I’m not one of those guys that believe an airline forms a binding contract with loyalty members. I get that benefits will change over time and a big part of our “game” is finding the best way to leverage those benefits before they change.
But, the change that Mommy Points detailed last week really will hurt me when traveling with my family. The change involves no longer being able to convey your elite status to people you book award tickets for unless you are traveling on the same reservation as them. Official language of the change:
As of April 15, 2015, when traveling on an award ticket for United- and United Express®-operated flights, benefits including but not limited to complimentary Economy Plus seating, Premier priority travel services (such as Premier Access check-in and priority boarding), and checked baggage service charge waivers are determined by the traveler’s own Premier status, even if another member’s miles were used to purchase the award ticket. Customers traveling on the same reservation as a Premier member may receive the applicable companion benefits. Please visit the pages relating to specific Premier benefits for more information.
I’ll admit, when I first read this, I shrugged my shoulders. Sure, it was nice to convey benefits to folks who I booked the occasional award ticket for as a gift. But, those folks had no real expectation of baggage allowances and Economy Plus seating.
But, then I re-read Summer’s point about when she travels on a revenue ticket and her family is with her, but on a separate award reservation.
This is a bigger deal than just being a nice perk for the traveler because my family, like many others, will often use miles for the kid(s) and potentially the spouse, while purchasing a revenue ticket for the one who is chasing status in order to help that person re-qualify for elite status for the following year.
Uh, yeah. This is totally what I try to do every time I travel. Since I’m the only one in the family with elite benefits, paying for my ticket makes sense to keep me at home a bit more while maximizing the miles I earn for elite status.
Now, if I choose to book a revenue ticket separately, I won’t be able to request Economy Plus seating. When you consider that it’s tough to get 4 people upgraded using regional upgrades on a United domestic flight and more pricey to book first class domestic awards (and, I don’t believe a way to use miles to book E+ seating), this means spending more money to travel the same way we used to as a family.
To be clear, I totally understand why United killed the benefit. But, I do really think it’s another example of United not thinking the whole situation through. Or, thinking the whole situation through and just not caring enough to make it easier for the customer. Or, worst of all, seeing an opportunity to make a few more bucks off of their loyal customers.
I tend to think it was the first or second option above, likely not enough thought put into how these changes affect their members. And, I don’t expect a change to this for the better.
I recall my friend Michael R saying a long time ago that he felt the ability to access E+ for his entire family when traveling on United was a great benefit. I agreed then and still do now. But, with only two paths (all revenue tickets or all award tickets) to access this benefit going forward, it further chips away at the value of my elite status.
Which, given most of the recent developments at United, shouldn’t be a big surprise to me.
The post United Puts A Dent In Elite Family Travel Benefits was published first on Pizza In Motion.
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