United Removes Star Alliance Award Chart From Its Website, Says Pricing Is All Dynamic

At the beginning of January 2019 I told you that the writing was on the wall and to expect United MileagePlus to eliminate award charts.

In April of last year that’s just what they announced effective November 15, 2019. And when this went live they introduced a new milage fee for close-in award bookings undercutting the claim that they had eliminated close-in booking fees.

United said that partner awards would continue to price as they always had. The only thing that would change the price would be adding a United Airlines segment and not flying solely on partners. This wasn’t true – since they were charging extra for booking partner flights close to departure.

Nevertheless they kept a copy of the Star Alliance award chart on their website. (I archived a copy.)

Today however Zach Griff noticed that United had pulled the Star Alliance award chart off of their website, and he quotes a United spokesperson saying we told you so, why didn’t you believe us?

We announced in April of last year that all award pricing will be dynamic beginning November 2019. This change is consistent with other major carriers and allows us to align information regarding all MileagePlus award flights, whether it is for travel on United or one of our partner airlines.

So far United does not appear to have changed the actual prices they are charging for partner awards, they have just removed the price list.

And I have to admit, I’m having a hard time caring, because I’m having a hard time caring about United. United’s claim to being consistent with Delta (‘other major carriers’) in hiding its award pricing tells you what you need to know. And at least Delta’s top tier elite status is both more valuable and easier to earn than United’s. (Airlines blindly copy Delta for all the wrong things.) What did you think you were going to get with Scott Kirby running the show and Andrew Nocella as Chief Commercial Officer?

Just this morning United announced they were making elite status harder to earn this year, imposing new conditions on a program mid-year, when United’s new elite program rules only began this year and they’re requiring customers to jump through hoops to get the credit they’re entitled to based on purchase date.

This is the same airline that demanded to hold onto customer money even while refusing to transport those passengers the same day, claiming a right to an interest-free loan for a year. And we just forked over billions of dollars to them. Are you really sure you wanted to do that?

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. Not in their defense, because I don’t like dynamic pricing at all…but this is as good as a time as any to just dump the bad news. They (or anyone) certainly doesn’t want to wait until recovery starts to make bad announcements, so I have a feeling we will see ALOT of these from various companies. Again, not a great move at all…but purely expected. DL and AA aren’t in a position NOT to inflate mileage cost either…lets see how they do it.

  2. No problem here
    I long ago dumped them and have no plans to return to fly them in my lifetime
    They burned their bridge with guitars, customer service,dragging passengers and raping customers financially long before this additional sad news.I’m sure there will be many to take my place

  3. I was a 1MM flyer when I dumped them for Alaska over 25 years ago and have never regretted the decision. Their behavior is nothing new and one can only hope that eventually they pay the price by seeing their profits and market share sink since it’s probably too much to ask that they go out of business and are replaced by a more reputable enterprise.

  4. THANK YOU for archiving the UA award chart. Do you by any chance have Delta’s? While this lockdown has been terrible, it has allowed me the “luxury of time” to evalute the prospective of using miles from various programs. All international mileage programs have award charts; even Jetblue has one albeit for their international partner airlines.

  5. Chase UR is going to collapse. Nobody in their right mind wants to hold some worthless transferable points at $1 center per UA mile.

  6. Finally someone agrees that diamond is more valuable than 1k. I mean 1k doesn’t even get a United club membership.

  7. I sense a lot of clenched sphincters.
    Are readers not following the news about StarAlliance member airlines in financial ruin? Routes and schedules and employees are disappearing faster than I can sneeze, Wuhan Flu.

  8. Ed says: “Chase UR is going to collapse. Nobody in their right mind wants to hold some worthless transferable points at $1 center per UA mile.”

    Why would Chase URs collapse? Still plenty of places to transfer those points and get decent value for them. United’s not the only game in UR town 🙂

  9. @ Gary — I’m with you at this point — who cares anymore? We’re down to <500k, which isn't that many miles these days anyways. I certainly hope there is some decent pricing remaining so we can at least snag a pair of J int'l r/t tickets with those miles ans have something left over.

    United may go the way of PanAm before too long. The Feds should just let them die, and the other airlines can split their hubs and whatever else is left. After all, United already dumped their pension plans on the PBGC (at least American and Delta still contribute to their severely underfunded plans), so they are likely the big airline that the Feds allow to die.

  10. “I’m having a hard time caring, because I’m having a hard time caring about United”

    Well said, Gary. Note to UA loyalists: In case you haven’t figured this out yet, it’s just going to get worse and worse under this management team.

  11. @Ed sez: “Chase UR is going to collapse. Nobody in their right mind wants to hold some worthless transferable points at $1 center per UA mile.”

    I doubt that very much, and your thinking is one-dimensional in assuming UA to be the only UR transfer partner.

    I am pretty much in my right mind as UA 1K/1MM and lifetime *A Gold who decided to dump UA MileagePlus for SQ Krisflyer when United instituted their highly punishing, money-only requirements for making elite status, and I expect to do just fine transferring my UR points 1:1 to SQ miles.

  12. Now United is concealing their price list, there can be no justification for amassing Mileage Plus miles. As for the benefits of frequent-flyer status, Mileage Plus was always a lousy choice because United bars its own status-members from its lounges while letting in equivalent members from all other Star Alliance airlines.

    In normal times UA’s management blunders would be costly, but now we are starting on a Venezuela-style economy where it’s easier to beg the Fed to print money and give it to you than to actually earn a living. With the inevitable Venezuelan outcome at the end of that road.

  13. @dwondermeant I get your point but please reconsider “rape” as an appropriate cjarge in your rant. It ranks right up there with “Nazi” comparisons. I’m sure there are many alternatives. Thank you.

  14. The public would be better off with a mostly fixed value JetBlue type mileage program. If we know exactly what 1 mile is worth then it adds clarity and we can plan on how to accumulate miles whether through flying, a credit card program or shopping/dining portal. It would make flying cheaper for everyone because airlines wouldn’t have to mark up business class fares to account for half of the business class cabin going for 70K miles. I rather have lower fares all around and be able to use my miles like cash anytime and for any available seat. Mileage programs as they exist tend to overwhelming benefit a lucky few but life would be so much easier if we didn’t have to play the space, routing and connection game with miles.

  15. Thank you Colleen. Some words are deeply offensive, even when used in a different context. I had the same visceral reaction.

  16. And this is why NEVER buy miles or mileage credit cards. Get a cash back card or a card where miles can be used towards airlines or cash back. United /AA /DL cards are plain stupid. Consumers that have them are ill informed. I can see the purpose for free checked bags but do not put any spending on them!

  17. “We just forked over billions of dollars to them. Are you really sure you wanted to do that?”

    I must have missed the election where we got to vote on whether or not we wanted to bail out the airlines.

  18. @colleen @RMG you guys need to get a life. This is a frequent flier forum, not a sociology class.

  19. @Ryan — Premium rewards cards like the Chase Sapphire Reserve or AMEX Plainum that earn transferable points currencies like the Chase Ultimate Rewards points or AMEX Membership Rewards points at much higher rates of 3x or 5x, respectively, pretty much made airline cards obsolete for spending purposes.

  20. I am still a big fan of Chase Ultimate Rewards points. So easy to get hundreds of thousands of them. I use them to transfer to BA and use their system to book a flight we often take from Sarasota to DCA on AA. Use them to top of Southwest and we have the companion pass year in and year out. Use them to top of Jet Blue if we need to. Yes, good for Hyatt as well. Since we are not flying right now I just used them to put down on 1K (100,000) on a car lease. Who cares……I still have 600,000 and just got another Ink Cash card. I am bummed about United dynamic pricing for everything. My wife and I each have around 110,00 miles in our United accounts as we both got the United Business card at the end of the year when they were offering 100,000 bonus miles. Now those are certainly worth less and we always travel 1st or Business internationally. We have had to cancel so many trips. Today we would have been in Japan. We have rescheduled that trip for Oct 1st using Alaska miles…..but, who knows what will be happening then. Crazy world.

  21. Thank you for posting this and archiving the old chart. I wanted to know how much I was getting screwed.

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