United Airlines Extends Elite Status A Year, Club Memberships By 6 Months

Delta was first out of the gate to extend current member elite status through January 2022.

United clearly had a status extension plan in the can, ready to go, and was just waiting to see if another airline (especially Delta) forced their hand – because within hours, on a Sunday afternoon, United’s MileagePlus is also announcing a status extension.

  • Current status will last through the 2021 status year (expiring January 31, 2022)

  • There will be lower elite qualifying thresholds next year.

  • United is also extending annual subscriptions for inflight wifi, checked bags, United Club memberships and EconomyPlus by six months

The length of extension for purchases like club membership is identical to Delta’s plan. However they do not have ‘rollover miles’ the way that Delta does, so no real ability to take qualifying activity from this year and apply it to next year. Instead they’ll just reduce next year’s requirements. I’m waiting for details on what those will be.

There’s no question that United’s ‘cash is king’ status levels that they could get away with in the best of times make no sense with travel severely curtailed, let alone in a global recession.

As with Delta, United’s co-brand credit card partner Chase will still need to address annual fees on cards that provide club lounge access while customers aren’t traveling, and clubs are broadly closed.

The reason to do this, and to ensure customers can still access their status, is because the best customers of the airline (and bank) are the ones who will help these businesses climb out of the muck in the future. They do not want to create a decision point where customers defect to a competing brand.

American Airlines will now be on a countdown clock.

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 »

More articles by Gary Leff »

Pingbacks

Comments

  1. I wish United would restore to its Lifetime United Club members the unlimited access we paid for. If they do that, I will re-open the United credit card account I closed last week.

  2. It will be interesting to see if American Airlines follows suit.

    To change the subject, I’d like to congratulate Gary on his ever-useful postings during this difficult time for air travel.

  3. >As with Delta, United’s co-brand credit card partner Chase will still need to address annual fees on >cards that provide club lounge access while customers aren’t traveling, and clubs are broadly >closed.
    And how about American’s partner Citi, which gutted its benefits program but still charges $500 for family-wide Admirals club membership. LOL, what Admirals club?
    That’s a card I’m cancelling this year..

  4. Will take it, but still embarrassing for United that they couldn’t actually lead in a positive way for a change

  5. As someone who is still flying (as a flight paramedic) I’m curious to see if the airlines do anything for those of us who actually meet the 1K/EP/Diamond requirements this year.

  6. Why is southwest always left out of this discussion? I value my southwest status just add much as the flyers of the “other 3”.

  7. Do you think you get a new infusion of upgrade points for 2021 or do they also extend the time during which you can use your 2020 upgrade points?

  8. I would guess no new PlusPoints in 2021 unless you meet the criteria this year BUT they will also extend the expiry of this year’s ones by a year. So they exist as long as your status does.

  9. This is a slap in the face to all those who have earned any PQPs this year if not rolled over.

    Wtf was the point of flying United in 2020 if nothing counts.

  10. @Frank
    “To change the subject, I’d like to congratulate Gary on his ever-useful postings during this difficult time for air travel.”
    Agreed!!!

    I also agree that United had this ready to go, but wanted to see if someone else did it first. United will not want to do anything like this unless they have to. Now let’s see how long it takes AA to match.

  11. @SCOTT – because top tier Southwest status is worth less than mid-tier status at the legacy airlines…? I don’t see anyone doing mileage runs to get A-list preferred

  12. I have 12k PQP from 65000 butt in seat miles in 2020. I chose more expensive flights just to get a headstart on the year. What a waste!

  13. I am most curious what happens to PlusPoints in 2021. Would 1K Members get a new set of PPs in 2021? Or PPs would still be contingent on still qualifying for PPs in 2020.

    And, why would they need to reduce elite qualifying standards for next year? Assuming travel returns to normal by January 1, 2021, everyone would have a full 365 days to qualify. Wouldn’t it make more sense to reduce qualifying in 2020, to earn PlusPoints for 2021?

  14. It’s incredibly sad that it takes a virus that kills many people globally
    to humble an airline ,stop being greedy and perhaps start appreciating customers and hopefully treat them better /fairly going forward
    My best years were with United from the 90s to 2002
    Unfortunately I had to move on as the airline declined every year
    long before the more sad recent events
    Hopefully they can turn this around over the short and long haul with a refreshed loyal customer first business culture
    I remember how great they once were
    Delta and American too suffer a similar fate
    Only Alaska and Southwest have a handle & clue about customer respect

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.