United is Making Earning Elite Status Easier and Faster in 2016

During 2015 American AAdvantage gave a boost towards elite status to members buying premium fares in the form of an ‘elite qualifying points’ bonus.

For 2016 they’ve eliminated qualifying points and are instead incorporating the premium fare bonus into extra qualifying miles for premium fares.

United, much more known to ‘manage by doing what Delta does’ has gone ahead and matched American’s bonus qualifying miles structure for premium fares for travel in 2016.

They aren’t doing anything to make earning elite status harder on low fares (United already has minimum spending requirements for elite status, American will not have that requirement).

Instead they’re making it easier to earn status quickly for folks buying paid premium cabin fares. This will also likely mean more elites and more higher-level elites than before.

At American they expect the number of elites to stay constant, since higher premium cabin status miles earning comes as the ‘qualifying points promotion ends. They’ve already inflated the elite ranks somewhat so won’t be doing it further with the new bonus. United will be, at least relative to 2015, as they match American’s efforts.

About Gary Leff

Gary Leff is one of the foremost experts in the field of miles, points, and frequent business travel - a topic he has covered since 2002. Co-founder of frequent flyer community InsideFlyer.com, emcee of the Freddie Awards, and named one of the "World's Top Travel Experts" by Conde' Nast Traveler (2010-Present) Gary has been a guest on most major news media, profiled in several top print publications, and published broadly on the topic of consumer loyalty. More About Gary »

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  1. This shouldn’t inflate 1K too much, since none of this helps you reach 12,000 PQDs. However, this will result in the issuance of more upgrade instruments. For example, I project I’ll easily reach 150,000 – 175,000 PQMs before reaching 12,000 PQDs, meaning several additinal RPUs/GPUs.

  2. The objective here is to incentivize customers to fly on UA’s inferior international C/F product instead of *A like SQ etc. without UA spending millions to upgrade the product. And it may very well work for those at the margins – I would forego SQ if it meant I could achieve 1K rather than 1P.

    As previously predicted, it is only a matter of time before status is 100% based on $$$ instead of miles. And then it’s game over for the mileage runners and the credit card churners.

  3. Nope, one year of following SMI/J’s recipe of screwing loyal UA MileagePlus has amply demonstrated the disastrous consequences for its revenue and profits.

    This is jus a belated attempt to put lipstick on the pig that is MileagePlus now. It might sway a few zombies who fly on OPM to continue torturing themselves into UA’s premium cabins to experience subpar seats and catering (not to mention their fancy Dewar’s scotch), but it is too little too late.

  4. It’s already game over for mileage runners. PQD requirement pretty much does it. But that’s OK, mileage runners and those who don’t spend the big bucks will now start using Southwest, Alaska, JBLU, EK, etc. much more than pay more to fly AA/UA to get those status. And those are going to be significant numbers.

  5. @Boraxo United are offering 3 PQM/ mile flown and 2 PQM/mile flown for premium cabin bookings made with their partner airlines so how is this an attempt to “incentivize customers to fly on UA’s inferior international C/F product instead of *A like SQ etc.”?

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