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United Airlines Frequent Flier Program to Change Starting March 1, 2015

United Airlines Frequent Flier

United Airlines announced on Tuesday that they will be making dramatic changes to their frequent flier program.

Starting March 1, 2015 United will award miles based on ticket price rather than distance flown and it applies to flights on United, United Express and most United-issued tickets for flights on the company’s airline partners.

“These changes are designed to more directly recognize the value of our members when they fly United,” Thomas F. O’Toole, United’s senior vice president of marketing and loyalty and president of MileagePlus, said in United’s announcement. “We are also pleased to give our members new redemption options that expand the usefulness of their MileagePlus miles.”

The frequent flyer program changes mirror rival Delta Air Lines Inc., who rolled out its SkyMiles in February and to take effect Jan. 1. Southwest Airlines Co., JetBlue Airways Corp. and Virgin America Inc. already have gone the way of so-called revenue model, intended to reward frequent fliers who spend more money.

“It’s a risky move given United’s current underperformance versus Delta on both operating and financial measures,” said Brian Karimzad, director of MileCards.com. “Many of United’s most frequent flyers are frustrated with the airline right now.”

So, starting March 1, 2015 if you fly United Airlines you will receive 5 miles for each dollar spent on tickets, excluding government taxes and fees. The number of miles awarded will increase based on the elite status, with the lowest silver members getting 7 miles a dollar and top-level 1Ks getting 11.

“The new earning structure will not affect the way members qualify for Premier status in 2015, and MileagePlus credit card members will still earn even more miles when they use their cards to purchase United tickets,” United said.

Also, United said it will introduce new ways to use the miles next year, such as upgrading to the coach seats with extra legroom.

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