My advice is the same as it’s always been. Earn miles, and more importantly BURN them. Do not bank miles in anticipation of some use far away in the future. I frequently use the 15,000 mile domestic upgrade option on AA for flights that are at least 3 hours in length. I think that’s a good use of miles. I frequently find myself booking at the last minute, so I was stuck with American’s goofy $50 dollar “expedite” fee anyway.
If you feel you can no longer support changes being made to your frequent flier program of choice, stop earning non-flight miles with the program, and move your credit card spending to something else. My recommendation is the Starwood Preferred Guest credit card from American Express. Not only are you earning Starpoints for hotel stays, Starwood offers the fantastic option of transferring your Starpoints to many airline programs on a one for one basis (United and Continental being notable exceptions). That’s a good deal for me, and I’ve made the SPG Amex card my credit card of choice for all of my purchases. There are other options as well, American Express Membership Rewards being just one. These points also transfer to many frequent flier programs, and can be used to purchase travel directly as well as a myriad of other items from coffee pots to stereos.
I expect the last holdout on mileage increases and award fees, United, will implement its own version of the recently announced changes at American, Delta and others very soon. These programs will continue to evolve. But don’t fret. You do have options. Think it over and do what’s best for your particular situation.