Yes, I know I am not the first, or even the 31st blogger to post about this today, but I could not let the sun go down without saying something. United’s announcement that it is instituting a revenue requirement to maintain elite status in its MileagePlus program in addition to the traditional mileage and segment requirements has been a matter of when and not if in my opinion. United’s requirements will be similar to those previously announced by Delta SkyMiles.

Like SkyMiles, MileagePlus is offering an exemption from the minimum revenue requirements for those who spend $25,000 on a MileagePlus credit card product. Notably different is that there is no credit card spending exemption for Premier 1K status, equivalent to SkyMiles Diamond Medallion, and as far as I can tell by the language used, this is only available for 2014.

Now, the only thing we have to wait for is to see how rapidly American AAdvantage will follow. That could go a couple of ways. They could wait and introduce a revenue requirement when they roll out the new AAdvantage following the merger with US Airways or they could proceed pretty rapidly. I would speculate that they have other more pressing concerns in the near term, but it is entirely possible they have been working on new requirements since Delta first introduced it and were just simply waiting to see what happened. There’s nothing to stop US Airways from rolling out its own requirement for Dividend Miles either, but I doubt it is a near term priority.

As you know, I have thought for some time that big changes were coming to airline loyalty programs. These are interesting times in airline loyalty, but in my mind were entirely predictable. The dog really is beginning to wag the tail. Can it last? More soon.

-MJ, June 18, 2013