Dedicated Fare Class for Saver Travel Awards Will No Longer Be Available on United Airlines

Photograph provided by FlyerTalk member goalie.

Shannon Kelly — also known as FlyerTalk member UA Insider and is the director of customer insights at United Airlines — has announced that United Airlines will begin using the ON fare class exclusively for upgrades into United Global First class and United First class on aircraft with three cabin classes effective February 1, 2013 to remedy the imbalance of fewer seats being available for upgrades.
The following was posted on FlyerTalk by Shannon Kelly:

“Having a dedicated fare class for these upgrades will enable us to offer differentiated availability. To accommodate this change, we will no longer offer a dedicated fare class for Saver travel awards redeemed from MileagePlus Premier Platinum, Premier 1K and Global Services accounts. Instead, the inventory once used for ON class will be allocated to O class, which will become the sole booking class used for Saver Awards in United Global First and United First on 3-cabin aircraft.

“Between now and January 31, ON will still be used for new Saver Award bookings from Platinum, 1K and Global Services accounts, and any flights booked prior to this change will not be impacted. We’ll also continue to offer better access to Saver Awards in United First (on 2-cabin aircraft), United BusinessFirst and United Business for Premier Platinum members and above, and better access to Saver Awards in United Economy for all Premier members.”

While many FlyerTalk members are not happy with this news — some perceiving this announcement as “just another downgrade of elite benefits — they expressed appreciation for the update being given 44 days in advance of the effective date of the change in how MileagePlus frequent flier loyalty program award inventory for United Global First class and United First class on aircraft with three cabin classes aircraft is allocated — as well as the transparency of communication regarding the reasons which prompted the implementation of this new policy.
However, is this news really as bad as it sounds? Apparently, not if it is put into perspective. “I don’t understand why people are getting so upset about it”, posts FlyerTalk member AAerSTL. “With ample Star Alliance partners offering superior products and on-board service it blows my mind why any UA elites would even consider redeeming UA miles to fly GlobalFirst. Sure it is nice to have as a back-up when availability on carriers offering a real first product isn’t available or in combination with other itineraries but what is the big deal?”
Is AAerSTL correct?
FlyerTalk members are wondering if there are any other adverse — and possibly worse — changes to the MileagePlus frequent flier loyalty program coming in 2013. Do they have just cause to be concerned — or are they overreacting?
What do you think of this new policy, and how will it affect you?

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