MileagePlus

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Logo of MileagePlus

MileagePlus is the loyalty program of United Airlines and Aeromar that offers rewards to passengers traveling on certain types of tickets.[1] Following the 2011 merger agreement between United Airlines and Continental Airlines, United Mileage Plus was chosen to be the frequent flyer program for the combined airline.[2] The program was subsequently renamed to MileagePlus, and maintains its relationship with its Star Alliance partners, as well as other airline and travel enterprise agreements.

Following the integration and phase out of Continental OnePass on March 3, 2012, MileagePlus also became the frequent flyer program for Copa Airlines and Copa Airlines Colombia.[3] The new program member IDs follow the OnePass format (2 letters + 6 digits) in lieu of the old Mileage Plus format (11 digits), and any members who had existing OnePass member ID numbers retained their existing numbers.[4]

History[edit]

Frequent flier programs were introduced in 1979 by Texas International Airlines.[5] Two years later, American Airlines launched their AAdvantage program,[6] and United's Mileage Plus was launched one week later.[7] On June 29, 2011, United Airlines officially changed the name of the program from Mileage Plus to MileagePlus.[8]

On July 9, 2011, Tom Stuker became the first member of the MileagePlus program to reach ten million flown miles on United.[9] He earned this distinction flying from Los Angeles to Chicago on flight 942. Jeff Smisek, the president and CEO of United Airlines, was on hand to congratulate him.[10] For reaching the ten million mile number, he was given the only United Titanium Card and his name was placed on the side of a United Boeing 747-400.[11]

Several controversial changes were introduced to the program in 2012, following the integration of the Continental OnePass program into MileagePlus. This included the reduction in bonus miles for Premier Gold and Premier Platinum members, as well as the inability of Premier Silver members to reserve Economy Plus seats until 24 hours prior to departure.[12] Changes have also occurred to the upgrade process, where upgrades are being sold at check-in for prices as low as $69, even when elites are still being processed on the upgrade waitlist.[13] Million Mile Flyer George Lagen filed, in late May 2012, a class action against United for taking away or demoting "lifetime" benefits promised to pre-merger Million Mile Flyers.[14] A federal judge eventually dismissed the class-action lawsuit on the basis that the contract which regulated "Million Mile Flyer" customers was the same as for all MileagePlus members, which essentially gave the airline the right to unilaterally reduce or discontinue benefits anytime it wanted to. [15]

Partner airlines[edit]

In addition to United Airlines, all 25 members of the Star Alliance as well as a number of other airlines participate in the MileagePlus program to a certain degree. MileagePlus miles can then be both earned and redeemed on flights with United, as well as any partner airline. However, certain booking classes on partner airlines are excluded from mileage accrual.[16]

The airline partners of MileagePlus are:[17]

Partner Airline Star Alliance Member
Slovenia Adria Airways Yes
Greece Aegean Airlines Yes
Republic of Ireland Aer Lingus No
Mexico Aeromar No
Canada Air Canada Yes
China Air China Yes
India Air India Yes
New Zealand Air New Zealand Yes
Japan All Nippon Airways Yes
South Korea Asiana Airlines Yes
Austria Austrian Airlines Yes
Colombia Avianca Yes
Brazil Azul Brazilian Airlines No
Belgium Brussels Airlines Yes
United States Cape Air No
Panama Copa Airlines Yes
Croatia Croatia Airlines Yes
Egypt EgyptAir Yes
Ethiopia Ethiopian Airlines Yes
Taiwan EVA Air Yes
United States Great Lakes Airlines No
United States Hawaiian Airlines No
United States Island Air No
India Jet Airways No
Poland LOT Polish Airlines Yes
Germany Lufthansa Yes
DenmarkNorwaySweden Scandinavian Airlines Yes
China Shenzhen Airlines Yes
Singapore Singapore Airlines Yes
South Africa South African Airways Yes
Switzerland Swiss International Air Lines Yes
El Salvador TACA Airlines Yes
Portugal TAP Portugal Yes
Thailand Thai Airways Yes
Turkey Turkish Airlines Yes

Award travel[edit]

Swiss First Class, bookable using MileagePlus award miles

MileagePlus miles (redeemable miles) can be redeemed for travel on any combination of United Airlines and United Express carriers, as well as Star Alliance partners and other airline partners.[18] MileagePlus offers saver and standard awards, at two different tiers of pricing with different capacity control mechanisms.[19]

Saver awards are capacity-controlled awards available for travel on all partner airlines. The release of saver award seats is dictated by the operating airline, who will make the award inventory available to all its partners, including United MileagePlus.[20] On flights operated by United Airlines, additional saver award inventory is offered to Premier members, in addition to that offered to general members.[21]

Historically, United Airlines engaged in the practice of preventing its MileagePlus members, regardless of tier, from redeeming rewards on certain Star Alliance flights (known as "Starnet Blocking").[22] At the time, United Airlines was the only known Star Alliance member to restrict access to reward flights that were available for redemption in the Star Alliance network.[23] This practice was discontinued in 2011, after the merger with Continental Airlines.[24]

Standard awards are only available for travel on United and Copa, and have greater availability than saver awards.[25] Standard awards cost two to three times more than the equivalent saver award.[26]

Redeemable miles do not expire, provided that there is account activity within the previous 18 months.[27]

MileagePlus allows one-way redemption for half the round-trip price.[28]

Premier status[edit]

United's red carpet boarding line at San Francisco, the predecessor of the Premier Access Line
United MileagePlus Premier Platinum and Premier 1K credentials and luggage tags

While status levels were not originally part of the MileagePlus program, they were introduced in 1987 to reward customers who had achieved certain qualification thresholds within a given calendar year.[29] All Premier members are eligible for Premier Access, which allows them to use exclusive check-in and security lines, as well as priority boarding and baggage retrieval.[30] Members reach Premier status by earning the required number of Premier qualifying miles (PQM) or Premier qualifying segments (PQS). Starting in 2014, members living in United States must in addition meet a minimum annual spending level, tracked as Premier Qualifying Dollars (PQD), on United issued tickets in a calendar year to qualify for a tier.[31]

Million Miler Program[edit]

Million Miler Program is a program offered to MileagePlus members who have demonstrated a long term loyalty. The Million Miler Program balance is calculated based on the accrued elite qualifying miles prior to January 1, 2012, plus the actual flown miles on United and Copa Airlines after January 1, 2012.[32]

Members receive the following lifetime MileagePlus Premier status based on their Million Miler Program balance:

Million Miler Level Lifetime Status
1 Million Premier Gold
2 Million Premier Platinum
3 Million Premier 1K
4 Million Global Services

Members eligible for Million Miler status can also designate a companion (defined as their spouse, significant other, or another individual residing at the same address) to receive the same Premier status as themselves.

Infinite Elite was a promotional program offered by Continental Airlines in the early 1990s that offered lifetime Platinum Elite status on Continental for flying a certain mileage amount for a number of continuous years.[33] With the integration of OnePass and MileagePlus, Infinite Elite members will be offered Premier 1K status, but will not receive Global Premier Upgrades.[34]

Upgrades[edit]

Complimentary Premier Upgrades[edit]

Complimentary Premier Upgrades are offered to all Premier members on flights within Region 1, excluding Premium Service flights from Newark to San Francisco or Los Angeles, as well as flights between Honolulu and Washington, D.C. (IAD), Houston (IAH), and Newark. [35] This is awarded to Premier members on a space-available basis, prioritised by status, then fare class.[36]

References[edit]

  1. ^ "MileagePlus® program". United Airlines. Retrieved 29 April 2012. 
  2. ^ "Continental's OnePass scheme to merge into Mileage Plus". Business Traveller. Retrieved 29 April 2012. 
  3. ^ "MileagePlus frequent flyer program". Copa Airlines. Retrieved 29 April 2012. 
  4. ^ Kelly, Shannon. "Merger Update: MileagePlus Account Number Update". FlyerTalk.com. Retrieved 29 April 2012. 
  5. ^ David M Rowell (August 13, 2010). "A History of US Airline Deregulation Part 4 : 1979–2010 : The Effects of Deregulation – Lower Fares, More Travel, Frequent Flier Programs". The Travel Insider. Retrieved September 21, 2010. 
  6. ^ American Airlines. "American Airlines AAdvantage Program Details". Retrieved 28 May 2009. 
  7. ^ "United MileagePlus". WebFlyer. Retrieved 29 April 2012. 
  8. ^ "Mileage Plus: Loyalty program for the new United in 2012". FlyerTalk.com. Retrieved 29 April 2012. 
  9. ^ "United Passenger Logs 10 Million Miles". NBC Chicago. 
  10. ^ Auletta, Kate (11 July 2011). "Thomas Stuker, United Frequent Flier, Logs 10 Millionth Mile On Airline". Huffington Post. Retrieved 29 April 2012. 
  11. ^ "United Airlines Frequent Flyer Hits 10 Million Miles". AirlineReporter. 
  12. ^ "The New United MileagePlus Takes Off". Insideflyer.com. Retrieved 4/4/12.  Check date values in: |access-date= (help)
  13. ^ "United Airlines". Yelp:Real People, Real Reviews. Retrieved 4/4/12.  Check date values in: |access-date= (help)
  14. ^ "George Lagen v. United Continental Holdings, Inc. and United Airlines, Inc.". Top Class Actions. Retrieved 6/1/12.  Check date values in: |access-date= (help)
  15. ^ "Judge Bags United Airlines 'Million Miler' Class Action Lawsuit". Top Class Actions. Retrieved July 25, 2015. 
  16. ^ "Sudden Big Changes to Mileage Plus airline partner mileage accrual". Boarding Area. Retrieved 29 April 2012. 
  17. ^ "Airline Partners and Global Alliances". United Airlines. Retrieved 29 April 2012. 
  18. ^ "MileagePlus air travel and upgrade awards". United Airlines. Retrieved 29 April 2012. 
  19. ^ "MileagePlus air awards". United Airlines. Retrieved 29 April 2012. 
  20. ^ Leff, Gary. "StarNet: United's Weapon of Mass Award Destruction". Boarding Area. Retrieved 29 April 2012. 
  21. ^ Klint, Matthew. "http://upgrd.com/matthew/one-upside-to-the-united-merger-elite-only-saver-awards-in-business-and-first-class.html". Upgrd.com. Retrieved 29 April 2012.  External link in |title= (help)
  22. ^ Kralev, Nicholas. "Airlines curb 'award' tickets". The Washington Times. Retrieved 29 April 2012. 
  23. ^ Leff, Gary. "United 'Starnet Blocking' Still a Problem for Mileage Plus Members". Boarding Area. Retrieved 29 April 2012. 
  24. ^ "Is Starnet blocking gone?". FlyerTalk.com. Retrieved 29 April 2012. 
  25. ^ "Award Saver vs. Standard Award". FlyerTalk.com. Retrieved 29 April 2012. 
  26. ^ Schlappig, Benjamin. "Could it be? United LOWERS the prices of many awards". Boarding Area. Retrieved 29 April 2012. 
  27. ^ "United Airlines: Sorry, Your 200,000 Frequent Flier Miles Have Expired". The Consumerist. Retrieved 29 April 2012. 
  28. ^ MileagePlus Award Chart valid until 01/31/2014
  29. ^ "High Flyers". InsideFlyer. Retrieved 29 April 2012. 
  30. ^ "Premier Access". United Airlines. Retrieved 29 April 2012. 
  31. ^ Mutzabaugh, Ben (18 June 2013). "United adds spending threshold to elite-status qualifying". USA Today. Retrieved 19 June 2013. 
  32. ^ "Million Miler Program". Retrieved 18 June 2014. 
  33. ^ "Very Important Flyers". InsideFlyer. Retrieved 29 April 2012. 
  34. ^ O'Leary, Scott. "Merger Update: 2012 MileagePlus Program Details". FlyerTalk.com. Retrieved 29 April 2012. 
  35. ^ "Upgrades Overview". Retrieved 18 June 2014. 
  36. ^ Leff, Gary. "United's New Elite Unfriendly Upgrade Priority Already in Effect". Boarding Area. Retrieved 30 April 2012.