Yesterday, I mentioned that I was saddened by a change to United’s fare rules that will radically transform (literally) the way I travel domestically. Basically, United has eliminated the ability to add multiple connections for no additional charge. Lucky sums up my thoughts nicely, but I’ll add some commentary of my own:
I travel often between Philadelphia and Southern California and rather than flying PHL-LAX on UA like most would prefer, my routing is usually something like PHL-IAD-SAN-SFO-LAX.
Note the difference in base mileage:
PHL-LAX = 2,395 miles
PHL-IAD-SAN-SFO-LAX (with 500-mile minimums) = 3,747 miles
Because I get 2x RDMs, we’re talking about an additional 2,704 miles each o/w trip. Those miles add up quickly.
With United’s new, Continental-like fare rules in place, only one connection is allowed on most routes. Some routes, usually from a non-hub to a non-hub allow a double connection while many hub-hub routes are restricted to non-stop flights or else the fare basis broken. Some routes have been spared from the new rule…for now.
United is completely reasonable to make this change and we all saw it coming, eventually. Still, it’s a sad day for me, and not just because I’ll be losing out on miles. I’ll also be likely paying more for airfare.
Let’s say I need to get from Philadelphia to Los Angeles and want to go the cheapest way possible. My options are now limited to PHL-CHI/DEN/WAS/SFO/EWR/IAH/CLE/CLT/PHX-LAX: that’s all the routing rules now allow. Before the change, I could add in up to three connections in almost any U.S. city served by United or United Express, as long as there was no backtracking and the fare bucket was not broken (i.e. there had to be L-space on each flight).
Say that there was no L-fare available from CHI/DEN/WAS/SFO/EWR/IAH/CLE/CLT/PHX-LAX but there was from DEN-SAN-LAX. Such routing will not longer be an option and I will be forced to buy a higher fare class.
I hope that UA loosens these rules a bit, but I have nothing to base that hope on. Mileage running, as I know it, is over. It’s now going to be much harder to re-qualify for 1K and climb closer to million miler status.
This has been a long time coming – or at least should have been – and yet I’m still a bit sad to see it go. That being said, not all routes are affected, at least not yet. MSP-GEG still permits four segments each way while TPA-ONT looks to be down to three. Considering the cooperation that Continental and United are exercising these days and the fact that Continental has long had quite restricted routing rules this really shouldn’t be a huge surprise.
It is not all bad news but certainly a bit sad on some routes. Just means we have to work a bit harder to find those diamonds in the rough.
@Wandering Aramean: Your last statement is spot on. I’ve been searching this morning and have found some promising routes. I do think, though, that international mileage running is now more attractive and intend to take advantage of UA’s next Tware to SYD/MEL. You seemed to survive your last MR to OZ okay!
These convoluted fare rules were leftover from the 50s, 60s. and 70’s, when a traveler often had to take a convoluted route from point A to point B (primarily because the CAB had to approve every route which could take years and years). Now, with hubs and spokes, there should be no reason to have more than two connections. Maybe we’ll pare back all of these artificially high status people.