With the upcoming changes to the United Airlines earning structure, there are many casual to midrange travelers who may be looking for where to credit those miles next. The truth is that the best way to earn miles with United going forward (for most travelers) is going to be via credit card spending. But, what do you do with your actual airline miles? Do you credit to United or Aegean?
Credit Miles To United Or Aegean?
Who This Concerns
The traveler that is going to make out very well in the new era of United’s award mileage earning is the traveler who flies on high dollar fares. The more you spend to travel, the more miles you earn. It will not really matter anymore as to the distance as much as the price paid for that ticket. So, this does not concern those travelers but the United flyers who are traveling on the cheaper of fares. You can check the earnings page here to see how many miles you would earn.
Aegean Airlines is also going through some changes and travelers who once thought they had “lifetime” Star Alliance Gold status through Aegean are going to need to decide whether to continue crediting miles to Aegean going forward or to let that Star Alliance Gold slip away. So, if you have an interest in maintaining or earning Gold status or in accumulating miles for award travel going forward, this may help you.
United Airlines And Their Changes
Starting March 1, 2015, award miles earned by flying will be figured by the amount of money you spend on a ticket. So, in the current pricing structure, here is an example of how some of the earnings will play out.[table “” not found /]
As you can see from that example, in 2015, a United 1K (top tier elite) will not even as many miles from this trip as a non-elite traveler would this year! Not very good at all!
In comparison, a United 1K member who flies from Newark to Washington DC on a full-fare economy ticket will pay around $1,050 for that roundtrip ticket and earn 11,550 miles in 2015 – that same flight would only earn that traveler 950 miles today for that ticket. This mileage earning only applies to United flights – partner flights will continue to earn award miles based on fare class as found here.
Note: The way you earn elite status will not change with the mileage earning. The requirements are still their for how much you spend and making a minimum amount of flights on United, but they are waived if you have the United Presidential Plus card or the United Club card. The revenue requirements are waived if you spend $25,000 or more on any purchases with a United co-branded credit card.
Crediting To Aegean Airlines
Aegean Airlines As An Option
Aegean Airlines has been very popular with travelers all over the world since they had joined the Star Alliance since it was the easiest way to earn Star Alliance Gold (and have lounge access to all Star lounges around the world). However, with the restructuring of their program in November, it will become an annual renewal process. Some people may decide it is no longer worth keeping because of that, but if you are a traveler that does not fly 50,000+ miles per year on paid United/Star Alliance tickets and you still want your award miles to mean something, Aegean would make for an excellent airline to continue crediting your Star Alliance flights to.
The downside is the earnings on cheap United tickets is not great when crediting to Aegean. There are some fare classes (O,I,X,R,N,P) that do not earn anything at all! But, if you are flying a cheap ticket on a mileage earning fare, you can expect to only get 50% of the credit when credited to Aegean. However, that may still work out better than if you were to credit them to United (depending on your status with United)! Also a plus for short flights, there is a 500 mile minimum per segment. You can check this page here to see if your fare class would earn any miles and how many.
Let’s look at a couple of examples based on United’s new earning scheme for 2015(Aegean’s elite level Blue is the equivalent to being a general member).
K class earns 50% when credited to Aegean.[table “” not found /]
In the above case, if you fly less than 25,000 miles per year on Star Alliance partners, you will be better off crediting to Aegean. If you are a Silver or above, a very cheap fare like K class will earn you less than when credited to Aegean than United, even in 2015.[table “” not found /]
In the example above, because Aegean credits a minimum of 500 miles per segment, our earning actually improved to where it would make more sense to credit to Aegean for shorter flights unless you are a United Platinum member (75,000 miles in a year).
Redeeming Aegean Miles
Ok, so maybe it might more sense to credit your United flights to Aegean, but what about redeeming them? Redeeming with Aegean is certainly not as easy as it is with United (when it comes to doing it online), but it is not hard to do either! All it takes is a phone call.
If you are a more casual flyer, chances are you will not earn a massive amount of Aegean miles for bigger redemptions like US – Europe in business class (90,000 miles roundtrip). Instead, you could use that as more of your domestic account for when you want to redeem miles for United in the US and you do not want to use your United miles for that. You can redeem your Aegean miles on any Star partners, but some of them will have fuel surcharges. Because of that, and because of the lower amount, it could just make sense to use for domestic United flights.
To see some other things that you could do with your Aegean miles, check out this post.
Why should anyone consider crediting to Aegean instead of United? Well, if you are a United Silver or general member (in some cases, even United Gold), you will find that most United flights will earn you more miles on Aegean than with United. It is incredibly easy to get a lot of United miles through the various United co-branded credit cards. Those miles might be best served for international travel.
But, if you are traveling a few thousand miles per year or so, you may want those miles to go to an account where they might earn a little more. Not only that, but if you are currently an Aegean Gold member, you can retain that status each year with only 12,000 miles per year (and 4 of those flights need to be on Aegean) which would work out to being 24,000 miles from a low United fare class. Instead of crediting that to United and just missing United Silver, you could be crediting them to Aegean and renewing your Gold status for lounge access, extra bag, priority access, etc.