United and Delta link reward miles to money spent

June 12, 2014 |

United Airlines will change its frequent-flier rewards from miles-based to fare-based. According to Bloomberg, changes to its program will begin March 1, 2015, and will grant MileagePlus members five to 11 award miles for every dollar spent on fares and surcharges.

The airlines’ current program gives travelers one award mile for each mile flown and business or first class passengers receive bonuses. Corporate fliers are also currently given bonuses because they often purchase more expensive tickets, the source reported.

“It enables us to better ensure that those customers who are flying the most and spending the most get the greatest benefits from the company, which we expect will drive further loyalty,” Rahsaan Johnson, a United spokesman, told Bloomberg.

The mileage redemption chart isn’t expected to change for United Airlines and the updates to the program won’t affect how those who participate in the MileagePlus program earn premium status that includes perks such as seating upgrades and priority check-in.

According to Bloomberg, United will introduce new ways that members of its frequent-flier program can redeem miles such as single-flight purchases of seats with extra legroom as well as checked-baggage privileges.

Delta’s SkyMiles
Delta Air Lines recently announced it is making changes to its SkyMiles program beginning January 1, 2015. The updated program will allow travelers to earn reward miles based on ticket price rather than miles traveled.

The carrier was the first major airline to announce changes to its rewards program and was subsequently followed by United and other airlines as they respond to the changes.

American Airlines did not say whether or not it will make changes to its rewards program, Bloomberg reported. It is currently focusing on completing the merger with US Airways and joining the two loyalty programs.

Bloomberg reported that the airline will likely have to follow Delta and United as they try to compete with each other and attract business-class passengers.