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United Airlines

United Splits Star Alliance Members Into Preferred and Less Preferred

United Splits Star Alliance Members Into Preferred and Less Preferred
Taylor Rains

United Airlines has decided to spice up its MileagePlus program, specifically changing how members can achieve Premier status. Starting January 1, 2020, customers will accrue Premier credit based on the number of flights taken and the value of each ticket. United explained, “We’re taking a new approach to Premier status qualification to ensure our program is valuable for all Premier members, whether you travel hundreds of miles each week, or a few thousand miles multiple times a year.” The new program aims to provide more flexibility and equality to United customers. Here’s the rundown:

Currently, United has three ways to earn Premiere status: miles, segments, and dollars. This is being replaced with two new qualification requirements: Premiere qualifying points (PQP) and Premiere qualifying flights (PQF). Each flight will earn one PQF (eliminating fare class multipliers), and every U.S. dollar spent towards the base fare of a flight will count as one PQP. Customers can reach Premiere status by earning enough PQP + PQF or just PQP. Note: Basic Economy flights and award tickets will not be eligible for PQF, but can earn PQP, and distance flown will no longer count towards earning Premier status.

The new qualifications for Premier status are:

  • Premier Silver: 12 PQF + 4,000 PQP, or 5,000 PQP
  • Premier Gold: 24 PQF + 8,000 PQP, or 10,000 PQP
  • Premier Platinum: 36 PQF + 12,000 PQP, or 15,000 PQP
  • Premier 1K: 54 PQF + 18,000 PQP, or 24,000 PQP

United has also added additional ways to accrue PQP. Currently, base far + surcharge, Economy Plus seating subscriptions, and preferred seat purchases all count towards the spending requirement. However, the new MileagePlus program has added three new qualifying purchases: MileagePlus Upgrade Award co-pays, paid upgrades, and flights ticketed and operated by Star Alliance partners.

The Star Alliance addition is interesting because not all partners will be treated the same. United has split the alliance airlines into two separate categories, Preferred Partners and MileagePlus Partners, and passengers will earn PQP based on which carrier they fly on. The new system is quite simple – for every flight taken on a Preferred Partner, United will award PQP equal to the miles divided by 5. MileagePlus Partner tickets will be divided by 6. Each flight with an eligible partner will also award one PQF.

United Preferred Partners are: Air Canada, Air China, Air New Zealand, All Nippon Airways, Austrian Airlines, Avianca, Azul Brazilian Airlines, Brussels Airlines, Copa Airlines, Eurowings, Lufthansa, and SWISS International Airlines.

United MileagePlus Partners are: Aegean Airlines, Air Dolomiti, Air India, Asiana Airlines, Croatia Airlines, Edelweiss, EgyptAir, Ethiopian Airlines, EVA Air, Juneyao Air, LOT Polish Airlines, Olympic Air, SAS, Shenzhen Airlines, Singapore Airlines, South African Airways, TAP Air Portugal, Thai Airways International, and Turkish Airlines.

View Comments (12)


  1. Gizzabreak

    October 17, 2019 at 11:25 am

    Excellent move. Hopefully this will provide the impetus necessary for Air NZ to review the suitability of the undoubtedly inferior quality of their primary USA codeshare partner’s service.

  2. Dr.Ells

    October 17, 2019 at 7:54 pm

    And good luck, then. One world and sky team are the infinitely inferior alliances.

  3. NYC_1

    October 18, 2019 at 4:28 am

    United currently has three ways of earning status, but it’s not miles or segments or dollars. It’s miles (MM lifetime), miles + dollars or segments + dollars.

  4. fj1886

    October 18, 2019 at 5:27 am

    Sloppy reporting. It’s not the fare divided by 5 or 6. It’s the number of award miles divided by 5 or 6.

  5. pmiranda

    October 18, 2019 at 5:31 am

    Makes way more sense than the current AA system.


    October 18, 2019 at 5:38 am

    So as I read this, in order to get back to Gold (which I’ve been doing on inexpensive international mileage runs (Thanks SQ for the $1100 EWR-SIN r/t!) I now need 12 flights averaging $333?? My UA r/t’s are almost always under $300, the way to earn my loyalty is to keep my spend low. I’m exactly the wrong kind of loyal traveler for today’s Airlines!

  7. af fp

    October 18, 2019 at 5:42 am

    You need to learn how to spell “Premier”

  8. eflyte

    October 18, 2019 at 6:55 am

    Come on guys, get it right. The PQP for partner ticketed flights are a multiple of the REWARD MILES earned, not of the ticket price. So this now makes PQP earning dependent not only on United’s two-tier policy but also each carrier’s award mile calculations.

  9. cur


    October 18, 2019 at 8:41 am

    @Gizzabreak. lol why? they are a “preferred” partner. and ya you think some island airline is gong to stop flying to iah lax sfo? why they gong to go with instead?

  10. VRinSLC

    October 18, 2019 at 9:14 am

    sloppy reporting, as others have voiced as well.

  11. ckfred

    October 20, 2019 at 8:38 am

    What has me curious is whether some non-Preferred partner will feel that UA is showing a lack of respect and leaves Star.

    Turkish has a very good on-board product. I know people who swear that Turkish is better than BA, Air France, KLM, and Lufthansa. So, why isn’t Turkish a Preferred partner?

  12. Jackie_414

    October 23, 2019 at 12:46 pm

    I cannot find anything on United’s website about this change.

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