United guts premium fare earning rates on multiple partners

What I originally thought was just a “fixing” of an obviously overly generous set of elite status earning rules from United Airlines‘ MileagePlus program on partner South African Airways appears now to be a massive change in earning rates for the new year. More than 70 different fare classes across at least 9 partners are affected by these changes. And in every case it is the premium fares – first, business, premium economy and full-fare economy – which are seeing the elite earning rates cut. When the new rules came out for MileagePlus in 2012 there was a rather generous upgrade in earning rates for premium cabins on many partners. Apparently United has decided they were being too generous and they’ve now cut back significantly.

In addition to the previously identified cuts for South African noted here the following fare classes now all earn only 100% of the miles flown towards elite qualification, down generally from 150%:

  • Thai Airways: J, P, U, Y, Z, A, B, C, D,F
  • Singapore Air: R, S, Y, Z, A, C, D, F, J, P
  • TAP Air Portugal:  B, C, D, J, Y, Z
  • TAM: A, C, D, F, J , Y, Z
  • LOT: A, B, C, D, P, Y, Z
  • Croatia Airlines: A, B, C, D, F, Y, Z
  • Air New Zealand: A, B, C, D, E, J, O, U,Y, Z (now showing only 100% again)
  • EgyptAir: A, B, C, D, F, J, Y, Z
  • South African Airways: J, C, D, Z, Y, B, M, H K, S, Q

These changes came without notification from the carrier, either through traditional means or through the online communities they have employees participating in. Quite unfortunate at many levels.


Also add in:

  • Avianca: C, D, J
  • Asiana: A, B, C, D, F, J, Y, Z

Never miss another post: Sign up for email alerts and get only the content you want direct to your inbox.

Seth Miller

I'm Seth, also known as the Wandering Aramean. I was bit by the travel bug 30 years ago and there's no sign of a cure. I fly ~200,000 miles annually; these are my stories. You can connect with me on Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn.


  1. It looks as if the joint venture partners + US Airways (which gets 100% EQM for Y/B fares, just as in US’s own program) are the carriers on whom 150% EQM for premium tix is preserved.

    This is the way Mileage Plus operated pre-merger, more or less.

  2. On the upside, at least some have improved. I’ve been trying to decide where to credit an upcoming flight on Croatia Airlines in P fare which was showing as earning no mileage last time I looked. Today, it will earn 50% if credited to MileagePlus.

  3. This is just premium-qualifying details; mileage earning us not changed (as far as I can see anywhere).

    If you’re regularly flying SQ R, does United status matter that much? (It’s irrelevant for your flights, you can likely credit in better programs, and if you can afford this flying the extra flights to get United status won’t break the bank.)

  4. Yes, PQMs only. I’ll edit the post to make that more clear in a bit. But it is a rather significant change. It isn’t just F fares which are affected. Y and B fares were slashed, too.

  5. I checked those NZ rates before posting earlier. Either I’m going crazy or they changed again. Either way, you are correct that they are 150% now.

    1. The NZ rates are back to 100% now. Possibly caching on their server farm or possibly other sketchiness in play but things are definitely bad.

      It looks like Avianca has seen cuts as well. Blue1 is now part of SAS; they are holding at 150% in some cases, at least for now. And Swiss is still running with 150% right now.

  6. I’m also seeing Asiana, Blue1, and Swiss down, but TAM unchanged. I wonder if they are still messing around…

  7. I am starting to lose interest in moving over from Delta, it seems the main appeal of United is for people who collect the miles any way but actual flying and then redeeming on better partners, in my case I need a primary airline to fly.

  8. NoNotice changes….must be taking lessons from Delta. I wonder what other New Years treats UA has in store?

  9. I’m still seeing the same as last night – maybe there is some caching going on somewhere. I have the following all offering 150% PQM at some fare levels: Air Canada, Air New Zealand, ANA, Austrian, Brussels Airlines, Cape Air, Copa, Lufthansa, SAS, SWISS, TAM, United, US Airways

  10. It all makes sense from a UA bottom line perspective – which is obviously how they are looking at it

  11. after flying a million miles on Continental/United being slavishly brand loyal we have given up. Seems to me that United is becoming the EasyJet of legacy carriers. A huge disappointment given I thought the CO management team would whip things into shape. My next flight is on Lan and my partner is flying Jet Blue next. Why be loyal to such a shitty product?

Comments are closed.