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Travel Industry Travel Management

More Benefit Changes Coming to MileagePlus® Members

At the end of 2014, United Airlines announced more changes to the MileagePlus® membership plan, which go into effect February 1, 2015. These changes will affect complimentary baggage allowances, Global Entry payment reimbursement, and the MileagePlus® Upgrade Award.

Currently, Premier Gold members traveling on domestic Economy tickets are allowed three complimentary checked bags. As of February 1, those travelers will only receive two complimentary checked bags.

Second, MileagePlus® members are presently receiving reimbursement for the $100 Global Entry application fee. This reimbursement will no longer be available.

Lastly, while Premier members are currently exempt from the co-pay due upon request for a MileagePlus® Upgrade Award on the premium service (or the premium service route that travels between John F. Kennedy International Airport and Los Angeles International Airport or San Francisco International Airport), next month, members will no longer be exempt from this fee.

See United’s Premier Benefits Chart to learn the benefits of each tier of Premier status.

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Business Travel Travel Industry Travel News

United Airlines Changes MileagePlus Premier Qualification Requirements for 2016

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United will require 20% additional spending in 2015 to qualify for Premier Status in 2016.

Business travelers experienced changes last year to their loyalty programs, as a number of airlines transitioned from mileage-based awards to dollar amount requirements to qualify for elite status.

But United Airlines recently updated their qualification requirements again. Their program is now in line with Delta’s elite qualification requirements, which were announced last month.

United will require 20% additional spending in 2015 to qualify for Premier Status in 2016:

  • Silver – Increase from $2,500 to $3,000
  • Gold – Increases from $5,000 to $6,000
  • Platinum – Increases from $7,500 to $9,000
  • 1K – Increases from $10,000 to $12,000

It is interesting to note that two of the three largest U.S. carriers–Delta (#2) and United (#3)–have changed from a mileage-based to a revenue-based award program. American Airlines, now the largest U.S. carrier after its recent merger with U.S. Airways, has not announced any changes to their current mileage-based award program.

But the question now becomes: How will these changes impact available seat upgrades?

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Business Travel Travel Industry

Delta and United Change Loyalty Programs: What does that mean for the business traveler?

Screen-Shot-2014-02-26-at-8_13_48-AMWhen Delta and United announced their 2015 loyalty program changes, I don’t think anyone was surprised. But if, like me, you travel just enough to feel like a frequent flyer but not enough to actually gain status with any one airline, you might be interested to learn that travelers with loyalty status actually pay 15% to 20% more than those without status, according to data collected over a two-year period by CWT Solutions.

Traveling, it seems, is not as fun or as glamorous as it was 30 years ago, so it makes perfect sense that travelers prefer to stick with one carrier because of the benefits offered to make travel more tolerable and productive—especially if you are a road-warrior type business traveler. Those complimentary upgrades, priority boarding, and waived baggage fees definitely improve a traveler’s experience and state of mind!

Travel managers should be aware, however, and educate themselves on the 2015 changes in store. These two loyalty programs (Delta’s and United’s) are switching from miles traveled to ticket price paid. This may cause some travelers to consider other ways to ensure continuance of benefits they have become accustom.

These following articles explain in detail (including comments from travelers) how these 2015 loyalty program changes will affect travel managers, travelers, and eventually a company’s bottom line:

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Business Travel Travel Industry

United Airlines and Marriott Hotels Join Forces

Get even more perks with United and Marriott's RewardsPlus program.
Get even more business travel perks with United and Marriott’s RewardsPlus program.

As business travelers, we are always looking for ways to enhance our travel experience. And this summer, United Airlines and Marriott Hotels joined forces to provide just that–an enhanced, and “rewarding,” experience.

Recently, United’s MileagePlus® and Marriott Rewards® combined to become “RewardsPlus.” The newly linked loyalty program offers the following:

  • Status in both programs for select United Premier and Marriott Elite Members
  • The ability for MileagePlus Premier members to convert miles into Marriott Rewards points
  • More value when converting points between programs

By joining forces, United MileagePlus and Marriott Rewards are able to provide their most loyal members with unprecedented travel benefits. RewardsPlus grants United Global Services, Premier 1K, Premier Platinum, and Premier Gold members Marriott Rewards Gold Elite status and the array of benefits that come with it. Marriott Rewards Platinum Elite members will receive MileagePlus Premier Silver status, featuring some of United’s most popular elite perks. Status offerings will be effective until January 31, 2014.

Marriott Rewards and MileagePlus members also now receive added value when transferring points into miles and will get additional miles for vacation packages. Also, MileagePlus Premier members will be able to convert their miles into Marriott Rewards points.

In addition, all MileagePlus and Marriott Rewards members will receive a 20% discount when converting Marriott Rewards points into MileagePlus miles and a 10% bonus for MileagePlus miles on Marriott Rewards travel packages.

For more information, or to sign up, visit marriottrewards.com/rewardsplus.

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Travel Management

United’s MileagePlus Program: FAQ

United’s recent merger with Continental has resulted in many questions regarding their Mileage Membership accounts. We received the following information from United to share with our clients and hope you find it helpful in answering some of the questions you might have in regards to this issue.

2012 MileagePlus Program: New Account Number Information and Start of Program FAQs

1.    When will I receive my 2012 credentials and membership card?
We will begin mailing 2012 Premier credentials in mid-February.
2.    When will I receive my new MileagePlus account number and when can I begin using it?
If you are being assigned a new eight-character MileagePlus account number, you can log in to your personalized page to retrieve it starting February 23.
You can start using the number on March 3. Your current 11-digit MileagePlus account number will be recognized for a short time after that, but it will be important to start using the new account number as soon as possible. We understand that your account number may be linked to partners and travel agencies, so we will provide you with time to coordinate this change.
3.    What is a PIN?
When the MileagePlus program migrates to using eight-character account numbers, Personal Identification Numbers (PINs) will also be required. The PIN will be unique to your account and is designed to protect your account from unauthorized use. It will be required when calling United or MileagePlus for transactions such as redeeming award miles or changing the address on your account. The PIN does not replace your password and will not be required for online transactions.
If you are a MileagePlus member and aren’t linked to a OnePass account, we assigned you a PIN when we assigned you a new eight-character MileagePlus account number. After March 3, you can reset your PIN at United.com/AccountSettings. You must have a valid email address in your account.
If you are a OnePass member and already have a PIN, it will carry forward into the MileagePlus program.
4.    I am a member of both MileagePlus and OnePass. Which account number should I include in reservations I book between now and March 3? You can continue to use either account number to make reservations and earn miles, as you do today. No matter which account you use, your miles and status are safe.
5.    Can I use my new eight-character MileagePlus number before March 3?
No. It will not be valid until March 3, 2012. Continue to use your current 11-digit number until then.
6.    Can I combine my OnePass and MileagePlus miles?
Yes. If you have both a MileagePlus and a OnePass account, you can transfer miles between them through March 2. Start at United.com/TransferMyMiles.
7.    I have accounts in both programs and they aren’t linked. What will happen after March 3?
After March 3, you will have two MileagePlus accounts: your current MileagePlus account and a new MileagePlus account that replaces your OnePass account. Both accounts will be valid for earning and redeeming miles. However, you should consolidate them in order to consolidate your mileage earning. By early April we will have an online process for you to request an account consolidation. If you want to consolidate the accounts before April, you must call the MileagePlus Service Center.
8.    Will we continue the existing MileagePlus mileage expiration policy?
Yes. However, we want our members to enjoy and be engaged in the MileagePlus program, so we’ve made it easy to keep your miles active. As long as you earn or use MileagePlus award miles at least once every 18 months, your miles will never expire. And there are hundreds of ways to earn or use award miles, such as flying United or any partner airline, staying at any of the many partner hotels, using miles to buy flowers or a magazine subscription, shopping online through one of our numerous MileagePlus partners, purchasing miles or donating award miles to a charity. In addition, if you have an eligible Chase-issued OnePass or MileagePlus Credit Card, your award miles will never expire, as long as your card account is in good standing.
For current OnePass accounts, the MileagePlus policy will go into effect on April 1, 2012, which means the earliest award miles could expire for former OnePass members is September 30, 2013.
9.    I didn’t make Premier Silver/Gold/Platinum/1K status for 2012. Can I still earn it?
Select members are eligible for a limited-time offer to purchase the remaining 2011 EQM or EQS/EQP they need to earn a higher Premier status level for 2012. The last day to participate in the offer is February 28, 2012.
10. How do I find out if I am eligible for the Purchase EQM offer?
To see if you are eligible, contact MileagePlus Customer Service or OnePass Customer Service.
11. Once the 2012 MileagePlus program begins, will I be able to request upgrades on the day of departure or at the airport? Members can request to be put on the waitlist for Mileage Upgrade Awards, Regional Premier Upgrades and Global Premier Upgrades until 24 hours before departure. Within 24 hours, these upgrades can be requested only through united.com or United Reservations, and only if upgrade seats are available.
If you are a Premier member traveling on an eligible flight, a Complimentary Premier Upgrade is requested automatically on your behalf when you book your ticket, even on the day of departure.
12. If I’m a Premier member, can my traveling companion receive a Complimentary Premier Upgrade?
Yes. One companion traveling on a paid ticket on the same reservation as a Premier member is eligible for Complimentary Premier Upgrades on select flights, and may be confirmed with the same priority as the Premier member, even on the day of departure. This benefit applies to all Premier levels, including Premier Silver. Further, if the upgrade is confirmed before check-in, the Premier member and the companion will remain on the same reservation.
Note that for flights operated by Copa, Complimentary Premier Upgrade companions will continue to confirm on the day of departure.
13. If I have questions regarding the status of my account, whom should I contact?
You should continue to work with representatives from your current program to answer questions regarding your account.
 

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Business Travel Travel News

Upcoming Changes to United’s MileagePlus Program

Mileage programs have become a major source of revenue for U.S. carriers and a primary source for retaining business travelers and keeping them away from competing carriers. United’s MileagePlus members, for example, are waiting with anticipation for the official launch of the new 2012 program, which will take effect once United and Continental have completed their conversion to a single technology system, scheduled for later in the first quarter of 2012. United will advise its members of the effective date in the coming weeks. Until then, United’s MileagePlus and Continental’s OnePass programs will continue to operate separately.
The new United MileagePlus program will have four membership levels:
Premier 1K
100,000 Premier qualifying miles or 120 Premier qualifying segments
Premier Platinum
75,000 Premier qualifying miles or 90 Premier qualifying segments
Premium Gold
50,000 Premium qualifying miles or 50 Premier qualifying segments
Premier Silver
25,000 Premium qualifying miles or 30 Premium qualifying segments
Global Services will continue as an exclusive, invitation only program for United’s top customers. United is also offering additional ways for travelers to earn miles through a MileagePlus Explore Card. Complete benefit information and details can be found online at MileagePlusMergerUpdates.com.

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Travel Management Travel News

Miles and miles and more miles.

As we are rapidly heading toward the end of the 3rd quarter, many frequent flyers are starting to look at their accounts and are wondering a couple of things about them.
First, on their main account, they are wondering if they will have sufficient mileage to achieve any status, followed by will they have enough to achieve the top tier status. If the answer is No to the first, then it’s a given that it is a No to the second. Why do travelers worry so much about their status? It is really simple, it impacts a wide variety of things that make the roadwarriors life a little easier. For example, most of the US airlines are now setting aside anywhere from 20% to 40% of all seats on a flight for those travelers who have status with that airline. That means that if you are a business traveler booking at the last minute and you don’t have status you either get a middle seat toward the back of the plane or you don’t have a seat assignment at all, which makes you the first person to be denied boarding when the flight is in an oversold mode. Other things that come from having status with an airline, complimentary upgrades on a space available basis and the ability to utilize faster lines at security screenings.
As the year starts winding down and travelers start looking for ways to get to that next tier, we, here at Christopherson Business Travel understand the importance of your status. It makes our job easier when you have status on an airline because then we can access the seats set aside for frequent flyers and it makes your life easier when you fly. Because of this, the agents will make a point of adding your primary carrier’s frequent flyer number to any flights you take on a partner carrier. For example if you generally fly Delta and you are on a Northwest flight, the agent will add your Delta number in the Northwest reservation. Likewise if you are a United frequent flyer and you are flying on US Airways, the agents will put your United number in the reservation.
If you find that you are short by a few miles of making that next level there are a number of options to consider.  One is that you may opt for connecting service instead of nonstop.  This strategy can add anywhere from a couple of hundred miles per trip to a thousand per trip depending on where you are traveling.  The downside is that connecting adds travel time to your trip.  Another strategy is the old standby, a mileage run.  This is where you take one or more low cost trips for the purpose of gaining enough qualifying miles so that you achieve the next tier of status.  I know that this strategy works however I would suggest that this should be the strategy of last resort.  Instead I would suggest checking your carrier’s website and seeing what promotions that they are running and see if any of those get you qualifying miles.  For example, right now Delta has a promotion in conjunction with Hilton Hotels where if you stay two nights, you get qualifying miles plus double miles. https://www.delta.com/skymiles/about_skymiles/skymiles_newsletter/general/index.jsp Or United has a promotion that helps you earn double elite qualifying miles between now and December 15th, 2009. http://www.united.com/page/article/0,6722,1252,00.html?navSource=mppromotions&linkTitle=2air.  Most of these promotions require that you register prior to travel so be sure to read the fine print.
The other mileage related worry is keeping those relatively inactive accounts active.  You know the ones where you used to fly airline X all the time and you have a bunch of miles on them and now you aren’t flying them very often however you don’t want to lose those miles just because that airline has changed their policy to deleting accounts that have been inactive for 18 months or 24 months.  An easy way to keep an account active is to purchase something through one of the partners, be  it a car rental, a hotel stay or music from iTunes.  These all act to keep that account active.
Now is the time to start thinking about the end of the year and how many miles you need to achieve your desired status.