The coronavirus pandemic brought many changes to the travel industry and airlines in particular. One of the remarkable changes in some major U.S airlines’ policies is the permanent elimination of change fees, which was triggered by United at the end of this August. However, not all airlines are ready to bid farewell to the fee.
United Airlines Credit Cards: Everything You Need To Know
United Airlines is one of the big three carriers in the United States. You can earn United MileagePlus miles through several co-branded credit cards and with transfers from partner programs.
Earn More Miles with the MileagePlus X App
United Airlines is one of the biggest airlines in the world, and therefore it’s no surprise that their loyalty program, MileagePlus, is also one of the most popular airline loyalty programs. It allows you to earn miles by flying on United Airlines flights, and redeeming those miles for free flights on United. But did you know that you can also earn United miles from your everyday shopping, through the MileagePlus X app?
How to Use American Express Membership Rewards or Citi ThankYou Points to Fly United
The only U.S. credit card rewards program that allows you to transfer points to the United MileagePlus program is Chase Ultimate Rewards. But what if you don’t have Ultimate Rewards points? Does it mean you can’t use points from other rewards program to book an award flight on United?
Comparing Premium Economy Products on the Domestic Legacy Carriers
Over the past several years, airlines have taken steps to differentiate their classes of product segment in order to maximize revenue. Cabin configurations traditionally consisted of either two classes (economy and business class) or three classes (economy, business and first class).
Now planes are configured with four or even five cabins, with the more recent additions being premium economy. In many cases, premium economy has become the new “middle class” as airlines have done away with first class, and are flying with planes that have standard economy, premium economy and business class.
Let’s take a closer look at premium economy products by comparing the products and services offered, as well as the booking process and elite upgrade rules.
Delta’s premium economy offering is called Comfort+. This product is clearly the best of the three legacy airlines. Comfort+ seats offer 3 inches of additional leg room compared with standard economy seats. The seats are located in front of the main economy cabin, so you will be able to exit the plane faster.
There is dedicated overhead bin space so you don’t have to worry about your roll-aboard getting checked at the ramp. You receive priority boarding so you can get on the plane and get settled more quickly. Delta offers complimentary alcoholic beverages including beer, wine and spirits. The seats include both connectivity and power so you can charge your devices while you fly.
You will have a choice of a variety of complimentary premium snacks instead of just the standard offerings like pretzels and peanuts. Longer transcontinental flights include additional sleeping and entertainment amenities such as a pillow, blanket, complimentary headset and amenity kit. The seats on these flights also recline up to 50% more than standard economy. In addition, since this is a true premium economy product, it is being sold as a separate class of service. This means that the seats can be booked directly as an award ticket for a price between the standard economy price and business/first class price.
There are a variety of details to keep in mind if you are an elite member looking to upgrade from a standard economy seat. The availability rules based on elite status are as follows:
- Diamond and Platinum elites can get confirmed upgrades at the time of booking
- Gold elites can be confirmed beginning 72 hours prior to departure
- Silver elites can be confirmed beginning 24 hours prior to departure
Elites may be upgraded along with one companion traveling on the same reservation. In a tweak to the program, companion upgrades are now based on the highest elite status of the two people. Previously, upgrades cleared based on the lowest status, which was very irritating to higher level elites who may have been passed over by passengers with a lower level of status because their companion had an even lower status.
There is one significant downside to the way Delta handles upgrades into Comfort+ seats. If you are cleared for an upgrade, the upgraded seat is automatically assigned based on availability. Therefore, you could have reserved a window or aisle seat in standard economy and be “upgraded” to a middle seat in the Comfort+ section. You will have to decide for yourself what is more important: avoiding a middle seat at all costs, or the extra legroom, snacks, and free drinks offered in Comfort+.
If you decide you’d rather not take the chance of ending up in a middle seat, there is an easy way to opt out. When you make a booking, and click on the upgrade request link, there are two separate boxes. One is for upgrades into first or business class, and the other is for upgrades into Comfort+. You may simply check the box for first/business class, and leave the box for Comfort+ unchecked. This will ensure you are only considered for upgrades into first or business class. The relevant portion of the screen will look like this:
American does not have a true premium economy offering on domestic flights. However, it does have a product called Main Cabin Extra. Some people simply refer to these seats as “extra legroom seating”. The list of amenities is quite short. The only real benefits are extra legroom and a position in the plane in front of the standard economy seats.
Unlike their true premium economy seats on long haul international flights, these Main Cabin Extra seats are not a separate class of service. This is nice because it means that an upgrade is not required; you simply select the seat at the time of booking. Main Cabin Extra seats are highlighted in red, and the price is displayed for those who do not receive complimentary access. As you can see, some of the seats that cost extra are simply the exit-row seats and are not located as far forward in the plane as the rest of the Main Cabin extra seats.
- AA elites with Platinum status or above have complimentary access to these seats.
- Gold elites may select these seats and receive a 50% discount at booking, and complimentary access if seats are still available within 24 hours of departure.
United is very similar to American in that they do not offer a true premium economy product on domestic flights, but they do offer extra legroom seats which are called Economy Plus. As with American, these seats are not sold as a separate class of service, but are available to select at the time of booking. The screenshot below shows an example seating map with Economy Plus seats in blue:
United has different rules for elite access and guest privileges.
- Those with Platinum elite status and above receive complimentary access for themselves and up to eight companions at the time of booking.
- Those with Gold elite status receive complimentary access for themselves and up to one companion at the time of booking.
- Silver elite members may receive complimentary access for themselves and up to one companion at the time of check-in.
Should Million Miler Status Be Your Goal?
Every week I see a post or a picture in one of the frequent flyer communities of someone celebrating their Million Miler status with one of the legacy carriers. Often the elated and relieved poster will recall countless years and flights it took to achieve the milestone. This is followed by congratulatory remarks, memes, and GIFs from onlookers who themselves recall their personal victory or their current journey towards that goal.
I hope I never achieve it, and I hope you don’t either. I do have an alternative goal to strive for though.
The Future of Business Class for U.S. Carriers
Domestic airlines have long lagged behind their international competitors when it comes to providing a luxurious and comfortable premium cabin experience on long haul routes. American currently has the best offering of the three legacy carriers with the bulk of its international long haul fleet featuring private reverse herringbone seating in a 1x2x1 configuration.
How Delta One Compares to Other Premium Cabins
Among the major U.S. airlines, Delta has long had the best economy class product. In fact, their major competitors, United and American, really aren’t close at this point.
However, in the premium cabin market, things aren’t as clear cut, and competition has been heating up lately. One key item to note up front is that while the name Delta One sounds like a name for a first-class product, Delta One is actually a
Status Matches From American, Delta and United
Elite status with an airline can get you some fantastic benefits: free upgrades, discounts,
New Cash + Points Options for Hilton Honors and Basic Economy Fares Abound
Hilton Honors is about to add its newest feature with cash and points redemptions, which is exciting for many travelers. Plus, there are some new routes for mileage earning and redemption that are worth exploring, but beware the basic economy fares that seem to be expanding from third-party sites.
Which Airlines Allow Stopovers and Open Jaws?
Stopovers and open jaws are great way to see more of the world for less money. Some airlines allow you to add a stopover to your award ticket itinerary on the way to or from your final destination. So what exactly is a stopover and an open jaw and which carriers let you take them? Read on for the airlines and their rules.
Cathay Pacific Card Awards Bonuses for Foreign Purchases and Marriott Offers Double Points for New Members
There is a new travel credit card in the market. Read on to learn more. Also, hotel companies are awarding big bonuses for upcoming stays. See which ones and where in the latest offerings in this week’s report.
Comparing Premium Cabin Transcon Service
Transcontinental flights from the New York City area to LA and San Francisco are among the most grueling domestic routes in existence, with flight times of approximately six hours depending on the direction of travel.
Fortunately, all the major airlines that fly these routes offer premium products that go above and beyond traditional domestic premium cabin service. In addition to the big three legacy carriers, there is competition provided by smaller airlines such as Jet Blue and Virgin America. We will compare quality of product, award availability and costs, and note a few things to consider when booking these flights.
Best Award Charts for Short Haul Redemptions
For many years, the standard price for a round-trip domestic economy award has been 25K miles for the legacy airlines. This continues to be the case for United, American, and to a lesser extent, Delta.
However, there are many alternatives available which allow us to book
Award Ticket Availability to the Super Bowl in Houston
Airline ticket and hotel prices go through the roof for the host city during big events like the upcoming Super Bowl, which is being held in Houston on Sunday, February 5.
One way to cut costs if you want to see it in person is to use points and miles where the price in miles is fixed regardless of the cash price of the ticket. Because tickets will be costly. You can expect to use 25,000 miles to get to Texas for the game though some airlines will cost more and at least one route is less.
Take a Tour of United’s Food and Beverage Offerings
If you fly the friendly skies, you’ll be pleased to know that United Airlines has made significant investments in its on-the-ground and onboard dining experience. In a way, United has been playing catch up with its competitors, but caught up, it has. Investments have boosted the flavors and quantity of food and beverages the airline offers its customers. Let’s take a look at what to expect when you fly on one of the founding members of Star Alliance.
Ranking the Three Major U.S. Airlines
There have been numerous changes implemented and announced by the three major U.S. airlines, United, American and Delta, in recent months with modifications to frequent flyer programs, credit cards, bank relationships, planes, routes and service.
Everything You Need to Know about United Polaris Business Class
Some airlines are moving away from offering first class and instead are significantly upgrading their business class experience. Improvements in technology have made business class better than ever, and the expense is more palatable to corporate bean counters. United Airlines is moving in this direction with the recent announcement of United Polaris, a new business class product coming this December to most of its
Best Way to Redeem Miles on United Partners for Premium Class Seats to Europe
There might be compelling reasons to book a partner’s flight rather than one on United, even if United metal is cheaper to fly. First, United might be unavailable. Second, it can take more connections and/or time to reach your destination. Third, you might want to splurge to have a better seat, service and food.
How to Get 100,000 United MileagePlus Miles or More Without Flying
The United Airlines MileagePlus frequent flyer program has dozens of business partners that can help you earn miles on the ground. You can earn miles when you rent a car, stay at a hotel, ride a train or get away from it all on a cruise. You can also earn miles when you buy a cellphone or cable service, eat at a restaurant or choose a car. Wherever there is a consumer product or service, the chances are you can earn miles for giving it a try.