Yesterday, United Airlines announced a number of changes for MileagePlus members with elite status. While not all bad news, I’d say the changes are more negative than positive. Let’s analyze each one.
Effective on September 18, 2018
- Premier® 1K® members will be called to board during pre-boarding ahead of Group 1
- Premier Gold members will now board with Boarding Group1, previous in Group 2
I wrote about the new boarding process here. I’ve seen it in action several times now and it still requires some work. The biggest issue I see is that when additional groups are called, they enter the blue group one lane, not the intended green lane. Lines and jetbridges remain clogged.
Baggage allowance for Premier members
Effective on September 28, 2018:
All Premier® members, regardless of Premier status, will receive the same standard weight allowance for checked baggage: 70 lbs. (32 kg.)
- All Premier members flying in United Business®, United First®, or United Polaris® business class are allowed up to three bags with a maximum weight of 70 lbs. (32 kg) per bag.
- Premier Gold members flying in United Economy® between the U.S. and Europe are allowed three bags with a maximum weight of 70 lbs. (32 kg) per bag.
- Premier Silver members flying in United Economy between the U.S. and Europe are allowed two bags with a maximum weight of 70 lbs. (32 kg) per bag.
Although not stated above, Premier Silvers will still be allowed to check one bag domestically on a complimentary basis. Premier Golds receive two bags and Premier Platinum and 1K members can check up to three bags free. This is a nice upgrade for Premier Silver members.
Premier qualification requirements
Effective on January 1, 2019:
- Premier qualification dollar (PQD) requirement for Premier 1K status will be raised from $12,000 to $15,000.
- P-class fares will earn 150% Premier qualifying miles (PQM), reduced from 200%.
This is a big hit on P-fares. I’ve increasingly bought P-fares (discount first class fares) because they are often very reasonable and sometimes cheaper than even economy class, especially when extra fees are factored in. And I suppose that is exactly why United decided to cut earnings on these fares…
Increasing the minimum spend on 1K status to $15K will certainly make 1K more exclusive, but see below for why it might be lonely at the top. The PQD waiver for international members remains in place.
Effective on January 1, 2019:
The way a Premier 1K member earns additional upgrades will be changing.
- For every 25,000 Premier qualifying miles (PQM) or 30 Premier qualifying segments (PQS) after qualifying for Premier 1K status, we’ll add one Global Premier Upgrades into your account.
- No additional Regional Premier Upgrades can be earned after qualifying for Premier 1K status.
Currently, 1K members can earn two additional Regional Premier Upgrades for every extra 25K miles they fly. Now, one GPU will earned instead. If you’re doing a lot of international travel, that may benefit you. For those who do primarily domestic travel, you’re essentially losing one confirmed upgrade.
The bigger problem with GPUs is that for international longhaul travel, only W-fares (mid-level economy fares) and above can be upgraded. You must pay extra, sometimes several hundred dollars extra, just for the chance of upgrading. If your upgrade does not clear, you do not receive any refund. All the changes above would be much more palatable if United removed fare class restrictions from using GPUs.
I would not say there are any dealbreakers in the changes above. 1K status will indeed become more exclusive with the increased spending requirement and reduced earnings for P-fares. But I also think 1K becomes less valuable through the change in upgrades.
Premier Silver members should enjoy the increased baggage allowance.
More details here.