When you buy a United Airlines ticket, and credit the miles to United’s MileagePlus program, the ‘miles’ you earn are now based on the price of the ticket, not the distance flown. It’s odd to even call them miles anymore.
However, in general when you’re flying on a partner ticket or on an airline partner the mileage you earn is still based on the distance flown (adjusted for the fare class of your ticket).
It’s much less important than it used to be how many miles United things you’ve flown, but the airline is changing the method they use to calculate distances between two airports. That’ll mean some customers earn more miles and some earn fewer. And that matters also because ‘Million Miler’ status is still based on distances flown.
United is reminding employees that under the terms of the MileagePlus program they can change this at will – and they’re doing so – as highlighted by the perspicacious Brian Sumers.
Since I was a kid, @united said my regular O’Hare to LaGuardia route was 733 miles. Starting today, it might not be. @united told employees it has changed how it calculates mileage. Does it matter? Probably not. Yet I know some care deeply about this stuff, if only for nostalgia. pic.twitter.com/PPt4HIZ67m
— Brian Sumers (@BrianSumers) June 17, 2021
This also matters because some fares use a ‘maximum permitted mileage’ for travel between to places, so the number of miles you actually fly affects whether or not you stay within the fare’s rules.