The Rich Get Richer

United Airline's revamped frequent-flyer program rewards big-bucks travelers

United's revamped frequent-flyer program rewards big-bucks travelers

United Airlines, jet, airplane
United Airline's new frequent-flyer program is getting mixed reviews.

United Airlines has revamped its MileagePlus frequent-flyer program, and it's getting mixed reviews. Starting March 1, 2015, points will accumulate based on the amount you pay for a ticket, not the number of miles flown. Depending on how much of a procrastinator you are, you will either praise or loathe the modifications.

After taking a closer look, this appears to mean a serious deduction of points for those who book their long-distance travel in advance for cheap prices, and a hefty return on the investment for customers who wait until the last minute and splurge on expensive seats.

Either way, United is the true winner.

The number of points received will multiply depending on your MileagePlus member status. Ordinary premier members — those who fly less than 25,000 miles a year — get five points per dollar. Those with silver premier status (25,000-49,999 miles per year) get seven points per dollar; gold premier (50,000-74,999 miles) gets eight points; platinum premier (75,000-99,999 miles) gets nine; and elite 1K status (100,000 and up) gets 11.

Another change to the program: no more additional miles for flying first class. It will simply be calculated by the fare you pay. However, your level of premier status will still be calculated based on miles flown, not how much was spent on the ticket.

United appears to be following in the footsteps of Delta Airlines, which announced an almost identical change to its Skymiles program that will take place January 1, 2015. American Airlines remains the lone holdout among the major U.S. headlines. The Dallas-based carrier is sticking to its current rewards program for AAdvantage members.