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United’s New Loyalty Boss Confirms Focus on Demand, Not Miles, Is Here to Stay

  • Skift Take
    United’s new vice president of loyalty is putting his weight behind a new credit card and a handful of other initiatives at the airline. It will be interesting to see how those goals mesh with a weary base of MileagePlus members and a management team eager to turn profit and save cash.

    United’s vice president of loyalty is finally out in the sunlight after joining the company late last year.

    Luc Bondar was out on a media tour last week that primarily revolved around the retooled Explorer Credit Card, but he also answered a few questions about his ultimate vision for MileagePlus.

    What he revealed is that the dynamic award pricing now gently used by United is here to stay. That pricing model, which is already deployed in full force at Delta, adjusts the price of an award ticket based on demand or the ticket cost — and moves the program a step away from the traditional model of award tiers where each geographic zone costs a fixed amount.

    That’s good or bad news depending on how you look at it. Hardcore loyalists used to scouring awards charts for great deals will be disappointed, but for those with a few extra miles bouncing around in their accounts, those 8,000 or 10,000 mile awards will be a welcome sight. And if Bondar has his way, there are going to be a lot more of them in the future.

    There’s more about these issues in my profile of Bondar last week.

    For feedback or news tips, reach out via email at gm@skift.com or tweet me @grantkmartin.

    — Grant Martin, Business of Loyalty Editor

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    Skift Business of Loyalty Editor Grant Martin [gm@skift.com] curates the Skift Business of Loyalty newsletter. Skift emails the newsletter every Monday.

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    Photo Credit: A United jet lands as an airport worker keeps a key eye. United's MileagePlus program will stick with its emphasis on the cost of tickets rather than miles flown. Bloomberg

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