Big Changes Coming for United, Delta Frequent Fliers

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Are you a Delta or United frequent flier? You may want to book rewards travel before these changes take effect.

In 2014, Delta and United Airlines frequent fliers will have to redeem a lot more miles to sit in premium seats. And they are not too happy about it.

Beginning Feb. 1, the miles required by United for international travel in first and business class will increase as much as 87 percent, with the biggest increases coming for seats on United’s partner airlines.

Delta plans to implement some minor reward hikes in February, followed by some larger increases on June 1, Bloomberg Businessweek reports.

Both airlines had already announced they’re implementing minimum spending levels in 2014 for those who wish to maintain elite status, Businessweek says.

Here’s what some of the changes mean to customers:

  • The miles for a first-class trip with a United partner from the U.S. to the Middle East will rise from 150,000 to 280,000, Businessweek says.
  • “Saver Hawaii economy and all awards to Alaska increase up to 40 percent,” MileCards says in a post that charts all of the United changes.
  • “Saver business/first class awards to Europe, Asia, the Middle East, and Africa increase up to 17 percent,” that website said.
  • Round-trip business class flights on Delta from the U.S. to Europe will increase by 25,000 miles to a total of 125,000 miles in June.
  • Round-trip business class flights on Delta from the U.S. to Asia will increase by 20,000 miles to 140,000 miles.

The airlines say the increases are fair given higher costs and better service.

The changes have prompted a lot of complaints on online frequent-flier forums. Your best course of action if you have lots of miles: Redeem them before the increases take effect.

What do you think? Have the airlines found yet another way to make us feel more like cattle and less like valued customers? Or have some frequent fliers come to expect too much? Share your thoughts in the comments below or on our Facebook page.

Stacy Johnson

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