This month has been horrid for almost anyone who collects and spends frequent flyer miles and hotel points.
Normally Fridays are good, but November 8th bucked that trend when United announced they were gutting their award chart. Look and compare the old and new charts here:
In many of the routes United has decided to greatly increase the number of miles needed for roundtrip travel. On top of that, they’re also creating a brand new award chart for travel on their Star Alliance partners. Up until now reward travel would cost the same if you flew United or one of their partners.
To give you an idea of the drastic changes here are some examples of increases in mileage required for roundtrip travel on Star Alliance partners. Keep in mind that some rates have nearly doubled! Since many of my readers are in Europe I’ll focus on that first.
- Europe to US: 40,000 business, 85,000 first
- Europe to Hawaii: 17,500 business, 52,500 first
- Europe to Southern South America: 17,500 business, 45,000 first
- Europe to Europe (intra): 2,500 economy, 10,000 business, 20,000 first
- Europe to Northern Africa: 12,500 economy, 25,000 business, 55,000 first
- Europe to ANZ: 10,000 business, 25,000 first
- Europe to Oceania: 10,000 economy, 10,000 business, 15,000 first
- US to Middle East: 5,000 economy, 40,000 business, 130,000 first
- US to Central Asia/India: 5,000 economy, 40,000 business, 120,000 first
- US to Japan: 5,000 economy, 30,000 business, 85,000 first
- US to South Asia: 15,000 economy, 40,000 business, 100,000 first
- US to North Asia: 5,000 economy, 40,000 business, 100,000 first
- US to Oceania: 30,000 business, 70,000 first
- US to Australia/NZ: 25,000 business, 100,000 first
As you can see above, it’s mostly bad to terrible. I would recommend burning any United miles you have before Feb. 1, 2014 which is when the new award charts come into effect. I’ve already booked 2 flights and looking at adding 2 more first class flights to Oceania.
Although I am not directly affected by this devaluation since I have steered clear of Delta miles, aka Skypesos, it’s important to point out that Delta had already announced a devaluation of their award chart as of June 2014 as mentioned by One Mile at a Time. Leave it to Delta to come back right after United’s announcement and publish another devaluation that will affect award mile redemptions between February 1st and May 31st, 2014.
All I can say is that I am glad I didn’t put all my eggs in Delta’s basket…
Alaska has also decided that its award mileage redemptions were too low on some routes and have made some minor modifications effective Jan. 14, 2014. They have, however, brought down the miles required for first class travel to Mexico.
The devaluations didn’t just happen to airlines. No, hotels want their day too! Hyatt has been quite generous with a lot of their award stay and upgrade redemption rules so it’s no surprise they have made adjustments that are more in line with other chains but at the same time they still offer a good value for their points and the changes weren’t half as bad as other programs (here’s looking at you United). Additionally, a week later they came out with some clarifications and added benefits as well. To find out more you can check out what Gary @ ViewFromTheWing mentions.
Even though Hilton’s devaluation happened almost 8 months ago, it still stings like it was yesterday. They, like United, decided that their loyal customer base wouldn’t care that the stash of points in their accounts would lose about half their value overnight.
Previously there were 7 categories with the top properties going for 50,000 points per night. As of March 28, 2013 there are 10 categories and category 10 will have properties for 95,000 points per night in high season. If you’ve done your math, that is a 90% jump and a punch in the gut.
Once again Gary has a great summary on this and also mentions some other devaluations since the beginning of this year. I quote, “Since the first of the year Priority Club introduced a new 9-tier reward chart, Starwood raised the price of cash and points awards, Marriott introduced a new more expensive award tier and a points price increase for 36% of their properties. Just this morning I shared news that we’ll get a new devalued Wyndham Rewards chart on March 14.”
Earlier I mentioned that this month has been horrid. I meant YEAR…
So what does this mean for us? Simple: programs change and diversification is key. Miles and points are not a currency that increase in value. Put as much thought in using your miles as collecting them.