Courtesy: United Media Hub
Courtesy: United Media Hub

We’ve been talking for at least a week or two in the MilesTalk Facebook group about increased redemption costs on United, like 30k one ways to Europe now pricing at 40k. It was a refreshing change from talking
about Delta’s constant stealth devaluations.

The damage seemed, at the time, to be limited to economy awards.

It looks like they’ve now taken a butcher knife to Business Class as well, making this more of a complete devaluation.

So, while United would probably claim they can’t devalue miles that already have no award chart so it’s hard for the customer to get outsized value, we still take current pricing like an award chart – and they have definitely devalued it.

Thrifty Traveler does a good job dissecting the changes.

He finds that on top of the 30k to 40k increase in economy awards to Europe, they have:

Raised flights to Europe from the US on their own metal from 60,000 to 80,000 miles. a whopping 33% increase vs what you’d have paid yesterday. Talk about inflation!

SWISS business class from the US to Europe used to be 70,000 – 73,000 miles. Now it’s 97,100 miles+. Other Star Alliance partners seem to be almost as much – at least 90,000 miles+.

united devaluation

A business class award from the US to Turkey on Turkish Airlines has jumped from 77,000 miles (not last minute) to over 102,000 miles.

This stinks, but it’s not unexpected (to me, anyway). The whole reason that airlines want to do more and more revenue based redemptions or to simply jack up the prices of partner awards is to give you less without you noticing. 

Don’t forget, 2019 was when first  United REALLY devalued the entire MileagePlus program before devaluing yet again during COVID.

If you don’t read MilesTalk or one of the major miles and points blogs, you may well never even notice – and that’s what they really count on. We know Delta has been relying on this for years and American is now fully dynamic on its own metal – and you have to think it will eventually worsen for partners as well.

The advice I have is unchanged since the first time I wrote about my outrage of Delta’s approach to removing award charts and implementing dynamic pricing in 2016.

  • Collect transferable bank points

That’s it. That way when you want to book a flight you have options! Maybe you were eyeing a flight on United but now you can simply book through Air Canada’s Aeroplan or Lifemiles or Turkish.

If you use transferable points to utilize the best transfer partners, United will get less revenue from selling miles (as you choose to, for example, transfer your Chase Ultimate Rewards to Air Canada when you would have transferred to United).

The game isn’t ending, but it definitely keeps changing.

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  1. My UA account (flying them since 1988) is pretty much empty. I have a historically low 2100 miles. Yes, I said 2100 miles. Back in the day I had over 400,000 miles. These days, with Chase transfers from my CSR, I can move, and just did, move miles to Flying Blue for what are today, reasonable award flights to Europe. As a matter of fact, I just got the 70,000 mile Flying Blue credit card, so I’m set for now.

    I will miss my UA Million Miler status for better seats in E+, but the lower award redemptions on FB will ease the pain.

  2. We used to have millions of United miles, and now we have almost none. We have no particular reason to fly United domestically; we don’t live at a United hub. The Chase 5/24 rule has blocked us for a while, so that source of UA miles isn’t there anymore. UA has pulled a lot of its international award capacity from its Star Alliance partners, while jacking up its own prices much higher than most partners. TAP, Aegean, Air Canada, Avianca and particularly Lufthansa seem to have much better availability, including on United flights, and without the inflation. I think that United had a very opportunity to steal a lot of this business from Delta, which is utter garbage, but United missed out.


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