United Airlines Mileage Plus Program Review
United Airlines Frequent Flyer Program (Mileage Plus)
Earning Miles -The United Airlines Mileage Plus allows flyers to earn one mileage plus mile for every mile flown. Those who fly on business class earns additional 25% miles and those on first class earn 50% more miles. When your ticket is either a full-fare economy, discounted business, business or first class, you get an additional 50% miles that just goes towards qualifying for elite status (you cannot redeem these miles). You can also earn miles when flying with any Star Alliance partners.
Credit Cards - United Airlines Mileage Plus members can get the United Mileage Plus Signature Visa Card to earn faster miles. The card has one of the most generous signing bonus miles available, 17,500 bonus miles after the first purchase on the card. Small business owners can get the The United Mileage Plus Business Platinum, where you can earn double miles on United purchases.
Hotel Partners - Hotel partners include AmeriSuites, Best Western, Candlewood Suites, Clarion, Comfort Inn, Conrad, Hilton Hotels, Hyatt, Intercontinental, Marriott, Shangri-La, and Wyndham Hotels and Resorts.
Car Rental Partners - Continental Airlines Frequent Flyer members can also earn miles with car rentals. Partners include Advantage Rent a Car, Avis, Budget, Alamo, Dollar Rent a Car, Hertz, National Car Rental, Sixt and Thrifty Car Rental.
Cruise Partners - You can earn one mile for every dollar you spend at various Cruise Partners including Carnival, Celebrity, Disney, Holland America, Norwegian Cruise Line, Princess, Royal Caribbean and Seabourn.
Dining Partners - Like most frequent flyer programs, the United Airlines Mileage Plus program has partnered with rewards network, which has a vast network of restaurants. You can earn up to 10 miles for every dollar you spend at partner restaurants.
Financial Partners - Members of United Airlines Mileage Plan can also earn extra miles when using partner financial services firm. For example, if you work directly with your choice of one of the nation's four leading mortgage lenders, including Chase Home Finance, CitiMortgage, Wachovia, and Washington Mutual Home Loans, you can potentially earn up to 225,000 miles. Other financial partners include TD Ameritrade, Chase, E-loan, Fidelity, LendingTree, NetBank, PMP Relocation Service, Sentry Insurance.
Other Partners - United Airlines Mileage Plus members can also earn points from BetterField Bloom, FTD, Hartwick & Grove Wine, More Home, Netflix, Neiman Marcus, 1-800-flowers.com and grocerymiles.
Redeem Miles - The United Airlines Mileage Plus has two categories in their redemption awards (like all other programs) - the saver awards and standard awards.
Under the savers awards, you require 25,000 miles (standard with all other programs) to get a roundtrip ticket within the continental USA. Using the saver awards also means you are subjected to blackout dates and capacity restrictions.
The standard awards does away with the blackout dates and capacity but requires more miles (40,000 miles for a roundtrip domestic flight). Miles requirements for standard awards are within range of the big six careers.
Upgrades on United Airlines require slightly more miles than other airlines - 8,000 miles for upgrade from full fare economy class, and 15,000 miles for business class. American requires 5,000 miles only for a similar upgrade.
Other Rules - United Airlines Mileage Plus miles do not expire as long as the account has been active within 36 months. Though you can issue awards in someone else's name, pooling of awards is not allowed. You are though, allowed to transfer miles to another account. You may transfer up to 15,000 miles (but no less than 5,000 miles) at a rate of 1 cent per mile and a $30.00 processing fee. You can also buy additional miles (up to 40,000 miles per calender year in 1,000 miles increments).
Elite Membership - United has three levels of elite membership : the premier level, the elite level and the 1K level. Being an elite member also means you can earn unlimited miles on either the United Mileage Plus Signature Visa Card or The United Mileage Plus Business Platinum.
Premier Level - Flying 25,000 miles a year or 30 segments on either United or Star Alliance partners gets you a Premier level status. Elite members at the Premier level will automatically earn a 25% redeemable mileage bonus every time they fly a paid United, United Express, TedSM, US Airways, US Airways Shuttle or US Airways Express flight. Premier members also get discounts on red carpet memberships.
Mileage Plus has an interesting upgrade package for elite members. For every 10,000 paid, qualifying miles you fly on United, United Express, or TedSM in a calendar year, you will receive four complimentary 500-mile E-Upgrades. Also, when you buy a full fare economy electronic ticket (select Y or B class*) for travel within the United States, Canada, Hawaii, Caribbean or Central America (Region 1), you may upgrade one (1) class of service, free of charge without using miles, certificates or money.
Other perks include premier phone reservations, priority check-in and boarding, premier seating, united economy plus seats, priority waitlist.
Premier Executive Level - If you have flown 50,000 miles or 60 segments, you would qualify for the Premier Executive status. Premier Executive members get the same benefits as premier members in most ways, but get better perks in the following ways. As a Premier Executive member, you will automatically earn a 100% redeemable mileage bonus every time you fly a paid United, TedSM, United Express, US Airways, US Airways Express or US Airways Shuttle flights. You also get Star Alliance Gold benefits when you fly with Star Alliance airlines. These benefits include things like priority check-ins, priority baggage allowance and the use of Star Alliance lounges.
1K Level - You achieve a 1K Level status when you have flown 100,000 miles or 100 segments in one calender year. However, the perks you get a roughly similar to the Premier Executive level. 1K members do have their own dedicated 1K website and special promotions. 1Ks also get guaranteed reservations even on sold out flights and are ahead of the upgrade queue should one not be immediately available.
Verdict - It is worth noting that United Airlines has just emerged from bankruptcy in February 2006. During its time in chaprter 11, it did not cut back on its reward program, which would have pleased most of its members. United is the main force behind Star Alliance and is one of the largest careers around. As with most programs, United Airlines Mileage Plus members will find that it is a good program and those with a keen eye for deals and bargains have more than ample opportunities to take advantage of the many deals that come along with the program.