their partner airlines such as Lufthansa, Thai, etc. in First Class.

Analysis

There’s virtually no change for coach travel within the US.

United is pioneering a new approach where it costs much less for First Class and Business Class awards on United planes and much MORE if you book an award on their Star Alliance partners such as Lufthansa, Swiss, Thai Airways, etc.

I can see the business reasons why United wants to charge you more for flying on their partner airlines (I don’t agree with them, but I can see why they’d do it).  United is also making it much, much harder for folks to redeem miles for First Class travel on their partner airlines.

ExtraAwardAvailabilityonLufthansa
This Isn’t Going to be Cheap Using United Miles any More!

The goal of this devaluation is to force you to redeem miles for travel on United flights only.  But that isn’t fair because United doesn’t fly everywhere and you get much more choice for international flights when you redeem United miles for flights on their partner airlines.

United Award Chart Changes

Link:   New United Award Chart (after January 31, 2014)

Link:   Old United Award Chart

You can book awards at the existing price until January 31, 2014.  So I’d lock-in as many awards as you can before then.  Remember that you have to pay to make changes to an award (if you have to change the date of travel etc.), but it could be worth it to save miles by booking before the award chart changes.

The new award chard is effective from January 31, 2014.

Summary of Changes

1.   Within the US

No change (12,500 miles one-way) for flights within the US on both United and partner airlines.  This is good news!

Flights between  the mainland US and Alaska will cost 5,000 more miles each way.

 2.   To Hawaii

Economy saver awards increase by 2,500 each on both United and partner airlines.  This is a slight increase and isn’t too bad.

 3.   To Europe

Coach awards remain the same (30,000 miles each way) on United flights.  Business class increases by 7,500 miles to 57,500 miles each way on United flights and by 12,500 miles to 80,000 miles each way in First Class.

Coach awards remain the same (30,000 miles each way) on Star Alliance partners such as Lufthansa, etc. Business class increases by 20,000 miles to 70,000 miles each way on Star Alliance flights and by 42,500 miles to 110,000 miles each way in First Class.

This is clearly designed to get you to stop redeeming for First Class awards on partner airlines!

4.   To India

Coach award increase by 2,500 miles to 42,500 miles on United flights.  Business class increases by 10,000 miles to 70,000 miles aeach way on United flights and by 10,000 miles to 90,000 miles each way in First Class.

Coach award increase by 2,500 miles to 42,500 miles on Star Alliance partners such as Lufthansa etc. Business class increases by 20,000 miles to 80,000 miles each way on Star Alliance partner flights

And increases by 60,000 miles to 140,000 miles each way in First Class.  It used to be 160,000 miles for a round-trip!

This is clearly designed to get you to stop redeeming for First Class awards on partner airlines!

5.   To South Asia (Thailand, Singapore etc.)

Coach award increase by 7,500 miles to 40,000 miles on United flights.  Business class increases by 10,000 miles to 70,000 miles each way on United flights and by 10,000 miles to 90,000 miles each way in First Class.

Coach award increase by 7,500 miles to 40,000 miles each way on Star Alliance partners such as Lufthansa, etc. Business class increases by 20,000 miles to 80,000 miles each way on Star Alliance partner flights.

And First Class increases by 60,000 miles to 130,000 miles each way.  This is clearly designed to get you to stop redeeming for First Class awards on partner airlines!

6.   To Australia or New Zealand

No change to coach awards (40,000 miles) on United flights.  Business class increases by 2,500 miles to 70,000 miles each way on United flights and remains the same in First Class.

Coach awards remain the same (40,000 miles) each way on Star Alliance partners such as Lufthansa, etc. Business class increases by 12,500 miles to 80,000 miles each way on Star Alliance partner flights.

And First Class increases by 50,000 miles to 130,000 miles each way.  This is clearly designed to get you to stop redeeming for First Class awards on partner airlines!

7.   To Japan

Coach award increase by 2,500 miles to 35,000 miles on United flights.  Business class increases by 5,000 miles to 65,000 miles each way on United flights and increases by 12,500 miles to 80,000 miles each way in First Class.

Coach award increase by 2,500 miles to 35,000 miles each way on Star Alliance partners such as Lufthansa, etc. Business class increases by 15,000 miles to 75,000 miles each way on Star Alliance partner flights.

And First Class increases by 42,500 miles to 110,000 miles each way.  This is clearly designed to get you to stop redeeming for First Class awards on partner airlines!

Bottom Line

There is virtually no change for folks redeeming awards in coach on either United or their Star Alliance partners within the US excluding Alaska and Hawaii.

There is a slight increase in coach for international flights on United and slightly more for international coach on their Star Alliance partners such as Lufthansa.

If you redeem miles for business class, you’ll see less of an increase if you use your miles for flights on United instead of their Star Alliance partners.

And the award chart is intentionally designed to make it VERY hard for you to redeem your miles for flights in international first class on United partner airlines such as Lufthansa.

Loss aversion is powerful and I’m sure many folks will be upset by the changes in the award chart.  Sure some changes are bad.  But getting upset over it isn’t going to help.  Instead it’s better to think back to all the good times you’ve had and focus on how to play the game with the changes!

PS:  I’m writing this from the hospital ER (everything’s fine, thanks for asking!), but I’m sure I’ve missed something with all the $$% interruptions in here.

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Editorial Note: We're the Million Mile Secrets team. And we're proud of our content, opinions and analysis, and of our reader's comments. These haven’t been reviewed, approved or endorsed by any of the airlines, hotels, or credit card issuers which we often write about. And that’s just how we like it! :)

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With the increase for Hawaii coach awards, am I correct that if you redeem star alliance partner miles on United flights (e.g., Lufthansa, US Air) that the mileage required is still what their charts require for roundtrip Hawaii-mainland--40k?

Author
Million Mile Secrets

@milesdavis - You pay the price in the United chart when you use United miles.

I noticed within your article about the United miles Devaluation (https://millionmilesecrets.com/2013/11/01/big-united-miles-devaluation-coach-increases-slightly-but-star-alliance-awards-double/) that you said the following:

1. Within the US

No change (12,500 miles round-trip) for flights within the US on both United and partner airlines. This is good news!

Is this an error? I am seeing that the one way saver award would be 12500 miles, and the round trip saver award would be 25000 miles.

Author
Million Mile Secrets

@Michael - That's a typo and it should be 12,500 miles for a 1-way award.

I made a round trip award booking for two on united for my delhi trip in business class (SFO-DFW-FRA-DEL-FRA-DFW-SFO). I do not have any stopover or open jaw. Except that I am staying in Delhi for few days. I booked this flight before the devaluation happened. Can I now add a stopover of few months at SFO and then one way flight to Cancun, Mexico? Will my entire trip be re-priced? How much fees/miles will it require?

Guys, at least you have credit cards, for those UA 1Ks like me that live in Italy, we have to fly much more, as we don't have United credit cards that give miles. I usually accrue my miles by flying Italy to Canada, the most I can do is 5000 each way (so 20000 roundtrip including bonus). I spend them flying Y to South Asia, now it will take me 15000 more miles to get there, that's almost one more Italy Canada roundtrip I have to do! And the price hasn't gone down!

This just made my day from great to worst. I was just planning a trip to India via Madrid in Business class. Although I don't have enough miles now, but I expected to have just enough by the time I booked the award ticket. Well my dream of traveling in Business class goes down the drain.

I just came to know about this devaluation and my dream is broken. There is no way I would get to 80k miles requirement for Business class and since United does not fly from Madrid to India, I will have to shell out lot of miles. United was my most preferred airline but now they have just dethroned themselves.

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