UA mileage program has always been my first choices since I played miles game 3 years ago because its low amount for premium cabin redemption to lots of places around the world with great *A network.
With changes on award redemption effective Jan 1st,2009, UA will be no longer my first choice for travel and award accumulation.
1 Award level jumps to high, by way too high. from 90K business to Asia to 125K, from 110K business to OZ and NZ to 135K, from 75K business Asia to Oceania and OZ to 100K, many intra zone business changes from 30K to 50K and many more.
2 United *A award doesn't allow any changes once trip begin, you either use it or lost it. Since my time has become very flexible with lots of last min changes, it's very hard for me to come up with a fixed return date.
Now which airline become my top choice?
AA, DL and BMI
It's hard to believe DL is on my list, right?
All three airlines programs have two same advantages, flexibility and lower rate.
AA only needs 110K in business to most Asia, even cheaper to Japan and Korea, and AA offers unbelievable cheap premium cabin travel from Most Asia to South Pacific and Middle east, 70K/90K, 60K/80K. no fee to change on award any time as long routing and carrier remind same.
DL needs 120K in business to Asia and 30K in business for intra-Asia and you can change any time you want with a fee of $100, waived for Platinum member. Yes, many people complaint about availability on Delta and its partners in Premium cabin, but did you try to look up Korean Air? It's easy to find Business award seats on Korean air.
BD will make up other regions with its C+P award and one way redemption. I know BD has been taken over by LH, but until LH releases BD program ending, I will still accumulate miles on it.