United Airlines announced a sweeping change to its frequent-flier program Tuesday that will reward its biggest-spending customers.
Instead of basing awards on the number of miles traveled, they will be based on the cost of a flight. Beginning next March, a rewards member will get five miles for every $1 spent, and between seven and 11 miles per dollar for premier-level members.
That's good if you spend a lot on last-minute flights and first-class seats, but not so great for price-conscious fliers.
"If you're booking coach, or looking for a deal -- good luck," said Brian Kelly, the founder of a blog called The Points Guy.
The move from United ( mirrors a change )Delta ( announced about its rewards program earlier this year. That change will also take effect in 2015. )
"These changes are designed to more directly recognize the value of our members when they fly United," said Thomas F. O'Toole, the president of United's rewards program, in a statement.
Carriers like JetBlue ( and )Southwest ( already base rewards programs on the cost rather than miles traveled. )American Airlines ( is one of the last holdouts, currently offering miles for miles. )
What should customers do? They might want to consider trying to rack up travel points from one credit card company, rather than remaining loyal to one airline, Kelly said.