Last Call: Book United Award Tickets With “Inherited Status” NOW

Filed Under: United

One of the more interesting benefits that United flyers gained after the Continental merger takeover was a very favorable policy of “inherited status” on award tickets. For the past three years, any award tickets issued inherited the status of the account holder.

That means that if a MileagePlus Premier member booked an award ticket for a friend and family member, that person would be treated with pretty much all of the benefits as if the Premier was flying himself. These benefits included free checked bags, economy plus seating, premier check-in, and upgrades if the Premier also had the MileagePlus credit card — even the boarding pass would show the status of the account holder!

As Ben covered back in November, United has announced that the benefit of “inherited status” will terminate for tickets booked after April 15. The Ides of April are upon us….

They even put a footnote on the checked baggage page.

Updated baggage policy
Updated baggage policy

So if you are a Premier and have award tickets to book for friends and family for travel within the next 330 days, you should do it now to lock in these benefits. Award tickets booked after April 15 will supposedly revert to the benefits associated with the passenger. (I say supposedly because we’re never quite sure how things will play out when it comes to United and IT.)

My Analysis

I have mixed feelings about this loss of benefits. As someone who came from the old United side of the house, it was a perk that we never had before, so many of us weren’t quite sure what to make of it. Heck, it wasn’t even a published benefit, but rather something that just happened, so you could never really count on it since nobody knew if it would just disappear.  In fact, the first official acknowledgement from United that this benefit even existed occurred when they announced that it would be ending! 

The announcement basically went like this: “You know that benefit that you never really knew you had? Well, it’s gonna end soon.” So I do commend them for actually providing plenty of notice, rather than just recoding the computer on Friday evening. It’s hard to complain about the loss of a benefit which you never knew you had.

I originally thought this benefit was kind of silly. Why should United confer benefits on a random Joe who just so happens to be the brother (or brother’s aunt’s first grade teacher) of a United Premier? I mean, is that person even going to realize they just inherited their friend’s benefits? Are they likely to tell their friend to keep flying United just so they can inherit benefits next time? Will they somehow decide to fly United enough to earn status?

But then I booked a few award tickets for family members and realized that it was pretty cool. Free bags and Economy Plus seats for family members even when I wasn’t flying had real value. I got used to it and came to appreciate it. In some ways, it was like Hyatt’s newly announced “taste of Diamond” whereby award nights that are gifted to friends and family officially come with the benefits that the Diamond would have received.

Your freeloading buddies won't be seeing this sticker on the seat in front them anymore.
Your freeloading buddies won’t be seeing this sticker anymore.

On The Other Hand

The benefit was just too generous. While offering free bags to non-status passengers doesn’t really degrade anyone’s Premier experience, when those folks start getting upgrades, they do displace Premiers. And getting complimentary upgrades on United is damn near impossible hard enough as it is, without competing with every Tom, Dick, and Harry who just so happens to be associated with a 1K.

All that is to say that I see both sides to this.

My friends and family occasionally benefited, but I’m sure that I also lost some upgrades to these folks. Perhaps a better solution would have been to offer just Economy Plus seating, or one free checked bag, rather than the whole enchilada. But presumably that would be hard to implement.

And besides, there is zero evidence that United ever intended to offer any of these benefits anyway, but rather they just never got around to fixing the glitch.

Bottom Line

The take away here is that if you have elite status with United and are considering booking award tickets for friends and family, you should do it now. As long as the ticket isn’t reissued after April 15 (i.e. no changes are made to it), it should still inherit the status of the elite traveler.

Are you sad to see this go? Or do you think you’ll have better access to Economy Plus seats and upgrades after this benefit is gone?

  1. Do you know if this benefit applies to award ticket change fees? If I book an award ticket for someone else, but then change it, will I have to pay a fee if I am 1K?

  2. Cute. But the Ides for April is on the 13th. Only March, May, July and October have Ides on the 15th.

  3. This really increased value of primer status — a lot!!!! Many of business travelers are actually powerless in the company and frequently not feel respected. However, this benefit gives them more self esteem in the way they can get their bosses who don’t need to travel often upgrades…

  4. Hi, I just booked an award trip for my Son and I. All UA Metal and Domestic. I’m a Plat and he is a General Member. Charged the taxes to my Explorer Card and we are on one PNR.. CPU Eligible does not appear. I thought it would? Perhaps I should split the PNR and see if it will. I will wait and hear first of what your opinion is.. Thanks and Safe Travels

  5. JD: My understanding is that nothing will change in terms of the fee waivers that are associated with Premier status. So you should still be able to make changes to the ticket (or cancel) for free, if you book with your 1K miles.

  6. Lloyd:

    First, I don’t think the CPU eligible is a good indicator. My experience is that it usually appears, but doesn’t always, and doesn’t necessarily mean that you won’t get upgraded.

    But I would be concerned about getting both upgrades through on the same reservation. I would probably book them individually to increase the chances that at least 1 gets upgraded (assuming you are willing to split if necessary, one in first, one in the back). I think that would give the best overall chances, since you would only need 1 seat to open in first at a time.

    The system is a bit of a black box though, so I don’t to imply that this is absolutely the way it works.

  7. Farewell to a nice perk that made family and friends consider flying United by having a good experience under the umbrella of an elite member
    Perhaps way off topic
    Hard to imagine flying United at all on a consistent basis
    Their safety has been called into question for being compromised
    They have massively devalued award redemption and the very once wonderful Mikeage Plus is in shambles
    Management has destroyed the brand and program with bad decision making greed and arrogance
    Once my favorite airline and ff program in the world it is simply a shell of what it once was
    So sad
    I guess I would still fly them but only if the choice was Frontier Sprirt or Delta instead
    Thankfully that’s just about next to never!

  8. Having been a loyal CO Customer, I am sad to see this benefit go. Since it took so long to eliminate it post merger, I wonder how much did UA pay to fix their system and permanently remove this value added benefit. It was a great way for me to send family and friends to do some of my field work (vs me flying) and allow them a taste of premier bennies. In fairness though to all the road warriors, mileage runners, aviation enthusiasts, and loyal UA Customers out there though, this is a direction in which I appreciate UA moving.

  9. The miles were earned by the member were that hard earned status- why would the reward conferred by using those miles not be the same regardless of how the reward holder chose to use them? When you earn a salary or benefit at work the pay amount is normally based on your salary position when you earn them- regardless of whether you choose to give the money away.

  10. What happens when a 1K member books a flight for himself and his son (for example). Both book at the same time on the same itinerary and confirm seats in economy plus. Then if the 1K member can not actually travel on the same itinerary, and cancels their ticket, does the son (a general member) get to keep his economy plus seat?

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