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Hit 1K (again) = Why shouldn't I become a COVID free agent?

Hit 1K (again) = Why shouldn't I become a COVID free agent?

Old Sep 29, 20, 5:02 pm
  #1  
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Feb 2005
Location: CLE, DCA, and 30k feet
Programs: Honors Diamond; United 1K; Hertz PC
Posts: 2,163
Hit 1K (again) = Why shouldn't I become a COVID free agent?

With my last trip I hit the lowered qualification requirements to "earn" 1K for the 6th-ish or 7th-ish year in a row (given the status extension I'm not sure this was a meaningful landmark anyway, but c'est la vie) -- and have realized that the milestones for +points after initial qualification remain unchanged. I'm not sure I have enough travel left in this year for that to be a realistic goal (probably around $8k minimum, probably up to as much as $15k dependent on both how I book a Brazil ticket and how a few domestic projects shake out)
  • As it stands I have 600+ +points that are likely to expire before I (/wife/trusted friends) have a use for them so more +points isn't really a game with an outcome I care about
  • 1K isn't getting me anything in terms of onboard service (and if I get another bag of those pretzels attempting to pass as a "snack" I might finally lose it) -- the priority boarding is nice, and free bags are covered by the fares purchased anyway
  • My UC membership is essentially useless given my home club being closed and the hub clubs that are open are universally inconvenient relative to my arriving and departing gates (e.g. ORD C7 to F12, C9 to C29, E9 to B21, IAD all high-C, D, and A gates)
  • Most of the agents I know at my home airport and club have disappeared so the social aspect is gone.
  • My recent discovery of the illusory nature of UA's mask policy in airports has made me suspicious about other aspects of their COVID safety program [but of course, I have no information on other airlines]
I'm hoping someone can talk me off of the ledge -- or push me over. Given that I've sworn off DL "free agency" really means AA. Assuming I'm purchasing fares that cover the baggage and the priority boarding is there some reason I'm missing that makes playing the field (as it is) for the rest of the year a stupid idea?
lincolnjkc is offline  
Old Sep 29, 20, 5:10 pm
  #2  
Used to be MBS PremExec
 
Join Date: Sep 2000
Location: Saginaw, MI USA (MBS)
Programs: UA 1K 1.9MM, Marriott Plat w/Lifetime Gold, Hilton LT ♢, National Exec, Sixt Plat
Posts: 5,307
Million mile goals?

But if upgrades aren’t an issue—sounds like you might be paying for F. If that’s the case, then I too would buy on price/convenience.

I’ve had 2 trips since COVID, and I agree that most of the ancillary 1K benefits are insignificant right now. If it weren’t for me personally within 100K of 2MM, and still trying to hit the new, lower I’d be free agent-ing it too.
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MBS MillionMiler is offline  
Old Sep 29, 20, 5:12 pm
  #3  
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Join Date: Nov 2014
Location: MSP
Programs: DL PM, UA Gold, WN, Global Entry; +others wherever miles/points are found
Posts: 11,330
The thing that always confuses me about posts like this is - why are you getting status on United in the first place? I would normally assume that it's because UA offers a better schedule, better service, cheaper fares, your status benefits make UA a better value, or some combination of the above. Hitting a status milestone doesn't really change any of that.

So no, I don't think there is a "special reason" to stick with UA, but also I would assume a UA elite had reasons for picking the carrier in the first place.
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findark is offline  
Old Sep 29, 20, 5:45 pm
  #4  
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Join Date: Feb 2005
Location: CLE, DCA, and 30k feet
Programs: Honors Diamond; United 1K; Hertz PC
Posts: 2,163
Originally Posted by MBS MillionMiler View Post
Million mile goals?

But if upgrades arenít an issueósounds like you might be paying for F. If thatís the case, then I too would buy on price/convenience.

Iíve had 2 trips since COVID, and I agree that most of the ancillary 1K benefits are insignificant right now. If it werenít for me personally within 100K of 2MM, and still trying to hit the new, lower Iíd be free agent-ing it too.
MM is a loose goal...A lot (nearly all) of my pre-merger CO flying got credited to WorldPerks so I'm significantly further away from 1MM (which isn't a terribly appealing goal in and of itself) than I would be -- I think I'm at 0.65MM since 2012 (most of my travel is medium-short domestic so it's slow climb)

Originally Posted by findark View Post
The thing that always confuses me about posts like this is - why are you getting status on United in the first place? I would normally assume that it's because UA offers a better schedule, better service, cheaper fares, your status benefits make UA a better value, or some combination of the above. Hitting a status milestone doesn't really change any of that.
UA by default from when CLE was a CO hub (and also when CO was in SkyTeam and WorldPerks was my first FQTV program thanks to grandparents served by a NW-only airport) -- since then I've kept with UA for the personal relationships with agents (largely decimated), having a club in my home airport (currently unavailable, see also previous point), and the gameification of the elite ladder and resulting perks (largely off the table) and trust the airline generally will do what it says/say what it will do (shaken at the moment), and of course having a vibrant schedule from my home airport (it's in the toilet right now, but what airline isn't)

I feel like I've hit the last level in the "game" that is UA elite status...or rather the next level is sufficiently far away and of low enough perceived value to not be worth aiming for, so the ties I'm aware of binding me to UA are feeling a lot looser
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Old Sep 29, 20, 6:57 pm
  #5  
 
Join Date: Nov 2004
Location: APC/SFO
Programs: UA Plat (21 yrs elite), B9, AA
Posts: 235
Originally Posted by lincolnjkc View Post
the next level is ... of low enough perceived value to not be worth aiming for, so the ties I'm aware of binding me to UA are feeling a lot looser
Feeling much the same this year. 1K is easily within reach but I've decided against making any extra effort. PZ=0 is the same now as always on my routes, so I continue to just buy P or Z. 1K doesn't add much. But there's one other big change that has significantly tempted my free agency -- even as a SFO captive, the non-stop flights I have valued for many years no longer exist, and who knows if/when they will return. Until that's the case, even Gold would be enough. Fare, equipment, and schedule will rule my choices after that.
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higher_flyer is offline  
Old Sep 29, 20, 11:54 pm
  #6  
A FlyerTalk Posting Legend
 
Join Date: Apr 2013
Location: SFO
Programs: AA EXP; AS 75K; WN A List; UA 1K 1MM; Marriott Ambassador; Hilton Diamond (Aspire); Hyatt Explorist
Posts: 44,626
IMO now is definitely a good time to free agent, with status rolled over through 2021 and free changes across carriers. I've been flying (in rough order) WN, DL, AS, and AA (with first three preferred due to seat blocking/empty middles guaranteed). AA has particularly low F fares right now (and good upgrade availability on the t-cons). DL IMO has best overall product, particularly when you count the SkyClubs, AVOD, and friendly service. UA offers me nothing, with high fares, PZ consistently zeroed, and no seat blocking. Will likely walk away from 360 PP expired unused (and zero regrets / good riddance).
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Old Sep 30, 20, 1:20 am
  #7  
 
Join Date: Jun 2010
Location: ROC/NYC/MSP/LAX/HKG/SIN
Programs: AA 1.75MM EXP EMD, UA 1.31MM LT *G, DL SM, AS MVPG 75K, Marriott LT PLT(PP)/ICH AMB PLT/Hertz PC
Posts: 3,207
Originally Posted by lincolnjkc View Post
With my last trip I hit the lowered qualification requirements to "earn" 1K for the 6th-ish or 7th-ish year in a row (given the status extension I'm not sure this was a meaningful landmark anyway, but c'est la vie) -- and have realized that the milestones for +points after initial qualification remain unchanged. I'm not sure I have enough travel left in this year for that to be a realistic goal (probably around $8k minimum, probably up to as much as $15k dependent on both how I book a Brazil ticket and how a few domestic projects shake out)
  • As it stands I have 600+ +points that are likely to expire before I (/wife/trusted friends) have a use for them so more +points isn't really a game with an outcome I care about
  • 1K isn't getting me anything in terms of onboard service (and if I get another bag of those pretzels attempting to pass as a "snack" I might finally lose it) -- the priority boarding is nice, and free bags are covered by the fares purchased anyway
  • My UC membership is essentially useless given my home club being closed and the hub clubs that are open are universally inconvenient relative to my arriving and departing gates (e.g. ORD C7 to F12, C9 to C29, E9 to B21, IAD all high-C, D, and A gates)
  • Most of the agents I know at my home airport and club have disappeared so the social aspect is gone.
  • My recent discovery of the illusory nature of UA's mask policy in airports has made me suspicious about other aspects of their COVID safety program [but of course, I have no information on other airlines]
I'm hoping someone can talk me off of the ledge -- or push me over. Given that I've sworn off DL "free agency" really means AA. Assuming I'm purchasing fares that cover the baggage and the priority boarding is there some reason I'm missing that makes playing the field (as it is) for the rest of the year a stupid idea?
So it sounds like you have to fly a few trips anyway. If that's the case, pick the one that you feel is the best for yourself...

But then...
Don't stress over the status now.

1K or even UA status in general are not what they used to be. Drastically increase in qualification requirement with minimal return. If you can't use any upgrades, it's moot.

1. If you want to keep yourself to be in *A, fly *A partners.
2. If you don't need to achieve MM, don't stress on it.

I quit the status chasing game on UA starting 2019. Much happier than ever.
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PaulInTheSky is offline  
Old Sep 30, 20, 5:35 am
  #8  
 
Join Date: Dec 2008
Location: Chicago IL US
Programs: UA 1K; Hertz PC & Hotels Galore
Posts: 843
1K free agent here:

I fly WN now when possible. They status matched me to A list, I get more frequent departures, similar pitch and with no middle seats, everyone is in first class. Also, the differences in employee morale really show. DL is also getting a share of my business.

​​​​​​When do I fly UA? Only when no OAL serves the route (after all, I'm still technically hubbed in at ORD). Also, I bought some $180 R/T fares ORD-SFO that I intend to upgrade.
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Old Sep 30, 20, 7:29 am
  #9  
 
Join Date: Jun 2013
Location: Roswell, GA
Programs: AA EXP 2.8m,Lifetime PLT, Hilton Diamond, IHG PlLT, SPG Gold
Posts: 2,686
Thinking about the near future of air travel.. I really to have wonder as to , if its even worth switching to other airlines for to gain status.
Seeing how the benefits are long gone from what was before.. what good would it do me.. to start at a mid level status level with another airline.. knowing full well in my case that my usual travel
patterns are not coming back anytime soon (international 95% of my travel).
At least even if other benefits have decreased (AA) .. at least I know, when I need something , calling in to the EXP line ..my call is answered very quickly and the problem is solved.
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Old Sep 30, 20, 7:44 am
  #10  
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Join Date: Jul 2002
Location: MCI
Programs: AA Gold 1MM, AS MVP, UA Silver, WN A-List, Marriott LT Titanium, HH Diamond
Posts: 48,086
When travel resumes worldwide, will having access to the Oneworld network be of use to you? If so, now might be a good time to pick up an AA status. I had a few years where I was mid/high-tier on both A3 and AA and it was nice to shop awards across a ton of possibilities.

If it's just AA vs UA domestic, then it doesn't seem worth the switch.

Exception being if some other carriers has some key nonstops for you that UA doesn't...
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Old Sep 30, 20, 8:28 am
  #11  
 
Join Date: Dec 2019
Location: EWR
Programs: UA 1K
Posts: 27
Originally Posted by lincolnjkc View Post
Most of the agents I know at my home airport and club have disappeared so the social aspect is gone.
Sorry, but I can't help but stop here ... you just, hang out with gate agents? UC agents? Ticketing agents? I'm lost.
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Old Sep 30, 20, 9:15 am
  #12  
 
Join Date: Aug 2015
Posts: 5,715
Originally Posted by threecap View Post
Sorry, but I can't help but stop here ... you just, hang out with gate agents? UC agents? Ticketing agents? I'm lost.
Speaking for myself, over time for example some of the club agents and I have come to recognise each other. It can be nice to see a familiar face while travelling.

When you get to know the agents a little bit, they also share more about what's going on in the company, with the computer systems, etc. To me at least, that is sort of interesting.
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Old Sep 30, 20, 9:16 am
  #13  
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Feb 2005
Location: CLE, DCA, and 30k feet
Programs: Honors Diamond; United 1K; Hertz PC
Posts: 2,163
Originally Posted by threecap View Post
Sorry, but I can't help but stop here ... you just, hang out with gate agents? UC agents? Ticketing agents? I'm lost.
In more normal times I see some of the agents both at my home airport and ORD more often than my actual coworkers -- so it's nice to see the same people, how are the family/kids/pets, any good trips, how's the wife liking the new job, etc. A lot in the UCs just due to the nature of workloads but also random encounters on concourses, at dead gates, ticket counters... It's nice to be an individual on both sides of the table rather than just cogs in a giant anonymous machine.

Not like 4 hours over a drink in a bar social but more than I'd get flying any other airline -- at least until I got a lot of miles under my belt
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Old Sep 30, 20, 10:40 am
  #14  
 
Join Date: Aug 2012
Location: VPS
Programs: IHG Spire, Delta Silver
Posts: 4,218
How strong is the anti-Delta resolve? Because they are doing some nice things with MQM rollover into next year if you can get Silver that make it easy to then get Gold and the potentially useful Sky Team Elite+ status though the end of 2022
beachmouse is online now  
Old Sep 30, 20, 11:07 am
  #15  
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Feb 2005
Location: CLE, DCA, and 30k feet
Programs: Honors Diamond; United 1K; Hertz PC
Posts: 2,163
Originally Posted by beachmouse View Post
How strong is the anti-Delta resolve? Because they are doing some nice things with MQM rollover into next year if you can get Silver that make it easy to then get Gold and the potentially useful Sky Team Elite+ status though the end of 2022
I inherited my mother's strong will and/or stubbornness. I swore I'd never fly Delta again on August 23, 2004 (sometime between 2:01 and 10:21PM Eastern time if you want to get specific). I won't say "never=never" -- a sufficient amount of wooing or obtaining monopoly status could always change things -- but...I'd say it's a pretty strong resolve; I've gone far enough out of my way to avoid DL thus far that I don't see myself changing. I feel like OW status would be potentially more useful than ST, based on where I go and where I see myself going, but to be honest that is a pure gut feeling, and I think the true utility of either is relatively limited as a mostly domestic bird (not by choice)
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