United's New Online Media Store is Oddly Expensive

by  Liz Webber | Aug 6, 2012
United Airlines airplane
United Airlines airplane / Boarding1Now/iStock

Today's announcement of a new online media store for United MileagePlus members seemed like a good idea: use your extra frequent flyer miles to fill up your iPad or other device with music, movies, and TV shows for flights. But then I saw the price tags for said media, and I changed my mind.

Albums will run you about 900 to 1,300 miles, while individual tracks are mostly 150 miles. For movies, MileagePlus members have the option of renting the film for 24 hours or purchasing outright; a rental will set you back 460 miles and owning the movie costs 2,545 miles. TV episode pricing is not yet available (the TV section launches in the fall).

What does that mean in terms of real money? That same LMFAO single only costs $1.29 on iTunes, so if you buy it through United you end up spending about 116 miles per dollar. Movies are even worse – you can buy New Year’s Eve on iTunes for $14.99, which equals about 170 miles per dollar with United. (The MileagePlus Digital Media Store suggested that I “Sign in to see if you qualify for lower prices.” Apparently, I don’t qualify.)

The only way this might be convenient is if you could buy the tunes and flicks during your flight . . . but United currently only offers in-flight Wi-Fi on transcontinental trips, so it would seem options there are limited. As for us, we’ll stick to iTunes.

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