United is the latest carrier to introduce variable pricing for award travel, with an announcement that it will do away with MileagePlus Standard Awards this fall and replace them with a new category called Everyday Awards, “with pricing that will vary from flight to flight.”
The company said that Standard Awards will no longer be available for reward travel booked starting November 1. However, United said it will continue to offer MileagePlus domestic Saver awards (which are subject to capacity controls) at levels of 10,000 or 12,500 miles one-way for economy class seats, depending on distance.
Unlike Delta, which did away with its SkyMiles awards chart when it switched to variable award pricing, United said it will still publish an Everyday Award chart listing the maximum price of a ticket in miles, although the actual cost might be less at the time of booking. Southwest Airlines also has variable award travel pricing, based on the dollar cost of a trip at the time of booking.
A United executive told USA Today that once the change takes effect in November, a domestic Everyday economy class award could run as much as 65,000 miles roundtrip vs. the current fixed rate of 50,000 miles, especially on popular transcontinental routes. He also said that United plans to increase the availability of Saver award seats by more than 10 percent in domestic and Canadian markets.
United said on its website that changes to its Saver awards starting in November will include lower prices on many short-haul, intra-regional economy seats for flights outside the U.S., like within Europe; increased Saver award prices in “select international markets;” and higher prices for United Business Saver Awards on premium transcontinental routes and some Hawaii routes.
The company also said that effective for award travel booked on or after November 1, all members (even elites) who fail to show up for their flights and want to redeposit their miles will face a $125 redeposit fee.
The coming changes will not affect Mileage Upgrade Awards, United said.
What’s behind the changeover to variable mileage pricing?” Since flight prices fluctuate based on a variety of factors, we’ve decided to take those same factors into consideration for award travel pricing,” United said on its website.
You can see United’s new Saver/Everyday award pricing chart here.
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