A few updates for you on the news this morning that United is dramatically slashing the number of elite status points you can earn on partner flights.
PQP Limit Is Per Segment, Not Ticket
When United updated its website with the new information last night, it was not clear whether the limit (see table below) applied on a ticket basis, one-way basis, or segment basis. A United spokesperson confirmed that the limits are on a per-segment basis.
That’s good news. While it doesn’t suddenly make this surprise devaluation in the middle of the program year good news, it does soften the blow.
It will also encourage those who still hope to qualify this way to add multiple segments, just like the old mileage run days. I’m still running scenarios, but even with this small reprieve it will still be significantly harder to earn elite status based upon partner flights than it currently is.
In my question to United, I used the following example:
- EWR-SIN = 9,534 miles / 6 prior to 01 July = 1589 PQP. After 01 July, 500 PQP
- SIN-SYD = 3,908 miles / 6 prior to 01 July = 651 PQP. After 01 July, 500 PQP
- SYD-SIN = 3,908 miles / 6 prior to 01 July = 651 PQP. After 01 July, 500 PQP
- SIN-EWR = 9,534 miles / 6 prior to 01 July = 1589 PQP. After 01 July, 500 PQP
2,000 PQP is less than half of 4,480 PQP (current earnings on the itinerary), but far better than 500 PQP (if United maxed out PQP at 500 for the whole ticket).
Foreign Waiver Will Not Return
Up until this year, those who lived outside the USA were spared from the minimum spending requirement. I asked United if that waiver would return since it is harder for those outside the USA to fly United and was told:
“No changes to the waiver at this time.”
As I discussed earlier, the changes may close some loopholes, but it truly limits the value proposition for many outside the USA who would have been happy to give United longhaul business to the States, but now are incentivized to be free agents.
These Are Not Temporary Caps
Finally, I asked if these caps were for a limited time or permanent. I was told:
“These caps will be in place for all flights booked after April 29 for travel after July 1.”
I don’t expect these limits to be dropped. United simply does not want to incentivize travel on partner airlines at its expense. I’d think there would still be a waiver for joint venture partners like Lufthansa, Air Canada, or ANA, but nothing so far.
Limiting PQPs per segment instead of per ticket is good news. I’ll continue to run the numbers and see if and where it still makes sense to pursue elite status via partner flights.
Does the per segment cap rather than per ticket cap change your calculus?
> Read More: United’s New Partner Earning Policy Is Fair, But Tone Deaf
> Read More: United Socks It To MileagePlus Flyers Outside USA With New Earning Cutbacks
I think there are still several situations where it still makes sense to do this.
For cheap business class fares if you don’t go over 7500 total adjusted miles (after fare class multiplier) per segment then it still may make sense.
Some of the previous Air China R fares to Asia if still available in the future will still generate >2PQPs per $ spent even with these new restrictions.
@ Matthew — Well, as much as I’ve bashed UA recently, we will credit our already purchased tickets for late summer (assuming they operate, which is a pretty good bet barring a summer COVID rebound):
ATL-YYZ-FRA-MXP (AC J ticket)
MXP-ZRH-BKK (LX F ticket)
BKK-SIN-ZRH-MXP (LX F tickjet)
MXP-VIE-YYZ-ATL (AC J ticket)
That will be enough for 9,500 PQP. We’ve already earned 1,000 PQP on UA flights, so we ‘ll gladly spend another 1,500 on a couple more UA flights to reach 1K. Then, we will use our benefits and go back to not flying United. Thanks, United! 🙂
I flew 65,000 miles in the first 2.5 months this year on United and partners – at times paying 2x for my tickets and flying circuitous routes – just so I could get done with 1K early this year. This is the last straw. I’m going to use my Plus Points and then bail on United. Either will switch to a free agent model or try a competitor. Thanks United for driving away loyal customers.
I used my entire 2019 *A partner flights on non-016 stocks as my samples and ran both the cap and non-cap numbers and the end result is not as drastic as I expected, but that is based on own activity of roughly 95K of PQM flying on non-016 stocks. I post the details at Flyetalk:
I understand any difference is a huge difference if one is on the borderline of making deserved status each year. I am just glad I have never tempted to go out of my ways to achieving multiple elite status on more than one airlines. My pay off is a lifetime GS status, and my loss is just 20 PlusPoints with this change from no cap to cap.