United Airlines‘ MileagePlus program is following the lead of American Airlines AAdvantage, upping the earning rate towards elite status for passengers flying on premium cabin tickets in 2016. Even the discounted premium cabin fares will earn at a higher rate (200% versus 150%) while full fare flyers will see favor with the earning rate doubling to 300% of the flight distance. American announced similar rates just a couple weeks back. No word yet on whether Delta will match with its SkyMiles program.
As the carriers shift their pricing policies to make premium cabin fares more affordable – at least relative to coach fares – this earning shift will see some travelers getting to “double dip” in the benefits, getting the better seat and also move towards elite status more quickly. Of course, the minimum spending requirements still exist for most MileagePlus members while AAdvantage has not gone down that path yet. It is conceivable with the spend requirement and discounted premium cabin fares that some passengers might get the necessary miles, flying in the big seats, and still not have the spend for status (e.g. the ~$2000ish sale fares in business class for LA-London which have cropped up from time to time), though those will likely remain the exception, not the rule.
It is also worth noting that United has surpassed American when it comes to JV partners and the increased earning rates. Flying on ANA, Lufthansa, Swiss and Air Canada will earn the higher rate with MileagePlus regardless of marketing carrier. In the AAdvantage program the increased earn on partner flights will come only if the ticket carries the AA booking code for that segment.
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