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
Skift Stories and More Expert Insight
Mastercard Adds New Hotel Benefits for Elite Cardholders: New perks are coming down the line for Mastercard holders with mid-range and premium credit cards. Starting this week, members who hold World and World Elite cards are able to take advantage of a new Hotel Stay and Lowest Hotel Rate guarantee offered through the service, giving elite travelers an extra layer of protection for any booked travel.
Luxury Hotel Loyalty Programs Are Missing Out on Experiences: While 75 percent of luxury hotel loyalty programs offer free-night stay rewards, only 35 percent offered other experiences as rewards, according to a new report from Gartner L2 that examines the state of loyalty programs for luxury hotel brands.
The Promise of China’s Enormous Corporate Travel Market: Despite an economic slowdown and a potential trade war, China has become important for Western travel managers not just as a destination, but also as an offshore operational base.
What European Luxury Hotels Can Learn From Their Midscale Cousins: The European hotel market is a different beast to its U.S. counterpart — the big split being the number of branded versus unbranded properties.
Emirates’ Deal to Save the Airbus Superjumbo Program Hits a Snag: Airbus SE’s latest order for the A380 superjumbo has reached an impasse amid drawn-out talks involving the engines, according to people familiar with the matter, possibly imperiling a crucial deal seen as a lifesaver for the giant aircraft.
Minor Hotels Seeks Scale to Capture More of the Chinese Travel Market: Billionaire William Heinecke is on the lookout for further takeovers after more than tripling the number of hotels his Minor International Pcl controls through the acquisition of Spain’s NH Hotel Group.
Higher Domestic Fares Boost American Airlines’ Outlook: American Airlines Group Inc. revised a key measure of pricing power to the high end of its previous forecast last quarter, even as disruptions from Hurricane Florence reduced pretax profit by $50 million.
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.