United announced it early last summer, but in case you forgot, some big changes in MileagePlus award travel start today (November 1).
The biggest change: The program’s Standard Awards, with fixed mileage costs for unrestricted award trips, have been eliminated. Instead, the program now has what it calls Everyday Awards – and their costs are variable, not fixed. The mileage cost for a specific trip will be tied to the dollar cost of that trip.
“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. United 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.
When Delta adopted variable pricing for SkyMiles reward travel, it stopped publishing a mileage price chart. United still has a chart for its new MileagePlus Everyday Awards, but it only lists the maximum cost in miles for a reward trip. You can see the new award chart here.
The chart shows the maximum one-way cost of a domestic Everyday Award in economy class as 32,500 miles, vs. the old fixed rate of 25,000 miles. But since this is a maximum cost, the fluctuating price at the time of booking could still be 25,000, or less, or more—but not more than 32,500. MileagePlus members are more likely to encounter the maximum mileage price on popular longer-distance routes, like transcontinental flights.
Besides keeping fixed prices in place for domestic Saver awards, United said it will also make more seats available at those prices. But there will be some changes to Saver awards starting this month, like lower mileage 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.
Thoughts on the changes? How does United program compare to others? Please leave your comments below.