After raising award redemption rates to Europe using MileagePlus miles, United Airlines has now raised prices for redemptions to all regions around the world, in some cases raising prices without notice by over 57%. It’s the latest sunset on the value of the MileagePlus program.
United Airlines MileagePlus 2023 Devaluation Spreads Worldwide
In short, after United raised the redemption rates for European awards last month, prices have now risen–dramatically in some cases–for travel to other regions. This impacts not only business class travel, but travel in premium economy and economy class as well, where we have seen some of the greatest increases in price.
I’ll illustrate with a few examples:
- To Australia, economy class on United jumped from 40K to 55K one-way in economy and from 80K to 100K in business class
- To Japan, partner award travel in business class jumped from 88K to 110K one-way and from as little as 38.5K to 60.5K in economy class. On United, economy class rose from 35K to 55K and business class from 70K to 110K each way
- All Asia now appears to be priced in this way – there are no more zones within Asia like Japan, North Asia, and South Asia
- To Africa, partner flights now start at 49.5K one-way in economy class and 88K in business class
- To South America, flights now start at 49.5K one-way in economy class and 88K in business class
In other words, prices have shot up for travel to all other regions of the world: no region has been spared for travel that touches North America.
For example, two days ago you could book an ANA ticket from Los Angeles to Tokyo for 38.5K United miles in economy class. Today, that same ticket will cost 60.6K miles, a whopping 57% increase. Note that you can still redeem 55K Aeroplan points for business class from Seattle to Tokyo on ANA…I’ll say more on that below.
Finally, pricing has also risen significantly on United’s own metal, with “anytime” awards pricing much higher than before, though still not clearly tied to any revenue pricing.
This Move Reflects Very Poorly On United
United can smugly say “we have no award chart therefore there is no fixed pricing therefore this was not a devaluation” until its face turns blue, but we know that is not the case. Most awards still followed fixed pricing even if there is no award chart published.
Once again, this devaluation makes Air Canada Aeroplan program all the more valuable. Aeroplan transparently publishes award charts and announces devaluations in advance. It also continues to offer superb value on many redemption routes, as I noted above between Seattle and Tokyo.
It’s time for you to cut up your United Airlines co-branded credit cards from Chase and shift spending to a more flexible currency like Chase Ultimate Rewards points via a Sapphire Preferred or Reserve card.
The devaluation is bad enough, but not giving MileagePlus members any sort of heads-up really stings. United refused to comment when it adjusted prices a couple weeks ago and I do not expect it will here either.
As I always have insisted, points and miles are generally depreciating assets and you should not consider them a nest egg, but a currency to be used sooner rather than later. This devaluation just reinforces that trend.
After United devalued award pricing to Europe, it was only a matter of time before the negative changes hit other regions. Now they have. The pricing increases to Japan are particularly extreme, but prices are up worldwide. Let this be another reminder that miles and points are a depreciating asset; still very valuable but a currency that loses value over time rather than gains it.