United is massively devaluing its award chart at the end of the month and has instituted a minimum-spend requirement for elite qualification in 2014. With deep cutbacks to the domestic front cabin product and few flights with internet, questioning the value of loyalty to United is not unreasonable. But there may be one bright spot, particularly in light of the new award chart: additional space for Platinum/1K/Global Services members in premium cabins on United’s own metal. Gold and Silver members are out of luck.
United used to be quite generous in releasing additional Global First Class space (ON class) to its top tier elites, then yanked the extra space and designated ON simply as an upgrade fare class from BusinessFirst to Global First. IN space, which post-merger United has always characterized as offering additional space to Plat/1K/GS members, has never actually been observed by me…until now.
I noticed today that on two Brazil routes, from Rio de Janeiro to Washington and to Houston later this month, there is additional saver award space that books into IN Class. With United’s cutting off of ExpertFlyer, I use screenshots from united.com below to show this.
Note that IN > I on both flights.
When I perform and award search, if I am not logged in the space does not show up:
If I am logged in, the space does show up:
This is good news for top-tier elites: with the new award chart severally penalizing you for flying on partner airlines, having additional space on United metal will be appreciated if this is not just a fluke. I took a look at several other routes, including Asia and Europe, and did not see extra IN space. Perhaps United is just in a testing phase and it will not kick in until after the award chart is actually devalued on February 01, 2014.
Key for credit card spenders and other point holders without elite status is whether this additional space will be in addition to the small but decent amount of “regular” (I-class) inventory that United releases to all United MileagePlus members and Star Alliance members, or if it will provide IN space at the expense of I-class space, which would be a big blow to many.
I will keep an eye on this and keep you updated on what space looks like, but since it is New Year’s Day, let’s hope for the best–that United will finally begin to allocate additional saver inventory for its top-tier elite members.