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United Airlines

United Moves the Goalposts for Reaching Premier 1K Status and Reduces Some Benefits

United Moves the Goalposts for Reaching Premier 1K Status and Reduces Some Benefits
Jeff Edwards

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.

[Photo: Shutterstock]

View Comments (8)


  1. BiPlane

    October 16, 2018 at 2:43 am

    The article’s reference to “…passengers with elite status will no longer earn double miles on discounted airfare.,” is misleading, in that the change from double miles to 1.5 x miles, only refers to what Unite calls “Premier Qualifying Miles,” i.e., the miles needed to reach each elite status level. There is no change in the number of award miles received for a flight, which remains fare and elite-status based.

  2. jjmoore

    October 16, 2018 at 3:43 am

    If R / PN space is minimized anyway under UA’s new fare structuring (try to sell cheap P seats at any reduced cost to smite those looking for R / PN space), how does this change benefit anyone? Less instruments will not change the odds of clearing an instrument.

    This is not a good change for ANYONE in the 1K / GS tier. Unless you feel that being #1 and not clearing on the list is a “change you will like” vs. being #4.

  3. topman

    October 16, 2018 at 11:02 am

    And the devaluation game begins……..

  4. afCAMEO


    October 16, 2018 at 1:34 pm

    What benefit is all of this to me? I never get close to the weight allowance and extremely rarely can use my upgrade instruments. opportunities for upgrades won’t improve if lower fares for upgrades are going to be offered. With the increase of the minimum spend I probably won’t make 1K anyway, as seems to be a common comment on this site. If they want to thin the herd they’re doing it well, but that seems counter-productive since more people will leave United entirely and go for the lowest fares available on other airlines. Flying out of Cleveland other legacy airlines are often half the price of United.

  5. tbuccelli

    October 17, 2018 at 11:17 am

    I guess I am not as concerned about the RPU / GPU drop as UA makes it nearly impossible to use them, at least on the booked flights that I fly. In the two years I have flown and tried to use them (mostly ORD/IAH), I have been able to use 2 – yes 2.

  6. Clincher

    October 18, 2018 at 11:23 am

    If possible please kill the loyalty program. This slow death is torture

  7. Xerinax

    October 21, 2018 at 10:12 pm

    well stated by jjmoore. although I would say this really doesn’t affect GS much. GS members, and in addition their family members, friends, colleagues, coworkers, and casual acquaintances who happen to be sponsored for upgrades from their account continue to clear into the exponentially more available PN class, which combined with the fare structure will continue to minimize upgrades available for 1K.

    I have had less than 50% of RPU clear this year. United’s easy solution to people complaining about RPU not clearing is to get rid of most of them

  8. John Aldeborgh

    October 25, 2018 at 1:31 pm

    I find it insulting that UA is trying to position this as a positive. Do they read the comments of the top tier customers. They couldn’t possibly interpret these comments by this group as anything but pissed off. I’m not sure what United thinks thier accomplishing or saving. Is this somehow helping the bottom line. If so, can someone please explain. Driving away the 1K and GS customers isn’t a good strategy. I’m lifetime GS but still fly 300K+ a year on UA and I now have no incentive to fly more than 100K. UA doesn’t have a superior product and their fares are frequently higher than their competitors. Virtually any other airline will comp me status for a year to win my business. I’ve been reluctant to do this because of the Mialage Plus program but with this latest in a series of recent downgrades I’m done being loyal to UA, simply no reason. Sorry but that’s the honest truth.

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