The bad news is that United moved to a (mostly) revenue based system. Which means that all earnings of miles and status’ are determined by the dollars you spend and not the miles you fly. To show how bad this is for people like us, my last paid international flight would have earned me 1,000 miles. That’s nothing. And equally bad, earning top tier elite status will be impossible without spending $12,000 or more.
Let me first explain how these systems work, and then how to get around them. And make sure you see the chart below on earning United Miles on Star Alliance partners.
More info on status
Earning status in the year of 2015, towards the status you’ll keep all of 2016, you’ll have to meet the following mileage/segment requirements and the cash requirements below them.
You’ll notice that there are two columns. One option is for qualifying miles and cash, and the other is segments and cash.
And again, for top tier status (Premier 1K), you would have to fly 100,000 miles and spend $12,000 on United airlines.
Frankly, this is absurd. If United Airlines itself didn’t suck, this would be the exact same thing as Delta’s program. From my perspective, the only thing that United has going for it is size. Muscle, so to speak. It’s got great hubs and is the US airline of the biggest alliance – Star Alliance.
However, the thing that United has going for it is the miles, routing rules and award chart. It’s pretty awesome simply because there are a ton of Chase cards that can earn United miles (United personal, United Business, Chase Sapphire Preferred, Ink Plus, and the old Ink Bold).
In terms of flying the only way for an American to earn miles on United is with the following earning rates.
That’s right, you’ll be earning 5 miles per dollar. Let’s run a few examples on recent sales:
- New York to Bali for $700
- Old program = 22,000 miles earned
- New program = 3,500 miles earned
- Chicago to Beijing for $560
- Old program = 13,000 miles earned
- New program = 2,800 miles earned
- New York to Milan for $400
- Old program = 8,000 miles earned
- New program = 2,000 miles earned
These are regular fares found on FlyerTalk. Of course, these deals are doubled if you have status on both ends.
But the point that I’m trying to make is that justifying a paid fare by “I’ll be earning miles” is long gone with United. And mileage running with United is a complete joke.
The argument could be that business class could, in their best circumstances, earn more miles. Of course, the best circumstances on a revenue ticket is that the ticket is really expensive. Which makes it painfully obvious that United intends (wishfully thinks) on getting a large slice of the business travelers’ pie that Delta is dominating. Business travelers don’t care about fare classes and the price of the ticket is buried in bureaucracy.
Ways around revenue based anything
On the page talking about earning status, it basically says two things. 1) You have to meet the mileage/segment requirements. And 2) IF you live in the US, you have to meet the revenue requirements as well.
I only see this on the status page and not the earning page, so my assumption (correct me if I’m wrong) is that non-US people can more easily earn status, but they’ll still be earning miles at a crappy rate.
If you live in the United States, you also have to meet a minimum annual spending level.
Seems to me that as long as the address on your account is not in the US, you’ll be fine to earn status again without these requirement. This on its own seems useless as who wants to mileage run for a status that doesn’t earn miles? Tons of other airlines can give Star Alliance status and upgrades.
So changing your address isn’t really something I would care to do because I’m not going for status, and even if I was going for Star Alliance status, it wouldn’t be via United anymore.
Fly Star Alliance Partners
The good news of this entire thing is that Star Alliance partners will still earn miles.
Tickets for flights operated by a Star Alliance™ or MileagePlus partner airline that aren’t issued by United (ticket numbers that don’t start with “016”) will still earn award miles based on distance flown and the purchased fare class.
To me this is the best option for crediting miles to United. Look, no one wants to actually fly United anyways, so this seems like the best of both worlds. Fly someone else and still earn miles.
However, they have devalued some of their partners in the process of making sure they screw over their customers… so I made a chart so you can find which Star Alliance airlines still earn 100% miles. Mind you that most cheap tickets are discount economy.
Complete Chart of Earning United Miles on Star Alliance Partners
|Air Canada||25%* – 100%||100% – 125%||150% – 175%|
|Air China||0% – 50%||100%||125%||150%|
|Air New Zealand||100%||100%||100%||125%|
|ANA||100%||125%||150% – 175%||250%|
|Asiana||70%||100%||100% – 135%||150% – 200%|
|Austrian||100%||100% – 125%||100% – 150%||175%|
|Avianca||50%||100%||100% – 125%|
|Brussels||100%||100% – 125%||150% – 175%|
|Copa||100%||100% – 125%||150% – 175%|
|EgpytAir||25% – 50%||100%||125%||150%|
|EVA||50% – 100%||100%||125%|
|LOT||25% – 70%||100%||125%|
|Lufthansa||0%** – 100%||100% – 150%||100% – 175%||250%|
|Scandanavian||100%||100% – 175%||175%|
|Schenzen||0% – 50%||100%||125%||150%|
|Singapore||100%||100%||100% – 125%||150%|
|Swiss||100%||125%||150% – 175%||250%|
|Turkish||100%||100%||100% – 125%|
* Flights within Canada and between Canada and the U.S., Central America, Mexico or the Caribbean.
** Discount economy (T, L) flights within Europe on Lufthansa do not earn miles.
United will never be the same agreed. But if you aren’t going for status, that doesn’t mean that crediting miles towards United to top off, won’t be a great idea. And even if you really do want to keep status and earn miles for another… you basically just have to be a Canadian and never actually fly on United.
As I said, not flying United is hardly a punishment. Heck, since your now Canadian, Air Canada seems to earn 100% miles.
I hope this helps some United flyers out in planning the next year. For the rest of you, I’ll see you in the AA lounge.