Scott O’Leary announced details of the new United Mileage Plus program for 2012 this morning on Milepoint.

Here are the key changes, which aren’t as bad as feared but which have a couple of real key negatives from my perspective.

  • United will go to a 4-tier elite program as expected — 25,000 miles, 50,000 miles, 75,000 miles, and 100,000 miles (plus Global Services). They will begin requiring a minimum of 4 United, Continental, or COPA flights to earn status, so both people that are earning United status from Air Canada or bmi flights alone will no longer be able to do so. They are not introducing a minimum revenue component to elite status qualification, as had been speculated.

  • Reduced elite bonuses. Elites flying 50,000 – 99,999 miles per year will receive less than their current 100% mileage bonus. 50k mile flyers will earn a 50% bonus and and 75k mile elite flyers will earn a 75% bonus.

  • Increased class of service bonuses. Full fare coach will earn a 25% bonus, discount business 50%, full business and 2-cabin first will earn 75%, and 3-cabin first will earn 150%.

  • The Continental method for determining what routes get complimentary elite upgrades. If it’s an international flight product, there’s no complimentary upgrade. If it’s a domestic premium product, it’s eligible for complimentary upgrade. So New York JFK – San Francisco/Los Angeles won’t get complimentary upgrades (as it’s been, though I wonder what will happen from Newark to these markets). Newark and Houston to Hawaii aren’t eligible for upgrades but the California and Chicago flights are. Intra-Asia narrowbody flights will become complimentary upgrade eligible.

  • Elites will be eligible for instant upgrade at booking on full (Y and B) fares. 1Ks will be eligible for instant upgrade from M fares as well. Full Y fares will upgrade into revenue buckets, while B and M fares will be moved into upgrade inventory if available, though a new and more generous upgrade inventory than that used for other upgrade instruments or for complimentary upgrades.

  • New upgrade windows. 1Ks will upgrade 96 hours out instead of 100; 50,000-mile flyers will upgrade 48 hours out and Premiers at 24 hours out.

  • New upgrade hierarchy:

    Global Services
    Y/B/M instant upgrades that weren’t confirmed in advance (sorted by fare class then premier tier)
    Paid upgrades (i.e. GPUs, RPUs and mileage upgrades) sorted by status, fare class, and date of waitlist
    All remaining premier customers by status, then fare class

    So full fare trumps status and upgrades paid for with certificates or miles trump status. (Although status matters within each category). This, to me, is the worst change of all — a 100,000 mile flyer is upgraded after a non-status flyer using miles. A 100,000-mile flyer using miles or certificates is upgraded after a B fare 25,000-mile flyer.

  • Premiers will get economy plus seating only 24 hours in advance, no longer at booking.

  • Good news on the lifetime elite program. Miles from Continental and United will be combined, including all elite qualifying miles (not just flown miles) from Continental. Going forward it’s butt-in-seat miles only. And whereas Continental gave lifetime Silver at 1 million miles and United lifetime Premier Executive (mid-tier), they’ve determined that going forward 1 million gets lifetime 50,000-mile status, 2 million gets lifetime 75,000-mile status and 3 million gets lifetime 1K, and 4 million gets lifetime Global Services. And they’re adding a spouse benefit, spouse gets same elite level as the lifetime member. Further, Continental’s lifetime Platinum members from the old Infinite Elite program get lifetime 1K.

These changes will be rolling out over the first quarter of 2012, rather than all at once on February 1. That means they’ll be extending the current elite year slightly, details forthcoming, since the new program won’t be ready to roll out from an IT perspective when the new elite year is supposed to begin.

Bottom-line is a huge reduction in value for mere 25,000-mile flyers in no longer having access to Economy Plus at booking, this was the key differentiator for lower level elites who choose United for economy plus over regular coach on other airlines.

And a huge reduction in value for loyalty across the year rather than profitability on a single given trip by prioritizing full fare over status for upgrades, and prioritizing willingness for a member to spend miles on a single trip over status for upgrades.

I think these two changes are a mistake for United, certainly full fare occasional passengers will disagree. The rest of the changes, roughly speaking, make sense to me.

  1. ATC said,

    Yikes…I wonder if we’ll start seeing some people bail out to AA over this.

  2. sjs said,

    They just need to exclude government fares, like the old UA complimentary upgrade program did. Then it makes perfect sense. Except for that, these changes don’t seem bad at all.

  3. Andrew MacDonald said,

    I disagree on the instrument/mileage trumping status change. Right now upgrades using miles is basically a worthless instrument for GMs, and was (is) probably the second biggest draw of the appeal of the UA cc. This gives these very occasional flyers an actual shot at using their miles. Which will keep them using their UA credit cards. And it is certainly clear to what extent UA is funded by branded credit cards…

  4. Nick said,

    For getting upgrades on transcons and to Hawaii its going to be pretty bad, even for a 1K. The value proposition for the average domestic road warrior 1K/PE is mostly gone.

  5. Andrew said,

    I’m at 50-75k flyer and I’ll be looking for a new program that gives me a 100% mileage bonus and similar value award chart. United is destroying a lot of value on this change.

  6. Will said,

    As a current UA 1P who will probably only make Premier Silver in 2012, I’m jumping ship to AA. At least AA Golds can still reserve exit rows. Besides, I’ve had horrible luck with UDUs as a 1P.

  7. AlohaDave said,

    At least it ain’t no Southwest Airlines or NetFlix fiasco!

  8. Dan Morgan said,

    They have taken away my only benefit (E+) as a 1P. Hello AA.

  9. tivoboy said,

    Well, at least I’ll make 1MM without having to do anything now. but, that benefit will be diluted a bit and not just because there will be a LOT of additional 1MM flyers to comete with. But, it could be worse, it could have been lifetime silver, which went away since under the new silver rules would be WORTHLESS!!!!!

  10. Greg said,

    Terrible changes. They already removed most of the reason 2P is useful via a $100 credit card. Now there’s next to nothing left. As a 2P borderline 1P I see no reason to continue using United next year.

  11. Mike R said,

    Demoting folks from 1P to Gold based on the 50-75K mark is a bad idea – they should have been grandfathered Platinum for the next year.

  12. Gary said,

    @Dan Morgan 50k mile flyers can still book E+ when ticketing, it’s only 2Ps that have to wait until 24 hours out.

  13. sjs said,

    @ Mike R: Why would you turn people who never qualified for Platinum into Platinums?

  14. Carl said,

    @Gary – as a Hawaii 1k, bad news on the upgrade priority, as I will now be behind the occasional traveler using miles to upgrade on that leisure route. But are my regional upgrades considered paid upgrades, thus higher priority than the leisure travelers?

  15. Gary said,

    @Carl your regional upgrades are of the paid upgrade variety for this purpose, using one of those your status will trump others looking fro complimentary upgrades and lower-tier (and non-)elites using miles.

  16. Nick said,

    Thinking about it now a spend requirement would have been preferable to having more uncertainty about whether my upgrade will clear or not.

  17. Gary said,

    @NIck the earlier speculation was that we were going to get BOTH!

  18. Chris said,

    Nothing but bad news for me as 1P and even worse for my wife who will be 2P next year. And if we travel together but ticket separately then no longer a guarantee we can even sit together!!!

  19. Bonesaz said,

    Well goodbye United hello Usair, no economy plus at booking is a deal breaker for me. This is lousy since I have no qualifying flightson Usair and need to start all over.

  20. Golfingboy said,

    They did not mention it in the FT/MP post, but Platinums and higher will get “free” Global Entry in the form of reimbursement. That is a nice new perk.

    The wording is not clear, but it seems that now we can use the RPU on the Hawaii long hauls that have BF service just like the PS flights?

    “RPUs will be eligible in these same markets plus our p.s. and all Mainland U.S.-Hawaii markets.”

  21. Gary said,

    @Golfingboy yeah I assume confirmed regionals will be valid on Newark and Houston – Honolulu. The reimbursed Global Entry is a modest benefit, really not that exciting, it’s a throw-in which is also thrown in on the Amex Plat card.

  22. NB said,

    I think the changes seem fairly sensible. I have always thought it ridiculous that loyal low-fare passengers swan it over occasional full fare passengers.

    On the question of E+ for 2P customers, I wonder how many will defect. No other airline offers this and so 2P customers are better off still with UA – access to E+ (and remember seats change around at the last minute as upgrades are processed and connections are missed) with the option to stick in a previously reserved seat if preferable.

  23. Gary said,

    @NB 1Ks on an H fare are below Premiers on a B fare. Nothing bottom-feeding about that. General member non-elites spending miles to upgrade a deep discount T or S fare are also ahead of 1Ks on a pricey H fare. THIS CHANGE ISN’T ABOUT SHIFTING BENEFITS AWAY FROM LOW REVENUE ELITES it is about shifting from a portfolio view of the value of a customer over time (loyalty) or a transaction-based view where what matters most is what ticket you’re on today. And that doesn’t even suggest that the program is influencing purchasing decisions, they’d rather reward a B fare they’re getting anyway from an infrequent customer over a 1K giving United their full flying. That’s why I think it’s a bad move.

  24. Jason H said,

    These changes have validated my decision to move to a miles agnostic attitude. I fly around 25k a year and I was getting the E+ at booking. Now I get to wait for 24 hours out? I don’t like it. The routes I’m on UA faces competition from Alaska, Delta, and Frontier (WN too.. but I’d rather kill myself). So now it will be price and amenities, FF points can get stuffed.

  25. iahphx said,

    I’ve never redeemed miles for domestic upgrades, so I’m unfamiliar with the process. If I’m understanding the UA chart, though, it seems like it costs 20,000 miles + $75 for a one-way domestic upgrade on a cheap fare. True? If so, as a 1K, I’m not too worried about this. Realistically, how many people will want to pay that?

  26. Nick said,

    @iaphx probably one or two passengers per flight, possibly going on their honeymoon trip or annual vacation. Add this to the couple of full fares and as 1K you’re several spots further back in the upgrade queue. To me they are basically saying that the $10k to $20K+ a 1K may spend just doesn’t mean that much, and I guess the reality is that it doesn’t.

  27. iahphx said,

    Nick — I guess that could theoretically happen on a transcon, but isn’t it far more likely that these travellers simply redeem for domestic FC? Isn’t that only 50,000 miles ROUNDTRIP?

  28. sjs said,

    Two questions that haven’t been addressed that need to be: 1) how companion upgrades will be processed going forward (ie do you need to be on a single reservation – or co style? perfect world scenario is delta style (sep ressies okay, but processed automatically), but at 24 hours out rather than 12 (just a weird number) and 2) whether companions on the same/separate PNR will get E+ the way they do today.

  29. Matthew said,

    fly 15k miles, get silver and econ plus… what will be for sale next?
    https://store.united.com/traveloptions/control/upsell;jsessionid=0E2F7E93B122CBB955EBB66DD7E8AC1B.jvm1?product_id=UM_EPA_PFT&category_id=UM_LEGRM

  30. Golfingboy said,

    Thanks for the analysis! I agree with you on almost everything :p

    I fully support having elites on Y fare being booked directly in F, but B/M-Ups not so much. With CO it was not too horrible, because the # of elites who purchases those fares on a regular basis is not too significant except on EWR-LAX/SFO, but now throw in UA elites, that # just grew into something more significant. At the same time, several months ago B/M fares on CO have skyrocketed and I hope it stays that way. We will see how that impacts our upgrades in mid-2012.

    Non-status passengers being able to trump elites waiting for CPU using miles is a downer… I think they should have priority with SWUs and RPUs [CR1s] since it is coming from someone with status. I applied my SWUs for my mom on a $1800 ticket LAX-GVA on UA and she went 0/4 on upgrades. Saturday outbound and Sunday return, which was rather disappointing. We did not have much choice on dates since she was tagging along with dad on a business trip. I guess it is a YMMV and depends on how we use our upgrade instruments.

  31. Gary said,

    @sjs processed automatically if on the same reservation, at the airport on different reservations.

  32. United Makes Changes to 2012 Mileage Plus Program | The Points Guy said,

    [...] head of Mileage Plus on Milepoint and an ensuing lively discussion. And as always, I also appreciate Gary’s insightful analysis over at View from the Wing blog.As a non-elite member of United, I’m not really impacted by [...]

  33. ada ray said,

    Looks like Luckycoins’ source was not so correct on the revenue model. Controlled leak.

  34. Ralf said,

    I just became a UA ONE Million Miler, that gives my currently lifetime Premier Executive. Will the ” new 2012 lifetime membership program ” change my status and downgrade me ??

    I hope not !!! Any idea ????

  35. Simon said,

    @Jason H – +1

    Most of my domestic travel is CA, so I think I’ll be buying up to E+ going forward. Can’t bring myself to go back to Southwest.

  36. CCHuang said,

    From the “Upgrade Regions Chart” regarding the UDU(now CPU) for intra-asia flights, I think the flights of NRT-ICN or NRT-TPE or NRT-HKG or HKG-SGN etc are also eligible for UDU right? Even some of them are operated by wide-bodies.

  37. Steve said,

    Gary, you mentioned the miles for qualification. What about EQS? Are they still allowing segment qualification for those of us who might fly 150 segments and still not hit 100,000 miles? Or did they do away with segments?

  38. Steve said,

    ………and I just saw on their site that the segment requirements remain the same.

  39. oleg said,

    Upgrade order only mentions Y/B-upgrade fares. This means a GM on a Y fare doesn’t trump you, only a silver on a B fare.

  40. Golfingboy said,

    @ralf, don’t worry you will get lifetime Premier Gold and the nice thing about the new program is if you have a spouse, your spouse will also receive Gold status! That is one of the more positive change about the new program.

    The part I am unsure about how GS will trump lower elites on Y fare. I am not sure how that will work, because the thing about Y fares is that it books DIRECTLY into any open F inventory, so if there is only 1 F seat left 72 hours out, but no upgrade inventory the elite on the Y fare will get the F seat [not sure if it is automatic, but you can process it manually thru your PNR online] unless they modify the program to book all GS members still in Y directly into open F inventory [not R or ZE] under 120 hours.

  41. Adam said,

    The big downside to me is the 100% rdm bonus for premiere executive getting cut to 50%. I qualified for premiere exec thinking I’d get 100% bonus for next year and now it’s getting cut out without even being able to use it for next year! I originally thought this new plan would be for requalification in 2012 and going into effect in 2013

  42. JA said,

    When this story first broke and everyone was freaking out, I can swear that I read on this blog that any changes would apply to qualifying in 2012 for 2013. Is that not the case?

    So, you mean that after flying almost all of 2011 with the expectation of earning certain privileges for 2012, they are going to change the rules on us? When do 1Ps lose the E+ benefit?

    I was considering going for Exec Plat. Is there any point now?

  43. Gary said,

    @JA 1Ps do not lose E+, 2Ps lose it at booking and can confirm only 24 hours out. In 2012. What was supposed to change only for 2013 was the qualification scheme, if they went revenue-based. The benefits were always going to change for 2012 which is what vexed me so at that time…

  44. Neal Stephenson said,

    As a CO Silver I will essentially have the same benefits as someone who pays $85 for a Explorer credit card (despite me paying $395 for a Presidential Plus credit card).

    Seriously, I feel no value and loyalty from the new United right now! I should just switch to AA or DL, and get the CO credit card. Then I essentially keep the same CO benefits and now get elite on another airline.

  45. Itsaboutthejourney said,

    Even with these changes, it’s still a better program than SkyPesos… Something folks in Atlanta must not be pleased about today.

  46. LIH Prem said,

    @Gary,

    Regarding 1MM status, I currently have ~ 950k UA Lifetime flight miles, and I have > 50K miles in my CO account, all from a CO credit card sign-up bonus. When they combine balances for 1MM status, I will get lifetime gold, right?

    Am I loosing anything by waiting and not increasing my UA lifetime total to 1MM before the end of the year?

    Thanks,
    David

  47. Gary said,

    @LIH Prem I assume CO EQMs means CO EQMs. I assume that your CO credit card signup bonus are NOT EQMs. So you don’t get lifetime Gold until you’ve flown 50k more miles.

  48. LIH Prem said,

    @Gary,

    Look at the “one time recalibration” section here:

    http://mileageplusmergerupdates.com/en/mp/MileagePlusin2012/MillionMilerProgram

    Is my interpretation wrong, even with that?

    -David

  49. LIH Prem said,

    @Gary,

    They didn’t say which fares are GPU-able, did they?

    -David

  50. LIH Prem said,

    @Gary,

    So even if I get nothing from CO, my EQM total will go up with the one time adjustment. Just hope it goes up by at least 50k or so.

    -David

  51. Ken 747-400 Denver said,

    This is TERRIBLE. Very disappointing: gold vs. plat. status. Changing 100% bonus to 50% bonus is a DRASTIC cut, which makes a big difference over the months of air travel. Keep in mind that those who earned 1MM status from flying flt.s only on UA, not including any cr. card purchases, etc. (as other programs do).

    Adding that plat. status level really reduces a gold’s chance of upgrading on int’l. flt.s. You won’t be competing with just the 1K’s but ALL those plat. status members. This is VERY DISAPPOINTING.
    We need to give feedback to UA. Don’t you think?

  52. Carl said,

    @Gary – I’m just a bit confused about the mechanics of the hierarchy. At the 96 hour mark, do 1K CPUs compete with mileage upgrades? I thought the various clearance windows were for CPUs only, whereas the other hierarchy for full fares and mileage upgrades was for waitlists within 24 hours at the airport?

  53. Don said,

    Thank God I made it to American years ago as I hit 5 million miles with them next year.Thank you United for getting me angry long ago and forcing me to move all my biz to AA
    What a blessing in disguise
    Good luck all

  54. UAPhil said,

    Gary, what is happening with “last seat” Standard Award availability for non-elites? (Earlier word was that it is going away unless you get the new credit card.)

  55. Gary said,

    @UAPhil that’s my understanding

  56. Translating United’s New MileagePlus Frequent Flier Program - >> The Cranky Flier said,

    [...] smart move for the airline, but it isn’t happening. . . at least not now. You will, however, have to fly four flights on United (or Continental or COPA) during the year instead of just earning status by flying [...]

  57. UA-NYC said,

    @Carl – other than GS members, ALL 1Ks will have lower priority for CPU than ANY flyer (status or not) using any type of upgrade instrument (miles, RPU, GPU, etc.), along with being lower that lower-status flyers buying YBs.

  58. Paul said,

    For the MM’s, there should be some other choice of benefit than the spousal equivalent status. The MM’s without a spouse or who have a spouse with the same MP level or greater are left out.

  59. Gary said,

    @Paul it’s called a Marriage of Convenience. Find an Avis Chairmans or Hertz Platinum member to marry and share spousal benefits.

  60. chitownflyer said,

    The most important thing is that there is no revenue requirememt to earn elite levels. The potential of UA only counting base fares would give international flyers the shaft. I bought a fall Z fare to Europe for $2300, but the base fare was $1370. YQ was $700 and taxes $200. It is absurd to say the ticket cost $1370. I also like the fact that all the elite levels retain tjeir names. 1K is a much better name than Premier Diamond.

  61. sjs said,

    What do we know about the moronic no-upgrades-within-24 hours rule going forward?

  62. Flyer Fun said,

    Co Platinum. Soon to be 1K. 4 flights on UA/Col might be a deal breaker. If it is itineraries, this year I will do 6, 2 to Asia, but who knows next year. If it is 4 one ways, then it is irritating, but probably I can live with it. If it is segments, then no problem.

  63. Gary said,

    @flyer fun segments.

  64. Boraxo said,

    As mostly a full fare flyer I definitely disagree! The changes are great particularly for those of us who pay the highest fares and then get shut out by some 1k flying on a cheapo fare. However I think the angst is a bit misplaced, UGS take most of the upgrades on the popular SFO-IAD routes and I think the current system awards ties to the higher fare. So 1Ks on full fares will still get upgraded, and 1Ks on lower fares will still get E+. Sure there will be a few instances where a 2P jumps a 1K and they run out of seats but in practice I think that will be rare.

    No, the real loss is to everyone who buys cheapo fares well in advance and then expects a free upgrade for their family. Well you will still be able to get it, but it will cost you some miles. Which seems fair.

  65. Kris Ziel said,

    @Flyer Fun,
    If you are aiming for 1K, how can you not have 4 flights on UA/CO/COPA, and if you don’t, pay a couple hundred dollars for a segment run and get your 4 flights.
    And on another note, what happens if you get a divorce from the person you gave your MM status to? Does their get canceled or are you screwed?

  66. ED said,

    These changes are because of the merger of these massive airlines—whomever thought that “Oh, your status would not be affected” knew that would be a corporate lie. Delta/Northwest did not make changes like these. AA’s move was the butt-in-seat mile change. That’s all.

    In fact, there is another reason. The upcoming global re-recession. How else to induce it, you kick everyone off.

    Now you know why I NEVER fly United or Continental. Their benefits sucked to begin with the way it was, thus it is no different to me.

    One World 4 ever. EXP soon again.

    ED.

  67. Lou said,

    Let’s see what Mileage+ means to me today:
    -Taking the family on vacation is full of compromises(no capacity, 6 AM flights, connections required, or use significantly higher miles…. etc etc) Useless.
    -Can not confirm International upgrades at any fare using miles
    -End of the day, miles are of no use to me personally. Only as a gift, and even then I feel odd about gifting- Don’t like to ask my 85 year old mother to take a 6 AM flight or connect to see her grand kids (BOS to ORD)!

    That being said;
    -Status not useful when flying on a code share as I am typically 25,000 mile level (while I still fly 75,000 + miles per year – just not always to UAL cities especially around the Med) have status on AA.
    -Don’t have status for flights on Code Share carriers
    -Upgrades won’t exist 24 hours out in many cases like ORD-California or ORD-East Coast,
    -Fare base critical means of getting into extra leg room
    -I don’t know about others, but when I book a ticket, I look at a seat map. If I don’t see a decent seat, I look for alternatives. 24 hour window for Premier- forget about it. My less than a week ticket purchases just went out the window on UA/CO unless I require there flight. Not a way to build loyalty.

    I guess that I am expected to be “loyal” so that my company does not pay for baggage check, maybe I get lucky on an upgrade with the right constellation of stars, or to board the plane early or go through a slightly shorter check in or security line.
    No value here for me. I will shift to AA from here on out.

  68. Flyer Fun said,

    @Kris Ziel. I was talking about 2012 qualification. This year, I will have 6 itineraries on United/Con and each itinerary has 4 or more segments on United/Con. I assume that Gary is right and it is segments and therefore it is no big deal.

  69. Craig said,

    This is be a very bad move for United…..

    Many business people are asked to reserve the ‘~lowest fare’ and usually reserve in advance. There is flexibility if fares are within ~25% so many people will choose airlines they have status with (loyalty).

    Now, anyone who needs to resever in the latest few weeks and ends up in a higher fare class with trump the traveler working for a prudent company who asks they try to not spend to much. Here, the traveler doesn’t have much choice. They can choose an airline if its within a reasonable cost of the others but now will not get upgraded because last minute travelers in igher fare classes with trump them.

    So what will happen is they will no longer have a desire to fly with United and will move to other carriers who still value longer term loyalty.

    Travelers booking during peak periods or closer to flight times where only higher fare class is available may book with United. Maybe this is thought out and their plan…. Try to get people working for companies to book at the last minute, get more $$ through it, …

  70. adamu said,

    good changes in general.
    i think they should have turned the screw a bit harder on the silvers though

  71. You Went Where??? » Blog Archive » The New United Gets the Last Laugh . . . When Elite Status is Worth Less Than $95 said,

    [...] then this happened.  10 days before my trip, United announced major adjustments to its elite program for [...]

  72. Dub said,

    As a sometimes Prem. Exec. but usually Premier I am livid about these changes. Losing 100% bonus at 50K mi. largely erases motivation to strive for it. But losing E+ access until 24 hrs out (which means only middles, if at all!) is a deal-breaker. Bye-bye UA. Am irate becuz am in process of flying 4 totally unnecessary transcons solely to qualify for 2012 Prem. status to RETAIN E+ access.

  73. Bummed Premier said,

    What percentage of UA’s elite are premier (25K) flyers? I’d like to know how many loyal customers they’ve pissed off. There’s no way I reach 50K w/o international. Thus everyone like me is screwed on economy plus seats. I emailed UA my displeasure in their decision to do this and have been looking at AA as an option.
    Is there a chance that if enough premier’s complain they’re rescind this decision?

  74. United/Continental New Fare Buckets and Mileage Earning - View from the Wing said,

    [...] Of course, along with the changes to elite qualifying and redeemable bonuses for higher-priced tickets which were announced recently. [...]

  75. Brad Templeton said,

    I’m an irate 25,000 mile (every year for 10 years) flyer as well. Since we regular 2Ps almost never get “unlimited” free upgrades, E+ was 90% of the attraction of 2P.

    But as you know, if you try to book near the flight, there is nothing but middles left these days. I won’t fly in a middle, not in E+ or in regular. I will take an aisle in regular over a middle in E+. So when they finally let us go into E+ 24 hours before the flight, we won’t see anything but middles I presume, though perhaps a few precious aisles will have appeared due to upgraded people.

    And it’s worse for two flying together. Again, 24 hours before, what’s going to be left in E+? Certainly not the usual things we like, like paired aisles, or an empty triple where you can book window-empty-aisle and move one of you if they sell the middle. The flight will have to be pretty sparse for that to happen — though perhaps with the other 2Ps not in E+ this could be the case.

    It will probably become like Southwest, where you must do your check in and E+ seating 23:59:59 before the flight to get a good seat. Pain in the ass.

    For better or worse, UA is doing too good a job at filling planes these days. Full flights are a pain. No empty middles, people forced to gate-check (at least we still get early boarding I hope) and take-off delays filling the plane. But E+ made it barely worth it, and now it’s mostly gone. Of course, you 50Ks and 1Ks have lost things as well, but I don’t feel too sad.

    On the other hand, I do think it is right that precedence goes to people who actually spend something to get their upgrade, rather than just having it be automatic for people with high status. I liked the old system where they gave people upgrade certs. The 1Ks got tons of them, so they could get the upgrades they wanted, but at least you had people think about it and so people who were willing to spend their certs (some people even bought them) got the upgrade the one time they really needed it. Now it’s just 1Ks and UGS saying, “Of course I got upgraded. I always do.”

  76. Delta Introducing Economy Plus Fleet-wide - View from the Wing said,

    [...] recently announced that for 2012 they’d be denying their first-tier elites economy plus seats …, offering it for free only at check-in. And Delta is following United’s lead here in not [...]

  77. Stefan said,

    I’ll keep it simple. As with some others, I’m a Premiere and an occasional Premiere Exec. For me, the key was always the E+ seat selection at booking. With that essential gone as Brad explained, I’m looking elsewhere as soon as the new program starts.

  78. Dub said,

    For what it’s worth, fellow irates, I’m flying other carriers and measuring seat pitch (gets lots of weird glances with that measuring tape until I explain what I’m doing & why). So far, UA’s regular Economy is inferior to Southwest, AA, and JetBlue, at least on short- and medium-haul aircraft. So without access to E+ at time of booking, I’m going elsewhere. Not willing to stress for months over whether I’ll be able to get E+ and then end up only in a middle.

  79. Kevin said,

    With these changes, United has basically removed any rationale for me to be loyal. I used to go out of my way to buy a United ticket, sometimes spending significant higher $ to do so, but that’s over for sure. We’ll see how fast I can get into AA status. Good timing though – at least we didn’t waste the early months of 2012 buying United before we knew the plans.

    Those who still care – note that United does seem to respond to survey feedback, so if you get the chance, be VERY vocal.

  80. Steve said,

    As Silver for 2012 what really makes me mad and I see as unfair is that a non-elite member can pay $425 and be assured an EP+ at booking in 2012 while I who spent thousands of dollars flying United in 2011 will not. Further, as Silver I cannot even purchase the right to have EP+ (talked to United Rep and they confirmed). Who at United thought this made sense as it is so short sited? I am also a AA Gold so next year I might as well spend all my money there and tell everyone at my company to do the same.

  81. Adam, Bristol said,

    It is very sad, it seems now that one of my last reasons to stay loyal to UA is evaporating. I know if I was as frequent as many, then this wouldn’t be a big deal, but all revenue adds up, and as someone who travels once a month to the US on business from London, I will now be tempted to look elsewhere.

  82. Zach said,

    It looks like I will be leaving “United” (aka Continental). I live in Hawaii, which means I pretty much don’t get upgrades to-from anymore without a co-pay if I get any upgrade at al, and I can’t get Economy Plus seating until check in, which is when all the seats are taken. Mr. Smisek blew it on this one.

  83. Mark said,

    All my promises broken!! My 14+ years of loyalty as a 1K to get the “Promised Lifetime Premier Executive Gold with 100% Bonuses and 72 hour upgrades” Premier Executive Gold always got there flying companions status matched on the same reservation so dont believe that BS from the agents when they explain this added benifit to you.. The only way I would believe anything they say at this point is NOT!!!!!!!!!!!! The changes will always be made to keep you when they are doing bad or screw you when they are doing good. Remember there is now one less major airline so they are all looking to make some more money. I will go to any new smaller company to do my flying..

  84. mike said,

    I have given united a piece of my mind about the reductions. As a premier traveler for years I have paid extra to fly with them due to the benefits. The straw that is breaking the back in my mind is the not giving economy plus seating at booking. this is one of the major reasons that i have stayed with them. I will gladly fly Southwest and Frontier where the employees are happy to have a job and get it.
    Wise up United. people who fly 25K miles give you a lot of money.
    Mike

  85. disgruntled said,

    Add me to the list of 25K flyers who are extremely unhappy with the decision to pull E+ at booking. This was the one benefit that set United above the other carriers for me. I’ve sent Mileage Plus a blistering comment; who knows if they’ll get back. At least it’ll save me some money as I will now book for price. It’ll be cold comfort when I’m sitting in the back of the plane, though….

  86. ChuckT said,

    I agree that the lifetime UA Premier Exec should have been grandfathered to not lose earned benefits – decreased benefits will certainly result in decreased loyalty. Paraphrasing Marshall McLuhan: “A happy customer tells two or three people; an unhappy customer tells 15 or 20 people!” Hope the M+ executives know this.

  87. United’s New Elite-Unfriendly Upgrade Priority Already in Effect? - View from the Wing said,

    [...] new Mileage Plus program doesn’t start until the beginning of March, I’ve ranted on this before, but the thing I like least about it (beyond taking economy plus-at-booking away from first-tier [...]

  88. eric said,

    Sent an email to United to voice my utter disappointment on the 2P no longer having booking access to E+. (I alternate 1P/2P year to year). Currently, a 2P until March 2!

    The automated response came from the Gen/2P desk. So that pretty much shows you where the silvers are. Nice! United, I am still 1P!

    Loyal since 1996…

    As they say, United,
    buh-bye…

  89. WNoTo said,

    Seems that there is no longer much benefit to the 25k mile flyer. Without access to the better seats and early boarding I will no longer automatically fly United.

  90. JWA said,

    Yup leaving United here too. Been with them exclusively for the last 4 years…no point now.

  91. akimi said,

    it stinks that they took away the Economy Plus benefit for basic Premier members. that was the only reason to fly United, certainly not the surly service, late flights, and already weak frequent flyer program. I’m switching whenver possible.

  92. Bob said,

    Have to agree with others. As a basic Premier member (now Premier Silver) I made 3 transatlantic trips last year and my wife made 5. The ONLY bnefit in flying United was the upgrade to E+ seats at time of booking. That benefit has now gone away and so lets just go with which airline has the cheapest fare. No other reason to fly United.

  93. Bob said,

    Forgot to add that I have just booked my 1st Transatlantic flight of the year to LHR with Delta (4 seats)

  94. Bob said,

    Another comment – My last flight with UA was when I was waitlisted for 1st class from SLC to IAD. Guess what – four staff were upgraded before my wife and I (paying passengers). Go figure the logic of UA’s customer service in doing that.

  95. Disgruntled #infinity said,

    United’s MilePlus program officially hit completely sucks status.

    Been 1K the last 5 years and over the last 4 months upgrades have been almost non-existent, web page will not let me change seats within same status and on my most recent International trip, I was not even allowed to request use of my large bank of upgrades that just rot away. I am not even sure why United provides me with those upgrades as I recall only ever having 1 get honored and the rest expire. Thanks United for being as “dedicated” to me as a very frequent flyer as I have been dedicated to you.

    United, I am now going to show you equal dedication by flying other carriers that appreciate how much time I spend in the air with them.

  96. steve said,

    I am primier member over 8 years but this change will force to change other airline.. too bad

  97. Rob said,

    I’m very disappointed with the changes to the 25K program. I have been loyal to United for the last 12 years, flying an average 40k miles per year. I have a lot of choices but the primary reason for choosing United was the Economy Plus seating. Now that I am unable to reserve a seat at booking, I no longer have any motivation to fly with United.

  98. Casey said,

    So my partner and I work all year to achieve Premier status and once we do, they take away the prime motivation for having done so – no E+ seats when booking. Firstly its really nasty to pull the rug on loyal customers AFTER they have made an effort to fly United to achieve the status. Secondly, if you are going to go ‘cattle call’ why not go with another airline that offers you more for your money? I just flew Virgin. I had a leather seat, my own TV, legroom, and WIFI!!! There’s Jet Blue, SW…..I can fly any airline now as there is no advantage to flying United. I don’t take kindly to getting screwed.

  99. Rose said,

    Feels like a betrayal. I have been booking United all year and sometimes for higher fares just to qualify for Premier status and now any actual good benefits (economy plus seat at booking) are gone. They should have at least waited until next year to make the change to give people notice!

  100. John T said,

    Add my voice to those who are extremely frustrated with the
    demotion as a Premiere at United. For 18 of pat 21 years I have flown 25-35K per year w United. Now I certainly feel my loyalty is certainly not appreciated. I am 6’5″ so the E+ is extremely important to me. For past few years, E+ has reduced much of the stress of flying, but now it is all coming back. Plus, for those time I did need to check 2 bags, now the second will cost me $35! How can we have our voice heard!

  101. Shari J said,

    I am extremely frustrated with this new program. I liked Continental OnePass the way it was and now it makes no sense to me. Due to budget cutback at my company, I fly about 50,000 miles a year now instead of 90,000. It was bad enough when I had to go to Gold Elite…this past year I have 49,201 miles and they bumped me down to silver and did not even give me the option to buy back my status! I can either fly out of Philly or Newark…I am considering moving to US Air..I don’t like them but at least United will not get my money! I have been trying for a week to get through to the elite line..sorry premier line to get this straightened out and each day have been on hold more than an hour so I still have not spoken to a live person. Tomorrow I am traveling out of Newark and plan to talk to someone at the airport who can help me…this is not how you treat loyal customers.

  102. Cynthia said,

    Can’t use my miles for free trip, mp member since 1985, no E+ anymore and they got me because my often traveled route SF to Merida Mx is the one time a day flight out of Houston(which now is routed from SF through far flung locations and multiple legs). This sucks and I will be looking for just as inconvenient but less expensive more rewarding options.

  103. CW said,

    I just talked to a United rep about the spouse benefit. Apparently it’s not full status for the spouse, but that a spouse traveling with the million mile member gets conferred status for that flight. So if the spouse flies on their own, they revert back to the spouse’s true status, rather than an upgraded one. So really not a benefit at all.

    Anyone else hear the same or conflicting information?

  104. Gary said,

    @CW that’s incorrect, they get the actual status, it’s a new benefit and perhaps the rep was uninformed (as they described the ‘old way’)

  105. Bill said,

    I am now done with UAL!!!!!! 15 years of loyalty and being premier only to get screwed!!!!

  106. Carol said,

    Bill is right – defintely done with United. Amazing that they could do this to Premieres and Premier execs. I hope they fall so flat on their faces. Every flight I took (and there were a LOT of them) I heard the Captain say – “we know you have lots of choices with airlines and we appreciate you chosing United”. Not so much anymore I guess.

  107. Jeff Houghton said,

    I have flown with United for 15 years, have put up with what must be the worst food served in the air. I had hoped we would get something better from the merger, however it is downhill, I hope the wake up and smell the coffee, as loyalty is was kept the flying after 2001. Not happy of England.

  108. josh mackles said,

    I am a 25k elite and when I book economy online I automatically get access to economy plus seating. I do not have to wait until 24 hours before flight. Maybe this is a glitch in the system, or maybe this is because I book international. For me the worst change is the loss of 2nd checked bag free on international flights. That has been reduced to only the first bag being free. But the first bag has always been free on international flights on all airlines. So as it stands the only benefit I get with my elite status is preferential checkin and boarding. Not sure if that makes it worth staying with united.

  109. ZippyZipster said,

    This merger is idiotic, and as a Silver card holder I now get the honor of being crapped all over by Jeff Smisek. My wife can’t even get her card printed, since they (according to customer service) “don’t send out cards to non-elite members anymore” and the option to print one on-line (seriously?!! you have to be joking) doesn’t work while the “upgrade their system”. So, yes, I do have other travel options, and, yes, I will use them. Go get stuffed United…. I’m now shopping on price.

  110. Peter said,

    Just received the 2012 program. I was a Premier exec for a few years. Now just Silver. Let’s see with the merger I now get:

    1. To pay for economy plus
    2. Only one checked bag.
    3. When I call a recording that says, “your wait time will be longer than 30 minutes”.

    United and Continental. Two lousy companies, now one big crappy company. I am using up my miles and then all my domestic business goes to Southwest. All international to foreign carriers.

  111. Steve said,

    Since there is no horse so dead it can’t be beat again… I have been a loyal UAL customer for several years, flying 25-50+ miles per year. At 6’3″, E+ was the main reason I stuck with United. I’ve sent my objections and responded to surveys with my dissatisfaction over losing E+ until check-in. They have never responded. United – Listen very carefully: We have way too many other airline options to be loyal to a company that does not value our business. The 25K flyer may not spend as much time on your planes as the 100K flyer, but there are more of us and, apparently, many of us will be flying in the back of other airlines.

  112. Greg said,

    Is it true the extra PQM booking biz or first does not go towards your Lifetime credit. I was told BIS only for the actual miles. Any other options like cc promotions ect ?

  113. Jack said,

    As a silver elite if I pay extra for an exit row seat, and than change to E+. when available, can I get the exit row premium charge refunded?

  114. Doug said,

    United will lose several thousand dollars a year in fares from me. E+ has become the only significant value they offered for loyalty without being a weekly flier. This, despite nearly 20 years as a Premier.

    It’s a massive mistake. But I doubt their bureaucratic structure will allow them to see it and correct it. Too many people will have careers to protect for that decision. Sad to see.

  115. Alex said,

    As a former Gold who dropped to Silver this year (missed by 5,000 EQM), I am livid by the loss of E+ seating at booking. I will be looking at another airline with better premium seating policy. UAL has been dead last in the service for years and the only reason to stick with it was E+. Now that reason has evaporated, so I will be looking at other options. Having the call center being essentially useless is another nail in the coffin. Friendly skies my a$$…

  116. Larry J. Meltzer said,

    Well, Been flying UA, since ’75. Oh buy the way, out of my own pocked, not some corporate account. I’m done, just booked a flight for 2 on Frontier, enough hoops!! not jumping anymore.

  117. Ken F said,

    I too will be looking for alternatives. My Life-time Premier Exec status for reaching 1 million miles 2 years ago is now “Gold” which means I have gone from life-time 100% mileage bonus to 50%, while loosing many other privileges now that there is a “Platinum” status, which is really the old Gold status renamed. My last 2 trips to Europe have been on British Airways, and I will continue to look for alternate choices to fly.

  118. Suzan said,

    I am a Premier Silver member and have in the past tried to always book on United instead of other carriers because of the Economy Plus seating. Since that is now gone I no longer feel like I should try and book United and that I should look into some other mileage programs. Sorry United, but that was a deal breaker for me.

  119. Lawsuit Filed Against United for Changes to Million Miler Program - View from the Wing said,

    [...] On the whole, I actually considered the initially announced changes to be positive. [...]

  120. Joe Dokes said,

    Not sure any of this is worth keeping track of for most people, but the only reason I ever flew UA was EC+ booking. Can’t do that so now they are just like the rest of them. Sure it makes sense to UA.

  121. SR said,

    I fly, er flew, about 40K per year on UA for the past 13 years. Because UA took away my Economy Plus seating perk, my 2012 flights have been on Virgin America and AA. I hope to never have to fly UA again — after 13 years of 100% loyalty. They bait and switched me: I would have stopped being loyal in early 2011 if they had told me they were taking this perk away. Bottom line, they lied to us Premiers. I am surprised there is not a law suit. Good Bye United. Hello Virgin (which so far is wonderful)!

  122. SR said,

    Oh – and the “new” United Web site? Hello United, 1999 called and they want their web site back. So, so bad – the multiple stock photography ads, cheap font, over-crowded text and left-algned resolution…among MANY other issues create such a poor user experience! What are they thinking?

  123. Premier Silver Sues United Over Loss of Economy Plus - View from the Wing said,

    [...] The elimination of economy plus at booking (making it subject to availability at check-in only) for 25,000 mile flyers was announced in September 2011. [...]

  124. Another former United flyer said,

    Add me to the list of Silver status fliers who will never fly United again, unless they are the cheapest alternative. Thank god I found this out now, just booked a mileage run this afternoon to get me to Silver for 2013, at least they still honor the 24 hour full refund cancellation!

    AA here I come.

  125. Jay Mc said,

    I’m tired of all the changes since the merger in March 2012 – the very FEW times I’ve been in business (4 this year) the food SUCKS compared to what it was before the merger. The beef tenderloin used to be something to look forward to – now it’s a piece of overcooked beef. As for being able to get an upgrade not worth the effort as I will be 1K this year and I’ve tried on four different occasions to get a regional upgrade and to date have NEVER been able to redeem one in the past 4 years I’ve been paying attention…. AA seats suck worse though so they aren’t an option….

  126. Mid-year Thoughts On United’s Upgrade Policy « Pizza In Motion said,

    [...] When the new system rolled out in March of this year, I waited with anticipation to see how good or bad it would be for me.  Others, like long-time UA proponent View From the Wing started considering a move elsewhere.  The big problem that many anticipated was a change in how upgrades were given on United, as detailed here. [...]

  127. Charlie said,

    Well, if you are a premire silver, you might as well bail now and forget any benefits to this program, unless you only enjoy being placed into group 2 boarding. With select seating only available 24 hours prior to flight, essentially no upgrades to any class, baggage fees for two bags, and a boarding that puts you back with the folks in economy, it is time to dump this puppy.

    Didn’t make it to gold status this year and now see how this program has quickly become one for only the constant flyer. As UA ignores the loyal flyer of 30K a year, let’s just hope that the merger between US Air and AA works out better. That may be where I, and about 30 other of my co-workers head. It may not be such a bad thing. After all, I have put up with their dirty interiors and old equipment long enough.

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