United Adds Spend to Elite Status Requirements

Following in Delta's footsteps, United announced on FlyerTalk that, beginning in January 2014, MileagePlus elite status will be awarded on the basis of a combination of elite-qualifying miles (EQMs) or segments (EQSs) and elite-qualifying dollars (EQDs), as follows:

  • Premier Silver: 25,000 EQMs or 30 EQSs and $2,500 EQDs
  • Premier Gold: 50,000 EQMs or 60 EQSs and $5,000 EQDs
  • Premier Platinum: 75,000 EQMs or 90 EQSs and $7,500 EQDs
  • Premier 1K: 100,000 EQMs or 120 EQSs and $10,000 EQDs

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Elite-qualifying dollars include spending on "most" flights operated by United, United Express, or Copa Airlines, and flights operated by Star Alliance or MileagePlus carriers and issued on a United ticket.

The new minimum-spend requirement only applies to MileagePlus members whose accounts are registered to U.S. addresses.

Other Terms and Conditions

  • Members must fly at least four paid flights operated by United, United Express, or Copa Airlines during a calendar year to qualify for any Premier status.
  • For 2014, members who hold a United MileagePlus Presidential Plus or Club credit card are exempt from the four-segment minimum as long as their credit card account is open and not in default at the time of qualification.
  • For 2014, the EQD requirement is waived for existing Presidential Plus Cardmembers for Premier Silver, Premier Gold, and Premier Platinum qualification, but not for Premier 1K qualification.
  • For 2014, the EQD requirement is waived for Premier Silver, Premier Gold, and Premier Platinum qualification for members whose address with MileagePlus is within the 50 United States or the District of Columbia and who in 2014 have spent at least $25,000 on a MileagePlus co-branded credit card issued by Chase at the time in 2014 they qualify for Premier status. There is no EQD waiver for Premier 1K qualification.

That's a lot of requirements and exceptions to wade through and process. But the bottom line is that, going forward, elite status and spend will be aligned. No more long cheap flights just to qualify for elite perks.

Although it will come as a rude shock to some, the new system is fair and eminently sensible. Elite status was always intended to recognize and reward customers' contribution to an airline's bottom line. And keying status to spend does just that.

Winnowing out the mileage-runners will reduce the ranks of MileagePlus elites, although it remains to be seen by how much. What is more certain is that there will be at least somewhat fewer elites competing for upgrades. So it's a win for those who qualify for their status the old-fashioned way, by earning it.

Reader Reality Check

Will you be a winner or a loser under United's new elite-qualification policy?

This article originally appeared on FrequentFlier.com.

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