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Frequent Flyer Miles Programs Are Changing

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unitedOn Tuesday, three major airlines announced that they will be making changes to their frequent flyer miles programs. This comes only a few months after Delta announced that it will be changing its SkyMiles program in 2015. United, American Airlines, and US Airways are following Delta’s lead and are switching from a miles-traveled reward program to an amount-spent reward program. How will this affect travelers? Let’s break it down.

United Airlines

For earning miles on the MileagePlus program, United Airlines has changed the scheme to 5 miles per dollar spent. The rewards are higher for elite status members: 7 miles for Premier Silver, 8 for Premier Gold, 9 for Premier Platinum, and 11 for Premier 1k.

This change will apply to all United and United Express flights, and most United-issued tickets for their airline partners.

Not a great deal else will change. Mileage will still be accrued on MileagePlus credit cards and, if you fly with a Star Alliance partner without a ticket issued by United, you will still earn miles the old way: distance flown and fare class. Miles are going to be expanded to purchase more things like better seats, checked baggage, and in-flight purchases.

These changes will come into effect March 1, 2015.

American Airlines & US Airways

American Airlines and US Airways have legally merged and plan to move into a complete business merger in the next few years under American’s name. The merger had the possibility of upending a lot of hard earned miles, but luckily that isn’t the case.

AAdvantage program president Suzanne Rubin sent out an email to frequent flyer members saying “We will combine your award mileage balances, your Million Miler balances and your elite-qualifying activity from both programs.” She is unsure when the precise timing will occur, but likely in early 2015.

Extensions of benefits, however, will start rolling out now periodically. On June 11, the airlines will extend same-day upgrade benefits to elite members on either carrier.

Earning miles will so far stay the same: travel further, get more miles. Brian Karimzad, director of MileCards.com, thinks American will likely change over to a revenue-based program soon. On the other hand, Brian Kelly of ThePointsGuy.com thinks it would be a good play for American to stick with its current program to differentiate itself from the competition.

For more information about frequent flyer mileage & reward programs, check out:

By Cody Brooks for PeterGreenberg.com 

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