New United Airlines Status Match Program

There’s a new United Airlines status match program. Elite frequent flyers are valuable customers – to the airline they’re loyal, and also potentially to other airlines who might poach their business. The same holds for elites in hotel loyalty programs.

Status makes it difficult to switch, you’re better treated by an airline or hotel chain and it’s tough to start somewhere else from scratch. That’s why many loyalty programs offer to match your current status in order to win your business.

United had a status match offer that gave you up to Platinum status for 90 days and an expedited path towards keeping the status. In advance of dropping miles as a way to earn MileagePlus elite status, and focusing only on flights and dollars spent, they removed their status challenge.

The New United Airlines Status Match Challenge

Now that we’re into 2020 they’ve brought back the status challenge. They’ll give American and Delta elites temporary status, and an offer based on dollars and flights to keep that status.

Here’s the normal rules for earning United elite status:

Premier Qualifying Points (PQP) + 
Level Premier Qualifying Flights (PQF) Premier Qualifying Points Only
Silver 4000 PQP + 12 PQF 5000 PQP
Gold 8000 PQP + 24 PQF 10,000 PQP
Platinum 12,000 PQP + 36 PQF 15,000 PQP
1K 18,000 PQP + 54 PQF 24,000 PQP

If you have current status with Delta or American here’s how that status will map to United when you request a challenge:

Frequent flyer program Level Level Level
Delta Air Lines Medallion® level Silver Gold Platinum
American Airlines AAdvantage elite status Gold Platinum Platinum Pro
Level matched to in MileagePlus Premium Silver Premier Gold Premier Platinum

In my experience in the past United has been willing to match Delta Diamonds and American Executive Platinums to 1K status, extending a challenge and expedited requalification criteria, though this hasn’t been published. If you submit a status challenge request to United let me know in the comments if they offer you a temporary 1K.

united airlines status match for upgrades to domestic first class
United Airlines Domestic First Class

How United’s Status Challenge Works

To request temporary status and a challenge to retain it, use United’s request form and provide your MileagePlus account number, the email address on your account, and a copy of “your most recent mileage summary or 2020 membership card for the frequent flyer program you are matching from.”

What United wants is proof that “identif[ies] your name, current elite status, including your status expiration date or validity period, which should be valid through the duration of the current calendar year.”

If you have Star Alliance Gold status with another airline besides United you’re not eligible to take advantage of a status challenge, even if you’re using American or Delta status to support the challenge. Trial or temporary status from another airline isn’t valid for a United status challenge either.

Take care to only submit real information to United when requesting a status challenge because they have a program to validate the information they’re given with their competitors.

United says that it will take 7-14 business days to process requests and upgrade status.

When your status is matched to a certain level, that’s the level you’re working to keep.  If you have American Airlines Platinum Pro status and United gives you 90 days of Premier Platinum, you need to meet the requirements for keeping Premier Platinum (meeting the requirements for Silver or Gold won’t let you keep Silver or Gold).

Here’s what you need to do during your 90 day challenge period to keep status:

MileagePlus Premier status PQF and PQP requirements
Premier Silver Fly 4 PQF and earn 1,000 PQP on flights operated by United or United Express
Premier Gold Fly 6 PQF and earn 2,000 PQP on flights operated by United or United Express
Premier Platinum Fly 10 PQF and earn 3,000 PQP on flights operated by United or United Express

If you challenge to United’s Platinum status and complete the challenge you’ll be granted 20 PlusPoints for confirmed upgrades within 10 business days.

united polaris business class
United Polaris Business Class

When Should You Request a Challenge?

United will offer its status challenge once every 5 years. So it’s not ‘once in a lifetime’ but you can’t do this over and over like you can with Southwest.

Timing for when you take the challenge matters a lot.

  • Complete the challenge before July 1, 2020 and status will run through January 31, 2021
  • Complete the challenge July 1, 2020 or later and status runs through January 31, 2022

united airlines houston
United Airlines Aircraft in Houston

My advice is to request the challenge when you know you’re going to (a) meet the requirements to keep the status, and (b) continue to fly enough to make good use of the status.

Many frequent flyers, especially new to the hobby, will request status matches and challenges broadly and collect status. Since you can’t do that with United year-after-year that’s not a good strategy.

(HT: Dan’s Deals)

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. “If you challenge to United’s Platinum status and complete the challenge you’ll be granted 20 PlusPoints for confirmed upgrades within 10 business days” – assuming this is boilerplate language supplied from UA, but in reality 20 points will only be good for a single domestic / non-Polaris upgrade OR a single int’l Premium Plus upgrade…not like it’s AA giving you 20 stickers or the like

  2. Any reason the free EXP AA was just handing out to Hyatt Globalists wouldn’t be eligible for the match?

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