Frequent travelers groaned and rolled their eyes again today as United unloaded another devaluation of its MileagePlus program. But Delta tossed its long oppressed silver medallion members a bone.
At United, as with other programs, devaluations feel like death by 1,000 cuts. Earlier this month, MileagePlus members had to swallow higher award travel change fees and accept fewer options for stopping over on award trips. Today, United restricted members’ ability to book multi-city trips, only allowing flight combinations that United creates for the trip and blocking the ability to manually build award itineraries.
At first, most miles & points bloggers thought this might be a mistake or glitch in the system. But in fact, it’s not and United released the following statement spinning the move as a positive: “The new MileagePlus redemption award changes have been designed to make multi-city searches easier, give our customers greater flexibility, offer the Excursionist Perk, and provide efficient options that meet their travel needs. Selecting the multi-city option where United offers nonstop service will break up the search into two separate awards. We believe our multi-city pricing is consistent with the industry. Additionally, our customers have greater flexibility when booking multi-city travel. United.com offers ways to optimize searches – for example, you can select preferred connection cities, specific airports, etc.”
You’ll find more details on United’s move here. Matthew over at Upgrd.com offers some an in-depth look at ways to get around the draconian new restrictions.
Over at Delta, SkyMiles Silver Medallion members are “now eligible for unlimited complimentary first class upgrades on award trips 24 hours prior to departure.” That’s a nice gesture, but the reality is that SkyMiles members with more valuable metallic cards will almost always snag those seats before a silver medallion does. Especially when traveling to, from or between a Delta hub like Atlanta, Minneapolis, New York or Los Angeles. Even gold medallions find few upgrades on those hub-to-hub flights. Plus, Delta is now selling those first class upgrades, too, making the chances of a silver getting one even dimmer. But hey, you never know when a free big seat may pop up. So enjoy it if you get it!
In related Delta news, the carrier announced today that Richard Anderson, who became Delta’s chairman after stepping down as CEO in May, is retiring effective immediately. The suddenness of Anderson’s departure (at age 61) has tongues wagging and wondering and only time will tell what the real story is here. Any ideas?
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