Mar 072015

So, earlier this year United made two changes to its Mileage Plus program which I consider fairly major. The first is that they raised the qualifying requirement for 1K status from 100,000 qualifying miles and $10,000 to 100,000 qualifying miles and $12,000. Now, $2,000 is plenty of money on its own, but 20% is semi-ridiculous when you consider it’s nearly seven times the rate of inflation. Couple this with the fact that this year I’m checking off many more obscure countries…which will be harder to use United tickets to…and I really wasn’t sure it was worth another year of pursuing status.

The other major change was the way miles are earned. Don’t get me wrong, if you’re rewarding your “best” customers this is the way to do it, but I think they have the multiplier wrong. It’s now based on a combination of how much you spend and your status. Unfortunately, unless you’re buying tickets that cost approximately 18 cents per mile as a 1K, you won’t break even. Now, you need to pay 12 cents per mile to get your 100,000 / $12,000 qualifying, so do the math. It’s a major downgrade.

Then, there was the “London mistake fare.” Yes, it was too good to be true. You can debate if it was unethical. But United outsourced some web coding, resulting in a mistaken exchange rate being used on its website. To me, the lesson to take away from this is if United screws up they can refuse to honour it, while if I screw up…too bad. Pay the change fee, and that’s your option. The game has gotten much less fun, and the airline clearly holds the upper hand…in most cases.

Add to this the fact I became a United million miler a couple years ago, meaning United Gold status for life, and the incremental benefits of 1K are free redeposit of award tickets, a few more miles, and priority free upgrades domestically, which I haven’t seen in over three years. If I want first domestically now I pay for it, because I just never get it.

So, in summary, I just didn’t see a point in 1K status anymore. I resolved to get some new experiences, fly whoever had the best discounted business fares, and just be happy with that.

Then, the shoe dropped…or should I say the wrench got thrown in the plans.

It’s looking like some Transpacific work travel will be coming up, for which our preferred carrier is United. That should likely get me at least halfway to the qualifying miles/dollars targets, making it much more attractive to consider it. Combine that with the fact I’m off to Turkmenistan this September, and there’s some very attractive D fares (business that can be upgraded to first with certificates) back to the US, and it puts me within mileage running distance. Ugh!

So, thoughts? What are others doing about for 2016 status?

I had almost nothing booked a month ago, but now my tentative plans for 2015 look like this. All tentative of course, but:


…over 100,000 miles already planned for the rest of the year, with more likely to come. No rest for the weary!