Nearly half way to elite status with just one flight? That’s what United Airlines is offering to members of its MileagePlus program with the new Pick Your Path promotion. And it might not be the best choice for every member.
While demand for travel is steadily increasing, we recognize that different customers are beginning to return to travel at different times. Offering three separate promotions allows us to meet our Premier members where they are and gives our members the opportunity to select an offer that is meaningful to them whether they’re ready to travel now or if they’d rather receive miles to save for a trip later on.– Luc Bondar United’s vice president of marketing and loyalty and President of MileagePlus
The new program allows the member to choose one of three options:
- A ‘Welcome-back Bonus’ promotion that gives members deposits of bonus Premier Qualifying Points (PQPs) for their first three trips.
- An ‘Easy PQP’ offer which provides member with a PQP deposit without needing to travel.
- And an offer which allows members to earn double miles through the MileagePlus X app.
Hunting for elites
United previously gifted all elites in the program a 25% head start on their requalification for 2021. Choosing the Welcome-back Bonus and taking one flight before 27 July will net another 15% of the necessary PQPs. Take three flights prior to the deadline and the bonus PQPs combine to 50% of the total needed for earning status in 2022. Members who do not register for one of the other options are automatically enrolled in this promotion.
Travelers who don’t have travel planned before the end of July can choose a 10% PQP bonus instead, an option United says will help them “stay on track to wards requalifying for status through January 20223.”
In both cases it is clear that the company wants to keep its existing elite base loyal. The boost to get back towards status, especially as we approach the middle of the year and traffic remains significantly depressed, should draw some customers in where they might have otherwise chosen an alternate option.
Moreover, convincing customers to seek out that status ties them closer to the airline in the year ahead.
Or just grab some points
Option three still generates extra revenue for United and it could be the right choice for many travelers. The app acts as an affiliate shopping portal, allowing members to earn points for shopping at various online retailers. Earning double points for those transactions (up to 10,000 bonus miles total) just might be enough to justify going through the process.
And for most members this is probably the best of the options. While a few will see sufficient travel ramp up in the back half of the year to make elite status a reality the vast majority are likely better served by grabbing the reward points rather than the elite qualifications.
That’s not as great for the carrier, as issuing the extra points erode the margins the app delivers. And it doesn’t create the same tie towards booking future revenue travel that elite status does. But at least it keeps the brand top of mind.
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