Is United in the Process of Eliminating Award Charts?

Delta SkyMiles eliminated award charts. They charge you whatever they happen to want to charge you for a flight on a given day. SkyMiles aren’t like money, you can’t spend them anywhere you want (say for travel on American). It’s a company town, SkyMiles are their scrip, and they make no promises about what you should expect to get for your points in the future with a published price list.

Delta charges as much as 100,000 miles one way for business class between the US and Europe on Delta at the saver level. Just four years ago the price was 100,000 miles roundtrip. In practice your SkyMiles are worth about one cent.

US airline executives copy Delta because they believe Delta executives are smarter than they are. Neither United nor American though has so far eliminated award charts, although American has unpublished price levels.

When United announced plans to devalue their award chart in mid-2017 they emphasized that they still had such charts, a jab at Delta. And while they said that the price of Standard or extra miles awards would vary, they published a maximum price.

Is United making moves towards eliminating their award charts, though, just a year and a half later?

In October they removed the .pdf award chart from their website. That’s the grid that shows you all of their prices by region. I’ve saved it for posterity.

They still have an interactive price tool where you enter where you’re flying from and to and they spit out prices, but there’s no longer a grid showing all prices in one place.

The grid used to show upgrade prices, the interactive tool does not. Delta of course is moving to upselling with miles (where you pay miles instead of cash). Removing upgrades from the price tool would be a necessary step to copy Delta.

United’s Premium Plus is their international premium economy product and it’s now on sale for international flights starting March 30. You can redeem MileagePlus miles for premium economy, but premium economy pricing isn’t included in the interactive chart.

I pointed out to United that premium economy award prices aren’t included in their interactive chart, and asked if they plan to update the chart with premium economy pricing — or bring back a page with a pricing grid the way they’ve had for decades so that members don’t have to look up prices region-by-region?

I was told you can see what premium economy awards cost when you search for them:

We are excited to offer our members the ability to use their miles for awards and upgrades in Premium Plus. We are continuing to update our booking processes, and while we don’t currently have an award chart available for Premium Plus, customers can find a 30-day calendar view on United.com that lists available award fares.

Of course since you’re unlikely to find a saver award for premium economy — or a saver award for business class on a United flight offering premium economy — this may all be moot. And they say you should never attribute to malice that which is adequately explained by United Airlines bungling.

However United President Scott Kirby has said he beleives if the airline increases service he’ll sell more credit cards, that it isn’t a matter of how good the product is that he’s selling United will still get its ‘natural share’. Customers will be active in MileagePlus as long as they’re flying the airline.

So will United be next to follow Delta’s lead eliminating award charts?

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. […] For months now it’s been apparent that United has been making changes and fiddling around with award pricing to destinations all throughout their network. Looking at the example above (sampled 2/20/2019), you will find FOUR difference mileage award requirements for flights to the same destination departing from the same starting point. This wouldn’t have been the case in year’s past. You could have looked up your trusty United Award chart to determine whether the prices would have been a Saver or an Anytime award (UA’s last Award Chart). Although, a few months ago Gary Leff of View From The Wing asked: Is United in the Process of Eliminating Award Charts? […]

Comments

  1. Gary,

    I’ve been a reader of yours for the past 5-6 years or so now. I’ve started playing this mileage game since 1998. Has it ever dawned on you or Ben/Lucky/the points guy that the more all of you try to report on things or try to “expose” the loopholes just to get $50-$100 referral fee per credit card or some sort of infamy just to advertise yourself in CNN/WSJ etc that the more it’s affecting you guys as well? (think Chase 5/24, Amex “once in a lifttime”) While between the 3 bloggers I’ve mentioned (including yourself), you do come across as the most “sincere” but you also invariably let slip in some of your posts that you do outsmart the system by dropping hints here and there. I’m sure all three of you do realize that you’re all providing free advertising to the banks for their credit card products but when you’re a cat sleeping together with the lion, at some point, the lion will gobble up the cat without hesitation at the next economic downturn?

  2. @Gavin – I’m not sure what choice Gary has. He could report less, but then he risks fewer followers and viewers, and subsequently less money. Even if Gary “fought the good fight” and reported less, the other bloggers you mention would certainly step in to fill the void.

  3. That said, I believe there is a technical bottom of the pack. I’ve given up on hotel loyalty. If United keeps following Delta’s lead, I will give up on airline loyalty as well.

  4. Keep up the good work, reviews, information on miles, points & cards. I’m sure many readers understand that successful blogs have advertisers just like other news sources such as CNN, NY Times and the other BoardingArea blogs. And I understand that for some bloggers, the blogs are their jobs. And jobs are meant to provide income. Income coming from advertisers / sponsors etc.

  5. If United removes award charts, I’m not sure if anyone would want to go with them anymore. Even though Delta did it already, at least they have a decent on-board product, which is something United lacks.

  6. I used United on an iMac using the safari browser to book award tickets to Japan next October. Don’t know what Mike Murphy is talking about. I found plenty of availability in business class on UA metal for flights to japan and home from Seoul. I was able to book the exact dates I wanted. I grabbed the award seats at 11 months out, as soon as they popped onto the booking calendar.
    if I had chosen partner airlines each ticket would have been 10K miles more. I went with UA flights.

  7. Eliminating MP award chart would be a very backwards step IMO. Simplicity and transparency are the big winners in 2019 and beyond. The sooner UA (and the others) realise this the better.

  8. There’s no saver award inventory bucket for the new Premium Plus. Only one award bucket, ON, which prices dynamically as an “everyday” award. So yes, unfortunately, this supports the suspicion that UA is moving towards fully dynamic pricing.

  9. Y’all think United actually cares about losing your loyalty. Unless you are buying full fare coach or first class tickets, you can pound sand.

  10. Burn baby burn. If you don’t save miles for years you don’t have to worry about devaluation.

    Loyalty is so 1990s

  11. Do elites and MP CC holders get better pricing on the PE award as is currently the case for XN economy award inventory bucket?

    Some over the top posts by bloggers have brought the end of some loopholes. For instance, MMS boasted on his blog of getting 5 or 6 AS Visa cards with the sign up bonus for each on the very same day and not much later new much more stringent restrictions were put in place on the card.

  12. Susie

    I am not sure whats going on, it works on the same mac with firefox and chrome. goodled it and found lots of others with the same problem.

  13. Airline loyalty is for chumps…. or better put—be as loyal to them as they are, in reality, loyal to you. This, of course, not at all unless you’re paying a super-bloated fare . Newsflash: you ARE your fare to them.

  14. This!

    “Loyalty is so 1990s.”
    “Airline loyalty is for chumps…. or better put—be as loyal to them as they are, in reality, loyal to you.”

    There is one legitimate reason to be “loyal” to an airline nowadays, IMHO, and that’s living in a captive hub.

    Use them to maximize your profit, not theirs.

    Everything else is fool’s gold.

  15. UA sux. After they moved so much saver award space to everyday awards it is almost impossible to get a 60K direct J award fare. I looked as far out as possible, using IAD, EWR, BOD, JFK, and PHL all as a home base to get to either AMS, LHR, ZUR, CDG or FRA. Twenty five combinations with zero direct saver awards. It’s been my life’s dream to go to Warsaw with an eight hour layover to get to LHR. Not. All UA shows are the worst partner awards they have, LOT, TAP, Aer Lingus. I’m thinking of flying to Canada just to find a direct flight to Europe.

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