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Mileage Plus: Loyalty program for the new United in 2012

Discussion in 'United Airlines | MileagePlus' started by UA Insider, Jun 29, 2011.  |  Print Topic

  1. UA Insider
    • Original Member

    UA Insider Official Representative

    Hi Everyone, today we’re pleased to announce that Mileage Plus will be the loyalty program for the new United starting in 2012. I know, worst-kept secret. This means that Continental’s OnePass program will formally end on December 31, 2011 and then during the first quarter of 2012 we’ll wind-down OnePass and transition to Mileage Plus.

    Here are some key points, which I hope you'll find helpful:

    • No action is required. OnePass members who do not already have a Mileage Plus account will automatically be enrolled in the new program. For members who have accounts in both programs, we encourage you to link your accounts now, and then we’ll do our best to match up all other accounts.

    • You can still link your accounts ahead of time. If you have accounts in both programs and want to link them yourself before Q1 2012, you can do so at united.com/linkmyaccountsorcontinental.com/linkmyaccounts.

    • Your miles and status are safe. Rest assured that all reward miles, elite qualification credit, and lifetime status (if applicable) will be preserved as we transition to a single program in 2012. Again, your reward miles and elite qualifying miles/segments are safe as we transition to the single program. In addition, OnePass members will earn 2012 elite status based on their combined OnePass and Mileage Plus elite qualifying activity in 2011.

    • We still owe you a bunch of details. Later this year we will announce the specific details of the 2012 Mileage Plus program, including mileage expiration, account numbers, lifetime status, elite tiers, qualification and benefits. I know you’re starving for these details, and we’re going to explain it all in the coming months.

    I’m sure you have plenty of questions, and we’ll do our best to answer them.

    Scott O'Leary
    Managing Director, Customer Solutions
    United Airlines
     
  2. Wandering Aramean
    • Original Member

    Wandering Aramean Gold Member

    Hardly a surprise, but good to have one more decision "made" so we can move on to fretting about the others.
     
    Ygor likes this.
  3. COFlyerCLE
    • Original Member

    COFlyerCLE Gold Member

    Thanks, Scott. It is always good to get the scoop early.

    I must say there is a sense of disappointment though - I was really hopeful that the new UA would launch a new program - one that is innovative and new, and most importantly, brought some new names of elite levels. I think that merging the hard product is going to be easy compared to merging the cultures of the frequent flyers... A new program would have gone a long way to making that merger happen more smoothly.

    :)
     
    DIG/R_1K, mht_flyer and rggale like this.
  4. WaterSki
    • Original Member

    WaterSki Silver Member

    I can't wait for the details to be announced. I must admit that my heart jumped when I saw this thread, only to come back to earth realizing that not much truly new information is posted here.

    Thanks for the continued detailed and prompt updates, UA Insider.
     
    goalie and HaveMilesWillTravel like this.
  5. Rob
    • Original Member

    Rob Gold Member

    Thanks for the update Scott. I will admit that the name of the program doesn't matter at all to me (you could call it "Scott's Flying Circus Clowns" but I will demand a royalty if you actually do so), and I eagerly await the program details.
     
    SS255 and HaveMilesWillTravel like this.
  6. Black Cloud
    • Original Member

    Black Cloud Gold Member

    Is that really the most important thing? They can issue me a card (which my postal carrier apparently eats) that references me as a "had my crotch grabbed by more blue men than Smurfette Elite" and I wouldn't care.

    Just make my travel experience slightly less miserable and keep the miles worth something and I'll be content.

    ETA: Thanks for the update Scott. Really do appreciate that you keep us informed.
     
  7. sfo1
    • Original Member

    sfo1 Silver Member

    Thanks Scott, your updates are greatly appreciated:)
     
    2soonold likes this.
  8. Gtitan
    • Original Member

    Gtitan Gold Member

    Eloquently stated as always and +1
     
    2soonold and rggale like this.
  9. gleff
    • Original Member

    gleff Co-founder

    Indeed there was no other meaningful option, Mileage Plus was the larger program and significantly more brand value that they couldn't walk away from.

    Perhaps the biggest unanswered question not listed in Scott's note above is whether the new program will engage in Starnet blocking?

    For those unfamiliar, this is the practice whereby Mileage Plus programmed its computers to say that award seats weren't available even when United's Star Alliance partners were offering them those seats. Mileage Plus did this when it didn't want to pay for the seats. Roughly speaking, Mileage Plus would set a budget for each partner for the quarter, they would have some blocking of award seats at the beginning of a quarter in order to prevent themselves from running out of planned spend on partners. As they used up their allotted money, they would tighten blocking. Lufthansa was the most-blocked partner, when blocking was in place you could almost never get a Lufthansa premium cabin award seat, despite Lufthansa offering those seats to all of their partners. But it wasn't limited to Lufthansa. In its early forms, United's system would usually just not return even the existence of the flight. Which led to surreal conversations with agents like "Lufthansa doesn't fly to Frankfurt" and "ANA doesn't serve Washington DC" (and I'd be like, "It's called ANA Flight 1 and I attended the party to celebrate 20 years of service.")

    For a long time United was the only Star Alliance carrier engaging in the practice. Currently there's some confusion about what is going on at US AIrways mostly with Lufthansa first class transatlantic award space. Some speculate it's blocking, though it's equally plausibly an AVS synch issue with their reservations system. One imagines though that US AIrways rather likes this problem and hasn't acted to fix it, in fact they've instructed their agents not to manually sell the award space (which is a way to circumvent the problem).

    Anyway, Starnet blocking led to agents unintentionally (on the part of the agents, though likely intentionally on the part of Mileage Plus) lying to customers. They would tell customers that the partner airline wasn't offering seats to United, and that each partner allocates a certain number of seats to each Star Alliance member. Neither of those statements were quite true. The seats would be offered to United, United just wouldn't book the seats. A manual sell of the award space would confirm this, but of course United then began threatening their agents to prevent them from doing manual sells. (Some carriers do offer their own members additional seats, eg Lufthansa and Swiss offer extra availability to Miles & More members and Singapore offers additional seats to Krisflyer members, and also strangely to Miles & More members.)

    When Continental joined Star Alliance he joined the Upgrd Podcast for an interview in which he stated that Continental doesn't believe in award seat blocking, and promising that they would roll out an award chart which was 'realistic' enough to allow them not to block award inventory.

    Of course, what we wound up getting for both United and Continental was this new 'realistic' award chart. And they recently adjusted the chart again, just a few weeks ago, so hopefully that chart remains one they can live with sans blocking.

    Now, I also understand that Continental has seen higher redemption costs than they had expected when joining Star Alliance, but certainly on net the benefits outweigh the costs. And they still believe in being honest with their customers, as Scott promised they would when Continental joined Star.

    Starnet blocking has only been a huge issue for a couple of weeks over the past 13.5 months. Hopefully it's a thing of the past but we badly, badly want reassurance that it is. This is the fulcrum on which, for many, the question of whether Mileage Plus is the best loyalty program int he industry or a middling program will be determined.
     
    Rlpro, DIG/R_1K, 15A and 4 others like this.
  10. Wandering Aramean
    • Original Member

    Wandering Aramean Gold Member

    Update your status...
    This is certainly a significant issue and I would be quite disappointed if *Net blocking was a part of the program in 2012, but I have to disagree with the assertion that, "This is the fulcrum on which, for many, the question of whether Mileage Plus is the best loyalty program int he industry or a middling program will be determined."

    Or by "many" do you really mean "many who are incredibly mileage obsessed and participate in online communities devoted to such discussions and debates?" ;)
     
    HaveMilesWillTravel likes this.
  11. canucklehead
    • Original Member

    canucklehead Gold Member

    I would also voice my hope that Starnet blocking does away. Hopefully the Continental programmers will be handling the computers and reservations network, as I have found that it offers more options and a better interface than united.com
     
  12. colpuck
    • Original Member

    colpuck Gold Member

    not unexpected. Sad to see it go, onepass member since 1991.
     
  13. Mackieman
    • Original Member

    Mackieman Gold Member

    Thanks for the update, Scott. I'm interested in the account number schema as my OnePass account is far easier to remember than my MileagePlus number. :eek:
     
    Olton Hall, yunicorner and Ygor like this.
  14. gleff
    • Original Member

    gleff Co-founder

    I said 'many'. I didn't say most of their 70 million members. But the many for whom this will be a huge issue are thought leaders, are influencers, and are vocal in public fora, and will have a disproportionate impact on the reputation of the program which will reverberate across many of those members.
     
    LETTERBOY, tjtenor4 and JLSocks like this.
  15. TexasT
    • Original Member

    TexasT Silver Member

    I agree - I completely understand some may have their MileagePlus numbers memorized, but the Onepass numbers seem to be a little easier (because of their length), but because of the alpha carachters, still allow for variation that can come with the longer length.

    Hopefully they will come up with the best (and most user-friendly) of both worlds!
     
  16. VVanderlust

    VVanderlust Silver Member

    Thanks Gary for all your efforts in bringing this practice to light and reminding Scott of this very customer unfriendly practice.
     
    tjtenor4 likes this.
  17. JohnDeere19
    • Original Member

    JohnDeere19 Gold Member

    Awesome customer service taking the initiative to bring this to us rather than waiting to find this out one day...thanks!
     
  18. HaveMilesWillTravel
    • Original Member

    HaveMilesWillTravel Gold Member

    The announcement could have been condensed more or less into the thread title:

    "Announcement: United's combined Loyalty Program called Mileage Plus, details TBA (eom)"
     
  19. goalie
    • Original Member

    goalie Gold Member

    Thank you for the update, UA Insider and thank you for keeping us informed (and e pluribus unum as I'm sure there are "just a few more updates" coming ;))
     
  20. Canadi>n
    • Original Member

    Canadi>n Gold Member

    Same here. Just go it matched from my MP number and I know it by heart whereas have never been able to get past the first four digits of my MP number: 0035?????.

    And I find OP's statement pages much better for printing out than MP's so I do hope we will be getting OP's functionality (including award booking engine) instead of MP's which might be graphically nicer but functionally inferior.
     
  21. mht_flyer
    • Original Member

    mht_flyer Gold Member

    Thanks for the update Scott.

    Slightly off topic, but is there any update with SWUs and CR1s -- will CO folks be getting these in our accounts this year or do we have to wait until next year. I know it was originally "mid-year" but now with MP being the program that stays wondering if this impacts getting the SWUs or CR1s to our CO accounts this year.
     
  22. Nelumbo
    • Original Member

    Nelumbo Silver Member

    Thanks for the update. And I look forward to more encourage details about the "changes that you will like".
     
  23. Brit
    • Original Member

    Brit Gold Member

    Thanks, Scott for the announcement.

    I, too, am disappointed that One Pass will be going away. But, change is constant, and so it was not unexpected.
    However, the piece that alarms me the most is the statment ......"including mileage expiration".....

    One of the things I valued highly about the OP program was the fact that the miles did not expire. If there is to be an expiration date now, that seriously concerns me.
     
  24. riant

    riant Active Member

    i think that depends on which number you use more frequently. i have my MP number memorized at this point with all the kiosk check-ins, so will be a pain to have to remember a new one
     
  25. HaveMilesWillTravel
    • Original Member

    HaveMilesWillTravel Gold Member

    I've never had a problem avoiding mileage expiration in any of the programs that i use infrequently as long as they have a clause that keeps them alive with ANY activity every X months. Car rental mileage earnings, surveys, hotel stays, MR transfers, newspaper subscriptions, iTunes purchases... Lots of low-cost options.
     

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