It is Friday, that special day of the week reserved for dumping bad news. At around midnight CT, United Airlines posted the following on Twitter–
A very ambiguous message, so it will do little good now to speculate about what the new “rewards experience” will be, but be on notice for an announcement…
My worst fear is that United will take MileagePlus in the direction of Delta Skymiles, with a three-tiered award chart that essentially devalues points by 100-250%. This would not come as a surprise—
Mr. Smisek said he takes inspiration from Delta, “which is doing quite well, which I’m delighted with because they’re two years ahead of us” in absorbing its 2008 acquisition of Northwest Airlines.
Will there be fuel surcharges? Reduced or zero EQMs or RDMs on cheap(er) revenue fares? A three-tier redemption structure? A massive devaluation of the award chart? Higher fees? An explicitly revenue-based redemption scheme? Or perhaps just a new gimmick allowing people to foolishly redeem miles for personal electronics and hotel rooms? If only…
Let’s hope that we are not entering the twilight of world’s best loyalty program. All we can do now is wait and see.
UPDATE: Aaron Goldberg, UA’s PR man on Flyertalk and MilePoint, posted the following at 02:30pm ET–
Wanted to jump in here and let you know that we are indeed looking ahead to an announcement about new reward opportunities for MileagePlus members—over and above what you’ve seen already this week. I’ll ask that you sit tight for the next few days, but rest assured you can expect full details from me the minute we go live. And while I know you’ll give us honest feedback (as always), I do believe this is something to look forward to :-).
Sr. Manager – Customer Experience Planning
While the last sentence is a bit comforting, I am still not looking forward to this annoucement.