United / Continental Merger’s New Frequent Flyer Policy
By Valerie Quintanilla
I changed jobs in April of this year. On the tail of Q1 I was already half way to maintaining my Premier status with United. What does this mean (listed in my order of importance):
- Economy Plus Seating: Believe you me, that extra two fists of space makes Econ Plus coveted seating. Have you tried opening your laptop in the back of the plane? Puh-lease.
- Priority Boarding: My carry-on (to-date) always resides in a nearby overhead bin. That’s about 10 to 30 minutes of my life I get to keep – NOT waiting (im)patiently at the baggage carousel. Seriously, what do they do at DIA from the time the plane hitches to the gate to the 30+ minutes it takes before my luggage dumps onto the belt? Sheesh.
- Airport Security Priority Lanes: I (usually) cruise through airport security in the lane labeled, “Premium Passengers”. Way to make a gal feel special! PSST, PSA to you other frequent fliers: You don’t have wait for the one TSA agent in front of that line. The line won’t get so long if you’d go to the guy next door.
- Checked Bags: I get two comp’d checked bags – generally only important to me when I am traveling for more than a week, and said travel includes wine adventures (don’t kid yourself, I find wine worthy purchases most everywhere; it’s not a drinking problem, it’s a spending one). I also get a tag that says, “Priority” on my rarely checked bags; I have no delusions here – I know this is just for looks, but everyone needs a placebo once in a while.
Had I stayed with the former employer, I believe I would have finally checked Premier Exec off my bucket list. All you 1kers can have the red carpet. No thanks. Flying 30 to 40k annually floats my boat a’ plenty. The beauty of Premium Exec means more upgrades (at least that’s what I fancy the most about it), better promos and more bonus miles. Not gonna lie, I rarely want to deplane when I ride shot gun. But, alas, the new gig landed me fewer security screenings. Come September I whipped out my eight-key to size up the 2012 status sitch. For the love – 200 miles short! No way was I going to lose Economy Plus seating or priority boarding over 200 flimsy miles. So, I did what any sane rewards addict would do – I booked a trip to San Francisco.
I am a big believer in the Golden Rule: Do unto others as you would have them do unto you. United has not always held up their end of the bargain with too numerous to count flight delays (grumble, grumble, O’Hare), but I cherish my extra leg room. So, I decided not to bail on the Star Alliance. Shortly after I booked the SFO jaunt the updated 2012 Frequent Flyer policy came out, announcing the changes as a result of the UA/Continental Merger.
So, here’s the deal, kiddos: Mileage Plus now has four tiers – a jump from its former three-tiered model. I get it. You have to account for the variances between the Continental and United programs. I can hang with that. But, why oh why do I lose my beloved access to Economy Plus seating at purchase? And, that doesn’t account for the fact that you’re now letting credit card holders board in advance of 1ks. Is the sky falling? Oh no, that’s just the value of MileagePlus status. Hmph.
Click here for a complete breakdown of the ratified 2012 Mileage Plus Policy. And, take a quick peek at the 2011 Mileage Plus Policy if you’re curious about the other changes I have omitted.
Here’s a breakdown of how the tiers play out:
- Premier 1K: 100,000 Premier qualifying miles (PQM) or 120 Premier qualifying segments (PQS)
- Premier Platinum: 75,000 PQM or 90 PQS
- Premier Gold: 50,000 PQM or 60 PQS
- Premier Silver: 25,000 PQM or 30 PQS
Sampling of policy changes:
- Changes in bonus award miles
- Changes in seating allowance: now us lowly 25k to 49,999k travelers can’t access Economy Plus till the day of the flight.
- Changes in luggage allowance: riddle me this: why do the other three tiers get three bags free, up to 70lbs, while the newly minted “Premier Silver” only gets one comp’d bag, up to 50lbs? Can you dock Premier Gold a bag to hook up the little people at Silver? C’mon, how many biz travelers really check one bag, let alone three?
Well, that’s my review of the new 2012 Mileage Plus Policy. I know, it heavily focuses on the Premier-turned-Premier-Silver tier, but it’s what I know. And, I didn’t have time to educate myself on the loses for the other tiers. I do have a colleague who carries equal frustration about his loss of bonus points, while a 1k friend burns up when he sees card holders board before him.
So, inspect the 2011 policy and compare it to the 2012. Please share your likes/dislikes about the updates. Leave a comment or talk to me on Twitter @valeriekq!