United unveils 2012 Mileage Plus program changes

United has released the details of the 2012 Mileage Plus program which effectively also covers Continental’s OnePass program as that is being integrated into Mileage Plus on December 31. The following updates to the program are taken straight from United’s own post on Milepoint.com and can also be view on United.com

  1. New vocabulary. First, here’s some new nomenclature: The term Premier will live on but in a new context. It will replace the term “Elite”. With that will come some new three-letter acronyms:
    • PQM & PQS: Premier Qualifying Mile & Segment (formerly EQM/EQS)
    • CPU: Complimentary Premier Upgrade (formerly UDU and EUA)
    • RPU: Regional Premier Upgrade (formerly CR1 and RU)
    • GPU: Global Premier Upgrade (formerly SWU)
  2. New tiers and qualification requirements. Heard any good rumors lately? Here are our new Premier tiers – all of which will have a minimum requirement of 4 paid flights on United, Continental and/or Copa:
    • Premier Silver: 25K PQM or 30 PQS
    • Premier Gold: 50K PQM or 60 PQS
    • Premier Platinum: 75K PQM or 90 PQS
    • Premier 1K: 100K PQM or 120 PQS
    • Global Services: Invitation only
  3. Bonus Award mile changes. Here are the changes we’re making to premier and fare class bonuses:

    Premier bonuses:

    • Premier Silver: 25% bonus miles (no change)
    • Premier Gold: 50% bonus miles
    • Premier Platinum: 75% bonus miles
    • Premier 1K and Global Services: 100% bonus miles (no change)
    Fare Class bonuses for United/Continental:
    • Full-fare Economy Class (Y/B) fares: +25% bonus miles
    • Discounted Business Class (Z/P) fares: +50% bonus miles
    • Full-fare Business Class (J/C/D) fares: +75% bonus miles
    • 2-Cabin First Class (F/A) fares: +75% bonus miles
    • 3-Cabin First Class (F/A) fares: +150% bonus miles
  4. New CPU geography for United, Continental and Copa.Our rationale for offering CPUs will almost entirely be based on how the premium cabin of the flight is marketed. Simply put – markets where the premium product is predominantly our domestic standard will be eligible for CPUs, and all others will not. Based on our current network, this is how our CPU program shakes out geographically:
    • Mainland U.S. (except p.s. markets JFK-LAX/SFO), Alaska and Canada
    • Hawaii (California to/from Hawaii, plus any other market operating with a domestic premium product, such as Chicago-Honolulu)
    • Mexico/Caribbean/Central America
    • Northern South America (except New York-Lima)
    • Southern South America (Copa flights only)
    • Asia/Oceania (except transpacific, Honolulu-Guam, Tokyo-Singapore/Bangkok nonstops)
    RPUs will be eligible in these same markets plus our p.s. and all Mainland U.S.-Hawaii markets.
  5. Instant upgrades for full-fare Economy Class fares. Premier members traveling on certain full-fare Economy Class fares will be eligible for an instant upgrade as early as ticketing. Specifically, all premier members will be eligible for instant upgrades from Y and B fares, and Premier 1K members will additionally enjoy instant upgrades from M class fares. Y fares will instantly upgrade using last-seat availability. B and M fares will have expanded upgrade availability, but it won’t always be down to the last seat.
  6. New CPU clearance windows. CPUs will begin processing automatically starting at 120 hours for Global Services, 96 hours for Premier 1K, 72 hours for Premier Platinum, 48 hours for Premier Gold and on the day of departure for Premier Silver.
  7. New CPU hierarchy. Our CPU/airport standby upgrade hierarchy will be as follows:
    • Global Services
    • Y/B/M instant upgrades that weren’t confirmed in advance (sorted by fare class then premier tier)
    • Paid upgrades (i.e. GPUs, RPUs and mileage upgrades) sorted by status, fare class, and date of waitlist
    • All remaining premier customers by status, then fare class
  8. Companion CPUs for all Premiers. Premiers at all levels will be able to extend their CPUs to one travel companion in the same reservation, including in the advance clearance window and with Y/B/M instant upgrades. This will happen automatically when the Premier reservation includes a single companion. In cases where there are more than two people in the reservation, or where the companion is in a separate reservation, the companion upgrade may be designated at the airport.
  9. Economy Plus access at check-in for Premier Silver, improved access for all other levels. To ensure we have better seating options for our top premier levels, advance complimentary access to Economy Plus will be limited to Premier Gold members and higher plus one companion (Premier Platinums and above may have up to 8 companions). Premier Silvers and one companion will continue to enjoy complimentary space-available access to Economy Plus starting at 24 hours before departure.
  10. Baggage changes for Premier Silver. The complimentary baggage allowance for Premier Silver and Star Alliance Silver members will be reduced to 1 complimentary checked bag weighing up to 50 lbs.
  11. Aligned mileage expiration policy. Miles will expire if your account is left inactive for 18 months. Our definition of activity will be very easy to meet for earning or redemption in thousands of ways. This includes something as simple as a magazine subscription redemption – which can be had for as little as 400 miles.
  12. New lifetime benefits. Big changes here, and we think you’ll agree this is the most generous lifetime program in the world. The following will take effect next spring (so please hold tight until then):
    • Continental and United lifetime earnings will be combined. You all guessed that much, but the key will be how we do it. Continental’s lifetime earnings have been EQM-based, and United’s have been based on actual flight miles. Starting in 2012, the program will be based on actual flight miles, however, we will make a one-time adjustment on the United side to boost everyone’s lifetime earnings to EQMs dating back to the beginning of the program
    • Lifetime premier benefits for 1 million miles = Premier Gold, 2 million = Premier Platinum, 3 million = Premier 1K, 4 million = Global Services
    • Million milers will be able to designate a spouse or significant other to always have the same premier tier as them (this includes when the million miler member earns a higher tier). The spousal premier benefits will be identical as the member, except they will not include RPUs and GPUs. This spousal benefit will replace the one-time and annual upgrade gifts, and hopefully you’ll agree this is a better deal
    • Continental’s Infinite Elite members (the limited few of you that earned this back in the early 90’s) will be grandfathered in and given lifetime Premier 1K status, but without the GPUs. We hope you’ll agree this is a generous resolution

    I’m curious to hear what all of our Mileage Plus readers think of these changes. Do you think it is fair or have they taken too much away? Overall the buzz on the net does seem to think they are fair as there has been some give and take but one key thing that was rumoured that never came true was a revenue requirement for status. However, much like the Aeroplan changes earlier this year, there is a minimum flight requirement in the elite qualification process of 4 flights on United, Continental or Copa.

    Feel free to comment below with your thoughts on the 2012 Mileage Plus program

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