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United Airlines

United MileagePlus Premier 2020 Changes Everything, Receives Mixed Reviews

United MileagePlus Premier 2020 Changes Everything, Receives Mixed Reviews
Joe Cortez

As if qualifying for status wasn’t difficult enough, United is changing the entire way flyers will requalify for MileagePlus Premier status in 2021. Starting next year, those loyal to the Chicago-based airline will have to collect a combination of Premier Qualifying Points and fly on Premier Qualifying Flights to make an elite tier.

United Airlines will change everything about qualifying for elite status starting in 2020, grading flyers by how many “Premier Qualifying Points” they collect and how many “Premier Qualifying Flights” they board. On the United website, the airline detailed how earning and retaining status would change for 2021.

Starting on January 1, 2020, status will be earned based on the combination of the two factors. Flyers will earn one Premier Qualifying Point for every $1 USD they spend on flights. As with previous years, only base fare prices count towards Premier Qualifying Points; taxes and fees will not count. Premier Qualifying Flights will also count towards elite status, with one flight earned for every takeoff and landing. Basic economy flights will not count towards the Premier Qualifying Flight count.

Status can be earned in a combination of qualifying points and flights, or on points alone. To qualify for Premier Silver status, flyers can either collect 12 Premier Qualifying Flights and 4,000 Premier Qualifying Points or collect 5,000 Premier Qualifying Points. At the top tier, Premier 1K requires flyers to either fly 54 qualifying flights and earn 18,000 points or collect 24,000 points.

If you hold a MileagePlus credit card, your ability to earn qualifying points will be affected in 2020. No cards will offer any sort of waiver when the transition is complete and all flyers will be forced to fly a minimum of four United flight segments to earn status. And flyers who hold the United TravelBank credit card will not be able to earn any Premier Qualifying Points from spending.

Those who have the United Explorer Card, the United Club Card or their business equivalents can earn 500 Premier Qualifying Points for spending $12,000 on one card, for a bonus of up to 1,000 Premier Qualifying Points in a calendar year. Those grandfathered into older United cards can earn even more Premier Qualifying Points, which can be applied to Premier 1K status.

The move comes as United is making a major shakeup in their overall reward hierarchy. Earlier this year, the Chicago-based airline announced they would get rid of their Regional Premier Upgrade and Global Premier Upgrade systems in favor of the PlusPoints system. The change received a mixed review on the FlyerTalk forums.

View Comments (12)


  1. CaptHolic

    October 11, 2019 at 4:40 pm

    And just like that, I’m done with United… I have been a 1K for years but I wont qualify under this new system…
    All my company buys is basic economy, and they don’t qualify…

  2. Leemo

    October 11, 2019 at 8:43 pm

    This is a horrible change and I hope everyone is smart enough to realize how United is now treating their program. Not going to complain, but changing loyalty is the best way to voice opinions on this. Officially on our companies ban list for many frequent fliers – United is now Order 66.

  3. Scottlee3441

    October 12, 2019 at 2:34 pm

    It look like it time to change I fly a lot of first class flights and 30 or 40 segments. I like 1K because they treat you with a little respect and are more will to accommodate you when there problems. I will be canceling my CC as I see no benefit for it. Being 1K for the 10 years any thoughts on what airline to switch to.

  4. chavala

    October 12, 2019 at 4:03 pm

    LOL Maybe “mixed reviews” but certainly not 50/50. Hard to see much good in this for most of us. I’m out.

  5. crfgon

    October 14, 2019 at 1:08 pm

    With United getting rid of the PQD waiver for international members, they said

    “The PQD waivers for international members and for MileagePlus Chase cardholders are going away because we are providing new ways to earn spend credit toward Premier status. Members can now earn spend credit on flights ticketed and operated by our Star Alliance partners, as well as earn Premier qualifying credit from spend on select MileagePlus Chase credit cards. These changes align the way all members qualify for Premier status.”

    TL;DR: We want more money so screw your loyalty.

  6. TurboTing

    October 14, 2019 at 5:32 pm

    Too bad, so sad… Chase United MileagePlus Visa, peace out! No more >$25,000 spending/charging per year! Card just canceled after 17 years of loyalty. Thanks for showing me the door.

  7. gre

    October 15, 2019 at 2:35 pm

    Also been spending $35+K/year on my grandfathered UA card for the spend waiver.
    I guess that spending will now go to my Bonvoy AE card.

  8. Grog

    October 18, 2019 at 8:59 am

    Just corporate greed. Move along, folks. Nothing to see here.

  9. mmeskill

    October 18, 2019 at 6:30 pm

    Worked out that if you do the full 24,000 PQP you would earn a total of 360 PlusPoints. That includes the 40 earned at Platinum. The net result is the equivalent to 2 added RPU as 360 PlusPoints would get you 6 long haul upgrades and 6 short haul upgrades…2 more then at the current 1K leve.
    From FB message with United: Hi, Mike. Yes, it looks like the base amount of points for Premier Platinum is 40, and for 1K it is 280. So if you hit 21,000 PQP that would become 300, and at 24,000 it would be 320. From there, it looks like if you hit the 24,000 mark an additional 40 are added for a total of 360.

  10. hyho61

    October 22, 2019 at 7:57 am

    I am glad that I am life time gold. No need to worry about these changes, unless they change the life time gold status and tinker with it. Now the United card is almost useless (unless the annual fees are eliminated) and they will have a much harder time to enroll new card holders.

  11. Calmday

    November 1, 2019 at 6:42 am

    I’m a long haul flyer who switched all of my flights from KLM to United this year because of the Mileage Plus program. I just made 1K yesterday but wont make it next year. Might be time to go back to KLM. Doesn’t seem like my 13 trips (one way) a year between IAH and AMS in business are important to United anymore.

  12. enakurt

    February 6, 2020 at 5:38 am

    This new program sucks! The last four years I could get to gold status by flying 10 RT from BWI to West Coast destinations. With the new rules it would take at least 20 of the same RT flights to attain Gold. Seems like corporate greed to me! On top of that, airfares have increased noticeably on my usual routes. Thanks to United, I’ll be cutting way back on flying and spending more time on the road with my wife and dog while on travel writing trips.

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