InternationalFlights.com Blog

« »

United Reverses Course, Cuts Frequent Flyer Fee

After almost three decades in and around the travel industry, I’m rarely surprised by anything the airlines do.

But this morning’s announcement from United that it will eliminate the last-minute ticketing fee for frequent flyer awards booked on or after July 30 was a stunner.

Currently, United charges $100 to book an award ticket for travel within six days of the departure date, and $75 for travel within seven to 20 days.

Not only will the change choke off a significant revenue stream, it will inevitably lead to an increase in award redemptions. With flights running almost 85 percent full, such an increase will either cut into the sale of revenue tickets (diluting United’s profits) or swell the number of Mileage Plus members frustrated by the lack of award seats (diluting good will). Most likely, it will do both.

So the question is: Why?

The official quote from United’s news release—which should never be taken at face value, of course—is as follows: “Being the first airline to eliminate the last-minute booking fee will make it easier for our members to use their miles, and it is one of the many steps we are taking to make Mileage Plus the most rewarding loyalty program for them.”

Reading between the lines, United appears to be signaling that it recognizes the need to upgrade its competitive position among other major airlines.

While I’ve recently praised United for its unilateral award discounts, those were limited-time promotions.

American meanwhile has introduced its new Flex awards—a significant benefit for AAdvantage members, and a permanent one.

Delta, following its merger with Northwest, is flexing its marketing muscle as the world’s largest airline with the world’s largest frequent flyer program. And its current double-mile promotion is far superior in size and scope to anything on offer from other airlines.

So United, number three among U.S. mainline carriers, has been losing ground by standing still.

Dropping the rush fee for awards certainly will earn it the gratitude of Mileage Plus members. If the move forces other major carriers to drop their frequent flyer award fees, it will earn United at least a footnote in the history of mileage programs, in the slim chapter entitled “The Curious Case of the Disappearing Nuisance Fees.”

Article from: Smartertravel.com

Leave a Reply

You must be logged in to post a comment.

InternationalFlights.com is dedicated to bringing you cheap international flights and international travel to destinations all over the world. Whether you're looking for a cheap international flight to Africa, Asia, Austria, or Australia, or a cheap flight to Scotland, South America, Spain, Sweden, or Switzerland, cheap tickets are our game. We can help you find cheap flights to anywhere, from Amsterdam to the Ukraine, from Belgium to Turkey. On our cheap ticket site you can search for international tickets or international airfares; you'll find tips, deals, and discounts for airlines and tickets to anywhere in the world, including China, Cyprus, Denmark, Dublin, Egypt, and England. International airlines have cheap flights to just about anywhere these days; international airfares and cheap airfares for travel, both business and pleasure, to locations such as Europe, Finland, France, Frankfurt, Germany, Ireland, Israel, Italy, and Japan.

Search now for international airline tickets, and get your cheap flight to Korea, London, Mexico, New Zealand, Norway, or Paris. Our massive database of flights will help you find the cheapest flight, the cheapest ticket, wherever you want to go. Book your airline ticket to the Philippines, Prague, or Rome, and know that you're getting cheap airfares. Whether you say airfare or air tickets, the result's the same. Your international ticket will be a great price. If your next air ticket is to Russia, Thailand, or Turkey, you can trust InternationalFlights.com to get you the best deal.