United dropped a whole lot of news this morning. Let’s unpack it.
- Elite status requirements will be returning to what United announced before the pandemic.
Under the new program you can earn elite status via PQF (premier qualifying flights) and PQP (premier qualifying points).
Each flight segment on United or a partner airline will earn 1 PQF. Basic economy fares won’t earn PQFs. You will also need a minimum of 4 PQFs on United flights in order to earn status, though basic economy, does count towards that requirement.
Each dollar (except taxes) that you spend on United flights will earn 1 PQP. You will earn PQPs on basic economy fares. Additionally, economy plus seat and subscriptions, preferred seat purchases, upgrades, and upgrade award co-pays will earn 1 PQP per dollar spent.
Those days are over, with the original requirements finally going into place for 2023 for the first time. That’s not surprising considering that Delta is also asking for more spending for status, though United is asking even more than Delta.
If you want Silver status, you’ll either need to earn 5,000 PQPs from spending $5,000 on United flights or earnings from partner flights or credit card spending, or you can get a reduced requirement of 4,000 PQPs if you also have 12 flight segments.
1K will require a whopping 24,000 PQPs or 18,000 PQPs if you also have 54 flight segments.
Even if you use the PQP only option for status, you’ll still need to fly on 4 United operated flight segments.
You’ll have from 1/1/23-12/31/23 to earn those.
2. Bonus PQPs for current Premiers for 2023 and 2024 as well.
As a bonus for 2022 elites, current premier members (who don’t have temporary trial status) will get a bonus on 2/1/23 as follows:
United will also make the same starter bonus in 2024 for members who qualify in 2023, essentially making it easier to keep elite members on the hamster wheel to requalify for status.
3. Earn PQPs and PQFs for (some) awards.
In fantastic news, United will finally match Delta in counting award flights towards status qualification starting on 1/1/23.
You’ll earn 1 PQP for every 100 miles redeemed, so if you redeem a flight for 25,000 miles, you’ll earn 250 PQPs. You will also earn 1 PQF for every flight segment.
Unfortunately, you will only earn PQFs and PQPs for United award flights, and not for award flights on other airlines. If you have an award with United and partner flights, you’ll receive partial credit, though it’s not yet clear how that will be calculated.
You’ll also only earn PQFs and PQPs when you redeem United miles, and not partner miles for a flight. Additionally, award flights still won’t count towards earning lifetime status.
4. Earn more PQPs from credit card spending.
Previously you could only earn up to 5,000 PQPs from across multiple United credit cards. That cap has now been increased to 15,000 PQPs.
Unfortunately, you won’t be able to use PQPs from credit card spending to earn 1K status unless you also have 54 PQFs. However you will be able to spend your way to Silver, Gold, or Platinum status, assuming you also have 4 United flight segments.
- The no annual fee United Gateway card does not earn PQPs.
- The United Explorer, Business, United Club Business, and Awards cards will earn 500 PQPs for spending $12K annually or up to 1,000 PQPs for spending $24K annually.
- The Chase United Quest Card will earn 500 PQPs for every $12K spent annually, up to 6,000 PQPs for spending $144K spent annually.
- The Chase United Club Infinite Card Card will earn 500 PQPs for every $12K spent annually, up to 8,000 PQPs for spending $192K spent annually.
- The grandfathered United Select and Platinum cards will earn 500 PQPs annually for every $12K spend, but these cards can earn up to 3,000 PQPs annually.
- The grandfathered United Presidential Plus cards will earn 500 PQPs annually for every $12K spend, but these cards can earn up to 10,000 PQPs annually. Grandfathered Flex PQPs can only be applied to earn Silver, Gold, or Platinum status. Presidential Plus cards are excluded from the 15K max earnings cap.
That means if you don’t meet the PQF requirements, you will need to spend $120K to earn Silver status, $240K to earn Gold status, or $360K for Platinum status across a sufficient number of United cards. That’s a much higher bar than what American requires to earn status through credit card spending, though American may still raise that threshold for next year. American requires just $30K spend on your AA cards for Gold, $75K for Platinum, $125K for Platinum Pro, and $200K for top-tier Executive Platinum with no cap per card, though you won’t get systemwide upgrades unless you also fly 30 segments.
Of course if you fly United enough to earn the required PQFs and are just shy on the PQPs, credit card spending will come in handy at all levels.
5. Removal of the award redeposit fee.
United was a holdout in charging a fee to cancel an award ticket and redeposit the miles within 30 days of a flight. I wrote about the easy workaround to that by just changing your flight to be more than 30 days from now and then cancelling it. But United will make that step unnecessary by removing redeposit fees on all awards worldwide.
Ironically, the removal of redeposit fees somewhat tempers the need for elite status, as free redeposits used to be one of the biggest benefits of having status. But with the competition allowing free award redeposits, United didn’t have much of a choice here.
6. Bonus PlusPoints
United awards PlusPoints to Platinum and 1K members to allow them to waitlist or confirm upgrades to premium economy or business class. At Platinum you get 40 points PlusPoints and at 1K you earn another 280 PlusPoints. You can view the upgrade pricing here.
For 2023, you’ll get another 20 PlusPoints for every 3,000 PQPs earned after earning 18,000 PQPs annually. That applies regardless of whether you earn 1K from PQPs only or PQPs+PQFs, which is a nice little sweetener for those who qualify only on PQPs as they will earn 360 PlusPoints when they qualify via 24K PQPs.
Return of the mileage run?
In the past, some passengers would fly with extra connections to fly more miles to earn status. The need for that went down with the elimination of mileage based status, but with award segments counting for status, are people going to book awards with as many connections as possible in order to qualify for higher levels of status combined with flight or credit card spending?
What do you think of these changes? Will they make you more or less likely to try to earn United status?