Matthewonlive and let's fly

One Upside to the United Merger: Elite-Only Saver Awards in Business and First Class

With the exception of the expanded route network and ability to search for Star Alliance partner awards online (which actually hurts my award consulting business), I cannot point to many changes I like in the new world of Continental Airlines taking over all but the United name. But I did stumble upon something else today that may prove to be helpful: additional award inventory in premium class cabins on United flights for Mileage Plus members with Platinum, 1K, or Global Services status.

Darren complied this very nice chart of the new United booking classes and you'll note that in addition to XN (elite saver economy class, which legacy United had offered to 1K and Global Services members), there is now IN (elite saver business class) and ON (elite saver first class):

united_airlines_new_booking_classes

In searching for award space today, I noticed that on quite a few international routes (e.g. SFO-FRA, ORD-MUC, ORD-BRU, IAD-GVA) there were at least two elite saver seats released in first class. As near as I can tell, United has not simply zeroed out the O and I (normal first and business class award buckets) and made the space for elites only, but has actually released additional award seats for upper-tier elites.

ua_award_bucket_expert_flyer  

That's a change I like.

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Comments

#1
Gary Leff March 8, 2012 at 05:02 am

"I cannot point to many changes I like in the new world of Continental Airlines taking over all but the United name."

How quickly we forget the positive changes that came early on as a result of Continental's acquisition of United (including while that 'merger' was pending):

(1) an end to Starnet blocking

(2) more generous award routing rules, remember that United used to enforce MPM (and not MPM plus an additional percentage), you had to cross the same ocean in each direction on an award, etc.

There's a TON not to like in the Continental takeover. And I have been vocal in not liking those things. But there have been some real positives, too.

#2
Matthew March 8, 2012 at 09:35 am

@Gary,

All fair points. There are other things I like too--better meals, free Global Entry, and aircraft with DirecTV and in-seat power.

In terms of awards, we on the United side certainly got the better end of the deal.

#3
Goosh March 9, 2012 at 11:43 am

Not sure which blogger reported this previously but thought I'd turn to you about it since you are such a big United fan. How is it possible that the distance between cities and subsequent miles award for such city pairs has gone down and they can get away with it. For example, I just flew SNA-EWR and back and now get 2424 miles plus my elite bonus versus getting 2433 miles plus elite bonus that I previously got per segment. My old United confirm even said I'd be awarded 2433 miles for each segment. I even checked http://www.gcmap.com/ and it shows 2433 miles. I know it's only 9 miles, but when you multiply that by the number of flights each day and over the course of a year, the savings must be enormous for them in terms miles awarded. I smell a class action lawsuit in the future. Thoughts?

#4
Matthew March 10, 2012 at 01:38 pm

@Goosh: I think that United Insider (Shannon) on FT has said that UA is looking into this issue. Very shameful of Continental DBA United to pull a stunt like this.

See Seth's post for more:

http://boardingarea.com/blogs/thewanderingaramean/2012/03/air-travel-is-shrinking-the-globe-literally/

#5
Guil B January 21, 2013 at 02:17 pm

What tool are you using to show available sears in different fare classes?

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