United MileagePlus Reveals Massive Changes For 2020

Filed Under: MileagePlus, Reward Programs

Update: United is extending elite status by 12 months, and making it easier for others to earn status.

A couple of weeks ago United Airlines introduced PlusPoints, their new system for awarding upgrades. That seemed like a positive development, so some of us wondered what the catch was, since it’s not often that airlines make positive changes to frequent flyer programs.

Well, the other shoe has now dropped, and United Airlines has announced massive changes to how you earn MileagePlus Premier status… and these changes are pretty terrible and confusing.

United Premier Status Changes For 2020

The way you earn United Airlines Premier status will be changing radically in 2020.

Currently, you earn elite status based on a combination of Premier Qualifying Miles or Premier Qualifying Segments, AND Premier Qualifying Dollars. In other words, you currently earn status either through how many flights you take or how many miles you fly, plus how much you spend.

With the new program, the distance you fly doesn’t matter at all. This is pretty radical as far as frequent flyer programs go.

It no longer matters how far you fly

Distance Flown No Longer Matters

Starting in 2020, MileagePlus elite qualification will be based on a combination of Premier Qualifying Points and Premier Qualifying Flights. Yes, those are both new terms.

What Are Premier Qualifying Flights (PQF)?

Every flight you take gets you one PQF. That refers to one takeoff and landing. It no longer matters what kind of a ticket you’re on, meaning that if you’re traveling in first or business class you don’t earn any more PQF than in economy.

The exception is that basic economy tickets won’t be eligible to earn PQF.

What Are Premier Qualifying Points (PQP)?

Going forward you’ll earn one PQP for every USD you spend. As before, only the base fare earns PQP, so taxes and fees don’t count towards that spending requirement.

While the spending requirement is changing, there are more things that will qualify towards the requirement as well.

As before, the following will count towards the spending total:

  • Base fare plus surcharges
  • Economy Plus seating or subscriptions
  • Preferred seat purchases

With the new program, the following will additionally qualify towards your spending:

  • MileagePlus Upgrade Award co-pays
  • Paid upgrades
  • Flights ticketed and operated by Star Alliance partners

How Many PQF & PQP Do You Have To Earn For Status?

Starting in 2020 you can earn MileagePlus elite status either exclusively through PQP (how much you spend), or through a combination of PQF and PQPs (how much you spend and how many flights you take). Again, the distance flown is no longer a factor in any way.

With the new program:

  • Premier Silver requires 12 PQF and 4,000 PQP, OR just 5,000 PQP
  • Premier Gold requires 24 PQF and 8,000 PQP, OR just 10,000 PQP
  • Premier Platinum requires 36 PQF and 12,000 PQP, OR just 15,000 PQP
  • Premier 1K requires 54 PQF and 18,000 PQP, OR 24,000 PQP

As a point of comparison, in 2019 the revenue requirements (PQD, which stands for Premier Qualifying Dollars) for earn tier was as follows:

  • Silver members needed to earn 3,000 PQD
  • Gold members needed to earn 6,000 PQD
  • Platinum members needed to earn 9,000 PQD
  • 1K members needed to earn 15,000 PQD

How Does PQF & PQP Earning On Partner Airlines Work?

Previously if you flew on a Star Alliance airline and your flight wasn’t ticketed by United, you couldn’t earn PQD. With the new program, you’ll receive credit for those flights.

Going forward:

  • Your PQP will be equal to award miles earned divided by five if traveling on a preferred partner
  • Your PQP will be equal to award miles earned divided by six if traveling on another partner

For example, if you earned 500 award miles for a flight, you’d receive 100 PQPs on a preferred partner, or ~83 PQPs on another partner.

Note that as of July 1, 2020, United is adding restriction to partner mileage earning.

What Does This Mean For United Airlines Credit Cards?

Starting in 2020, changes are also being made to how spending on a MileagePlus credit card will qualify towards status.

Currently, you can receive a full waiver on the PQD requirement by spending $25,000 on a United card (at least for Silver, Gold, and Platinum members), and having the card can also waive the four-segment minimum for members to earn status. Neither of those things will be the case anymore.

Instead, starting in 2020 there will be other opportunities for spending to help you earn MileagePlus elite status:

  • The United Explorer Card, United Club Card, United Explorer Business Card, United Club Business Card, United  MileagePlus Awards Card, United MileagePlus Card, and United MileagePlus Business Card, will earn 500 PQP for every $12,000 in spending, up to a maximum of 1,000 PQP in a calendar year, which can be applied up to Platinum status
  • The United MileagePlus Select Card and United MileagePlus Platinum Class Visa Card will earn 500 PQP for every $12,000 in spending, up to a maximum of 3,000 PQP in a calendar year, which can be applied up to 1K status
  • The United Presidential Plus Card and United Presidential Plus Business Card earn will earn 500 PQP for every $12,000 in spending, up to 10,000 PQPs in a calendar year, which can be applied up to 1K status

What About Lifetime Status?

United awards lifetime status based on how many lifetime miles you’ve earned with them. That’s not changing. Lifetime status will still be awarded based on how many miles you fly.

Are There Changes To Earning Redeemable Miles?

No, United will continue to award miles as before, based on how much you spend. You earn anywhere from 5-11x miles per dollar spent, depending on your status.

Why Is United Making These Changes?

Here’s how United describes why they’re making these changes:

As the MileagePlus Premier program evolves, we want it to be relevant for all types of travelers. For this reason, distance will no longer be used for qualification in 2020, and members will instead qualify based on the value of tickets purchased and the number of flights taken. We’re introducing these changes to align the way members qualify for status and to better deliver Premier benefits to our most loyal members.

Will This Decrease The Number Of MileagePlus Premier Members?

United addresses the impact they think this will have on their elite numbers in their FAQs. United claims that they expect the total Premier population to grow based on these changes, though they expect a realignment of elite tiers. Notably, they expect more members at the lower elite tiers and fewer 1K members.

My Take On These MileagePlus Changes

What the heck, United?

We’ve seen such changes to how airlines award status in the past few years. Most significantly, we’ve seen airlines add revenue requirements for earning status, though this is really next level.

The distance you fly no longer counts towards status at all. Not in any way. I can’t think of another major frequent flyer program in the world for a global airline where distance doesn’t factor into earning status (someone correct me if I’m wrong).

Rather oddly, this seems to be punishing international travelers, so I’m not fully sure I get the motive there. If the distance people fly doesn’t matter, why does the number of segment someone flies matter? Why not make it a straight spending program at that point?

These changes are bad news for many international travelers

Furthermore, I just can’t help but feel frustrated by the constant pace at which airlines make changes to their elite programs. Many customers want to choose an airline to be loyal to long term, but then every year they find a way to significantly change the goalposts and make it worse.

Will American & Delta Follow?

Usually among US airlines we see Delta making changes, and then American and United follow. So it’s interesting to see United take the initiative here.

In this case it seems highly unlikely that Delta will follow. That’s because they just renewed a multi-billion dollar contract with Amex, and as part of that they redesigned their cards with new goalposts for earning status.

So coming so shortly after a card redesign it seems highly unlikely they’d change their program like this.

As far as American goes, we’ll have to wait and see. It seems most likely that they’d follow Delta on any changes rather than United, but who knows…

I don’t think Delta will follow United’s lead

Bottom Line

As of 2020 huge changes will be made to how you earn MileagePlus Premier status. Distance flown will no longer be a metric for earning status, but rather they just care about how many flights you take and how much you spend.

Not only that, but in the process they’re significantly increasing the revenue requirement, and It’s no longer easy to get a waiver of that requirement through credit card spending.

What do you make of these MileagePlus changes?

  1. Well as someone who regularly earned 1K thanks to a small number of very long haul trips at the last minute in paid business or first, this means I may not even qualify for silver let alone gold anymore. Not that I really used the benefits much since my company paid for upgraded travel anyway. I guess I just don’t need to care about a Mileage Plus and I should be airline agnostic.

  2. Well, I guess I won’t be switching to United. Delta will keep my business. Are you listening American Airlines? You have a huge opportunity here to get your act together. Fire everyone and start anew. Seriously. These changes are beyond ridiculous. Why wouldn’t you fully reward people who buy a $7,000 international, long-haul ticket? Or the people who pay $10,000 to fly international first-class on United’s partner airlines? Seriously. This reminds me of how Delta instituted spending requirements about 5 years ago but then capped the mile multiplier at 75,000 miles so anyone who pays more than about $5,000 is getting less miles than they deserve.

  3. I travel almost weekly for work and almost always on relatively short flights where I’d earn about 500 PQM. I am currently Gold, but have the spend to get to Platinum or possibly even 1K, but won’t be able to get there because of the massive number of segments needed.

    I actually kind of like these changes because it would put 1k in reach for me. I think it does a good job of rewarding who is actually flying United consistently vs for just one or two long hauls.

  4. I’m actually OK with the changes as a infrequent j business traveler who takes 1-2 intl J vacations per year. I always put up 7-8k of EQD on American & OW partners per year but always have to take circuitous connections or MR my way to meet on EQM because I fly high cost, low distance routes. Also good that you can earn PQD on partner marketed tickets now which was a big hang up for me participating in MP before (just got off a $3K Partner flight that wouldn’t have counted for squat in the previous program). The lack of PQS bonus for incentivizing first class is confusing though. But American has been frustrating me lately, so with Comparable United status now achievable by allowing partner spend and dropping PQMs, I might be moving over in 2020 (if EWR can get more Polaris planes).

  5. @kevin shouldn’t this be better for you? This new program is all revenue based…a few last minute intl business fares I’m assuming are $5,000+ you should hit the $24K req for 1K easily.

  6. Actually I misread, PQD requirements went up to 8/10k for gold, yeah ok my intl J deal hunting won’t qualify for that. I’d be a silver with my travel patterns. Sigh. Guess I stick around with American.

  7. Prediction—Chase will roll out a new bonus to hustle the gullible into signing up for its now subpar MileagePlus card.

  8. These changes (along with changes to revenue-based redemption) make the following easier for most who are not road warriors flying on someone else’s dime: fly who makes sense schedule and price wise. Expect very little because that’s what you’ll get–But that’s what you’ve been getting anyways. Dump the UA cobranded card for a cash-back card. There is very little value there for most and what value there is just too difficult to squeeze out. Take what they’ll give and be surprised when something meaningful comes out of it.

  9. So basically if you spend at least $24K in a year you get 1K. For someone who flies on paid J tickets, this is pretty easy to obtain.

  10. I live in Brazil, and due to local laws, PQDs cannot be applied to our accounts. I used to be 1K on United, fortunately I moved to Delta (almost on Platinum).

  11. This is just like the good old “Whose line is it anyway”. Mileage Plus is the loyalty program where the rules are made up and the miles don’t matter.

  12. These changes are fantastic! As someone who travels 70% domestic on expensive fares, reaching status is actually easier for me.

    I take 7 or so paid J international trips a year, though very discounted. So my domestic spend will make up for that. I’m at $36k this year with about 10k more spend still to fly. I like that this will lessen the 1K ranks, freeing up upgrade space for what United considers more valuable customers.

    Labeling these changes as negative just because it’s no longer easy is a 2013 state of mind. Airlines now care only about revenue (like a good business should). Don’t put history into judging whether this is valueable for the customer or not. Ben you’ve said so yourself that the traditional game is over and has been for several years, this just hammers home the point. Those of us that travel for work and have flexible travel terms are making out, as we should.

  13. @Lucky- Can you talk about how this impacts those of us that don’t live in the US? If everything is based on us dollar spend, how does our purchases in our native currency work?

  14. This article is written from the perspective of a long haul traveler.

    These changes appear to be fantastic for *short-haul super-frequent travelers*, who are probably making more money for the airline and are often more loyal out of necessity. These days I fly literally every week with united and its partners, and spend like crazy with them, but it’s hard to get past gold because of the 60+ segment requirement. I previously flew long haul to Asia a lot and it was way easier to get status. That’s been unfair, and they’ve finally rebalanced that.

    I don’t love the increased spend requirements and definitely see how this is problematic for super long haul travelers but at least the PQF part is really neat and makes sense

  15. LATAM Pass works that way since last year. You earn qualifying points based on how much you spend on the ticket, multiplied by a factor. And the domestic flight multiplier is even higher than the international flights one (so if distance is less, you earn more ?*!””·$%&·/·)

    And redeemable points are a complete different thing with different multipliers based on your current status.

    Is a mess!

  16. As someone who crosses the Pacific at least 4 times a year for work, the thought that the status earned for the dollars and time in seat is basically the same as a flight from SFO to LAX is insane to me. $$$$$$Plus indeed – no miles to see here.

  17. @Paulz, if you buy flights on United ticket stock, they’ll know and convert the price to USD. Flights ticketed by other carriers will be credited as partner flights, I suspect, as they won’t know how much you paid at all.

  18. Huge boost to those that book reimbursed international business class flights. Two round trips to Europe get you to Platinum. One round trip to Europe and any domestic round trip get you Gold.

  19. So basically they just eliminate distance and only use segments and dollars. Nothing confusing here. They way they make it sounds like coming from AA not dinosaur UA. I wonder does this have anything to do with Scott Kirby.

    What’s interesting is the Presidential Plus Card, has it lost it’s charm because of this.

    Goodbye milage runs to Asia.
    Hello $50 segment runs.

  20. These changes are great for big spenders, which means, only for people that fly with tickets paid by their employers, usually big corporations.
    People that fly on vacations or small business owners like me that have to pay for their tickets usually do not spend 24k per year.
    What these stupid airlines in the USA do not realize is that these big corporations will keep paying for their employees tickets despite of anything, because their focus is on their business needs and they will have to pay for the travel costs whatever it might be.
    The big 3 airlines (UA,AA,DL) should be trying to please the vacationers and small business owners that cannot afford to pay for First/Business every time they fly and would like to rely on their status for benefits such as upgrades and other smaller perks.
    These are the ones that will be loyal to the airline who gives them more benefits.

  21. One round trip in SIN-EWR/LAX/SFO premium economy which usually sells for $1400 will get you approx 3200 PQF for $1400 spend. Right?

  22. Thinking about a status match from Delta Platinum and guessing that I should wait until January to apply.

  23. @nazgul You’re right – I missed the “or” that makes it possible for pure dollars to count. I easily meet the 1K spend, just not the PQF.

  24. I’m a weekly short haul traveler paying out of pocket and this will make zero difference to me. I’ve already made 1K this year with flight segments alone (not even close on miles), will make it again next year with the new requirements, probably within six months.

  25. Seems logical to me and likely to align the ranks of elites with more closely with their value to United.

    Rather oddly, this seems to be punishing international travelers, so I’m not fully sure I get the motive there.

    C’mon Ben. These changes are disadvantageous to people who fly long, cheap flights but advantageous to people who are flying full fare and premium long haul flights. And that does align with the value of the customer to United.

    If the distance people fly doesn’t matter, why does the number of segment someone flies matter?

    Because segments align more closely with number of tickets you buy (distance is weakly aligned). This ensures that, except for the top spenders (who won’t be concerned with segments) that people do most or all of their flying on United flights.

    The idea that your value to the airline is tied to the net number of miles you fly is a hold-over from the days when pricing was more closely aligned with distance. In the current environment, with tons of Mid-East and Asian based carriers competing on price, distance an price (and therefore value-to-the-airline) aren’t correlated at all. Distance-based elite schemes come about through market forces not natural law, now that the market looks different the programs are changing.

  26. @Mileage Man: 2700. The divisor is 6 because SIN is not on the list of preferred carriers (according to the list at View From the Wing).

  27. So how about the customers outside the US, for who the PQD requirement was waived?

    I was thinking about doing a challenge next year with MP, mainly to obtain *G, for a couple of longhaul flights per year, but maintaining any status with UA afterwards doesn’t seem feasible anymore.

  28. Why be loyal to any airline? For years airlines have punished their loyal followers with these types of changes so why is this surprising? It doesn’t affect me or anyone else that sees free agency is the way of the future. I understand this will affect business travelers where there are contractual agreements between companies and airlines. However, for the rest of us who do not live by those agreements, earn transferable points/miles on credit cards and just be done with this airline status garbage. It’s an incredible waste of time and money.

  29. So it seems someone at United watched Up In The Air and designed a program specifically for George Clooney’s character.

  30. Changes benefit those like me who travel on short expensive and exhausting trips from OHare to LaGuardia on a weekly basis. I never understood why miles matter since long trips are easier by virtue of being a single event that are both less exhausting and less expensive. Ten CHICAGO to LaGuardia trips are far more exhausting than a single OHare to Tokyo flight.

  31. How does this impact those of us who live abroad and have PQD waived under the current qualification requirements? Is there any $ qualification waived for people abroad under the new system?

  32. This may have been brought up, but this new way of earning status seems a little similar in the way Alaska has higher thresholds for those flights not actually on Alaska. For example, with United, the dollar spend is lower if some of the flights are actually on United. The dollar spend is higher if there’s no flights on United.

  33. This definitively punishes my status. I travel mostly international (from the US) and long haul flights. In a week’s time when other travelers can put in 3/4 segments, I can obviously do only one, maybe two. I guess the system is aimed at rewarding local US based regular flyers, rather than those spending and covering lots of miles. In my case, time to sit back and review what’s out there in the market (in other words, see if Delta is more convenient for my travel patterns – there’s no way I’m getting close to AA).

  34. The one thing that wasn’t clear in the article was the following. Lets say I am taking a trip from Washington DC to San Jose, CA. I fly from DC to Denver, change planes in Denver and fly to SJ. Does that count as 1 PQF or 2? In previous iterations that would count as 2….

  35. It isn’t clear above. Will you earn PQF when flying on star alliance partner airlines? It says you will earn PQD.

  36. Really reduces the need for a mile-run for me… but now i need to spend more. 90 segments so far this year and $15K spend.

    Now someone can do a Dollar Run instead of a mile run LOL…. Book a last min Ticket and be done in a day.

  37. The clear problem with the theory that status should be solely aligned with spend is that the people who are flying paid first/business class tickets all the time are the people who have the least incentive to care about earning status. If you’re already flying paid first class on United, you get very little additional benefit from being 1k, and the same is true on United’s competitors. Basically, this United change relies on the assumption that people flying on the most expensive tickets will push their companies to put them on United consistently for the benefits it provides on their occasional leisure travel (assuming that their leisure travel is solo or with a partner but no kids, since most of the relevant benefits don’t extend to more passengers anyway). Of course, even this is only relevant for employees of companies that don’t already have corporate contracts with United, and in relation to employees who have the kind of jobs (usually extremely well paying) that are willing to pay for business/first class travel, but who don’t pay for it out of pocket when traveling on their own.

    It seems to me that the people who care much more about status, and thus who are willing to redirect their (and their employer’s, to the extent they can) business on the basis of earning/using status, are people who normally fly in economy. These people care a lot about the extra legroom that comes from consistent free E+ upgrades, about getting a fair amount of upgrades to business/first (not relevant if you’re buying those straight up in the first place), and about the lounge access on international flights. Yes, their tickets cost a lot less but they are the ones who will actually care to shift their business and to pay a bit of a premium to do so – the people I know who are diehard United loyalists are in this category. My dad, for instance, flies almost exclusively United/Star Alliance even when other options are both cheaper and more direct. Yeah, it’s only around $10,000 of yearly spend (so pretty consistently platinum, occasionally 1k or dropping to gold), but over decades of doing this, that adds up. He may be hooked enough that he won’t change his patterns (thanks to million miler status), but for younger people who aren’t in a position to have someone buying us paid first class tickets, there’s just really not much incentive for loyalty when the amount of spend needed to get serious benefits is so ridiculously high.

    So maybe this will be great for United, but I’m definitely not convinced that it’s a great business move.

  38. This makes a ton of sense to me. It has never made any sense that merely by flying far you should earn more elite status. Someone flying to Asia on a $600 ticket is almost certainly a lossmaking customer for the airline (on an average basis, not a marginal basis), while someone flying lots of $600 short hops is probably a fairly profitable one, but may struggle to earn more than Gold status unless they do a ridiculous number of segments per year.

  39. Under new plan, aren’t certain Star Alliance asia runs wildly beneficial to rack up PQPs? For example, ORD->BKK on ANA right now for $550 and 18314 miles R/T would earn 3,052 PQPs (divide miles earned by 6), no?

  40. p.s. this is also interesting because right now United doesn’t let you earn PQDs on partners at all (unless ticketed by United), unlike AA and DL, so a lot of the “tricks” that exist to rack up extra qualifying dollars on AA and DL don’t exist on United. Now, it is potentially fairly easy to earn United 1K status with status runs on select cheap partner premium cabin fares (although it looks like United will still be less generous than AA/DL with how many dollars you earn on many such fares).

  41. Avery long time ago I realized the airlines do not want a relationship. The faster everyone gets that the better for you. It is strictly a transaction in which like when dealing with investment banks your perspective should be “ and how do they plan on screwing me?”.

    My strategy is purely a credit card strategy. Transfer points to various airlines and burn. It should be noted that often you get some amazing fares so now I have blended various cash back cards so as not to get too many points on cc.

    Frequent flyer programs are quite useless ( I have over 60 500 mile upgrade sticker) and the fear slowly the credit card game is becoming marginalized except for the most devoted.

  42. This new system aligns better with the people that fly most often with United. The old system favored long distance, but those people may not actually fly alot. Why shouldn’t the people who fly often and spend alot be rewarded the most. I use Southwest for my domestic business flights because of the companion pass I could earn since their system was based on spending. I can switch to United next year and easily earn at least platinum or maybe 1k. I spend on average around 25k a year on short run flights. I think this system will attract alot of the business travelers who favored Southwest airlines.

  43. As someone who flies mostly long-haul business class, this makes a lot of sense to me. Distance flown bears zero correlation to profitability anymore, and it doesn’t make sense to grant perks based primarily on this metric. I would actually welcome a similar program at Delta, as this year I’ll be spending around $25k between personal/business travel but won’t qualify for Diamond status as there aren’t enough MQMs.

    Notwithstanding the above, those who complain should understand that the consolidation of years past and elimination of several carriers (CO, NW, HP, VX) has allowed the US3 to consolidate and fully flex their monopoly power. This is the consequence of reduced competition.

  44. I would think that an airline would want a FF program to do a few things for them (not in any particular order):

    1. Reward the most profitable flyers
    2. On the lower end give some incentive to flyers to continue to pick your airline over a competitor’s even if yours is priced a bit higher (unless you’ve identified these flyers as money losers)
    3. Use the program to gain goodwill/advertising.

    So making it easier for semi-frequent low end (in terms of ticket prices) customers to gain the lowest status and harder to gain the high status. The higher status levels should be the most profitable customers, however the airline achieves that.

    The CC perks should only be offered when the money is significant from the issuer but it shouldn’t be at a point where it affects the “comforts” of your most profitable flyers.

    If someone is flying around 50+ round trips and is somewhat profitable (assuming the person is flying often on cheaper airfares) you want to give them some perks to pick your airline over the competitors when prices are close or if yours is a bit higher but that person doesn’t deserve a high status.

    Someone who doesn’t fly much but is very profitable (more so in total than the lower end customer in my previous example) should be able to attain higher status.

    Just my 2 cents.

  45. I don’t see this punishing international travelers so much as it punishes economy travelers. Unless you’re flying on corporate paid flex rates, it’s going to be difficult to hit spend requirements for anything above Gold, and even that is pushing it. It should be pretty easy to get to Platinum with any kind of paid premium cabin international travel.

  46. This is obviously a program that’s much more aligned with value for United — favoring people flying shorter more expensive flights, and long haul paid premium. Aka profitable customers.

    The only thing that’s odd to me is counting segments as qualifying flights instead of actually flights. I have never understood why airlines reward connecting flights, when so many business travelers will pay a premium for a direct flight.

    The only airline that breaks the mold here is Southwest, which counts a ‘flight’ as from your origin to destination regardless of the number of connections. Southwest also has a revenue based system.

  47. I don’t understand why anyone at this point is still trying to go for status. It’s not worth it, and any time it may be worth it, they’ll just rip out the benefits underneath yu.

    Just fly whoever is best/cheapest.

    Try Norwegian guys. Fly Jetblue. It’s a big world of airlines out there, most of whom do a better job that United/AA.

  48. This makes total sense. Rewarding people who buy cheap long flights is basically rewarding the lest profitable customers for an airline. You can bet AA and DL will be following this in the next few years.

    If all the price sensitive customers that buy up cheap int’l tickets jump to AA and DL, i bet UA won’t feel any pain

  49. United miles now are so horribly devalued. International coach awards to Asia that used to cost less then 45K miles now cost 95K miles and business class that used to cost 70K now cost 185K miles.

    1% cashback cards are better then united cards cos 5 united mile is equal to 1 cent.

    Hardly any so called saver awards exist

  50. Fantastic for business travelers like me who easily meet PQD requirements but can’t hit PQM or PQS segments because they’re all short-haul domestic flights. On paper at least, I love the changes. Why the shock about “it doesn’t matter how far you fly anymore” aspect to this? It’s simple. If I pay $500 for a last minute economy flight within the US (on a POS ERJ-145 or CRJ-700 possibly), and you pay $1,300 for a economy flight to Japan, why should you blow out your PQM numbers compared to me? Cause you “suffered” on a plane for longer? I wouldn’t be surprised to see these programs just go revenue based at some point, as you mentioned, with maybe a minimum number of flights as a one-time, floor threshold for elite status.

  51. As with all things, these changes are good for some, bad for others. It is good primarily for on fliers who fly with less frequency but who spend big. Which to be honest is kind of the point of a loyalty program right? We wouldn’t go to our bank and expect them to give us a great interest rate on a CD simply because we have multiple transactions a month. We would expect them to give it to us because we have a boatload of money.

  52. Any idea how this affects the international traveler who lives abroad and did not have to qualify for the PQDs?

  53. I think the analysis posted by some people above is correct.

    This is very good for people buying last minute NYC-Boston flights and the like every week. Folks spending $250 to fly for 45 minutes on a plane that is constantly on the move (and offers zero amenities)

    Terrible for people searching for error fares to a random airport in Asia and getting first class food and drinks.

    Makes sense for business, hurts the mile blog game.

  54. They eliminated the international traveler waiver so everybody including foreigners will have to earn under the new mileage plus program. That is on their site. It’s a BIG change.

    If you buy united tickets, then they convert to USD and know how much you spent. If you buy a partner flight, you earn based on the partner rates above.

  55. Hi Ben, LATAM Pass works that way since 2019. No matter the distance flown, elite status is calculated based on ticket price and whether the flight is domestic/international. Also, the multiplier varies based on the country your program is based. A total mess!

  56. @clobber, Chase transfers into the United program become award miles only. They do not count toward elite status.

  57. Like others, don’t care. I’ll subject myself to United only when it’s the best schedule for me, otherwise prefer any of a number of better airlines.
    Miles I have left intend to use with partners, not them.

  58. The PQFs don’t seem to matter that much, but to be clear, if I fly a round trip with a connection each way, is that 2 PQFs or 4 PQFs? Because the “spend-only” requirements are incrementally so little above the “PQF plus spend” requirments, the PQFs really don’t matter much at all. This is effectively a straight revenue-based system.

  59. Time to award PQD only to the entity that’s paying, not the flyer.

    That should eliminate all the OPM elites

  60. What is happening to the Flexible Premier Qualifying Miles earned through the United credit cards? Since miles traveled no longer ‘counts’, will these change into something else or will they expire useless if not used this calendar year????

  61. I’ve been both a United frequent short distance/high segment traveler and a long distance/low segment traveler. As of now, the latter. I can hear my former self cheering this development, but my current self laments it. United is clearly tightening the screws on international travelers to get them spending more money on upgrade options, which are now much more plentiful (Economy Plus, larger Business Class cabins, etc, etc.). International travelers, that funny feeling in your back pocket is United reaching for your wallet.

  62. The elimination of the PQM requirement is without a doubt meant to reward very high spenders who failed for make 1K because they did not fly “far enough” in total. By contrast, these changes penalize long-haul travelers who made 1K by traveling ‘far enough’ without paying too much ($15K).

    Since I am a “long-haul traveler who made 1K by traveling ‘far enough’ without paying too much ($15K)”, these changes truly suck. There is no way I am going spend $18K, much less $24K, just to make elite status. So, I will requalify for 1K in 2019 and then when the new qualification rules kick in, I will stop caring about making status with United. I will just purchase premium cabin tickets with any *A carrier that gives me the best deal (no longer UA locked-in), and then fall back to my lifetime UA Gold and *Gold status going forward. I was already increasingly purchasing premium cabin tickets to fly upfront, anyway. This just liberates me to do it with any carrier that gives the best deal (I will limit myself to *A carriers because of my lifetime *Gold status), instead of flying with UA almost exclusively.

    I knew that the day would arrive when I would have to get off the airline status treadmill, but I never knew how I would feel about it. That day has arrived and, strangely enough, I feel liberated. I was increasingly depending on CC spend for my redeemable miles and points, so with respect to my redemption pattern, getting off the airline status treadmill won’t change much. My Year-end Asian Escapades(tm) will continue unimpeded. To “punish” UA will be crediting all my UA flights (status and redeemable miles) to SQ KrisFlyer with which may even achieve status… 😉

    Free at long last!

  63. This virtually kills the program for people *outside* North America. We don’t have PQD requirements thus far but will have them in 2020. They’re quite high as well.

    I’d argue the change is less extreme for Americans. PQD was the binding constraint for most people, amirite? Sure, there has been some name reshuffling etc. but in effect, what they’ve done is increased the PQD thresholds…

    Sure, the increases are significant, too. But again, I think hardest-hit are those outside North America.

  64. This is a great change for two groups: those who fly low frequency, but high-cost, premium and those who frequently fly last-minute short-haul domestic. Under the old rules both groups spent a lot, but earned relatively less in return. Now both will be rewarded appropriately.

    My travel this year is going to earn me gold, but with the spend that would earn me platinum next year.

    The change to 1k is definitely meant to thin out the ranks. UA already increased the PQD from 12k to 15k, now again to 18k. They looked at their members’ spend and drew a line at a certain number of 1k’s. I wonder what 2020 GS requirements are going to look like.

  65. This seems like a logical and positive change. Why should an elite program reward people who buy the cheapest economy tickets on long haul flights more than those who spend big dollars. Revenue is what ultimately matters, not miles flown. They are correlated, but not the same thing. Also good that they are thinning out the ranks of 1K. It had gotten so diluted so as to be basically useless. This makes mileage runs essentially impossible however.

  66. For the United Mileage Plus Chase Credit card holders, the ability to earn PQP for dollars spent seems to be only for year 2020. Also, for older cards that earned flexible PQMs, that were usable for status, those are ending in 2019 and will be converted by a 5:1 ratio to PQPs, which is less valuable than before. (https://mileageplusupdates.com/mileageplus/english/qualification/#accordion-faq-4). I guess they want to get rid of these cards, since without the added benefits, you can get better miles and more flexibility on other cards.

  67. @John, I think the same. Those outside US are hit pretty hard.
    Will all this game of changes in the last years I think that for now I had good strategy and took TK* as my main program to get to Gold. To get even Silver elite with UA now would mean more than double the spend I qualified last year.

  68. As if Mileage Plus needed to get *more* complicated.

    So ridiculous. My prediction is that this will increase the number of people who earn status without having a clue how they did it – and not really caring, either.

  69. Way to many 1K as it is now. Hope this change does make a difference there. I’m a united fan and I think this will help cut down on those inefficient mileage runs some people take.

  70. I fly to Asia multiple times a year for work, so theoretically, a couple business class tickets will take care of the PQP, but this definitely benefits frequent, short haul flyers.

    I’m of two minds on the changes; one, they can do what they want, since ultimately, they’re a business and they’re wanting to squeeze as much as money as possible from the consumer.

    Second, it does give me the incentive to move over to Delta. They’re one of the main airlinea for Seattle for international flights and I’ve chosen UA and partner flights over ‘better’ Delta flights specifically because of the mileage program. It’s disappointing, but ultimately, owing loyalty to a corporation is and always will be, a foolish endeavor.

  71. “The distance you fly no longer counts towards status at all. Not in any way. ”

    Well, since they still count toward Lifetime status, they do get you to Gold and higher if you fly enough miles. Up to a million miles, though, you’re right.

  72. So does this mean that if i take a flight on Air Canada by directly booking with Air Canada (an international flight) and earn 20000 award miles (like a flight to Asia), then i will be getting 4000 PQP for that ?
    That would actually be awesome for a mileage run for a ticket that you can purchase for 1500 dollars.

  73. I had a problem with Delta where I spent a fortune flying short haul flights but because of distance requirements I couldn’t get top tier status, whereas someone flying a few discount international flights would.

    This seems to reward what is important to the carrier which is revenue and frequency of use.

    I welcome the change.

  74. I have been 1K with United for over 10 years. With these changes, United is encouraging me to book my long haul flights with Air Canada or Lufthansa. Perhaps it’s time to look for another loyalty programme.

  75. I think this actually hurts certain flyers. I looked at an ORD-SIN RT flight in economy. Did one in November and one in February. Both a Friday-Friday, both economy, both same itinerary. Cost within $50.

    Under the old system, it would require 3.4 of these trips to earn Silver status. Under the new system, this would require 5.1 trips.

    What this will do is work good for those that fly a lot of shorter flights. In 2017, I had 45 segments with United, spent over $7600, but the mileage was just under 48,000 I believe. In the old system I was only Silver, because I didn’t meet the PQM/PQS, even though I spent enough to be Platinum.

  76. great change for short-haul, frequent fliers who are likely commuting about for business. i guarantee the swap-ins from this change are worth more to UA than the swap-outs who would have qualified under the old regime and not the new one.

    about to hit 60 segments and $18K in spend in 2019 to make gold…wonder if i can get bumped into 1K for next year…

  77. I am not sure United thought this out very well. I have been flying with them pretty loyally since 2010, and shifted all of my flying habits to (A) United first, (B) Star Alliance second. I fly frequently, but not so much to be near Platinum/1K/GS. I am typically around Silver or Gold, which I appreciate for the option to book Econ+ as I am quite tall.

    I agree with most that it is clear that United is trying to award and recognize their big spenders, which makes since on the surface. However, the new program is also (perhaps inadvertently) going to encourage people to book Star Alliance flights NOT with United. Here are a couple of examples:

    I have a leisure trip booked in February to MCT. United does not fly to MCT, but SWISS does. I booked my ticket thru United on SWISS to MCT. The price was the same whether I booked through United or SWISS, but at the time I booked it through United I did so to ensure I got both the PQM and the PQD. Under the new program, the trip will get me 4 PQF and 618 PQP, as I booked through United it is a 016 ticket. However, had I booked directly with SWISS, I would get 4 PQF and 865 PQP, spent the same amount of money overall, and not sent a single dime to United.

    Another example is my business trips. I typically travel to MXP about 4 times per year for work, which given the short flight (less than 10 hours each direction) will only reimburse for economy. Normally, I book the direct flight from EWR to MXP, and have been very happy overall with the experience. For my upcoming trip, if I book the direct through UA I would get 2 PQF and 928 PQP. Now, while I may still prefer the direct flight, were I in need to requalify my elite status I could fly Lufthansa or SWISS for about the same price with a layover and get 4 PQF and up to 1600 PQP (depending on fare class, assume up to 100% award miles for about 8000 miles round trip divided by 5) by booking a flight directly through one of them.

    In essence, based on my own habits (and perhaps similar habits of other elites at or near the Gold level), it seems that United is rewarding the medium- to long-haul economy fliers for taking that flight with one of their partners. Am I mistaken?

  78. United is severely reducing the travel hobbyists’ ability to “game” higher status, at the same time encouraging frequent business travelers to game their company’s corporate travel systems: waiting until the last minute to buy more expensive tickets, flying UA instead of lower cost options. I don’t see how that can last. Status ranks will be thinned even more as corporate travel departments crack down on employees wasting money for status.

  79. LATAM Pass has been that way for almost a year now. Funny thing Ben has (or used to have) Black status with them and had no idea how the program actually worked. Great!

  80. I see some positives on here for many business travelers, especially the reduced segments required. That is of huge benefit to frequent short jaunt flyers buying pretty expensive fares.

    It does appear that UA is telling all customers seeking status, if you’re flying international on a cheap premium fare or basically any economy fare, you’re better off flying somebody else. That is quite odd.

    I used to love the UA Explorer card offering both the PQD waiver with $25k of spending AND that it offered 10k MP miles for hitting that threshold too. No both of those benefits are gone, the only benefit to me is that it makes some of the insanely cheap basic economy fares I’ve found out of DEN this year (often only 25% of the regular fare, to complete against F9 and NK) bearable. I’ve noticed UA is rolling back BE out of DEN slightly, with many routes I’m flying in 2020 not offering it as an option now. That makes the Explorer card even less valuable.

    As for frequent leisure travelers that might be able to gain status with just a bit of business travel mixed in, this move is basically a big “F**k off to WN, F9, and NK!”

  81. I’ve been 1k for the past 15 years. To me the only advantage of that status level was the GPUs, since I am 6’5 and I have to make four trips to Asia every year. If I worked for a company that paid for me to fly business class I wouldn’t care about my status level at all. So what if you can board a bit earlier, and I have over 600k miles in my account that I will never use, so I don’t really care about the miles I earn. As it is, I will make 2 million lifetime next year, and blow my 6 GPUs in the process. Since 1k will now be out of my reach due to my limited travel budget, I expect I will be spending significantly less money on United in the future. Someone mentioned “too many 1k’s”. Too many for what? I often see empty business class seats on flights to Tokyo or Taipei, so that can’t be it. Anyway, I don’t see how this will encourage people to spend more money on United, and I expect that many people will be spending less, if any at all.

  82. Simply ridiculous and punishing every long haul flyer. Are they trying to move into the commute business?
    I travel extensively for business and are based out of Alaska – so that’s 1,500 miles or 3 hours to get out of state alone. In other words – my 18 hour flights to Europe get me as much as a SFO-LAX commute flight?
    Good bye United.

  83. I fly about 40k miles a year mainly on inexpensive domestic flights. When I fly internationally, I like to do so in a premium cabin and therefore, I like to use points. Before the advent of qualifying dollars, I was able to earn Gold status by booking a few flights in domestic F when it made sense to do so to earn additional qualifying miles. Once the dollar requirement was added, I have trouble spending the $6k necessary for Gold. Now that it will require $8k, assuming all flights are on UA tickets, there is very little chance I will spend that next year. The one good change here is that you will be able to earn points toward the spend requirement on partner flights, but this is something AA and DL already are doing. Fortunately, I decided to switch from UA to AA because AA targeted me for a Platinum Pro status challenge. I hope this higher spend requirement doesn’t spread to AA and DL too fast. Next year, I will probably enjoy my AA Platinum pro status for the first half of the year and then decide if I want to go for what will probably be AA Platinum or use Platinum Pro to status match to DL Platinum or maybe AS MVP Gold 75k.

  84. If the airline really cares about revenue, they should reward those who paid for the tickets, not the guys who fly on expensive J tickets, get paid by their companies, and pick up free miles. This is basically rewarding business travelers, many of whom are not paying for their tickets but discouraging families and individuals and pay for their own tickets.

  85. @Lucky

    You’ll still earn status by distance flown as long as you’re not on 016 ticket stock

    Made me glad I booked my HKG trip directly on LH vs through UA for next year.

  86. With the abolition of the Chase $25k spend/ PQD waiver, I see no reason to have a Chase Mileage Plus Explorer Card with this new program. Two United Club passes per year? Puhleez, the United Clubs are the worst these days. I’ll take the Centurion Lounge any day, thank you.

    I am interested to see what happens next to the relationship between United and Chase. Maybe they will part company. Looking for a silver lining, maybe United could partner with Amex. That would probably work better for small business owners like myself that Amex caters well to.

  87. Thanks for explaining it to me. I didn’t get it in the video, but you broke it down for me to understand.

  88. United is trying to address fliers in 2 markets – domestic and international. But the perks, such as lounges are different. United Club doesn’t compare to Polaris lounge in terms of facilities and food quality. If domestic fliers reach, say, Platinum status, they still won’t be able to visit a Polaris lounge if they fly domestically.

  89. United Airlines may have taken things one step too far with this move. This situation seems like a perfect storm for a class action lawsuit. How many customers have already purchased airfare for 2020 with the expectation of earning certain PQDs, PQSs, and PQMs? Some have undoubtedly made purchases into specific fare classes (e.g., Y, B, R, etc…) solely for the purposes of securing upgrades, increased chances of an upgrade, or accelerated PQS/PQM earnings. This sort of monumental change couldn’t have materialized overnight. How many tickets has United sold within the past month under false pretenses — knowingly misrepresenting the MileagePlus PQM and PQS accrual details published on their provided eTicket receipts?!? Maybe this new policy stinks, maybe its great. However, changing accruals associated with tickets that have already been paid for therefore changes their innate value and is a total act of fraud. United should have made an announcement like this in February 2019 before it was even possible to purchase tickets for the 2020 calendar year…or…waited until February 2020 to roll out a new plan for the 2021 year.

  90. People need to stop complaining. It’s makes absolutely zero sense that a customer spending $700 on a ticket from LAX – LHR should be rewarded more than someone spending $800 on a flight from LAX – EWR.
    And oddly miles flown matter more than ever when you take partners airlines into consideration. And I am INCREDIBLY excited that partner flights now counts towards elite status regardless if its a “016-“ ticket number or not…this adds some much appreciated flexibility in travel options and mileage runs. There will probably be fewer 1K’s and more Silvers…boohoo, you’re fine.
    Agreed that the United branded Chase CC’s are now basically worthless, but I’m expecting some big announcements with that relationship. That’s really the only disappointment/mistake I can see.
    Overall I’m happy to see United leading instead of following. And please go ahead and switch to AA (good luck with that) or Delta….there’ll be more room in the lounges!

  91. @Lucky — You should take a look at Lufthansa’s Miles And More program which has been doing this for awhile.

    I actually spent down my UA miles years ago and used Miles And More as my preferred Star Alliance accumulation vehicle.

    So for those of you who otherwise like flying United but who hate the new program, consider Lufthansa Miles And More. Why? Two reasons:

    (1) When you reach Frequent Traveller status at 35,000 status miles (not miles flown), you get access to Lufthansa, Swiss, Austrian, and maybe LOT Polish lounges for FREE when travelling. (Senator status at 100,000 status miles is harder in my view — although I am nearly there this year with 83,000 status miles and 80 days left to go in the year.) Once you reach Senator status (which is Star Alliance Gold), then, of course, you can use the United Lounges too.

    (2) Status is good for TWO years, not one. This is unheard of in USA frequent flier programs.

  92. United is making elite qualification “more transparent.” What BS. They’re hiding the fact (in plain sight) that the new system basically rewards only those who fly exclusively paid First/Business. And the bottom line is this: what good are 1K benefits like upgrades if you have to pay for first/business class just to qualify? That’s why united made its “positive changes” to the upgrade system, because most 1K’s won’t have the opportunity to use them anyway, because they’ll always be paying for 1st class in order to earn 1K in the first place – like a dog chasing its tail. And of course – with fewer seats than ever available for upgrades – this game becomes even more of a farce.

    Here’s why most 1K qualifiers will have to pay for first rather than use their gifted upgrades: The key metric that is not “transparent” with United is how many of its top tier members fly >=54 segments a year? Few. And how many of those >54 flight takers live close to United nonstop hubs? Even fewer – they most likely make connecting flights to get to their destination. This system punishes those who live at United hubs, where most of its top tier flyers likely reside and who prefer to take advantage of the nonstop flights offered at hubs.

    United knows the answer to these questions but hasn’t shared those little pieces of data. Because those flyers are the ones who will lose out as the airline shrinks its top tiers. Basically – unless one plans to take one flight a week on average, the 1K spend goes from $15,000 to $24,000 a year – which is basically achieved ONLY by flying paid first/business. Yes, one can also earn points on non-united metal now, but that doesn’t apply to domestic routes at all and would at most add minimal earning potential for most flyers. So to sum this all up – have fun playing the game. Go spend $24,000 to earn upgrade points only to discover that those points will go unspent as you try to qualify for status the next year by buying your way into the very seats you used to get as upgrades. Otherwise, the only other benefit you get for your 1K is a dried out hamburger and the right to “pre-board” after children under 2. That’s not a game I’m willing to play anymore.

  93. United 1K here. Not surprised by the change. For the last few years I have heavily relied on miles and Explorer card waiver to reach Premier status. With the 2020 increase in PQD required, I knew it would be impossible to get to 1K again given my company’s policy to book Economy tickets. I would have to fly nearly 150K worth of miles to reach the $15K PQD.

    Ever since United introduced Basic Economy and made me pay extra just for the privilege of actually using my Premier benefits, I have decided to become airline agnostic and pay for the upgrades I want as I go. This only affirms my decision. I have already decided to close my Explorer Card account and will focus 2020 on spending my miles. Probably for the best as air travel is really bad for the environment anyway.

  94. There goes any incentive I have to book transcontinental flights with United instead of a Star Alliance partner, even if flying with United.

    As an example, I’m flying to Hong Kong at the end of month, a ticket that usually runs me $1000 and is about 18,000 miles total. Booking through United yields me 1000 PQP. If I book through ANA, I get 1800 PQP even after assuming a 50% award mile earning rate and dividing by 5.

    Premium is even more pronounced. Let’s say I book the same flight for $3,000. I’ll have a far more pleasant experience with Singapore Airlines business class than United Polaris for that price, and make 7200 PQP compared to 3000 PQP booking with United.

  95. Seems like the workaround for leisure travelers is to book on a Star Alliance partner, get the PQM divided by 5 or 6, and then apply to to the UA PQP. With a few flights to Asia and a little Chase spend, you could theoretically hit 1k on this new system.
    Bottom line is that there’s no longer any incentive to fly UA or use Chase cards on a regular basis. They couldn’t have made a stupider move for both entities.
    Thoughts anyone? Is my arithmetic sound?

  96. @Matt
    You’ll still earn status by distance flown as long as you’re not on 016 ticket stock.

    From my understanding yes, but your distance gets divided by 5 or 6 which I’m going to guess most will have less than 10% variance from a 016 stock.

    Are you still **very** happy with MileagePlus?
    Or who cares since flying as primarily **transportation** that gets from point A to point B in relative comfort. They will still be happy to take your money for 2-4-2. Just now you won’t be 1K but just Gold. I just have to warn you, lifetime isn’t what it used to be. Next thing you know UA can abolish all Million Miler and change it to Million Dollars. You have been warned.

    Also you should consider status match to AA or DL before they change, because they too will likely follow this sick trend soon, especially AA.

  97. Any Clue how they are going to be handling Bulk Fares. I have a bulk fare booked this Winter (February) and I am trying to figure out how to credit it.

  98. @Brett the reason why segments matters, even on a connecting itinerary, is that anyone who lives in a city that’s not a hub for any airline will likely fly at least 4 segments to get to most places. These are also the flyers whom AA/DL/UA all covet, so it makes sense to me to reward them/attract them by virtue of how the loyalty program is designed….especially since they actually have the most choice of which airline to be loyal to.

  99. RE: “ Rather oddly, this seems to be punishing international travelers, so I’m not fully sure I get the motive there” –

    As a non-hub mainly domestic flyer who goes out of my way to fly United, this feels like United finally is starting to value my loyalty.

    I’m on four united flights a week, but that’s barely enough to get 6000 PQMs in distance each month. A guy takes one flight to Europe and nothing more and he’s got more PQMs than me.

    Which one of us is more loyal?

    This feels like it levels the playing field.

  100. This drives away flyers that go from, let´s say EWR to HKG and attracts folks that go on 45 minute segments from IND to ORD. Or even worse from IND to ORD in order to arrive at DTW or something like that. Complete nonsense.

  101. So basically United is encouraging heavy transpacific flyers to book Star Alliance partners tickets like ANA and Air Canada. They usually have low fares from the west coast and will earn much more PQF and redeemable miles than on UA metal. Not to mention that the experience would be much much better than Polaris. Is that really what they want to make people avoid booking United international flights? I don’t get it.

  102. For those based internationally its still good news. Senator from Lufthansa, equivalent of gold, is very hard to get in Europe. If you fly mostly on partner flights you would need less than today to reach gold.

  103. This new program will be basically only keeping the business travels around. 99% individual travelers will not be able to keep their current status. When I was in college, I got the Silver status with Delta because I fly trans-pacifically twice a year in economy. Sometimes I just pay for cheap transcontinental flights just to keep my status. United’s new program will take the fun away from passengers like me. Hopefully Delta and American won’t follow.

    Honestly, what’s really the point of doing this? Platinum and below members cannot access the lounge for domestic travel. No one flies internationally that frequently to occupy the lounges. Those who fall out of Silver will probably just get credit cards for luggage checks. That basically leaves the mile boosters, Economy Plus upgrades, and priority boarding? Is United really getting this stingy? Did they calculate the potential financial loss over the loss of frequent travelers?

  104. @Shu Chenn — “Is the milage still matters if I want to achieve lifetime status?”

    Miles flown on United metal is still required to accumulate qualification miles towards lifetime status. For attaining annual Premier status levels when flying internationally, however, it can be better to book on *A partners and take advantage of the distance flown division method to get extra PQP beyond what booking directly with United provides.

  105. So now maybe when I’m flying on a $5,000.00 late booked J ticket I won’t have as many mileage runners boarding in front of me even though they’re sitting in coach? I’m not UAs most loyal customer but if I’m going to spend $15-20K as I have with them this year shouldn’t that get me something better than the lowest level status? For better or worse it seems like the airlines are figuring out where their bread is buttered.

  106. United has been on the top of my s#!t list for a long time, right up there with Delta. Now I am SO glad that I spent all of my United miles and dropped my credit cards. Happily I have no dog in this hunt, but I feel really sorry for fliers who have United as their go-to carrier 🙁 I refuse to even think about a United flight (they have limited value from PDX anyway). Now, if we can get rid of Doug Parker at American and put a real CEO there instead, maybe AA will reverse course and get back to being the #1 American airline. If not, I vote to allow Emirates to fly PDX to CDG!

  107. I love it. I take many short trip for which I get 500 pqm. I have over 26000 in pqd (no credit card spend) and 137 pqs. Even removing the paid 1st class upgrades I still have about 128 pqs. My pqm is only 107000. I reached 1K by mid July. 120 PQS. Now I should hit by mid May. So, yeah works for me. Always figured the 20 1K people in line to board seemed a little upside down. Level the playing field. Bravo United.

  108. @Eskimo — Just grow up. My take on the change is clear, and contrary to how you think this should make me feel, I actually feel at peace, liberated … precisely because it is ultimately just transportation.

    So, get lost once and for all.

  109. I earn Delta Gold status by taking 60+ hellish flights a year to/from LaGuardia. My Delta spend is generally $14k a year. On top of that I do around 15 short haul domestic flights a year with United when it’s convenient, spending around $3-4K a year. Under United’s new program I could easily be platinum. The program changes definitely reward business travelers like myself that spend every Monday and Friday in the air. I realize there are very few people like me in the flying population and definitely understand the frustration. However, for selfish reasons I look forward to the new program structure.

    On a side note: What incentive is there to have a United co-branded credit card? Am I missing something? I feel like these credit cards are borderline worthless.

  110. This 1K Million Miler has been racking up status and flights with other airlines for the last two years. United is under the mistaken assumption that we have to like their changes and have no choices. I’m only a few flights away from BA Gold and next year will also be a Gold level flyer with KLM. Because of this years flying I’ll be a 1K next year but United’s share of my wallet will go down to 5%. This is the most egregious and illogical change for me. How is it to their benefit to loose 95% of my business?

  111. Looks like ill be flying United next year. I am one of those folks the change will be good for. I take lots of short trips for work and live in a United hub. This year I knew I would not qualify for any meaningful staus with any airline because the flights are so short (Maybe the lowest status but I figured that wasn’t worth taking a bunch of extra layovers for). So I just picked the airline with the best schedule for me. But with the change, I will easily make platinum if I stick with United for the majority of my flights. I probably won’t spend enough for 1k but it might be close.

  112. Not sure, but as much as they are trying to level the playing field this move is a blow to some of us who aren’t road warriors, but still qualify due to mileage, spend, slight loyalty. I know this mainly rewards the business travelers, but usually the business travelers are spending at their employers or their clients expense and don’t really spend a dime out of their own money so it while it was unfair before now it’s truly unfair because they (business travelers) are the only ones who will stand to benefit from the new premier program next year.

    On a side note I feel strangely liberated to fly anyone else and might even dump my Explorer card and get either a Sapphire card or a hotel card. This is the second blow in 6 months… The first was the devaluation of M+ miles and I really would expect this from Delta, but not United.

  113. To me these changes seem quite retro, which is interesting. They look like a nod back to the original frequent flyer programs of the 1980’s, which were designed to reward the folks who spent the biggest chunks of their lives on planes and at the airport, aka the “frequent fliers.” The new PQ-whatever system seems to be aimed at merging that original intent with the new world of revenue requirements.

    Whether or not this is a good thing, of course, depends on your point of view.

    Also, isn’t it weird how many things in our culture right now seem to be pointing back to the 1980’s? I feel like I’m seeing that EVERYWHERE!!!

  114. @DCS

    I’m glad you can get over it. We all know this isn’t going to last, like death is inevitable but we still grief at losing someone. So if you want let it off your chest some more here is a good place.

    I must remind everyone here about The Five Stages of Grief. Knowing it can help you heal faster. Denial Anger Bargaining Depression Acceptance, people may or may not go through the experience each of them in this order.
    I still sense anger in you, you will get over it.

    On the up side, all of you still have until Nov 15 to cash out your miles before dynamic partner pricing really kills MP.

  115. Thanks to those on this blog pointing out how to keep 1K status on long haul international flights! As a 1K MM flying 10-12 times a year transatlantic (but hardly any domestic) I first thought that was it, but the future is clear: only book on LH and AC (generally much nicer anyway, with flight attendants who actually seem to like their job) and drop the Explorer card which was pretty much useless already. On the other hand, the 1K perks are only useful if flying United metal? Will try this one year before doing a status match on Delta.

  116. At my previous job I was traveling every few days on late minute booked, short haul trips domestically. I spent nearly $10K with United and only got Gold because I took one long haul to Asia. The reformatting seems more fair for people giving higher profit to get more rewards. I got pretty sick of spending most of my life on a plane and then seeing a colleague who flew 2-3 in a year get the same benefits because they’d gone on long journeys.

  117. Congratulations United! I fly 9 international flights per year, from USA to Asia, or South America. Usually this would put me in Platinum, or even 1K. Now, I may not even get to Gold, which doesn’t give you much.

    Thanks for punishing long haul travelers. Perhaps what you should have done was a lot more simple: reduce the number of segments needed to achieve status. That would make both short haul and long haul passengers happy, but instead, you decided to do that. You forgot that those frequent flyer programs indeed make people chose your company when they have benefits. Now, I will not have any. Why should I still choose a United then?
    I will enjoy my status for the next year, use all my upgrades and then switch to Delta, which seems to have more respect for their loyal customers than United.

  118. Oscar, Oscar, Oscar. You have out done yourself and most of your customers in the process.
    Didn’t you learn in the Army keep it simple stupid.
    At least somewhat simple but not, you chose utterly complex.
    Congrats, just lost more customers.

  119. Wouldn’t this mean that its actually easier to earn status by flying exclusively star alliance partners that aren’t United, at least for the PQP requirement? A cheap sin-lax fare for example?

  120. @Eskimo — Your glee at UA nuking its above-the-rest FF program is no reason to be stupid.

    I have little control over what UA or any program does, but I have full control over how I react to it. If you had any grey matter at all between those ears of yours, you’d see that my claim of feeling *liberated* is really genuine. As lifetime UA Gold and *G, I now have the best of all possible worlds — almost Panglossian-like: freedom to (a) purchase best-value premium cabin tickets with any *A carrier, (b) access any *G lounge around the world, (c) credit all redeemable and status miles from flying, including UA miles, to my SQ account to potentially earn status with the latter program, and, last but not least, (d) continue doing, unimpeded, my one reason for playing the game: my annual Year-end Asian Escapades(tm).

    Now go back and tend to your skypesos, which will remain the most useless airline miles out there, despite UA’s unnecessary and self-inflicted degradation of its otherwise rewarding FF program. I have no time for you mindlessness… really.

  121. Greatest latest descriptive term..’Airline Agnostic’
    As an AA MM, I am still waiting on AA to ‘match’ UA and DL No Miles Expiration.. Fat to No chance of that occurring by the ‘Worlds Biggest Airline’… lets see what they come up with to try Draining more of our ‘BIS’ Earned miles….

  122. Young eskimo. The poor man’s philosopher. Last year he spoke only to his 26 cats and hamsters. This year he plucked the courage to engage with actual humans. He is clearly moving up in the world. Take a bow, young eskimo.

  123. @DCS

    I still sense anger through my grey matter. Careful of the Depression stage.
    I also never think that UA is or was above-the-rest FF program, ever. It is mediocre at best. Both in terms of benefits or mile value.
    And correct me if I’m wrong but isn’t Panglossian = foolishly think best of all possible worlds not just almost. Which you are correct. If you are liberated and pay premium cabin, you should not restrict yourself to only *A as premium cabin almost offset your status benefits. Even with your Panglossian view, SQ is probably not the best (depending on airline and fare) to fund your annual Year-end Asian Escapades(tm), you really trademark that, LOL. Anyway, if Asia is your fetish your best bet is Aeroplan or LifeMiles. Don’t take my word for it (you don’t seem to anyway), go compare yourself.

    And as trash Delta miles are in extreme case, most of the time there are still decent redemption to be made. You just have to be a bit wise and flexible just like any other program. I was merely pointing out DL for you due to you being in their hub city, and already have lifetime status to be less loyal before UA screw its customers (not yet back when I warned you).
    I don’t think collecting DL miles is a wise choice either, but it sure feels much better flying with DL. It’s a trade off I think is worth it.

    I predict MM will change in to M$. Lifetime status starts at a million dollar instead of miles. And while you get to keep your status title, your benefit might not hold. As seen with credit cards or some hotels, you will ‘earn’ a benefit from $ spend. $200 your miles don’t expire, $350 you get early boarding, $750 you get free bag, every $1000 you get a 500 mile up grade, every $2000 you a get lounge pass. etc.

    If you personally have issue trying to keep miles from expiring, either get their credit card or do some shopping. As a customer, don’t blindly give any single airline your money, they can screw you like UA.

  124. @Olavo: Your solution may well be to fly a Star carrier other than United on those long-haul intercontinental trips and use the “award miles divided by 5 or 6” to try to qualify via PQPs.

  125. @Eskimo –You’re free to sense whatever you wish, but what’s its relevance in the scheme of things? None.

    Soapbox is yours, skypesoman. Yourself out.

  126. Pretty radical? Maybe for ‘Muricans, but in Europe we have for example Flying Blue where also the distance don’t count, but the qualifying points. BA uses the same principle with their avios. SK has the same, partially. You earn equally little in Economy short haul as in economy long haul. Still they use miles/points rather than a separate qualifying system. Lufthansa has had a system for years where you can earn business class only points to qualify for HON circle.

    When it comes to earning points on long haul economy (aka: when a customer or employer pays) I actually do the same as is suggested here: fly partner airlines. It’s no use getting 125 points on my EuroBogus account with SK for flying with them when I can get 2500 with Lufty (and get better service, more comfortable seats and better meals on top of that) on the same route.

    The bottom line is, as always: if you are unhappy with a product or service provider, then vote with your wallet, vote with your feet. There are more airlines flying (in)to the US than United.

  127. Hmmm, I kind of like these changes. As someone who is now based at a Star Alliance hub (YYZ), I have been thinking of switching my allegiance for some time now (currently Platinum with Delta). Given how cheap AC, LO, SK, CI, NH, and others price their J tickets out of Canada (TAPs and Swiss’s J roundtrips to Europe have been regularly sub-$1800 USD; AC and CI have J roundtrips to Asis for under $2800 USD) and my frequent, short hops to the States, this might be an attractive choice to make…

  128. I have been with MileagePlus since 1987 and 1K member since 2002. Very disappointed by all of the changes made by United recently. Since I am based in Asia now, there is no way for me to be qualified based on the segment rules. Fortunately, I am Lifetime Platinum already. Starting in 2020, I will give up the 1K qualification. Instead, fly on any airlines which provide cheaper discounted business class fare. I really don’t care it is business or basic economy when a flight takes less than 2 hours, although I am qualified for the highest tier of a local airline here. Why do I need a flat bed if I fly from SFO to SAN or SEA? Exchange award tickets have become very difficult and costly on the United. If United is so sure about such changes, they will suffer when another financial crisis hits the global market. MileagePlus is not a loyalty program anymore.

  129. You guys probably don’t care about this as we are universally reviled in America, but this is pretty much an eff u to all federal civilian employees, especially diplomats. You know, those people who almost always travel on government fare economy, get off the plane and go straight into diplomatic meetings. it is virtually impossible under this rubric for us to make platinum, even if we travel once a month to Asia or Europe. As soon as i hit 1M, i will probably never fly United again because of these changes. i may shift to Lufthansa or ANA instead. Total BS change. really lost my loyalty here.

  130. Ben

    I reviewed My united accruals for 2020 but they are not correct
    No mileage plus upgrade award co-pays are showing up as pqd
    Can u clarify ?

  131. Ben

    I reviewed My united accruals for 2020 but they are not correct
    No mileage plus upgrade award co-pays are showing up as pqd
    Can u clarify ?

  132. In effect, United is taking more control of how they rank the elite status of their customers. These changes will thin out the top status ranks to customers buying expensive long-haul tickets on United metal and weekly road warriors paying full fare. Those are the customers United wants at the top of the status list. Its not that United doesn’t want status runners, or frequent long-haul customers buying cheap tickets and upgrading, or customers buying premium seats on partners and crediting the travel to their United account. They just don’t want them in the top ranks of the program. To me that makes sense. They’ve been trying to do this with new super elite ranks, but you can’t keep adding layers to the program indefinitely. At some point you have to go back and try to impose some order on your status ranks.

  133. @m
    I’m talking about pqp for flights in 2020 that were purchased in 2019. I see that for flights in 2020 all accruals have been recalculated for pqf and pqp but no mileage plus upgrade co-pays are included.

  134. @Doug
    Same here. 1K / 1 million miler. I have several trips scheduled for 2020 already, including some that were purchased in United’s W and K fare classes and then immediately upgraded to first class as a paid upgrade. One was a round trip IAD-SEA w/ original accruals of 3.0 PQS, 8071 PQM, and 398 PQD (essentially pre-tax base fare on the economy W/K ticket). This includes the accrual multipliers for first class on both PQM and PQS. Now, the accruals are 2.0 PQF and 398 PQP. WTF, United?!? Why is my paid upgrade to first class not generating any PQPs beyond the base fare? I get that in the old scheme United categorized these paid upgrades as fees in order to avoid paying out more PQDs and — primarily — as a way to evade paying federal taxes on an escalated base fare. But if this doesn’t constitute a “paid upgrade” what exactly does? I’m happy to pay more for first class on occasion (especially since complimentary upgrades have become such a rarity), but at least give me the PQS accrual! You can get one for purchasing E+ but not for purchasing an upgrade to 1st?

  135. No one benefits from these changes at all.

    The people UA is trying to please with these changes appear to be those who were spending big ***on premium cabins*** and not making 1K because they did not fly “far enough.” So, what will now happen is that those same folks who routinely purchased premium cabin tickets upfront and already flew in premium cabins will be the very same people who will be the only ones that will be able to afford to make 1K or Premier Platinum under the new rules. What that means is that United has effectively eliminated complimentary cabin upgrade as a meaningful elite benefit. The people (i.e., the “new” 1Ks and Plats) who will be getting the new upgrade points are already flying in premium cabins, so they won’t need to use their instruments to upgrade their own tickets. At the same time, in order to requalify for 1K or Platinum those same folks will be forced to keep paying for and flying in premium cabins. They have just hopped on the elite status treadmill, paying big bucks to make 1K or Plat, except that there is no reason for getting either elite status if one is already paying top dollars to fly upfront. It seems like their relatives are the ones that stand to benefit from sponsored upgrades!

    UA no longer has a loyalty program. MileagePlus can no longer be called a “frequent-flyer” or “mileage” program because elite status qualifications have been completely dissociated from distance flown, and cabin upgrades are no longer very meaningful to those who will now be entitled to them.

    I keep searching for the proverbial silver lining, but I cannot find anything that United gives in return for gutting their heretofore relatively decent and rewarding program.

  136. @DCS — “… MileagePlus can no longer be called a “frequent-flyer” or “mileage” program because elite status qualifications have been completely dissociated from distance flown, and cabin upgrades are no longer very meaningful to those who will now be entitled to them.”

    Here’s my take on this — legacy long-haul flyers who built up their prior status based primarily on PQM, with lower PQD than coming in 2020, will need to fly on *A partner airlines and use their [distance flown divided by 5 or 6] in order to “beat” the new PQP quotas! Such flights on some partner airlines can help attain 1K / Platinum status up to around 2.5X faster than continuing to fly on United … weird, huh?

    Once 1K / Platinum has been attained this way, then still-available 1K / Platinum “perks” can be used as before, albeit with greater difficulties to “clear” for actual seating!

  137. Frequent flyer programs have notoriously ignored frequent flyers for years! They rewarded infrequent long haul flyers, partially because they rarely can cash in on the benefits. Finally a program is really going reward loyalty! I may switch Back to United. I earn top tier status with whomever I fly. I do 200 segments a year. Mostly short haul domestic, a lot of transcon, and some international. I get an email with 130 segments at Delta that says “congrats on being halfway to diamond” because of my miles. That is stupid, but that’s how all of us real frequent business travelers get treated. 30 long haul segments is not frequent. 150 short haul segments is frequent. Maybe change the “mileage” part of the name, but it is now a true frequent flyer program.

  138. @J K — “30 long haul segments is not frequent.”

    What do you define as “long haul”? What do you define as “short haul”? Are you mocking international flyers with this statement? For example, if “short haul” is 1000 miles round trip, then short haulers may need to fly over 10 domestic round trips to equal the distances flown in 1 “long haul” international round trip! Ask any domestic airline whether they make more profits from international long haul routes or domestic short haul ones, especially when international long haul flights have 85%-95% (and even 100%) load factors!

    Not to denigrate frequent short haulers, but United did NOT need to punish international small business and personal long haul flyers (ie, those NOT flying on large corporate-based contracts) with its latest Premier status qualifying stunts! What has United accomplished? All such international flyers can henceforth fly *A partner airlines and use their [distance flown divided by 5 or 6] option to attain their 1K or Platinum status with up to around 2.5X faster PQP than before, when continuing to fly on United! I wouldn’t mind using this “loophole” at all, but need to note that those *A miles flown do NOT count towards United Lifetime Miles flown for Million+ Miler status attainment!

    Does United benefit by coercing such a mass exodus just to end up with even MORE 1K / Platinum members than before, while realizing no additional revenues from this group?

  139. Anyone who qualifies solely on segments deserves the status. 200 segments a year? Effff that

    I’m halfway to million mile status and bounced between 1K pre-PQD and silver (plat for 2019). I no longer see any reason to keep flying United.
    I no longer see any reason to keep my mileage plus credit card. $95 fee for 2 club passes that i’ve used one of in the past 6 years? Free checked bag? Shrug. 1-2 award miles per dollar? Pretty useless when I need to spend $30k for enough award miles for a $300 flight.
    Really disappointed with this change, but now the new short haul half business regional jets make more sense. Pay your pilots even less and accommodate all the new segment-based 1Ks on their 1 hour hops. These use to be the only flights a gold stood any chance of making the list, now aside from multi-hour delays clearing seats gold will be E+ 99% of the time.

    Next up – E+ co-pays by status level. 1k keeps them free, plat can choose a window or aisle for 75% off, gold 50% off, silver 25% off 24 hours out, and everyone else full price.

  140. For those of you think current economy passeragers EARNED their 1K, Platinum or any level of status on cheaper international long haul economy does worthy 1K as much as your “ domestic short haul last minute ticket” ? You dont’ know what you are talking about! Long Haul international flight earns for money per passenger than short haul, that is why long haul trans pacific flights are called cash cow and all airlines put their best product on long haul ! You think airlines do that with best product they can offer on their most expensive planes just because they can earn less money than Domestic flight ?

    But to not fill up the big plane means the airlines will for sure loose money, the projected profitability is based on how easy they can fill up the long haul plane ! So yes that is why long haul passengers regardless how much they pay compare to domestic passengers have more value to the airlines than domestic short haul passengers.

    Plus domestic flight has more government fees than long haul international , so most of your ticket value go to the government not the airlines, then you have to talk about for crews fees more landing fees more take off fees, more fuels yes long haul flight burns a lot less fuel per passengers per mile than short haul flight, because long haul flight planes are a lot more fuel efficient than short haul planes. so yes your domestic flight has less value than a filled up long haul international flight by a lot ! It is not even close !

  141. 54 PQFs are easier to earn living in a non-hub town – so every flight I take just about anywhere gets me 4 PQFs – this year I will do 64 PQFs – and next year if I get too close, I will just make sure I take a couple cheap trips requiring 6 segments which is easy when you live in the bush…

    But the bottom line on this is that United has decided they only want high paying customers. That is certainly good value for people like my son who travels weekly and pays top dollar , but never makes a high level on any airline despite the fact that he spends >$20-25k each year. I have been 1K ever since United and Continental merged and I have more than met the mileage but pretty much squeaked by on the PQD. I do pay for upgrades on international flights at about $500 or $600 each plus 30k miles about 10 times a year – that will now be counted in expenditure as I understand it – before it was not. But I rarely if ever pay business tkts as my institution does not allow it. Despite this, I figure I will retain 1K regardless but when they raise it even more, I suspect that will be the end of my United preference at over 2.5M miles flown so far.

    United claims from above “United claims that they expect the total Premier population to grow based on these changes, though they expect a realignment of elite tiers. Notably, they expect more members at the lower elite tiers and fewer 1K members.” This will undoubtedly be true – but I see a huge reduction in gold, platimum and 1K, not just 1K. I think this is going to pretty much devastate Uniteds reputation (if they even have one) and it will be hard to get it back.

    My guess is in about 12 months time, who ever is the current United vice president who came up with this brilliant plan, will be looking for a job…..at least I sure hope so….and maybe United will create a new plan to ” enhance our flying experiences….”

  142. @roger
    I spoke to mileage plus and was told that paid upgrades will show up As pqp only when you take the flight and will not show up in accruals even if the upgrade was confirmed.
    I will have to keep an eye on that

  143. I think what might be fairer is since number of flights flown is one of the main qualifiers. They could use a sliding scale of number of flights and points for 1k

    $18,000 PQP & 54 PQF
    $15,000 PQP & 90 PQF
    $12,000 PQP & 108 PQF

    Something like that

  144. This is really a dumb move. The point is to mildly reward customer loyalty. Get customers to stay with United. The ones who spend the most, who will easily quality for the elite status, will be paying for Polaris class and do not need or appreciate the occasional upgrade. We folks who fly economy (due to company restrictions or budgets) appreciate the occasional upgrade and for that reason keep flying with United. United no longer wants to reward us for our loyalty. Only dollars matter. If we are going to push this, United should simply have an electronic auction for any empty Polaris seats at the last minute before take off. We professional folks who fly often no longer matter to United unless we spend almost 20K per year.

  145. I’m not getting this at all. What difference does it make if I spend 18k a year on long haul flights or short segments? 18k in revenue is 18K? What am I missing here?

  146. @Sam Whitfield:

    Maybe the 54 flights (segments) requirement? Perhaps easier for folks flying short-haul to make than for intercontinental flyers. To qualify on dollars alone would require $24K.

  147. I don’t think you are missing anything Sam – United just wants to reduce the “clutter”….but there is not a lot of logic there. You are right about the $ – it should not matter how they get them or how many segments you fly – if they want revenue, then $18k is revenue any way you get it – and it’s better for them frankly if they get it on 4 x $4.5k flights because they only service you for 4 trips! Whereas someone taking 20 trips to get to $18k is using a whole lot more of United operations….but they clearly have VP level people who don’t have much up top to work that out.

    Their problem is that they are likely going to see a drastic reduction from some customers – since a whole lot of people will no longer feel “pulled” to United as they know they will not get to a level that gives them any additional value. That is clear from many comments on this list. Frankly, the only real value to me is that the 6 international upgrades I get each year are great as my wife gets to use them on long trips and that saves me a ton of money! So it is definitely something of value to me personally.

    The evidence has been piling up – the new Polaris Clubs strictly for Business International – and they are packed out – and pretty nice too. They are basically at the level or above of many of the regular European lounges – but the regular United clubs are moderately trashy – although they too have been upgraded, but only because they were just unacceptable. So all that money into Polaris clubs was a sign of United’s direction. Then they kept raising the PQD levels for 1k – 2 years ago $12k, this year $15k, next year $18k – thats a 50% increase in 2 years. So, United wants to focus on full fare business customers – ironically, most people whose companies pay business, probably wont worry about it.

  148. @Paul — “Then they kept raising the PQD levels for 1k – 2 years ago $12k, this year $15k, next year $18k – thats a 50% increase in 2 years.”

    Don’t forget that the $18K amount requires 54 flight segments; otherwise, with flight distances gone, the straight PQP for 1K is jumping to $24K! The post just before yours by @Counsellor also reiterates this new stipulation.

  149. Yep that’s true, But Sam’s point is that the revenue United want @ $18k is the same. The reason I thing for the 54 segments is to kill off more people. I really think they don’t want as many 1k or plat customers.

  150. The point is that the 54 segments is also a requirement along with the $18K. Should not be problem for short-haul qualifiers since to get $18K in revenue from short hops would probably require at least 54 segments anyway, but long-haul qualifiers could probably get $18K in spend in 36 segments or fewer; then if you don’t have the 54 segments you’d need $24K in spend.

  151. I have been contemplating for some time now on changing airlines. With all these changes, no more award calendar, upgrade changes, and now staus requirements it’s time to make a change. I fly to Asia and South America the most. Can somebody recommend another carrier? I would appreciate comments on business class, awards program, etc…

  152. @Sam Whitfield:

    That pretty much depends on where in Asia and South America you’re flying to. For instance, Cathay Pacific has excellent service to Asia, but through Hong Kong, so if you’re flying to Tokyo or Seoul it causes an additional change (and possibly delay). Can you tell us your destinations? Also whether you’d be doing a lot of US Domestic flights as well such that you’d need a US domestic partner?

  153. I travel from the east coast usually Taiwan, Singapore and Oceana. South America it’s panama Colombia and Panama. Definitely need US affiliate for the award travel.

  154. Well, this is just off the top of my head, but you might want to look into Cathay Pacific to see how it might fit. It does service your Asian destinations, and is a member of the One World airline alliance which includes LATAM Airlines Group that mostly covers your South American ones. Since One World also includes American Airlines and British Air, they would probably cover any international destinations you can’t get to on Cathay or LATAM. Finally, American has an extensive US domestic network.

  155. Are you familiar with their awards program? Any good for other alliance members? I haven’t heard many good things about Americans business class.
    One of the reasons I have been considering leaving United I was tired of my food tray right g slapped down in front of me

  156. I have been a loyal UA platinum member for years always exceeded 75k miles and 9K with approx 30-40 flights a year, most for work.

    Seeing that my territory flights consists of Los Angeles to Hawaii , Los Angeles to Tokey & Guam, and Los Angeles to New York as well as EU and Africa for vacations. Everything is long-haul for me! Token and Guam are over 3k flights.

    So basically United has become greedy jerks & I and other long haul flyers are being punished (as if 14 hours plus on a flight isn’t bad enough, even on a Dreamliner flatbed) and people that fly multiple cheap flights to Vegas etc. are going to be rewarded for a bunch of cheap 200- 300 flights??

    This program was voted best for years for a reason; United wake the F up! It is now officially the lamest program ever and will not build any business or loyalty. I will be defecting to Delta who is doing a status match for me and others that are in the United elite program.

    This is the kiss of death for United. Bye bye.

  157. @Kat — “… I and other long haul flyers are being punished (as if 14 hours plus on a flight isn’t bad enough, even on a Dreamliner flatbed) …” —

    Are you familiar with the *weird* new way for us long-haulers to attain Premier Status potentially even *quicker* with the new program than originally with the old program (that did include miles flown)?

    The new program allows standard attainment of upper tier Premier Status with the following United flight criteria (PQF are #flight segments and PQP are basically 1 PQP/$dollar spent) —

    1) 36 PQF and 12,000 PQP –OR– 15,000 PQP for Platinum
    2) 54 PQF and 18,000 PQP –OR– 24,000 PQP for 1K

    However, we long-haulers can also use another *weird* method instead — buy and fly on tickets with other airlines that are either United Preferred Partners or MileagePlus Partners (just make sure that the tickets are *not* ticketed as United flight numbers). Then whatever *flown miles* are earned on that other Partner airline can be divided by either 5 (Preferred) or 6 (MileagePlus) and applied as PQP credits towards United’s Premier Status qualifications! And, based on the fare classes, it’s possible to have those flights qualify for PQF as well!

    So, as an example, if you were to fly from LAX to NRT (5451 miles x 2 = 10,902) in Economy on ANA and were to hypothetically get R/T full flight distance credit tickets at US$1000, then the transferable points will be 10,902/5 = 2180 PQP. Let’s say that the same route on United hypothetically costs US$1000 as well. Notice that using United tickets on United metal then gets you only 1000 PQP, so you’d end up accumulating PQP points some 2.18X faster flying on ANA than on United! The only thing is that miles flown on United partner airlines do *not* qualify towards United Lifetime Miles accumulation (for Million Miler status). You might also get PQF credits on such flights as well!

    [I think I did the numbers correctly here] You can check United’s website for more details at —


    Remove the square brackets [ ] around the “.” in the URL …

    So … United pushes us long-haulers onto Partner Airlines so we can potentially attain Premier Status qualifications 2X as fast while receiving *no* revenues in the process! Weird, huh? 😛

  158. @BillC thanks much for the awesome advice!
    Yes I do fly LAX-NRTAnd have always chosen the United flights instead of the ANA flights due to more miles & ability to upgrade etc. I normally book the economy flexible ticket which is just under $3000, then I call UA, have them reticent in Business pay & pay the difference. Unfortunately my company will not even book managers in business anymore. Sorry for the typos, my darn iPad kept changing Tokyo to token …grrr.

    I’m just so torn on whether I should just defect to Delta now since their program is not changing, or try and earn status the way as you suggested. I’ve been so loyal to United for so many decades, this program feels like an ungrateful slap in the face.

    Sounds like you fly long haul as well Bill. What are you thinking of trying this and staying? Thanks again for the advice.

  159. @Kat — “What are you thinking of trying this and staying?” —

    Yeah … I’ve been flying (almost exclusively) across the Pacific from SFO since decades ago (1K/MM)! To me the issue revolves around what one’s travel habits/preferences are — what United lets us do, to potentially accelerate Premier Status through partner airlines, might not work if one directly buys Business Class tickets, since the ticket price differentials vs. distance flown might not be that significant when we’re playing off partner airline Economy tickets with distance flown dividers vs. United’s PQP credits towards required attainment levels.

    This said, I haven’t quite made up my mind yet, since using the partner airline distance flown divider scheme will not get those flown miles credited towards United Lifetime miles (ie, as qualification for higher MM+ Status). If I directly buy Business Class then I might stick with flying United metal to keep accumulating Lifetime miles, since my flight distances have, in recent years, been around 165K miles/year (except for this year), and might even increase in the future.

    Another factor is whether Delta flies to your preferred overseas destinations, and how convenient their flight schedules are for you. If you go to Tokyo, then Delta will start flying exclusively into Haneda instead of Narita, right? Isn’t Haneda closer to city central?

    If it were up to me, I would probably give United another year, possibly using the partner airline distance flown divider method, to see how their new frequent flyer program shakes out, since United today announced some new enhancements to their services and I’m not quite sure, yet, as to how impactful those will be for cross-Pacific flights. If you decide that you still don’t like their new frequent flyer program during 2020, you can still change over to Delta, no? And if Delta will “match” your United Premier Status, just to jump over to them, then that can still be a bonus for you, anyway?

    Whatever you decide, Good Luck to you, fellow long-haul flyer! 🙂

  160. @BillC, thanks again for the wise advice. It’s much appreciated. Since I’m Platinum now I will likely take that advice & ride out 2020 to see how it shakes out for us long haulers though you’re in the air more than I. I still think they are making a big mistake but greed seems to come before loyalty these days, it seems like US had gone downhill since the Continental merger.

    @counsellor here is the Delta Status match link-
    The hitch is it’s only good for 3 months…

    Good luck to all.

  161. So as of today, I’m at 116 segments, 92,000 miles, and $23,000 spend, all at economy fares, all domestic (will pick up 1K for 2020 this coming week). Top status is in the bag this year, as it has for the last 5 years I’ve been a FF. My status has generally been segment based. I LOVE the changes. I fly either every one or every other week. TPA to a hub, then hub to wherever it is I need to go, and back again. The changes feel like I’m getting some recognition for my near-weekly flying, and consistent loyalty to the airline, vs. someone who takes 4 or 5 long haul round trips in J or F. I’m positive FFs like myself are making more money, in total, than the infrequent long haul flyers.

    I’ve heard mentions of 1K status holding little value for those flying paid J or F anyways. Well, for someone who travels heavy for work, usually three checked bags where two weigh over 50 lbs, status definitely has its rewards. I’m saving my company $440 minimum per trip by having Platinum or higher status. Keep in mind I always book the cheapest fares available when I travel.

    Personally, I’m thrilled some of you are talking about jumping ship because you cant make 1K. Far less competition for upgrades for flyers like myself. Side note on that… since the 1K pre-board perk began, it’s been eye-opening seeing just how many 1Ks there are. Probably two many. It’s hilarious to watch the 1Ks swarm like vultures several seconds before they’re called by the GA. We’re all going to the same place! Not to worry, kids. You’ll all get on before the lowly Group 1 peasants. Personally, I’m the last one on the plane if I dont clear an upgrade. Really, what’s the rush?

  162. @Kat:

    Thanks for the link. You’re right — very small window so I’ll have to be careful when I open it. I’d say it’s much too small for leisure flyers not based at a Delta hub, though (but maybe that’s the point).

    I racked up Lifetime Gold on Star Alliance through United and Lifetime Sapphire (Platinum) on One World through American before I retired but my SkyTeam program was Flying Dutchman/ Flying Blue and although I made Platinum many times I was not able to get Lifetime with them. Sorta sucks to be non-elite with SkyTeam since I do still fly KLM/Air France (and occasionally Delta).

  163. I have been 1K for the past 10 years. I take 4 or 5 long haul trips a year and buy business class. I don’t get anywhere near $24,000 a year. Usually just enough $ to make 1K. I made 1K again this year but United has now made it impossible for me to qualify for 2021. But really it doesn’t matter. 1K doesn’t really get me anything. They give you 6 global upgrades a year and for the past 2 years I have not been able to use any of them. They are rarely guaranteed upgrades (always yellow arrow meaning wait list). You have to pay more for the upgrade-able ticket and then maybe you get upgraded. It’s a scam. I don’t want to fly coach for 13 hours so I buy the business class ticket. I don’t want to take a chance not to get upgraded and spend 13 hours in coach. So what am I really getting for being loyal to United? I can buy a business class ticket with any airline and get to use the lounge and get on the plane first. From now on I am buying the cheapest business class ticket so if United wants my business they need to have the best price.

  164. @Steve — “I don’t want to fly coach for 13 hours so I buy the business class ticket. I don’t want to take a chance not to get upgraded and spend 13 hours in coach. So what am I really getting for being loyal to United?” —

    Yes … as noted in prior posts, the Star Alliance partner airlines distance flown division method to credit towards United’s PQP really works only with Economy tickets, since the distance flown division vs. ticket price differentials between United’s and its partners’ Business Class tickets may not be that much.

    I guess only a few benefits remain in continuing to fly United metal — its extra free checked baggage allowance for status levels of United Premier Gold and above as well as Star Alliance Gold and above (3 instead of standard 2), and its legacy flown miles accumulation program towards attainment of Lifetime Premier Status (ie, Million Miler+), if these are of any value to Business Class long-haul flyers?

  165. @ Ben — I’m just discovering that one of the big devaluations in all of this is in the upgrade system. There is basically NO confirmable upgrade space available on cross-country UA flights, so the shiny new upgrade system that appears to award 1K’s up to 16 RPUs per year will really only offer advance upgrades via the “skip the line” benefit, which will invariably cut those RPUs to 8 to 12. I’m guessing a “skip-the-line” RPU goes for 25-40 PlusPoints depending on the routing. I don’t care about GPUs since I have no desire to fly UA internationally unless it is on a paid, heavily-discounted J ticket or a mileage award.

  166. @BillC – I have over 1 million United miles so me and my wife are Gold for life. That takes care of the baggage allowance

    Regarding the 6 upgrades they give you (that always seen to be wait list upgrades). If I was actually able to use them then I would spend less money and not make the 1K money spent threshold (which was $15,000 this year). This year I will spend approx. $19,000 and have 30 segments. Next year that same amount would get me Platinum. I think Platinum is really not much better than my lifetime Gold.

  167. It’s horrible. I am totally out of the running, period. I fly plenty of “segments” any year, but I will almost never spend $4000 (especially with my credit card purchases not helping). With even minimal fare shopping/planning, you could fly to places all over the world and not spend $4000. The majority of my travel is for pleasure and I am not rich. So price matters when select flights and itineraries. United has definitely made me feel completely unappreciated as a customer with this. To think that I could fly tens of thousands of miles and never get any kind of status. What is the incentive? Even my business travel will hardly help since it is all domestic and my employer has low contract fares.

    I don’t see how they think there will be a big increase in silver level members. I have been loyal to United/Star Alliance for 20 years. But I will now start shopping for a new airline.

    I just booked a flight on Cathay Pacific–something I did not want to do because it is not SA, but the price was too good to pass up. So maybe it was a good thing because the itinerary will help boost my One World miles.

  168. @Steve — “I have over 1 million United miles so me and my wife are Gold for life. That takes care of the baggage allowance. … This year I will spend approx. $19,000 and have 30 segments. Next year that same amount would get me Platinum. I think Platinum is really not much better than my lifetime Gold.” —

    You and I are in a similar situation … I’ve already expressed the same sentiments to United about their new Premier Status Program in 2020! You can also do the same by going to the Feedback section on United’s website!

  169. @Lori — “The majority of my travel is for pleasure and I am not rich. So price matters when select flights and itineraries. United has definitely made me feel completely unappreciated as a customer with this.” —

    As in my reply to @Steve just above, I’ve expressed my feelings to United, both through their 1K Service Desk as well as on the Feedback section of their website! I even told them about how they need to find ways to acknowledge and appreciate non-corporate contract flyers, since those on corporate contracts do not need to show any brand loyalty, due to their corporate-mandated “obligation” flying! Those who personally pay out-of-pocket are the real loyal customers, and United needs to realize that!

  170. I think some of your comments are right on! I agree there is really no incentive to stick with United any longer. I’m a 20 k spender every year and probably won’t reach the 24 k. I fly long haul business class so to fly another airline I’m losing nothing. Lounge access and all the other perks are included.

  171. I contacted United and their answer could be summarized as: “We understand, and we don’t care”. Hence, enjoy your status for 2020 and on 2021, fly Delta…

  172. @Olavo Dias — “I contacted United and their answer could be summarized as: ‘We understand, and we don’t care’.” —

    So whom did you contact at United? I’ve found that their 1K Service Desk has always been more than polite in their attitudes and responses! They’ve even started to acknowledge and thank the Million Milers when closing out phone calls!

  173. I contacted them thru their website. I explained that these new rules are very bad and they punish people like me, who travel international all the time. I also suggested them to read what others are saying about those new rules (and pointed this blog), because perhaps they can see it and realize that they might be forcing customers to switch to other airlines since they will have zero benefits at United. However, their answer was what I said before, but using polite words. I didn’t try calling them, the Service Desk agents are indeed very nice, but they cannot do anything either, and I’m not even sure they would forward the complains to those who make such decisions. Anyway, I think this is a lost battle… next year might be my last and then I will switch to Delta, like all my coworkers did years ago.

  174. So, for the long haul flyers. Let’s pretend you take “6” annual long-haul round-trips (a number I’m using based on comments in this thread), generating 15 hours of flight time per segment (using the example of the IAH to SYD flight), that makes a total of 180 hours in the air.

    Now take flyers like myself, where I’m sitting at 122 segments with an average of 1.5 hours of flight time, coming in at 183 flight hours so far this year.

    So, you’re telling me that in the eyes of the airline, where you generate no more flight time than myself, while struggling to make the minimum PQD for 1K status, and I’m about to cross $24,000 PQD doing short-haul domestic hops, you should be at the same status?

    I think some of us are spending a lot more money, and considerably more time in airports than others. I’m sure there’s more business savvy behind the new changes, but I can’t help feeling rewarded for my consistent loyalty, week after week, by the new program.

  175. @Weekly Flyer — “So, you’re telling me that in the eyes of the airline, where you generate no more flight time than myself, while struggling to make the minimum PQD for 1K status, and I’m about to cross $24,000 PQD doing short-haul domestic hops, you should be at the same status?” —

    I think that you are totally missing the point of our (long-haul flyer) group’s complaints! This has nothing to do with your comparison at all! I do believe that your group has been short-changed in the past, and that the new system fixes that … but, in the process, the new system resorted to punishing our (long-haul flyer) group! This was totally not necessary to do! Both groups should be able to benefit in their respective ways, instead of intentionally alienating one very important market segment, given United’s dominant position as a USA trans-Pacific carrier!

    To briefly address your comparison, international flights generate more net profits/flight than domestic flights, anyway! And while it’s true that you spend more time at airports over the same number of miles, we spend a lot more time cooped up on the aircraft for 12-16 continuous hours per flight segment! You might be overlooking what toll that can take on one’s body to be doing so “regularly” and “frequently,” especially when coupled with that annoying jet lag? For example, I was crossing the Pacific every single month for many years running, and sometimes even twice a month …

    United should try to benefit everyone, rather than just tilting the scales in the opposite direction from before!

  176. @BillC – “To briefly address your comparison, international flights generate more net profits/flight than domestic flights, anyway!”

    ^^Citation needed. I can’t help but believe the the bean counters at UA at least glimpsed at the overall margins between revenue generated from segment driven elites vs mileage driven elites when coming up with this new model, as well as margins between domestic and international flights in total.

    Also, I do apologize for my tone in my last post. I don’t think anyone should be “punished,” but I do think there should be some realignment of the elite tiers. Regularly boarding flights with 10+ other 1K’s, and seeing just how many of us there are, is eye opening. Not nearly as exclusive as one would think. – Thank you UA for unintentionally letting us see that with your recent pre-boarding changes.

  177. … and at any rate, any FF program is based on individual customer metrics. First time I made 1K, it was with several long haul flights peppered in with my domestic travel, which wasnt much compared to what I’ve done the last several years. I did just over $12000 PQD, 40ish PQS, and 130000 PQM (if memory serves).

    My point is, since FF programs are based on individual customer metrics, my bet is the high-segment/low-mileage elites generate considerably more revenue for the airline than the high-mileage/low-segment ones. That makes perfect sense to me given the new PQP/PQF structure.

  178. @Weekly Flyer — “I can’t help but believe the the bean counters at UA at least glimpsed at the overall margins between revenue generated from segment driven elites vs mileage driven elites when coming up with this new model, as well as margins between domestic and international flights in total.” —

    Notice that I was comparing net profits per flight! I can go and retrieve some quantitative financial metrics another time, but let’s just look at some underlying cost factors. Domestic flight segments are much shorter than long-haul international segments, and this means that the incremental costs of servicing such shorter segments will be higher. For example, domestic segments incur greater aircraft wear/tear, thus necessitating more maintenance. Domestic segments incur lower fuel efficiency. Domestic segments incur higher airport operating expenses as well as USA-based personnel expenses. Domestic segments carry fewer total passengers per segment than long-haul international ones, where B777-300ERs can carry around 360 passengers when full, and typically with very decent load factors (often into 90+% or even 100% during certain time periods). Another observation to make is that the onboard services and amenities (foods, drinks, seats, IFEs, etc) are much better on international long-hauls than domestic shorter-hauls because the financial margins must be allowing that to work.

    So taking all these factors together, it should be logical that an international long-haul flight can generate more net profits per flight than a shorter-haul domestic one, and, therefore, United needs to continue to take care of those “elites” who fly those international long-haul flights! Notice what can now happen — lots of Economy passengers who used to be able to get Premier Silver+ (ie, up to 1K) will now defect to flying on other Star Alliance partners, where they will get much better cabin service than from any USA airlines, anyway! Furthermore, these passengers will still be able to get their Premier Silver+, but even more quickly by using the new Star Alliance partner distance flown division method to credit their PQPs! United ends up losing out big time, because then their Economy section will end up with load factors <50% (perhaps even less). Or is United trying to phase out its Economy class service and convert all seats to only Premier Plus and Polaris?

    Now … it is true that there are way more domestic flights than international ones, overall, so total gross revenues will still come from majority domestic traffic, but not as efficiently when compared on a per flight basis.
    @ — “… I do apologize for my tone in my last post. I don’t think anyone should be ‘punished,’ …”

    It’s always best when everyone can benefit based on their respective merits, rather than getting intentionally “cut off,” as United has done to non-corporate contracted long-haul flyers, with their 2020 program structure!
    @ — “… my bet is the high-segment/low-mileage elites generate considerably more revenue for the airline than the high-mileage/low-segment ones …” —

    Again … you can claim that can generate more revenues, but does that also generate more net profits, given the domestic expense factors discussed above? And, as stated above, your claim will generate more aggregate revenues based on having way more domestic flights than international long-haul ones, but how does it compare on a “per flight” basis?

    If United corrects a past shortcoming towards high-segment flyers, only to alienate those “elite” international long-haul flyers, won’t United be obliterating itself globally, as every one of those “elites” defect to foreign airlines and get much better overall service, to boot? Is that to United’s long-term benefit?

    Right now I’m still scratching my head as to which option to use next year — fly Economy on Star Alliance partner airlines and use the distance flown division method to get my Premier 1K Status renewed more quickly, or stay with United and spend ever more $$$ just to chase the next higher level of Lifetime Million Miler status? 🙁

    BTW — perhaps you should induce United to create a new Lifetime premier status qualification category to be based on #segments flown, rather than miles flown? For example, once you accumulate 1500 segments flown then you get Lifetime Gold status, 3000 segments flown gets you Lifetime Platinum status, etc. This high segments threshold is necessary, since some people fly short hops really often, and on cheap tickets. 😛

  179. For the first time in 23 years of flying with United I’ve stated visiting and booking flights through the websites of ANA, Air Canada, and Singapore Airlines. Pretty smooth experience — never knew what I was missing — thanks, United, for helping me see how much greener the grass was on the other side of the fence. I’ve already got three international trips lined up for 2020 from IAD to Singapore, New Delhi, and Bangkok in combinations of Business and Premium Economy. I’m spending about as much as I would have booking through United, but I’m earning 2.2x the number of PQPs, same number of PQFs, substantially more redeemable miles, and probably securing a refreshed and better flying experience. So…is United totally stupid or what? Between business and leisure, my immediate family and I have dropped nearly $500K on airfare with United over the last two decades. What kind of policy encourages a long-standing (and no doubt profitable) customer to reroute revenue to the competition?!?

    This feels a lot like one of those moments when you realize you have a 20-year old, obsolete online savings account earning 0.39% APR when all the newer more progressive banks have been offering 2.15% for the past few years. Nice of United to remind us how terrible a value they’ve become over the past several years.

  180. I fail to understand why United cannot satisfy both sets of customers by making it easier for domestic passengers to earn elite status, while also leaving the miles traveled criterion for those of us who take long-haul flights, for which we pay out of our own pockets. I am semi-retired and do not have a company covering my travel. Hence, cost is an important factor.

    Hitherto I have always managed to attain Silver Status, but it is highly doubtful that I shall be able to do so in future.

    I think United is making a mistake by focusing on the business traveler almost to the exclusion of retirees and older folk. There are a great many of us.

  181. Does anyone know if the upgrades for 1K will be more available in 2020? They sent me an email a while back saying the were redoing the upgrade system. Since 2020 will be the last year I will be 1K (after 10 years straight) it would be nice if I could also use the upgrades for making 1K this year. I mean guaranteed upgrades – not the pay me more money for the upgraded ticket and maybe you will get an upgrade.

  182. Of course some people will benefit from this. Many more will lose. Basically, United has decided to go after high-spend business travelers. Middle-of-the-road warriors, govt employees who fly a lot on discounted tickets, people who fly lots of economy segments — United has decided this business is less important. I think it’s a bad gamble, but time will tell. For me, I usually hit Platinum or 1k under the old system but would now drop down to Gold. That’s just not enough incentive to stay with United and I’ll for sure be shopping around in future whereas I used to pay extra to be loyal. This would seem to gut the idea of a mass loyalty program, but maybe United has it figured out and will come out ahead.

  183. Shouldn’t your number of years of loyalty also somehow factor in to the equation??? There should be some sort of multiplier for every year of elite status… even if small. Are all those years of loyalty really worth nothing now? Feeling quite betrayed by the new program.

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