United Airlines did a lot of elite status extensions, and didn’t tell anyone about it, but this was first reported by Live and Let’s Fly. The status extensions weren’t universal.
United waited until the very end of the year to do this, clearly hoping to generate some revenue from passengers whose status was ultimately extended. In contrast Delta extended everyone’s status back in July.
The airline has also announced reduced elite qualifying criteria for 2022, as noted by Summer Hull and Ed Pizzarello. They’ll use the same criteria for earning status in 2022 that they used for 2021:
|Status||Normal Qualifying Spend/Flights||2021 Qualifying Spend/Flights|
|Silver||$4000 + 12 Segments or $5,000||$3,000 + 8 Flights or $3,500|
|Gold||$8,000 + 24 Flights or $10,000||$6,000 + 16 Flights or $7,000|
|Platinum||$12,000 + 36 Flights or $15,000||$9,000 + 24 Flights or $10,000|
|1K||$18,000 + 54 Flights or $24,000||$13,500 + 36 Flights or $15,000|
What we don’t know yet is what additional promotions there will be for earning status under this relaxed criteria. Almost certainly we’ll see some.
- United is still basing status strictly on airfare spend (though they allow use of their credit card to count towards up to 4000 qualifying dollars now). That’s a business travel-led model but Omicron is delaying even further some return to office plans.
- United’s route network is uniquely heavy on international travel, whose recovery lags domestic, and it’s also especially heavy on Asia which lags further still.
United relies on premium international out of San Francisco and New York (err, Newark) and the frequent flyer program set up status-earning in support of that model. But 2022 isn’t just about lopping around a quarter of premium international off. There’s no sign of a return to selling Apple 50 business class seats a day on the San Francisco – Shanghai route.