United Airlines has removed its Star Alliance award chart from its website. Are prices on partner awards about to go up further?
While chatting with a United spokesperson about the changes to earning on partner flights, she volunteered that Star Alliance award charts would also be removed.
“Starting today, we no longer have an award chart for Star Alliance partners displayed on United.com showing the lowest price points for award flights. We announced in April of last year that all award pricing will be dynamic beginning November 2019. This change is consistent with other major carriers and allows us to align information regarding all MileagePlus award flights, whether it is for travel on United or one of our partner airlines.”
So what does this mean? Will prices start to shoot up for partner awards, especially those booked at the last minute, like on Delta?
Across the board, that already began occurring last November. I detailed the changes here, but essentially last minutes tickets began pricing 3,000 to 3,500 miles higher across the board.
This was despite assurances from Luc Bondar, head of MileagePlus, that partner awards would not go up in price.
Bondar stressed the “simplifying” goal once again and told me that partner awards, at least for the foreseeable future, would remain at a fixed level. Furthermore, he assured me there were “no plans” to increase pricing on these awards in November.
Well, that was in November and we are now in late April. I’d say the “foreseeable future” is over, especially with the pandemic, so I’m going to go out on a limb and predict the following:
- Partner awards will not be tied to revenue-prices, but will fluctuate in price
- Awards booked closer-in will go up in price and in some cases skyrocket in price
- Partner awards will price slightly cheaper on some routes when booked in advance
My greatest concern is that a last-minute ticket to Europe in business or first class will go up by 40-50%.
Do I hope I am wrong? Absolutely. Am I preparing myself for the worst? Yes.
I’ve long linked the removal of award charts to the removal of accountability. Award tickets, especially on partner awards, should have upper limits or else it simply does not make sense to stockpile United miles. Devaluations are one thing; a lack of transparency is quite another. United hurts the strongest part of its business, MileagePlus, by removing award charts.