With so many airline loyalty programs out there, it is so difficult to decide which one is best for your travel needs. Recently, my parents have left on a trip to Asia and as I was helping them at the airport counter, my dad pulls out his United MileagePlus member card to earn miles. Now this is extremely out of context for me because for as long as I’ve known, my parents have been a loyal member of the Aeroplan club.
I decided to throw the question at my dad and interrogated him for jumping a long loyal boat he’s been riding in. Simple answer. He told me it was easier to earn miles and the return was a lot more rewarding than Aeroplan.
Being a loyal Aeroplan collector, I decided to investigate. United MileagePlus members will earn rewards based on how far the distance travelled and your MileagePlus status for flight operated by United, United Express, and flights operated by a Star Alliance partner airline. United MileagePlus members earn at least 5 base miles per $1 spent.
I’ve read about United’s Elite Status devaluation, stating that becoming a Premier Silver member will cost you 25,000 miles and $3,000 or 30 qualifying segments and $3,000. Premier Qualifying Miles (PQM) are based on the number of paid flights travelled and Premier Qualifying Segments (PQS) are based on the number of paid flown segments travelled. Both of these can be used towards status earnings. As an elite member, you can get baggage fees waived and complimentary First Class upgrades.
Let’s use a typical flight as an example. If you were to fly from Ottawa (YOW) to Portland (PDX), Economy Class would cost 12,500 miles and $53.40 in taxes and fees. In comparison, to fly with Aeroplan, the same flight would cost 12,500 miles and $132.65 in taxes and fees. The difference comes from the taxes and fees by both airline companies. You can see here that United has a lower charge for that, which is also one of the reasons my parents have slid away from Aeroplan to United’s Mileage Plus program.
Next, let’s take a look at the award chart. To fly from North America to Asia, a United flight will cost 42,500 miles or 85,000 for roundtrip. To fly with Aeroplan, the flight will cost 75,000 miles. Here you can see that it requires a lot less miles to travel to Asia flying with Aeroplan than United Airlines. The difference then is found in how the miles were earned. Most Aeroplan affiliated credit cards offer about 1.5 miles per dollar spent while I mentioned earlier that Mileage Plus members can earn 5 miles per dollar spent.
I can see why my parents have chosen to switch their loyalty program from Aeroplan to United. With lower taxes and easier earnings, it grabs the attention of any economy flyer.