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This morning I released a post about the highlights and low-lights of United 1K status….and apparently I should have waited another day to write that post as some things I liked got whacked today by United. There were a number of changes I will get into more tomorrow (spent today on a plane with no WiFi doing my last mileage run of the year for United status…oh the irony), but I’m going to focus on the change I like the least tonight.
For as long as I have had United elite status, it has effectively transferred to others when they traveled using my miles. This may have just been a “bug”, but it was a well known bug that worked in the favor of elite family travelers. They would get priority boarding, free E+ seats, free checked bags, etc. when the miles for their ticket came out of my account, whether or not I was traveling on the same itinerary. This is a bigger deal than just being a nice perk for the traveler because my family, like many others, will often use miles for the kid(s) and potentially the spouse, while purchasing a revenue ticket for the one who is chasing status in order to help that person re-qualify for elite status for the following year.
Previously this method worked just fine as we could all still sit in E+ together, but once this “enhancement” kicks in on April 15th, that method will no longer work. If I am not also traveling on miles on the same itinerary then my benefits like E+ seats don’t transfer to my family members. If an elite traveler wants to use their miles for their family to join on a trip, it is a little off-putting to then have to pony up for benefits like E+ when the miles are coming out of the elite account.
As of April 15, 2015, when traveling on an award ticket for United- and United Express®-operated flights, benefits including but not limited to complimentary Economy Plus seating, Premier priority travel services (such as Premier Access check-in and priority boarding), and checked baggage service charge waivers are determined by the traveler’s own Premier status, even if another member’s miles were used to purchase the award ticket. Customers traveling on the same reservation as a Premier member may receive the applicable companion benefits. Please visit the pages relating to specific Premier benefits for more information.
The bigger issue is why does United seem insistent on “a death by a thousand cuts”. It is cliche, but I don’t of know a better way to describe what they have been doing. With the one exception of some slight meal improvements in first class, it seems that everything United does is solely to tick people off, often in the form of nickel and diming. There has to be a better balance between being profitable and making customers happy than the trajectory they seem to be on.
In my imaginary world, what would be a very helpful compromise would be to extend the benefits if the elite traveler who used their miles is also on the same flight via some sort of record linking. In my view, there shouldn’t be a “benefits punishment” just because the elite traveler wants to fly on dollars while the family flies on miles.
Will this impact the way your family uses miles on United?