UA revises Mileage Plus accrual system

11 Jun 2014 by Clement Huang

United Airlines will make a significant change to its Mileage Plus programme from March 2015.

The revised system will result in members earning award miles based on the ticket price rather than the distance flown. The qualifying amount will consist of the base fare and carrier-imposed surcharges.

Basic members will earn five miles for every US dollar spent, and the accrual rate will then increase according to the tier status.

Mileage Plus status

Award miles per dollar

Premier Silver


Premier Gold


Premier Platinum


Premier 1K


The new earning structure will apply to tickets issued for United and United Express flights, and most United-issued tickets for flights operated by partner airlines (ticket number starting with 016).

So how will this affect miles earnings in different classes? Currently, Premier Miles members are able to earn bonus miles depending on their tier status – 25 per cent for Premier Silver, 50 per cent for Premier Gold, 75 per cent for Premier Platinum and 100 per cent for Premier 1K. That means that a return Business First flight (“P” class) between Hong Kong and San Francisco would earn a Premier 1K member a total of 34,570 miles. This amount is a combination of the 100 per cent bonus miles afforded to Premier 1K members, and the 150 per cent miles accrued from the total distance travelled on “P” class.   

With the new system, price will become the deciding factor. With the cost of the return fare (travel dates March 3-11) being US$5,477, the total number of miles earned will become 60,247 (see image below).


It is a different story for the back end of the plane, however. Currently, a Premier 1K member would earn 27,656 miles from the same flight when flying economy. This consists of the total distance miles of 13,828 and the 100 per cent bonus miles for Premier 1K members. But as economy fare is only US$1,016, the new earning structure will accrue just 11,176 miles.

How about first class? The new system would in theory award a Premier 1K member 120,340 miles for the ticket price of US$10,940 – a drastic increase from 48,398 miles under the current system. But a cap has been introduced to limit the maximum amount of miles earned per ticket to 75,000.

Finally, do note that the change will not affect the way members qualify for Premier status. The miles needed for each tier remains unchanged (see here).

For more information, visit

Clement Huang

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