Many travel loyalty programs offer the ability to earn lifetime elite status. Ordinarily elite status has to be earned on an annual basis, so it sure is nice to be able to not worry about requalifying for status anymore.
I’ve written in the past about lifetime hotel elite status, including with Hilton Honors, Marriott Bonvoy, and World of Hyatt. Now I’m taking a look at the lifetime status tiers offered by major airlines in the United States, and in this post I wanted to take a look at United MileagePlus lifetime status, which is in my opinion the most lucrative lifetime status program offered by any airline (check out my separate posts on lifetime status with Alaska Mileage Plan, American AAdvantage, and Delta SkyMiles).
How to earn United MileagePlus lifetime status
United MileagePlus’ million miler program is incredibly lucrative. Not only can you earn all elite tiers (including Global Services) with this program, but you can also earn the status for a companion. The catch is that lifetime miles are also hardest to rack up with MileagePlus.
United’s lifetime elite status is based on the flight distance of paid United and United Express flights you take over your lifetime. So this is quite literally a measure of how many millions of (paid) miles you’ve flown with United over your lifetime. Award flights, travel on partner airlines, and class of service bonuses, don’t in any way contribute towards lifetime status with United.
United has four lifetime elite tiers, so let’s go over the details of that.
Lifetime United Premier Gold status (one million miler)
Those who cumulatively fly one million revenue miles on United will receive lifetime MileagePlus Premier Gold status for themselves and one companion. This isn’t even United’s entry level status, so it’s nice that million miler status already gets you the second elite tier in the program.
Lifetime United Premier Platinum status (two million miler)
Those who cumulatively fly two million revenue miles on United will receive lifetime MileagePlus Premier Platinum status for themselves and one companion. This is United’s upper-mid-tier elite status.
Lifetime United Premier 1K status (three million miler)
Those who cumulatively fly three million revenue miles on United will receive lifetime MileagePlus Premier 1K status for themselves and one companion. This is United’s highest elite tier with published requirements.
Lifetime United Global Services status (four million miler)
Those who cumulatively fly four million revenue miles on United will receive lifetime MileagePlus Global Services status for themselves and one companion. Global Services is United’s invitation-only elite tier, which is ordinarily reserved for very high spenders or those who have a lot of influence over the travel of others.
United’s million miler companion status benefit
As you can see above, at each elite tier you can designate a companion to also receive your elite status. I wanted to go into a bit more detail on how that works:
- The companion receives whatever elite tier you’re earning in the MileagePlus program that year; in other words, if you’re a one million miler who also happens to be a Premier 1K member, your companion would receive Premier 1K that year, rather than Premier Gold (the standard million miler status)
- The companion benefit is awarded on an annual basis, so each year you can change the person who you designate as your companion (if you want to change it, you’ll need to do so by November 30, for it to apply for the following year)
- A companion is defined as a spouse, significant other, or individual who resides at the same home address, based on MileagePlus profile information
United MileagePlus lifetime status FAQs
While the above is a basic rundown of United’s million miler program, let me answer some of the common questions people may have about the program.
Can you earn lifetime United status with credit card spending?
United’s lifetime status is based exclusively on revenue “butt-in-seat” miles on United. While United’s co-branded credit cards can help you earn Premier Qualifying Points (PQPs), they can’t in any way help you earn million miler status.
How can you check your United million miler status progress?
You can check your progress towards United million miler status in the “My Account” section of united.com, after logging into your account.
Do United million miler miles expire?
Miles towards million miler elite status don’t expire, which is to say that you can continue to rack up miles slowly towards lifetime status. Unlike other elite miles, they don’t reset each year.
Also keep in mind that these are completely separate from redeemable miles, as you can’t use million miler miles towards anything. It’s simply a tally of how many total revenue miles you’ve flown on United over the course of your life (while crediting to MileagePlus).
How do you designate your United million miler companion?
If you’re a United million miler and want to nominate a companion, you can do so on this webpage.
Is United million miler status worth it?
Is it awesome to be rewarded for long-term loyalty with lifetime status? Absolutely. But in my opinion it’s never worth significantly changing your behavior in order to earn lifetime status. Why?
- Airlines can change qualification rules at any time for lifetime elite status, even if you’ve spent the past 20 years trying to earn it
- Airlines can change elite benefits at any time, so the perks of elite status can change considerably even after you earn lifetime status
- While the airline industry is more stable than decades ago, there’s always the risk of the airline going out of business, merging, etc.
So it’s awesome to earn lifetime elite status, but it’s not worth significantly going out of your way to earn it, in my opinion.
United’s million miler program is rewarding & brilliant
There aren’t many areas where I think United MileagePlus is industry-leading, though the million miler program is an exception, not just for rewarding it is, but also for how well thought out it is. In fairness, miles towards United million miler status are harder to earn than with American and Delta, since United only counts flown miles on United.
However, the program is still by far the most generous:
- One of the best things a travel loyalty program can do is reward the spouses of those who travel a lot, because they’re just as impacted by all of this travel; to give them the same elite status is a fantastic gesture
- United offering its invitation-only elite status as part of the million miler program is a real “carrot” for some members, as this is a status that many may otherwise never earn, but the program gives them the chance to earn that
- The fact that a companion receives the higher of your million miler status or your annual status gives million milers a real incentive to continue flying and earning a higher elite tier
Huge kudos to United for the million miler program, especially in comparison to American’s woefully unrewarding million miler program.
United Airlines has a million miler program, whereby MileagePlus members can earn lifetime Gold, Platinum, 1K, or Global Services status. The status is earned based on the total number of paid miles flown on United over the years.
While United million miler miles are hardest to rack up, the program is also rewarding, and gives members a fantastic incentive to continue being loyal to the airline.
Are any OMAAT readers lifetime United MileagePlus elite members? If so, what has your experience been like?