Well, that didn’t take long. Today, November 15, was known to us award-seekers as the day that United would make their award charts vanish. It was also the day they would do away with the $75 close-in booking fees. I have been checking out the United award engine on and off throughout the day to keep an eye on it and it appears that United just flipped a switch in the last hour (as of 6PM NY time on November 15) as all the flights I had seen previously today (for awards between the US and Europe) bumped up 2,000 – 3,500 miles one way. The truly bad news? The partner award flights have gone up as well.
United Airline Partner Awards Have Gone Up – And That Was Not Supposed to Happen
The reason that is truly bad news is that this was not supposed to happen. About a month ago, there was some concern about the United website saying that it could happen but the United head of Loyalty told Gary at View from the Wing that it would only be when paired with a United flight (because of the new dynamic nature of pricing United awards). Well, that is not true.
Check this one, for example. This is a non-stop Lufthansa flight between JFK and Munich. According to the award chart, this would be 70,000 miles one way in business class (10,000 more than a United-operated flight). Nope – it is 73,500 miles one way or 147,000 miles round trip. The same increased amount (3,500 miles one way) is showing for first class partner flights as well.
Is that a huge bump? No, not really. On the business class side, it represents an increase of just 5%. For first class, it is even less. But, what makes this really bad is that this is exactly what United had said would not happen – that partner awards would stay at their regular prices unless matched with a United flight that may have a different award price.
So, if United is willing to break their word on Day 1 of no award charts, how long before they start requiring even more miles for partner business or first class awards? My guess is not too long. The only reason paying United’s bloated award rates was better for most of us than Aeroplan, for example, was that you didn’t pay fuel surcharges with United and United miles were easy to get. Well, let’s see what happens if United scorches the memory of their partner award charts…
By the way, I was logged in as a United credit card holder for these searches so that does not help at all (not that it was said it would but just to throw that out there).