United Airlines is among the most popular airlines amongst regular business travellers, hence the popularity of MileagePlus among the same class of people. MileagePlus is United Airline’s loyalty reward or frequent flyer program that comes with many goodies and bonuses to its loyal customers, especially those that fly business class. This program is marketed as “The world’s most rewarding loyalty program” by United – simple with solid perks for elite members and an inexpensive reward redemption process that makes it competitive and versatile. Is it? Let’s have a closer look at what MileagePlus really is.
The most common way to earn MileagePlus miles is by purchasing air tickets. The amount of miles awarded depends on the class of fare and the distance to travel. When you have a MileagePlus account, you can accumulate points on United Airline flights or on partner airlines that are members of Star Alliance. An economy seat earns 100% MileagePlus miles of the miles flown, Business class earns 150% and First Class fares earn 250% of the miles flown. Another way to earn MileagePlus miles is by travelling on any of the 24 partner airlines also members of Star Alliance.
United has partnered with credit partners to offer Visa and MasterCard cards which customers can shop with and earn points. Members of MileagePlus can also earn miles by staying in partner hotels, car rentals and other activities with partner companies.
Just as there are several ways to earn MileagePlus points, there are a number of ways to redeem them but the most popular is redeeming miles for flight tickets or class upgrades. The awards attract some fees that vary depending on the ticket. Redeeming a ticket will cost $25 in service fees, a Rush Award (booking within 21 days of departure) and Award Ticket change fee will set you back $75 and cancelling an award costs $200.
Most domestic flights will cost 25,000 points for a round-trip – the standard redemption rate for frequent flyer programs. Unlike earning MileagePlus miles, redeeming them for flight is different. The flight routes are grouped into regions to determine how many points a ticket from departure point to a destination cost.
If you are a member of MileagePlus, you can achieve the Elite membership when you accumulate 25,000 MileagePlus miles or fly 30 segments (a segment is a flight with a flight number and a boarding pass). There are 4 Elite level MileagePlus memberships: Premier Silver is the one that needs 25,000 miles or 30 segments, Premier Gold requires 50,000 miles or 60 segments, Premier Platinum on the other hand requires 75,000 miles or 90 segments and Premier 1K is achieved with 100,000 miles or 120 flight segments. Elite members earn a minimum of 500 Miles on flight and additional bonus miles as follows: Premier Silver gets 25%, Premier Gold earns 50%, Premier Platinum 75% and Premier 1K earns 100% MileagePlus miles in flight.
• United is a member of Star Airlines meaning that there are over 20 partners and many routes to earn miles on.
• Elite membership comes with tons of other benefits.
• Complimentary First Class upgrades when available.
• Low redemption fees for travel rewards
• Very high change and cancellation fees.
• Many complaints from members on availability of decent rewards on Star Alliance partners.
• No off-peak travel awards
• Miles expire after 18 months of account inactivity.