A former senior loyalty executive with extensive knowledge of United’s MileagePlus program told me that yesterday’s elimination of award charts was “the day United died.”
United has now followed Delta in ending transparent award pricing, leaving American and Alaska as the only major US carriers with award charts. (Southwest doesn’t have an award chart but does have transparent value since their points are worth a fixed amount of money; uninspiring but honest.)
Alaska still awards miles based on distance flown rather than fare paid. It seems unlikely they’d be next to eliminate transparent award chart pricing. However since both United and American have frequently followed Delta’s decision-making it’s logical to wonder whether American might follow — just as they followed Delta and then United into revenue-based mileage-earning.
Indeed, American has made some changes along the lines of Delta’s award pricing,
- They make award space availability based, it seems, on fare value.
- They offer discounted awards as low as 5000 miles one way, often when fares are cheapest, and they do so outside of ‘award inventory’
In fact what I worried about specifically with 5000 mile domestic awards when fares are low is the move towards ‘average value’ which is what we’ve seen with Delta and what United’s lower-priced domestic awards appear to do.
I put the question to American directly and they refused to offer any reassurance, instead coming back with what may be the worst statement ever if they aren’t going to eliminate award charts,
Our AAdvantage program is designed to provide travelers with value and rewards and we are always researching ways to enhance earn and redemption opportunities like discounted awards through web specials. We have no other changes to share about our program at this time.
They’re ‘always researching ways’ (like the topic I’m asking about, elimination of award charts) that will ‘enhance’ opportunities (frequent flyers have learned over the years that enhance = destroy). They have no changes to share but will only make that commitment “at this time” and not any future time – and by the way the statement was given to me yesterday, and it’s already now the future.