United Failed To Roll Out Their New ‘Cash Is King’ Elite Status Tracking System In Time

United Airlines now only counts spending – and not miles – for earning elite status. You can either straight up count your spending, or you can count the number of flights taken and spending. Miles aren’t even a part of the equation.

The crazy thing is that many customers spending enough to earn top elite status in United’s new program probably don’t even benefit much from the 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

United’s new metric is “PQPs” and “PQFs,” they say, because that’s ‘simpler.’ Go to their website, though, and they haven’t even gotten their act together to display elite status tracking for 2020. They still show miles, segments, and dollars. And this isn’t merely academic now that United promised to post activity to MileagePlus accounts within 2.5 minutes of gate arrival.

United says they’ll have it all fixed by Friday.

For flights in 2020, you’ll earn Premier qualifying flights (PQF) and Premier qualifying points (PQP), which will begin appearing in your account on January 3 at 2:00 a.m. CT. Until this time, your 2020 Premier qualifying balances and flight accruals will not be displayed, but rest assured that any activity starting January 1, 2020, is being counted on our end and will be displayed correctly on January 3.

They want your money, more money than ever before, but can’t even make the investment to be ready for their own new system in time. Sad.

Maybe they can spend some of these new elite qualifying dollars on working IT, or working inflight internet?

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 »


  1. PlusPoints waitlist displays are massive screwed up too if coming from other accounts.

    Pro Tip – DO NOT waitlist any segments of the source account doesn’t have sufficient points. No matter what UA says.

  2. From an IT perspective, I don’t blame them for not rolling out these updates during the last days of elite qualification for 2019 and the heaviest travel time of the year. If their plan all along was the 3rd, perhaps they could have announced that a bit earlier, but is anyone really put out for not seeing their progress with, at most, 2 days of travel on the books?

  3. @Kevin
    From an IT perspective?
    I understand there are companies with millions or even tens or hundreds of millions of accounts that seem to be ok. They’re called banks. They rarely make mistakes. Do they also use IT?

  4. @James

    I think you missed his point…

    I’ll use yours to make his… Banks USUALLY don’t miss the mark, and yes, they use IT… But they don’t roll changes out during Christmas or peak spending times.

    I work for a 30 Billion Dollar company, and we have code/feature release freezes around every major spending holiday… Why? Why would you risk breaking the cash cow?

  5. @MikeL – Thanks for making that point.

    @James – If airlines and banks were at the same level of IT investment & execution then that comparison might begin to make sense. But as it stands, we see IT problems grounding airlines on a regular basis (Delta multiple times in 2019, and the AA regional carrier that was out of commission for days). Can reliable updates be done at peak times? Absolutely. Are airline IT departments positioned to do it? Past evidence says absolutely not.

  6. I just left Asia on January 1st and arrived back on the east coast via SFO just a few hours ago. I can attest that the miles posted for both legs it seemed at the very moment we were wheels down (via the app) as well as updated lifetime miles. I just logged onto United via the web and noticed it is all updated correctly for PQP and PQF, so I assume there will be an app refresh in the next day or two. The PlusPoints system also worked-I was upgraded on one domestic and one international leg only, so at 50% so far.

    As someone who was flying during January 1st and 2nd, the “delay” was a non-event.

    If we want to complain about broken IT systems, one only has to look at Marriott. I’m still trying to get account information fixed. I locked in my lifetime Platinum, so I can finally walk away from that mess of a program.

  7. I have flown 1.1 million miles on United. I tested them quite intensely 2016 to 2019 and enjoyed 1K status. Since then I have switched to other airlines again. The inconsistency of their service and their religion of greed will make me withdraw even more. It is impossible for me to articulate what sour rotten taste their policy leaves with me when their product and service swings all the way from “wonderful” to “hmmmm” to “am I dreaming” to “hold me back or I will physically spell out the societal norms on decency to Mr/Mrs. cave woman/man in a uniform”. Unfortunately I must have had 10% great/outstanding service, 50% ok/non-memorable service and 40% of lacy uneducated, lazy, sometimes snotty service.
    My favorite was in Biz class asking for a second meals as I was hungry: WHAT? What ya want? … no honey, we are not a restaurant.
    What else but “ I love you” can you say?
    United, I am so done with you- your delays , your expensive non- working WiFi, your dirty planes, your pathetic lounges, your improv- freestyle rag tag “amateur night at the circus “ service.

    I know i am late to the show, but Adb of today, I declare myself an emancipated airborne customer – happy to give others my money

  8. @Mr. Tom

    More front of the cabin space for everyone else…

    I’m sure Delta and American look forward to serving you soon.

    Thanks, next…

  9. On 1 Jan I had one United domestic flight. Today, 2 Jan, I had four United domestic flights. None of these flights show up in my “Activity” tab.

    I have one United domestic flight tomorrow, departing SFO at 11:18 AM. Hopefully all six of these flights will show up by Saturday.

    Sunday I fly United to Hong Kong. Maybe the new system will work by then?

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *