United will introduce a new award chart for United and Star Alliance Partners effective for tickets booked after February 1st 2014.
Overall it seems United has taken a look at what awards have been redeemed the most and has decided to make those wards the most expensive. The changes that are being introduced hurt and the most valuable mileage currency by far has suddenly become just one of many.
It follows the award chart changes of Aeroplan and Miles & More. However it's unique that partner awards now are much more expensive than United awards.
Here is a side-by-side comparison courtesy of milecards.com.
Star Alliance/ Partner Award Chart (effective February 1st 2014)
United Award Chart (effective February 1st 2014)
– First Class travel from the US to Asia on partners has become unattainable, for US to Asia Premium cabin travel awards American and US Airways awards are much more affordable now
– many premium cabins have increased in price often substantially
– the earning rates for flying or earning through Chase haven't changed
– No YQ has been introduced
– some routes stay competitive using United Mileage Plus incl. Europe and South America on United or partners
– no restrictions like no 3rd region to transit or published fare needed (as with AAdvantage), no other routing rules have been introduced (at least not yet announced)
– Most Economy awards will stay the same
– Some exotic awards like Oceania /Northern Africa in Economy is reduced by 5k miles
– First Class between Northern and Southern Africa is reduced by 5k miles (sadly there is no First Class unless you get to route via Frankfurt)
What should you do?
If you have travel to South America planned you do not need to worry. I incidentally just booked a one-way last week from Brazil to San Francisco the day before Christmas and the agent went out of her way to book it for me.
Travel to Europe in Business Class on United is still a good deal and United has a good business class product – I usually prefer it to LH (just teh United catering usually annoys me). However availability on United is much less than it used to be
First Class travel on Lufthansa and Asiana/ ANA will become pretty exclusive again. If you would like to try their products book (or in case of Lufthansa) travel before February 1st 2014.
What are other amazing deals with United Mileage Plus?
United does not impose restrictions on a third region to transit through so the trips below are great deals because you get to see a number of places within ONE region.
Central Asia 45,000 miles in Business Class before Feb 1st 2014, 70,000 miles after that
Southern Africa 50,000 miles in Business Class before Feb 1st 2014, 70,000 miles after that