Yesterday, I mentioned that I was saddened by a change to United’s fare rules that will radically transform (literally) the way I travel domestically. Basically, United has eliminated the ability to add multiple connections for no additional charge. Lucky sums up my thoughts nicely, but I’ll add some commentary of my own:
I travel often between Philadelphia and Southern California and rather than flying PHL-LAX on UA like most would prefer, my routing is usually something like PHL-IAD-SAN-SFO-LAX.
Note the difference in base mileage:
PHL-LAX = 2,395 miles
PHL-IAD-SAN-SFO-LAX (with 500-mile minimums) = 3,747 miles
Because I get 2x RDMs, we’re talking about an additional 2,704 miles each o/w trip. Those miles add up quickly.
With United’s new, Continental-like fare rules in place, only one connection is allowed on most routes. Some routes, usually from a non-hub to a non-hub allow a double connection while many hub-hub routes are restricted to non-stop flights or else the fare basis broken. Some routes have been spared from the new rule…for now.
United is completely reasonable to make this change and we all saw it coming, eventually. Still, it’s a sad day for me, and not just because I’ll be losing out on miles. I’ll also be likely paying more for airfare.
Let’s say I need to get from Philadelphia to Los Angeles and want to go the cheapest way possible. My options are now limited to PHL-CHI/DEN/WAS/SFO/EWR/IAH/CLE/CLT/PHX-LAX: that’s all the routing rules now allow. Before the change, I could add in up to three connections in almost any U.S. city served by United or United Express, as long as there was no backtracking and the fare bucket was not broken (i.e. there had to be L-space on each flight).
Say that there was no L-fare available from CHI/DEN/WAS/SFO/EWR/IAH/CLE/CLT/PHX-LAX but there was from DEN-SAN-LAX. Such routing will not longer be an option and I will be forced to buy a higher fare class.
I hope that UA loosens these rules a bit, but I have nothing to base that hope on. Mileage running, as I know it, is over. It’s now going to be much harder to re-qualify for 1K and climb closer to million miler status.