United Airlines (UAL) has announced 2010 Mileage Plus program changes that will end of 500 mile certificates a few weeks ago. Starting in the second quarter (probably July) of 2010, United Premier members would get upgrades to first or business class based on availability - similar to Continental, Delta and USAir. This leaves American Airlines to be the only major carrier still requiring certificates for upgrades.
This is a positive move by UAL. However they didn’t tell you the following:
1. United complimentary upgrades are not available for P.S. (Premium Service) flights. United P.S. are flights between New York and San Francisco and Los Angeles. This means your coast-to-coast travel cost would go up as economy seats generally fills up the fastest (see previous post regarding best coast-to-coast travel option). This forces united customers to buy business class tickets. You can however use redeem miles to upgrade on these flights, and if you are 1K you will still receive Confirmed Regional and Systemwide Upgrades and may use them on these flights as well.
2. Your United 500-mile certificates would be useless if you don’t use them. UAL used to convert the 500-mile certificates into miles and put them in your Mileage Plus account. With the devaluation of airline miles and airline cut backs, UAL does not endorse expiring 500 mile certificates nor do they convert the miles for flight redemption.
3. Complimentary upgrades are limited to flights within Region 1 only, which includes the continental United States, Hawaii, Alaska, Canada, the Caribbean, Central America and Mexico. Also, award flights are not eligible for the complimentary upgrades. Not much different than the 500-mile certificate model.
United Premier and Premier Executive statuses become absolutely worthless. Good luck trying to get upgraded with all the people that made Premier Exec and 1K (us included) in 2009 for 2010 thanks to the 2 double EQM (and one EQS) promotions.