No, United Hasn’t Changed Anything With Partner Award Pricing

Back in April United announced the elimination of award charts. They didn’t even give advance notice, the change was effective right away for travel November 15 onward.

At the time I spoke with United’s Vice President of Loyalty Luc Bondar who told me clearly that these changes do not affect how partner awards are being priced at this time. There will be “some variability if United segments” are included in the flight itinerary.

Much consternation around the blogosphere has resulted from one question in United’s FAQ about the elimination of award charts, that traces to a comment made at MyFico forums.

How will this affect award flights on partner airlines?

The partner award chart will remain in effect for travel through November 14, 2019. For travel on or after November 15, 2019, there may be flights that require a higher number of miles than the amounts indicated on the award chart. When you search for awards while booking, you’ll see the applicable award level.

The line that’s concerning is that “there may be [partner] flights that require a higher number of miles than the amounts indicated on the award chart.” However that’s perfectly consistent with what United said from the beginning – add a United flight to an itinerary with a partner flight, and the partner award itinerary can change price.

However this has been interpreted as saying that partner award pricing will be dynamic, just like awards on United. The concern has been picked up here, here, and here at least.

I confirmed with the airline that the language is not new (it’s been up for months) and that what MileagePlus head Luc Bondar told me remains accurate – that partner awards continue to price as they have in the past, but that when you include a United flight in conjunction with a partner flight prices may vary.

While United certainly hasn’t promised that won’t ever change, they haven’t made any changes to their thinking. For now this appears to be a false alarm, but without published award charts the program in effect makes no promises as all about the future. Even though this FAQ answer doesn’t suggest the program is being devalued, we can assume that’s the direction it will continue to head.

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. Well they have doubled and tripled the miles required for all international awards partner or not . Flight to Asia that used to coach 42K and 85K , coach and business class now cost 90K and 180K miles . The rate is now poor at 5 miles is worth 1 cent. It is worst Mileage program.

  2. Chase Bank is a major mileage partner with United Airlines. Over the years, Chase Bank has paid United Airlines millions of dollars to buy miles to give to United Airlines passengers as sign up bonuses and for ongoing spending or purchases. Additionally, some United Airlines passengers have purchased United Airlines miles directly from United.

    The miles we United Airlines passengers got from Chase Bank, are purposely devalued to less than half of what they were worth prior to the decision of United Airlines to abandon its award chart. The purchased miles are also devalued.

    Has anyone here looked at the amount of miles required for flights after November 15th? Shocking – some “award” flights are three times more than they were prior to the devaluation.

    Although United can change its program at any time it chooses, what about Chase Bank or those who bought miles directly from United Airlines?

    Is Chase Bank happy about the fact they will lose thousands of customers because miles are no longer an incentive to obtain and/or keep a Chase Bank United Airlines credit card. Are customers who bought miles directly from United Airlines treated fairly?

    Chase Bank, and its shareholders are also major losers in the United Airlines mileage devaluation because passengers of United now have little to no incentive to keep Chase Bank United branded credit cards or spend on those cards.

    As I said, Chase Bank paid United Airlines for miles that were purposely made less than half of what they were worth prior to the devaluation.

    Did Chase Bank willingly go along with such an unwise business decision?

    In other words, Chase Bank paid United Airlines millions of dollars for miles to be transferred to United credit card customers. However, those miles are no longer an incentive to earn miles on spending or even retain a credit card with Chase Bank because the miles earned have so little value because of the devaluation.

  3. Thanks Gary for confirming that the headlines from your fellow blockers were merely clickbait. That was my assumption but good to hear it directly from UA.

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