Outrageous Devaluation of United Miles

I don't talk a lot about frequent flier miles here on the blog but they're something I think a lot about and they fuel a lot of our trips. If we're sitting in the front of the plane, frequent flyer miles were involved. If we're taking some crazy itinerary, it's probably because it was feasible given some "sweet spot" I exploited in the award redemption chart, remember the trip to Turkmenistan when United classified it as Europe?

I'll admit I spend far too much time on this stuff but so far it has been advantageous, we've been to Mexico, Brazil, Europe, Central Asia, India, the Maldives and more all on miles, we've even shared the wealth. Generally I try to keep the blog positive, I tend to talk about what we liked, what worked, what was fun. But occasionally I'm just outraged enough to focus on the negative. Last time it was United gutting their perks for Silver and Gold members, this week they've broadened the Unfriendly Skies by moving on to a massive devaluation in their award chart.

We've flown with United because they have the best connections for the places we want to fly from SFO, and most importantly they have great partners in the Star Alliance. When we redeem miles we're always looking at partner awards. If I have a choice between United or ANA, Singapore or Lufthansa I'm always going to go for the partner airline and now this is a problem. 

Beginning in February 2014, United will have two redemption award charts, one for awards on United and another for partner airlines and yes, you guessed it this is where the hyperinflation comes in. 
  • Currently a roundtrip award to Europe in Business is 100,000 remember when it was 80,000 only a few years ago? This will now increase by 20% if you want fly UA. So you're looking at 120,000 miles. This is the kind of inflation we might have expected, but it doesn't stop there. If you want to fly on a partner airline in Business to Europe your ticket will now be 140,000. The increases are up to 80% or more in First.

  • A return award in Business that I just ticketed within Asia (which I was going to tell you about in an upcoming post) has increased 100% from 35,000 (which I paid last month) to an excessive 70,000 miles.

  • What is ridiculous about this is that United isn't a viable option for internal flights within  Asia so you're forced to use partners. Essentially this is the same all over the globe, as UA may take you into a few hubs but it's the Star Alliance partners that bring the real value to our miles. They offer better service and a great reach throughout Africa, Asia the Middle East, Latin America and Europe.

I'm not going to bore you with more example, all you need to know is that partner rates are up 40-80% and the pain is worst the higher the category of service you're looking at. If you're saving for flights within the US there's no increase. But for everyone else it's time to burn your United miles by booking awards at the old rates before Feb 1st. 

If you want more details on the entire debacle here are a couple of links to the blogosphere, View from the Wing and One Mile at a Time  and the relevant thread on Flyertalk. If you spend anytime reading these you'll be as mad as I am!

PS If you're as cross as I am tweet @United using the hashtag #UnitedUnfriendly.