United Airlines and its Brazilian partner Azul have extended their partnership (as of 3 weeks ago, though only notifying customers now) to increase earnings in the MileagePlus program for flights on Azul. The new rates include the potential to earn Premier Qualifying Miles – credit towards status in the program – a rare option for non-Alliance partners with United or most other airlines. Similarly, the new earning rates offer increased credit for premium cabins, similar to flights taken on United or Joint Venture partner operated flights. MileagePlus Premier members will also earn bonus points for flights on Azul based on status tier.
Changes in earning rates aren’t all that uncommon, though increases are less frequent. But the most interesting part of this to me is that Azul is being treated almost like a JV partner for earning purposes even though they are not part of a JV with United. That’s mostly because the bilateral treaty between the US and Brazil won’t allow for such; once the bilateral shifts to an Open Skies policy (previously expected in 2015 but now delayed into 2016) that will likely change rapidly.
And there’s the part where United is a part owner in Azul which means this all makes a ton of sense. Arguably it should have happened sooner based on that. But here we are. Good news for travelers no matter what.
Now if only we could get United flying into VCP or otherwise come up with better connections between the two networks…
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