What Should We Call United Miles Now?

Delta Skymiles are Skypesos, since they’re worth so much less than competitor currencies.

But what about United miles now that they’ve announced an absolute bloodletting of their award chart?

Frequent Miler suggests “Stardust.”

After Continental took over at United, United’s million miler frequent flyers were promised that they would continue to get annual upgrades. Almost immediately, though, those were taken away.

The ‘new’ United increased change fees on award tickets. They prioritized individual transactions over long-term loyalty by giving single trip full fare elites — even Silver elites — upgrade priority over 100,000 mile flyers. They started selling cheap upgrades to anyone at check-in rather than upgrading elites. And they prioritized ‘supported’ upgrades, such as mileage upgrades, over elite upgrades. So a general member with a co-branded Visa could upgrade ahead of an elite domestically.

What’s more their computer systems remain very broken. Their upgrade processes are broken, they do not run waitlists properly or continually. Savvy flyers using supported upgrades can ‘jump the queue’ by watching for space to open up. Their new computer system doesn’t even consistently properly ticket award travel on partner airlines pushing through ticket numbers to partners (meaning that award reservations can wind up mysteriously cancelled because the partner thinks they weren’t ticketed).

The one true improvement since the merger is the elimination of partner award blocking or throttling, where the airline denies that partner airlines are offering award seats even though those seats are available. But now with these new changes those seats have gotten much more expenseive.

These changes are just one more of United CEO Jeff Smisek’s “changes you’re going to like.”

When Smisek & Co took over they rebranded United’s “Mileage Plus” as “MileagePlus”

Now I think perhaps the better term would be MileagePoo.

That’s my first thought. The biggest drawback is the lack of a ‘plural’ but that’s not really required. Now that British Airways uses Avios, you can have 1 Avios or 100,000 Avios. And they prefer to say ‘Avios’ rather than ‘Avios points’ which they view as redundant.

I’m not a huge fan of that, and my suggestion means you’d have 1 MileagePoo or 100,000 MileagePoo (not MileagePoos). That may work better than MileagePoo miles. Then again, ‘MileagePoo miles’ could become the preferred usage.

What do you think?

About Gary Leff

Gary Leff is one of the foremost experts in the field of miles, points, and frequent business travel - a topic he has covered since 2002. Co-founder of frequent flyer community InsideFlyer.com, emcee of the Freddie Awards, and named one of the "World's Top Travel Experts" by Conde' Nast Traveler (2010-Present) Gary has been a guest on most major news media, profiled in several top print publications, and published broadly on the topic of consumer loyalty. More About Gary »

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  1. MileageSux/MileageSucks

    I think I prefer the spelling with the ‘x.’
    Its shorter, it looks a bit like a plus fallen over, and x marks the spot.

  2. So my only question is “Does AA/USair wait til after the merger to drop the hammer and raise redemption rates?” Because we all know its coming only a matter of time.

  3. How about calling it MileagePlus and getting over the devaluation? Everyone’s beloved AA is right behind UA and DL, about 2 seconds after they reach a deal with DoJ. All of the whining and name calling isn’t going to stop the industry-wide devaluation.

  4. Sorry, Gary, but MileagePoo is weak. So is Stardust. If you are gonna try to re-brand it like you did with Skypesos, you have to go currency again. Stick with an obviously worthless coinage or something perceived as cheap or broken. You know, like the US Dollar or the Japanese Yen. 🙂

  5. Cute about the nickname. Now let’s talk money.

    I trust that you and other bloggers will highlight the new shortcomings of MP when reviewing the benefits (with links) for credit cards that produce UA miles.

    Time to call a spade a shovel.

  6. I’m with iahphx (and, in spite of my handle, I’m not a UA apologist). You can actually use United miles far more easily than others. I’ve got a stash of AA miles that are practically useless with the recent gutting of PlanAAhead inventory. I can still get reasonable value out of my UA miles. (Even though US and UA have access to the same Saver inventory, US miles are far less usable due to lack of one way awards and draconian change policies.)

    I heard Jeff Smisek speak at Stanford Business School a few months ago. One of his key perspectives is that he’s not running an airline – he’s running a business. This change is an example of that perspective.

  7. The clever thing about SkyPesos was that “Sky” identified the airline/alliance, and Peso stood in for something worthless (though having no relation to miles or distance).

    In the same spirit, I would suggest

    MileagePesos: Identifies United.
    StarPesos: Since the devaluation is in the alliance chart.
    UnitedPesos: Simple and to the point.

  8. I would like to add two other points:

    (1) While StarDust is a catchy name, for many reasons it sounds romantic rather than something cheap. So I would vote against it.

    (2) Many other suggestions employ what might be called “bathroom humor”. That would sound crude rather than clever, reflecting poorly on us, not on United.

  9. I like Mileage Poo and Mileage Pus, but the term that always comes to mind to me is Mileage Minus


  10. I like Star Pesos
    Don’t like StarDust (too many positive associations)
    would add Mileage Dust

  11. @iahphx, I’m with you and UAPhil. I’m just not feeling all the outrage. Any devaluation is disappointing, but they happen. Move on. The major hit is to those who demand premium cabins on partner airlines. Those always were an outrageous bargain relative to cash prices and that model obviously became unsustainable. Book your 2014 travel before Feb. 1, count yourselves fortunate it lasted as long as it did, re-evaluate your program and credit card preferences, and after the initial paroxysms, let go of the entitled whining. While I value my MileagePlus miles slightly less than I did a couple of days ago, they’re still more valuable to me than any other airline award currency.

  12. You cant make fun of every program. United very fair in basically leaving the economy seats at same award level. So free economy seats still available to where you want to go. There are also still upgrades available so mow you just have to buy the minimal economy seat with cash. May actually make status more important in getting the first class seats. You just cant get the best seats in the house for free as easily. Cash is king. Airlines just realizing it. Doesn’t this mean more readers will be getting economy award seats rather than first class seats? Maybe time to focus the blog a bit more on the best use of economy seats.

  13. I welcome the devaluation and agree with iahphx completely. Flyertalkers have been taking advantage of UA for years; now it is UA’s turn.

  14. New program name:


    New currency name:


    Gary likes StarPoo but StarTurds works better in sentences. “I’m trying to spend my 200,000 StarTurds for my honeymoon.”

    Alternate name: StarBile.

  15. Mileage Rubbish. For those whom understand high English, rubbish is a polite term for calling something to be worse than garbage

  16. Many sound bitter and thus predicting AA/US following suit in the future. That may be. But not today.

  17. MileagePoo would be an accurate description of how Smisek really values his most loyal flyers. Their mileage devaluation is just the latest example of how the Continental management continually derides the program and the flying experience in the premium cabins.

  18. MileageBust because you will be busting your bank of miles trying to get a decent award ticket.
    If currency…there is always Mileage Dong (Vietnamese) or maybe the Zloty.

  19. Cin has it nailed best with MileageBust. Very clever and insightful. Now all we need do is convince Smisek.

Comments are closed.