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United Downgrades Elite Perks

It wasn’t that long ago that United upped the requirements to qualify for elite status in its MileagePlus program. Now the airline has announced a series of cutbacks to elite members’ perks.

That’s right: Elite status is harder to attain, and it’s worth less. Kinda the opposite of the traditional advertising tagline, which promises to deliver more for less.

The following changes are effective from February 1, 2015, unless otherwise noted:

  • MileagePlus elites will no longer have the $100 fee waived when applying for Global Entry.
  • Premier members will no longer be exempt from co-pays when redeeming miles for upgrades on p.s. flights between New York and Los Angeles or San Francisco.
  • Gold members flying coach within the U.S., Canada, Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands will be entitled to check two bags for free, down from three currently.
  • Effective April 15, 2015, elite travel benefits for customers traveling on an award ticket on United flights will be determined by the traveler’s status, not the status of the member who purchased the award ticket. (This could work for or against you, depending. But in the typical case, it will be the elite member cashing in his miles for a family member’s trip. Which means the new policy will amount to a downgrade for the traveler.)

None of the new policies is egregious enough in itself to trigger a mass exodus of United loyalists. But it all adds up, to death by a thousand cuts. The new revenue-based program. The higher elite requirements. The more expensive awards. And now this.

Those friendly skies? Not so much.

Reader Reality Check

How will United’s latest program devaluations affect your loyalty to the airline?

This article originally appeared on

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