Peter Greenberg says it’s time to dump your United miles. Why? He fears the airline is going under.
I worry that United Airlines, which has already wrung everything they could out of bankruptcy, will fail in the fourth and the first quarters—which are the toughest to get through. It’s not a coincidence that most airlines go under in March, because they just can’t get enough money to make it to summer.
I am not sure what other cuts United can make. So, if you have any miles accumulated on airlines like United, I suggest you figure out a way to redeem those miles on their partner airlines.
Peter suggests that United’s misguided hedging efforts, which led to a $500 million loss — outlined on this blog back in September — pushed him over the edge.
Peter is right that you should cash in your miles, but I would argue that you should be doing that, period. United is devaluing their Mileage Plus program (effective January 1), and you should spend ‘em while you’ve got ‘em.
Peter’s suggestion to book on United’s partners is also a good one, especially since the inflight experience is generally superior on non-US carriers. You can’t book those tickets on the United website, and you’ll pay a small fee to book them over the phone, but it’s money well spent.
I wouldn’t single out UA for the deathwatch just yet — yet — but the key phrase is “single out.” None of the major airlines in the U.S. look all that healthy. The ten largest U.S. airlines posted $2.52 billion in losses last quarter, and hedging losses were a culprit for most of them. United may have locked in fuel prices at their peak, but they weren’t alone. By Peter’s logic, we should be cashing in all airlines’ frequent flyer miles.
Now THAT makes a bit more sense…
(Thanks for the heads-up to Sean O’Neill of Budget Travel!)