United Airlines has a pretty sweet Million Miler program right now —
Compared to American and Delta, it is quite generous (with lifetime Star Alliance Gold status at 1MM for the member and a companion) but perhaps that is the problem — too generous to last…
Someone on Flyertalk leaked the following plans under consideration:
- All Million Miler tiers will move down one “notch”
- Example: 1 Million will now be Silver for life, 2 million=Gold, etc
- There will no longer be a way to get GS for life
- 4 million will be 1k for life, with no 5 million tier
- Certain “high-revenue” flyers will be eligible for lifetime GS by invitation
- GPUs and RPUs will no longer be given to Lifetime 1Ks and Plats if they have not met the annual PQM quota for their respective lifetime status level in a given year
- Example: Someone who is lifetime 1k will not receive any instruments if they only get 50k PQMs in the year, if they fly 75K PQMs they will receive 2 RPUs, and if they fly 100k+ PQMs only then will they receive 6 GPUs
- People who made a certain lifetime status before the effective date of the change will be grandfathered
- The companion status benefit will remain the same
- Conceived under SMI/J, and evidently “all changes are being delayed and reconsidered” until Munoz takes the throne
I reached out to United for comment, but understandably there was no commentary offered on these rumors…
What strikes me is that the plans have been shelved while Oscar Munoz recovers (and lends credence to my thoughts that Oscar might be involved in the award hold issue I addressed yesterday), which makes this whole rumor sound much more credible.
When certain benefits are generous and out of equilibrium with what competitors are offering, it is not surprising when these generous benefits become less generous.
A lawsuit was waged last time United cut back Million Miler benefits and United prevailed — the terms and conditions of the MileagePlus program do make clear that United reserves the right to modify or terminate the program at its will.
Still, customers receive e-mails as they approach Million Miller status detailing the “lifetime” benefits they will soon enjoy and while United may weather the bad press and defecting customers if this rumor proves true, I can think of few more unethical business moves than selling one program and providing another. Whatever the case, I hope United will indeed spare existing MM members from these alleged cutbacks (myself included…).
UPDATE: United has stated on the record, “There are no plans to change the Million Miler program.” Bullet dodged. For now…