United Airlines has announced significant changes to award travel. The changes will take place on November 15, 2019.
Before I get into the changes, here is what United had to say about the award pricing change:
Increasing award travel prices for the most in-demand flights lets us offer lower prices on other flights. If your award travel is flexible, these updates will help you make the most of your miles. However, we realize this may impact your plans if you need to fly on a specific date or have a set destination in mind.
Um, what??? I will address this below…
Here are the changes:
- The removal of the award chart.
- Higher award pricing to popular destinations.
The removal of the award chart makes me upset. At the moment, I can go to United’s website to check award pricing to a given destination. This allows me to plan on a specific amount of miles to have in my MileagePlus account prior to booking an award redemption. The removal of the award chart eliminates transparency, which creates two problems for me: 1) The amount of miles in my account could come up short and potentially cause me to miss a trip while I transfer from Chase Ultimate Rewards, and 2) the higher award pricing to popular destinations like Tokyo, Beijing, or Auckland could possibly be out of my “price” range. The option would be to pay cash or fly another airline (Singapore Airlines is always appealing).
- Close in fee removal.
- Cheaper award pricing to United States and Canadian destinations.
The removal of the close in fee is something I can get behind. As it stands, the close in fee is up to $75 USD for award travel redeemed within 21 days of departure. Most of my travel is last minute so this saves me a couple of bucks.
The (potentially) cheaper domestic award travel barely made it on the good side. The current domestic award redemption is 12,500 miles in Economy at the Saver level. The redemption will be lower to destinations less traveled, while popular destinations will see an increase. The Boutique Airlines partnership already provides the option to get to the less traveled destinations for cheap.
I am very disappointed in United Airlines. The removal of the award chart is another, in a long list of items (delays, missed flights, etc.) I have been loyal to the airline for years, but it may be time for a change.
The close in change fee removal eases the sting a bit. Maybe the money I save can be used to purchase a full fare ticket…maybe.