Mileage Plus updates.  In Q4 of 2018, United Airlines quietly released some changes to its Mileage Plus program.  As a 1K Member, Team GTE didn’t even get an email notification of these changes.  So, what does that mean?  This means, in 2019, United Mileage Plus members are going to get screwed.   Fortunately, most of the negative changes only affect 1K members, which for non-business travelers, was already made unattainable years ago by United.

Program Changes

The changes can be found here

  • All Premier members flying in United Business®, United First®, or United Polaris® business class are allowed up to three bags with a maximum weight of 70 lbs. (32 kg) per bag.
  • Premier Gold members flying in United Economy® between the U.S. and Europe are allowed three bags with a maximum weight of 70 lbs. (32 kg) per bag.
  • Premier Silver members flying in United Economy between the U.S. and Europe are allowed two bags with a maximum weight of 70 lbs. (32 kg) per bag.

GTE’s Take  This is a pretty lame benefit.  How often does anyone check in 3 large pieces of luggage?  Sounds like a logistical nightmare.  

Boarding Group 

As of September 18, 2018, Premier 1K® members are called to board during pre-boarding and Premier Gold members now board in Group 1.

GTE’s Take  In theory this sounds great for 1K members, but as any Global Services members can attest, pre-boarding is already a mess.  The lines for groups 1 and 2 are so long that it’s nearly impossible for one to get to the front, while everyone in line thinks you are trying to jump ahead of them. Also, “preboard” still has a specific order, which is children /disabled/military personnel, Global Services, then 1K.   United needs to rethink its whole boarding process, as this stuff just doesn’t happen on 5-star airlines.  

Premier status qualification

Effective January 1, 2019, the Premier® qualifying dollars (PQD) requirement for Premier 1K® status will be raised from $12,000 to $15,000.  This will be for 2020 Premier 1K status. 

P‑class fares with a travel date on or after January 1, 2019, will change from earning 200% PQM to 150% PQM. P‑class fares are a type of discounted premium cabin fare.

GTE’s Take – By adding the PQD component 3 years ago, United has long made it almost impossible for the casual traveler to reach 1K status.  Mileage runs are now a thing of the past.  In reality, the move from $12,000 to $15,000 isn’t really bad, especially with the addition of Premium Plus Premium Economy.  It’s still only 3-4 full fare business class tickets a year, which for people who do a lot of international travel for work, is pretty easy attain.  

The devaluation of P-Class fares is a pretty big change, as there is a pretty significant price increase from P to the next fare class Z.

Upgrades 

For aircraft with United Premium Plus:

  • MileagePlus Premier® members traveling on upgrade‑eligible fares in United Economy® can use one Global Premier Upgrade (This link opens in a new tab.) to be considered for a move to a United® Premium Plus seat or an upgrade to the United Polaris business class cabin.
  • All MileagePlus members seated in United Economy can use one MileagePlus Upgrade Award request to move to a United® Premium Plus seat or to upgrade to the United Polaris business class cabin and will be charged the United Polaris business class cabin price at that time. If you’re only moved to a United® Premium Plus seat but requested an upgrade to the United Polaris business class cabin, we’ll refund the full United Polaris business class cabin price and charge the United® Premium Plus price.
  • If you’d like to be considered for a move to a United® Premium Plus seat or for an upgrade to the United Polaris business class cabin, we’ll move you to the first available seat. If the first available seat is a United® Premium Plus seat, we’ll continue to look for space in the United Polaris business class cabin without requiring an additional Global Premier Upgrade.
  • Members requesting to move to a United® Premium Plus seat only and who have domestic portions of their itinerary will not be automatically waitlisted for United First®. To be waitlisted for United First on domestic portions of an international itinerary, use your Global Premier Upgrade to request an upgrade to the United Polaris business class cabin.

Upgrade priority order

On aircraft with United® Premium Plus, we’ll process United Polaris business class cabin upgrade requests for members who have purchased United® Premium Plus seats first, using the upgrade priority order (This link opens in a new tab.). We’ll then process upgrade requests for who purchased United Economy seats, using the same priority order.

GTE’s Take – This is where it gets really confusing, especially with the addition of Premium Economy.  In reality, It’s going to take United a bit of time to roll out the Premium Economy seats, as we’ve haven’t been able to book a premium economy seat online yet.   

If United is trying to increase the value and availability of the Global Premier Upgrades, then it would be a waste to even consider using a GPU to upgrade from Economy to Premium Economy.  What gets interesting is that there is now a whole additional cabin class that can jump a standard economy ticket holder’s GPU upgrade to clear.  It is already difficult enough to get your GPUs to clear (and even harder to find instant upgrade PZ, formerly R class tickets).  It seems like now your best chance of getting your GPUs to clear is to buy a premium economy ticket, which is at least 2x the price of the economy.

Until Next Time,

Team GTE 

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