United’s new partner earning rates: Lots of cuts with a few small wins


With just under 5 weeks to go before United’s MileagePlus program switches to a mostly revenue-based earning scheme the new partner earning rates are now published. It is not all bad news, fortunately, but most of the changes are less than spectacular. I did some quick comparisons of the new earning rates versus the old ones (I likely missed a few in there, but I got most of what is published today, I think) and I found 72 carrier/fare combination where things get better and 177 where they are worse. The rest stay the same from what I can see.

Some of the biggest winners are the cheapest fares. That might not make a ton of sense, but here it is. Passengers flying on the lowest Swiss, Austrian. Lufthansa and Brussels Airlines fares can now potentially have at least a little bit of earning – 50% of miles flown – compared to the nil previously earned. This is a small nod in favor of the traveler, but it is there.

united-airlines-mileageplus-partner-earning-rates-1

At the same time, some high-fare passengers will actually see earnings reduced. Premium cabin travel on Lufthansa, Swiss, ANA & SAS all have potential reduced earnings.

united-airlines-mileageplus-partner-earning-rates-2

And there are plenty of other coach fares where travelers will now earn less than before. Lots of even mid-level fares (e.g. Q, V, W on Lufthansa) are now only earning 50% credit rather than 100%. Copa, LOT, Air Canada and SAS also see significant hits in the mid-range coach fare earning rates; many previously 100% rates are 75% or 50% now. It is worth noting that some partners, notably Air Canada and ANA, had different earning rates for flights in various parts of the world. In some cases these are now consolidated into a single chart, though the numbers are not always favorable with that move.

Combined with the news earlier this morning about the changes to Avios for British Airways it becomes even more clear that programs are focused on pushing travelers to earn via commercial partner accrual (i.e. CCs & affiliates) than via the programs. This should not be a surprise, of course. The programs have been openly talking about this approach for a long time now and even moving down this path for some time. And it is not all bad, assuming you’re willing to play the game that way. But for the people who looked to the programs as a reward for travel, as a way to stretch the travel budget and have more fun while traveling rather than working harder to get to be able to travel (i.e. me) the changes are certainly less pleasant.

Extra: The two types of award points

I’ve long said that the airlines should not be tailoring their programs to attract me as a customer. And I still believe that is true. I guess I’m just a bit disappointed that they finally started to listen to me.

Full charts of the rates which changed are below.

Worse earning rates:

united-airlines-mileageplus-partner-earning-rates-worse-1united-airlines-mileageplus-partner-earning-rates-worse-2united-airlines-mileageplus-partner-earning-rates-worse-3united-airlines-mileageplus-partner-earning-rates-worse-4united-airlines-mileageplus-partner-earning-rates-worse-5united-airlines-mileageplus-partner-earning-rates-worse-6united-airlines-mileageplus-partner-earning-rates-worse-7united-airlines-mileageplus-partner-earning-rates-worse-8

Better Earning Rates:

united-airlines-mileageplus-partner-earning-rates-better-3united-airlines-mileageplus-partner-earning-rates-better-2united-airlines-mileageplus-partner-earning-rates-better-1

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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, LinkedIn and .

6 Comments

  1. LH lowest bucket “K” is still missing (it’s in for LX though).
    The L and T coming right after it used to earn 100% on long haul routes + feeders, it’s def a downgrade even if you can get some miles for intra European flights.

  2. Strangely, this is very freeing. It’s a bit like when we sold a company. After day and night caring about performance and cash flow, all of sudden, we no longer had a significant stake in the outcome.
    Hugely freeing to explore other ideas, which led to now growth. Now , this gives a chance to focus less on UA and select most rewarding path. Let’s see where it goes. Whould be nice to get a good payout from UA though as a transition 🙂

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