How Do The United Mileage Plus Changes Affect You?

Now that we’re in the home stretch of the new Mileage Plus, I’m curious how this affects people.  For anyone not paying attention, Continental and United are in the process of completing their merger.  Right around the beginning of March, OnePass will cease to exist and Mileage Plus will become the surviving program.  But, there will still be significant influence from the old OnePass.  I’m not going to go through all the changes.  I will touch on a few things that I think are more impactful and welcome your thoughts.

Introduction of a new 75K mileage level.  This tier is called Premier Platinum.  I definitely consider this a plus, since I’m unlikely to make 100K miles on UA this year.  This earns me a slightly longer upgrade window (72 hours), although I don’t actually think this makes much of a difference for the way I buy tickets.  I fly a lot of hub-to-hub on UA and buy my tickets close-in, so I rarely clear upgrades at the 1K window now.  This tier gets 75% bonus miles, so that will be a nice little benefit over falling to Premier Gold (the new 50K level).

The 75K level also gives compensation for Global Entry.  Anyone traveling internationally has to get Global Entry.  It may be the single greatest thing for travelers in over a decade.

Finally, one of the changes I’m looking forward to is actually something they are taking away from the lower elite level (Premier Silver).  Under the old program, bottom-tier elites (Premiers) used to receive access to Economy Plus seats.  These are essentially the first few rows of coach in all domestic planes that have extra legroom.  Since I book late, my upgrade percentage on United is significantly lower than on American.  Under the old program, since there were so many bottom-tier elites they would swallow up all the Economy Plus seats as well.

Under the new system, Premier Silver now gets Economy Plus when they check-in for their flight instead of at booking.  I’m thinking this should make a difference for someone like me who normally books late.  Previously, all a Premier Gold had to do was book their ticket before me and they could grab an E+ seat.  And, frankly, there’s nothing more disappointing than shelling out 3 to 5 times what someone else spent for a ticket on your flight and being relegated to a middle seat in the back of the bus.

Now, some have said that since Continental likes selling pretty much everything, and United already sells E+, that this won’t make much of a difference, other than forcing some of the Premier Silvers to spend some more cash to buy an E+ seat (or even an annual E+ subscription).

The lifetime program isn’t great, but if I earn 1MM base miles I’ll have Star Alliance Gold.  That’s definitely something that has value for me.  I’ve realized over the past year that Star Alliance Gold comes in quite handy when traveling internationally.  United is also bestowing the same status level on your spouse or significant other when you reach these milestones.

These aren’t all the changes, just a few of the ones that impact me.

How do these changes impact you?  Are you happy with the new MP program or not?

About the Author

My goal in life is to fill my family’s passports with stamps, creating buckets of memories along the way. You’ll find me writing about realistic ways for normal people to travel the world, whether you’re on a budget or enjoy luxury. I also enjoy taking us on the occasional detour to explore the inner workings of the travel industry.

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1 Comment

  1. I’m a mega-gazillion miler on DL with Lifetime Gold status and just a few thousand miles short of Lifetime Platinum. I only fly UA once a year and that’s a RT from LAX to OGG as they have a better schedule than DL to Maui. And we buy up to Economy+.

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