Massive Changes to Earning United Miles

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Starting March 1, 2015, when flying United you will no longer earn miles based on the number of miles traveled, but instead the cost of the ticket. This is a massive change for United and follows a similar policy to what Delta put in place earlier this year (Delta will be changing to a revenue based earning model January 1, 2015). This is a similar concept that is currently in place for Southwest, JetBlue, and Virgin America.

The chart below lists the miles you will earn per dollar spent. You’ll earn anywhere between 5 and 11 miles per dollar spent depending on your United status.

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There is a Milegaplus Calculator also where you can enter the base price of your ticket and it will tell you how many miles you’ll earn on your flight. Remember, miles are earned on the base price of your fare NOT the total price (so take away taxes, surcharges, fees, etc.).

Overall, this is a negative change and doesn’t help those who like to find cheap fares. It does, however, help those who travel for business and fare price isn’t as much of an issue – last minute fares, business class, etc. For example, if you purchase a ticket for $300 that is 1,000 miles each way, you’ll earn based on the $300 paid, and the number of miles of the flight is a moot point. Under the current mileage earning program, if you are a general United member, you’d earn 1,000 miles each way so a total of 2,000 miles. With the new program being put in place you’ll earn on the base fare of the $300 paid (the fare minus taxes/fees). So let’s assume fees/taxes are $25 (I am just making up numbers here), and the base fare is $275. Starting March 1, 2015, you’ll earn 1,375 as a regular United member – much less then the current earning program.

However, for those that fly on business and the companies dime, this could potentially work in your favor. I used to fly to Bentonville, Arkansas on a weekly basis and many times flights were over $1,000. While I flew American (although there was a United flight out of Newark), I actually would have benefited from a revenue based model. It was a 1,145 mile trip and as a Executive Platinum member I earned 4,580 every week. If the United revenue based program was in place as a Premier 1K member I would have earned 11,000 on that $1,000 ticket. Of course though, sometimes I was able to snag the $350 ticket and in that scenario would have earned less then the flight miles. So it really depends.

Keep in mind that this will not change how you earn status. Premier qualifying miles and segments are still based on the number of paid flight miles traveled and the fare purchased. You can learn more about Premier status qualifications here.

What do you think about this change? Will you earn less miles going forward? Will you stop flying United? Comment below…

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