It’s time now for United to show appreciation for their customers, amid the recent incidents that have proven disastrous. For the last few days I’ve been thinking of some changes that would reassure United’s commitment to their most loyal customers. Here are my top 5:
1) Provision to waive the $12,000 spend requirement to make Premier 1K status
In the current order of things, you can reach up to Premier Platinum status without having to meet the $9,000 PQD requirement. Previously, there was two credit card products with which it was possible to bypass the PQD requirements, but those are no longer available. As you can see below, those who desire Premier 1K status must spend $12,000 within a year’s time in order to qualify. That’s a lot of money. If you’re a frequent business traveler, that may be a non-issue. For others, however, it may prove too much to spend when compared with the benefits enjoyed by reaching Premier 1K status. It’s quite easy to reach 100,000 PQM for under $3,000, but then you’re stuck with that $12,000 threshold.
Delta Airlines makes such a provision via credit card spend through their highest elite level. I’m not saying the waiver has to be the same as Delta’s, but I’m sure United can come up with a whole new way to make 1K attainable for non-business frequent travelers. Especially now that there are Basic Economy fares that earn 0 PQM’s, United should reassert their commitment to loyalists.
2) Rollover PQMs
This is another provision meant to recognize loyalists’ business. On the other hand, not having this provision is a slap in the face of the customer. Let’s suppose a customer desires to attain Premier Platinum status, but for whatever reason ends the year at 65,000 PQM’s. That customer got pretty close to the 75,000 goal, but only made Premier Gold threshold for 50,000 of those PQM’s. Well the extra 15,000 PQM’s are lost at the end of the year and for all intends and purposes it’s as if he never earned those PQM’s, which of course is not correct. With a rollover provision, again such as Delta’s, United assigns value to the customer’s business, including the additional 15,000 PQM’s, which the customer would start off with on the next calendar year. If the customer’s flying pattern remains the same, then he will reach the desired level for the following year. What better than scenarios like these for United to show customer appreciation.
3) Broader mileage upgrade co-pay exemptions
As you know, you can use miles to upgrade to premium class. The problem is that there are hefty co-pays attached to most booking fares – naturally, the cheaper ones, which most people purchase. Premier members are already exempt of co-pays in the following routes:
I would like to see a system where according to Premier level the co-pay is either waived or lowered on other routes. For example, a W fare ticket miles upgrade from mainland US to Europe costs 20,000 miles plus $550 co-pay. Could it be that this co-pay is discounted according to the Premier level? Silver = $450, Gold = $350, Platinum $200, 1K = $0? I can’t see that many 1K members upgrade much with miles, given the other upgrades available to them (RPU’s, GPU’s, and CPU’s). So why not make this change if it might not make that big of a difference anyway. A change like this can certainly incentivize Premier members to remain loyal to the airline.
4) Provide accommodation for overnight delayed Premier members
I realize this might be too much to ask, but regardless of the delay reason (air traffic control, weather, mechanical, etc.) I wish there was a system in place to provide some form of accommodation for Premier members; again, according to level. United currently has an arrangement, for example, with with hotels.com. The problem is that a lot of times this doesn’t help at all. Recently, I was sent by United to hotels.com for ‘discounted rates’ for an unexpected overnight, but as they quoted me rooms, I found those same prices online. This is simply not enough. In my perfect world, Premier members would receive some sort of tangible voucher with a specific value for an overnight stay. Silvers can get a $25 voucher, Golds $50…and so forth? It doesn’t need to be much, but it sure would make a difference.
High-end flyers do get some additional benefits, but this is really off the books. For instance, I remember once being a Premier Silver on a missed connection because of airport traffic control. I had to spend the night unexpectedly, and the passenger next to me in First class did also. She was a 1K Million Miler, so she got a hotel, I got a bill for a hotel room. I still consider that at the time I was a loyal member, even at Silver. United would do well to recognize the same.
5) Open up hard product Polaris saver awards, even if limited
Given the Polaris seats issues, and the Polaris marketing of a hard-product, when a soft-product would be predominant for a while, United should open up some award space in the routes with the hard-product to Premier members. It would be a treat and would again show commitment and value toward loyal customers. Could the quantity of availability to the Polaris hard-product open up according to the Premier level, much like MileagePlus Explorer card holders and Premiers do enjoy better saver award availability in general?
These are at the top of my wishlist at the moment. Of course, depending on your circumstances, your list my look different. But especially now I believe United has been forced to, more than ever, hear what us customers have to say. I have already submitted these to United, and I encourage you to do the same at United Airtime.