United Airlines to tie frequent-flier miles to ticket price in 2015

Tue Jun 10, 2014 8:45am EDT

* Changes take effect in March 2015

* Corporate fliers to earn more miles

* Delta announced similar move earlier this year

June 10 (Reuters) - United Airlines, moving to sweeten awards for its biggest spenders, plans to base its frequent-flier rewards program on the ticket-price paid rather than the distance traveled, in a boon especially to the business traveler.

The move, effective beginning March 1, 2015, will benefit corporate travelers who typically spend two to three times more than leisure passengers and tend to travel more often.

Members of the MileagePlus loyalty program will receive at least five miles for every dollar spent on base fares and United surcharges, and elite fliers will earn more. For example, Premier Silver level members will earn seven miles per dollar spent, while those at Premier 1K, the top frequent-flier status, will get 11 miles per dollar.

Airlines are looking to cater more to their best-paying customers. Delta Air Lines announced a similar change to its SkyMiles loyalty program earlier this year. JetBlue Airways and Southwest Airlines also tie frequent-flier miles earned to the amount spent on a ticket.

Customers who pay more for their tickets have expressed a desire for more rewards and value from the airline's loyalty program, a United spokesman said. The airline's frequent-flier program has 95 million members.

Travelers can earn up to 75,000 award miles per airline ticket, United said. Taxes and airport charges won't earn award miles.

(Reporting by Karen Jacobs in Atlanta; Editing by Bernadette Baum)

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