With the news of United’s award chart devaluation beginning February 1, 2014, many people are quickly liquidating their United Airlines miles (and Chase Ultimate Rewards points) to book awards by January 31st.
United has said that any changes in dates to existing routes will keep the current award pricing, although other changes would increase the mileage required:
Our existing change process will apply. Changes to awards that require a change in date do not result in a change to the award price. Any other change will require an add/collect in miles and fees for changes or cancellations will still apply as per our existing policies.
I broke the news earlier this year that United increased change fees for general members. That means that general members who are liquidating miles and looking to change later would pay increased fees.
However, they didn’t revise change fees for Premier members. And however much many of us dislike United at the moment, they have to be given credit for having reduced award change and cancellation fees for lower-tier elites, which is something neither Delta nor American have.
United’s Award Change Fees
For example, if you book an award ticket within 3 weeks of departure, you’d pay $75 as a General Member. Premier Silvers pay $50, Premier Golds pay $25, and Premier Platinum/1Ks pay nothing.
If you need to make a change to an existing reservation more than 3 weeks out, General Members pay $75 while all Premier members pay nothing.
If you need to make a change to an existing reservation within 3 weeks of departure, General Members pay $100, while Premier Silvers pay $50, Premier Golds pay $25, and Premier Platinum/1Ks pay nothing.
Lastly, there are savings to be had if you need to cancel an award ticket — $200 as a General Member, but “only” $125 for a Premier Silver, $100 for a Premier Gold, and free for Premier Platinum/1K.
Status Match (Challenge)
United has a published Status Challenge program where they will match you equivalent status for 90 days. If you meet the requirements to keep the status within 90 days (by flying United or Copa), you keep status for a while; if you don’t you lose the status. I doubt many people are looking to increase their participation in the new MileageMinusTM.
When you make a change to an award, United will charge (or not charge) you fees based on what the status of the booking account is at the time of change. Therefore, if you plan on booking now and making changes later, you’d want to line up your 90 days of status with the time period where you predict you’ll want to make some changes to your award. It might save you a couple hundred bucks.
Currently, United only publishes status challenges up to Premier Platinum, which for the purposes of award booking, is good enough. As you can see in the chart above, Premier Platinums get the same “No Fee” award changes as Premier 1Ks and Global Service members. However, there is an unofficial status match program to Premier 1K if PQDs are your thing.
|To match to United:||requires||Delta||or||American|
|Premier Silver||Silver Medallion||AAdvantage Gold|
|Premier Gold||Gold Medallion||AAdvantage Platinum|
|Premier Platinum||Platinum Medallion||AAdvantage Executive Platinum|
|Premier 1K||Diamond Medallion||AAdvantage Executive Platinum|
To register for a status match, e-mail email@example.com with a copy of your current Delta SkyMiles or American AAdvantage statement or membership card (United doesn’t match US Airways as they are still a Star Alliance partner).
The current status challenge program is good for signups until December 31st (though they usually renew it each year), and you can only match every 5 years. If anything has taught us about United, though, it’s that these terms can definitely change at any moment.