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The news passed quietly while Skift Global Forum was in full force last month, but it was significant: United Airlines is changing the qualification criteria for earning top-tier elite status in its MileagePlus program.
For the past several years, American, Delta, and United have all used a formula for calculating elite status that includes both miles flown and dollars spent in a calendar year. To earn low-level elite status, for example, a traveler must fly 25,000 miles and spend $3,000 on tickets.
Earning top-tier status used to take 100,000 miles and $12,000 in spend on American and United, while those on Delta had to fly 125,000 miles and spend $15,000. Next year, however, United passengers will have to fly 100,000 miles and spend $15,000. That’s an increase of 25 percent in spend year-over-year.
It will be interesting to see how United’s elite frequent flyers stomach the changes. It’s always been assumed that Delta could get away with a more expensive top tier because it’s a truly premium carrier. United can’t make that argument — and for that, its loyalty program may suffer.
American, meanwhile, has officially stayed silent.
— Grant Martin, Business of Loyalty Editor
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Delta CEO Promises More Ways to ‘Burn Your Miles’ After Record Quarter: The juxtaposition couldn’t be any more stark. A day after American Airlines watched its stock fall to its lowest point in nearly two years, Delta Air Lines is up nearly 5 percent on an otherwise jittery day on Wall Street.
How United Airlines’ CEO Plans to Make Passengers Love to Fly Again: After years of hard times generally for U.S. airlines, things are looking up, says Oscar Munoz, CEO of United Continental Holdings Inc, the parent of United Airlines.
Skift Business of Loyalty Editor Grant Martin [firstname.lastname@example.org] curates the Skift Business of Loyalty newsletter. Skift emails the newsletter every Monday.