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Understanding the Impact of United MileagePlus Partner Award Devaluations and Pricing Increases


United MileagePlus has recently made significant adjustments to their partner award rates, particularly impacting business class awards for flights within Europe and Asia. These changes not only increase the mileage required but also the costs associated with taxes and fees, raising concerns among travelers about the diminishing value of MileagePlus points.

Overview of Recent Changes:

United’s latest devaluation has seen short-haul business class awards within Europe increase to approximately 33,000 miles plus taxes and fees, up from 27,500 miles. For longer routes, such as Zurich to Athens, the mileage requirement has escalated to about 49,500 miles. In Asia, business class flights from Tokyo to Seoul now require 33,000 miles plus $25.20 in fees, and from Singapore to Kuala Lumpur, 27,500 miles plus $47.90.

Detailed Analysis of Devaluation:

These adjustments represent a substantial increase from previous levels, marking a continued trend towards dynamic pricing in award travel. This shift can almost double the cost in some scenarios, significantly affecting the strategy of frequent flyers and points collectors.

Impact on Frequent Flyers:

The devaluation affects travelers who had strategically used MileagePlus points for cost-effective business travel within these regions. With the increased mileage and monetary costs, the overall value of MileagePlus points is diminishing, prompting a reassessment of their utility for short-haul business travel.

Alternative Redemption Options:

Travelers might consider other loyalty programs that offer better redemption rates for similar routes:

  • British Airways Executive Club typically has lower redemption rates for flights within Europe.
  • Asia Miles offers competitive redemption options within Asia. Transferring points from broader rewards programs like Chase Ultimate Rewards or American Express Membership Rewards to these carriers could help maintain the value of earned points.

Strategic Recommendations:

  1. Diversification: Broadening your loyalty portfolio can mitigate the impact of any single program’s devaluation.
  2. Utilize Award Search Tools: Tools like can help find the best redemption rates across multiple programs, ensuring you maximize the value of your points.
  3. Stay Updated: Keeping informed about loyalty program changes can help you adapt your travel and redemption strategies to ensure you’re always getting the best value possible.

Final Thoughts

The recent increases in United MileagePlus’s partner award rates and associated costs significantly affect the value proposition of MileagePlus points. While these changes pose challenges, they also highlight the importance of maintaining a flexible and informed travel rewards strategy. By exploring alternative programs and staying adaptable, travelers can still achieve significant benefits from their loyalty program participation.

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