Starting next year, United Airlines frequent flyers will have to try a little harder to reach the top elite status for the following calendar year and passengers who qualify for Premier 1K status will find that some key benefits have been reduced when they finally arrive. The airline says the changes will make perks such as upgrades “more easily available.”
This week, United Airlines unveiled the latest enhancement to its MileagePlus rewards program. The announced changes will make top elite status a little more difficult to come by and will mean reduced benefits for some elite flyers, but the company says other new benefits will apply to more members more quickly.
Starting soon, United Airlines MileagePlus members will need to spend substantially more money to reach top Premier 1K status. Although the number of qualifying miles will remain the same at a minimum of 100,000 miles or 120 segments, under the new rules members will need to spend of minimum of $15,000 rather than the current $12,000 to reach Premier 1K status.
Frequent flyers who qualify for elite status under the new terms will see key benefits reduced as well. According to the airline, members will still receive one Global Premier upgrade for every 25,000 Premier qualifying miles (PQM) or 30 Premier qualifying segments (PQS) after qualifying for Premier 1K status, but will no longer earn additional Regional Premier Upgrades for flight activity after reaching the Premier 1K tier.
Beginning next year, passengers with elite status will no longer earn double miles on discounted airfare. Qualifying members will instead earn a mileage bonus of one-and-a-half-times the base miles.
“We’re adjusting qualification requirements for Premier 1K status with the goal of offering our most appealing program benefits to our most loyal customers and making these benefits, such as upgrades, more easily available,” the airline said in a statement announcing the changes. “These changes are intended to allow us to give more valuable upgrades (Global Premier Upgrades) to members sooner. Premier status benefits continue to lead the industry in this regard as Premier members can earn unlimited upgrades.”
Although the benefit reductions will go into effect beginning on January 1, 2019, frequent flyers will still qualify for Premier 1K status in 2019 under the existing rules. Passengers will, however, need to meet the new criteria to be eligible for comparable status for 2020.
There was some good news among United’s recent policy changes – the airline says it has increased the complimentary baggage allowances for some MileagePlus members. As of last month, all Premier members, regardless of status, are now permitted the same 70 pound weight allowance for free checked bags. Other bag restrictions have been relaxed based on program status and fare category as well. The airline is also touting recently revamped boarding policies as a benefit for MileagePlus members with elite status.