Big Changes to United MileagePlus – ( Uh Oh, Dynamic Pricing Alert!)

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US blog LiveAndLetsFly is reporting that United MileagePlus is making some big changes to how award redemptions work.

United hasn’t made an official announcement yet (at time of writing), so here’s what Matthew at LiveAndLetsFly had to say after he spoke with United’s Vice President of Loyalty:

  • “Starting today, award charts will no longer be published for travel on or after November 15, 2019

  • There will no longer be a minimum or maximum mileage price for United flights

  • Mileage pricing will not be tied to a specific dollar amount

  • Partner award pricing will remain unchanged for now, but there will be no separate award chart for partner flights

  • Close-in award fees will not be charged on or after November 15, 2019

  • Mileage credit on United will post nearly instantly”

As you can see, the upshot is that United is getting rid of traditional award charts and is introducing so called ‘dynamic pricing’ for awards instead.

What this means is that rather than the current situation where the number of miles for flying between any two particular places is a set amount, the number of miles needed will now vary depending on demand. At busy times of year, redemptions will require more miles, and (theoretically) when flights aren’t as busy, they should require fewer miles.

Make no mistake – this is a terrible change, though one that is becoming increasingly popular among airline programme executives. As well as making redemptions more expensive at the times when most people actually want to use their miles, the real issue here is the lack of transparency and additional complexity that dynamic pricing creates. How on earth are you supposed to know how many miles you need to save up for a trip, if on one date the flight would cost 20,000 miles and on another date it costs 200,000 miles?

Note that, for now, the award pricing for redemptions on United’s partners isn’t changing, but I wouldn’t count on that being the case for much longer.

Bottom line

I’ve long been a fan of the United MileagePlus Miles (largely due to the ‘Excursionist Perk‘), but will be looking to use up my remaining balance on partner redemptions asap, while I still know how many miles a flight is actually going to require…

What do you think about dynamic pricing?

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