United Has A New Promotion That Makes Status Easy This Year

United has two new ways to earn elite status for next year. One lets existing elites keep their status for modest spending, while the other gives those who don’t currently have status or have already re-qualified a boost in reaching a higher elite tier.

Last fall United announced 2021 elite qualifying would entail:

  • lower status requirements
  • a hard start for current elites towards status
  • bonus qualifying spend for status in the first quarter
  • relaxed restriction on using credit card-earned elite qualifying spend towards top status

Here’s the reduced qualification levels 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

Existing elite members got an automatic head start towards earning status next year, based on the current status they hold:

2021 Status Qualifying Spend Deposit
Premier Silver 875
Premier Gold 1,750
Premier Platinum 2,500
Premier 1K 3,750

United has run several promotions since then to help members earn their revenue-based status without revenue. Now, though, that’s more or less all out the window for those who just want to re-qualify since it just got easy for many.

Existing Elites: Promotion To Requalify

Current elite members can re-earn the status level they held on July 27, 2021 by hitting 20% of the reduced 2021 qualification threshold by November 30, 2021 irrespective of how much they’ve already flown and earned.

Flights + Spend Spend Only
Silver 4 + $600 $700
Gold 6 + $1200 $1,400
Platinum 8 + $1800 $2,000
1K 10 + $2700 $3,000

Zach Honig reports that corporate flyers (anyone who flew ticket booked with a corporate tour code since January 1, 2019) get a boost towards the challenge:

  • Silver: 100 qualifying dollars
  • Gold: 200 qualifying dollars
  • Platinum: 300 qualifying dollars
  • 1K: 400 qualifying dollars

Those who don’t re-earn status this way will automatically qualify for the other bonus instead for non-status and re-qualified passengers that I’ll describe next.

Note as well that Global Services members have already had their status extended without additional requirements.

Bonus For Those Without Status, Or Who Have Already Requalified

Members without status, or whom have already re-qualified for their current status, receive elite qualifying spend bonuses for each of the first 3 trips between now and November 30:

Current Status Trip 1 Bonus Trip 2 Bonus Trip 3 Bonus Total Potential
None 250 75 75 400
Silver 350 100 100 550
Gold 700 175 175 1050
Platinum 1,000 250 250 1500
1K 1,500 375 375 2250

Under this offer, one award trip will qualify for the bonus. (In 2021 and 2022 Delta is counting all award travel towards elite status.)

And members can earn one qualifying flight for every $4,000 spent on United co-brand credit cards, up to two flights at $8,000.

United Wants Customers To Spend (A Little) To Keep Status

Delta and Air Canada have gone ahead and just extended everyone’s status again.

American, after offering several promotions, is letting everyone keep their current status for $2000 in travel spend or $15,000 in credit card spend during defined periods.

United’s thresholds are tougher, but do offer a benefit for customers who are earning first-time status or trying to earn higher status. This new set of offers appears to suggest United won’t do a straight status extension, though Live and Let’s Fly reports targeted offers are under consideration for members in the Asia Pacific region.

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. Airline status is not what it used to be, and never will be. There are many reasons.

    1. Upgrades. This was and remains the marquee perk of any status, but upgrades are less common now that first class tickets are cheaper in cash, and more people are willing to pay that cash.

    2. Priority lines. Clear and Precheck don’t care about airline status. Customer service lines in the airport sometimes do, but with increased IT capabilities allowing customers to rebook themselves via the airline’s app, the need for customer service decreases. Airlines will continue to invest in cutting costs here because this is a big cost, to staff counters and call centers.

    3. Loyalty. Matters more to old people. Young people do not care. Loyalty isn’t very meaningful when there are only 3 major airlines.

    4. Bragging rights. Customers are increasingly catching on to the fact that status is a marketing gimmick and just because you have a shiny plastic card does not make you a better person. Those satirical DYKWIA/“Diamond guest” videos are mocking a thing of the past.

  2. It is nice that UA is throwing us a bone but honestly I have no idea how to piece together all of the various promos you have posted above. I suspect many UA customers may have similar confusion and just won’t bother.

    Once again DL is smart and simple: extend everyone.

  3. UA does not extend status for another year because “doing that is unfair to those who already qualify this year”. Then how is it fair for those who already made a few trips compared to those who did not fly anything at all until this point? And how is it fair for members who are in Asia (myself) & Australia where the borders are closed? I don’t want to upset anyone based in the US, but these promotions are useless for members in Asia & Australia. Delta once again is making a smart move.

  4. Seems this skips me. I am 18 miles from requalifying for Plat but looking to make 1k. What concerns me more though is next years qualifications for 1k. I had moved over to One World because UA were asking too much. I may be wasting my time flying with UA if they re-up the PQP above 15k next year.

  5. This really ticks me off. I have flown over 130,000 miles this year and spent $21k and I could have done nothing and just spent $3k? Thanks United…

  6. Concerns me that the increased number of 1K members will go up. UA should have 1K earned and 1K-2 not really earned status. Otherwise, status is diluted. When they call for 1K members to board at the gate and a massive group goes forward – it’s daunting.

    (Once took longhaul UA flight where flight attendant told me everyone onboard was 1K or at least thought they were)! 🙂

  7. I contacted the 1k desk and asked:
    Is this 10 segments / 2700 PQPs or 3000 PQPs for the year by Nov 30?
    Is it an additional 10 segments / 2700 PQPs or 3000 PQPs for the year by Nov 30 on top of what I already have.

    I was told it was the latter, so in addition to my current 8 segments and 8500 PQPs, I need to increase my accruals by 10 segments / 2700 PQPs or 3000 PQPs starting today and by Nov 30 to retain 1k.

  8. @ Gary – What Boraxo said. I don’t even understand how UA status works, even more so these promotions. There continues to be zero incentive to spend with UA as a MM / LT Gold.

  9. I’m annoyed by the incumbency bias in most of their 2021 promos. Why not give everyone the same promo to reward customers actually flying the airline this year? If they come up short on elites at the top, they can always offer targeted status fast tracks next year.

  10. UA made this more confusing than it needed to be.
    Just follow Delta’s lead here and make it simple.

  11. Totally confused ‍♂️ I’m a 1K now but haven’t flown yet this year. Does this mean I can fly once on a $3000 ticket to re-qualify for 1k? So confusing.

  12. These promotions are so confusing that they are making me actively mad.

    I’m Gold and I’m close to requalifying without these promotions. So do I not get the bonuses from the second promotion because I haven’t re-qualified yet? If I get those, then the flights I’ve already booked would be enough to requalify me (assuming previously booked flights count?). Otherwise, these promotions do nothing for me unless I do all of the first one, I think?

    Also, people are saying that it has to be on UA metal, so I had a flight back from FRA on UA planned, but now a schedule change is causing a misconnect so I’m going to have to switch to the LH flight – so I guess that won’t count toward any of these promotions.

  13. Gary, on many of my DFW to IAH flights, at least half were 1K. Where does it leave us Goldies who stand no chance in getting upgrades?

  14. @Pm: you’re almost right- $3,000 not included taxes

    @Sco: That’s was the point I mentioned. And these promotions are useless and unthoughtful for members in Asia & Australia.

  15. It should be if you can unscramble this mess you get lifetime Gold status.

    I’m a few dollars short of 1K via the spend threshold so this doesn’t matter. It does feel like a bit of a kick to the groin, but they’re a business and they’re doing what they are supposed to be doing, generating revenue.

  16. Bones for the dogs while they just comped all the global services another year, and will probably do the same thing in 2022

  17. United wants to require employees to vaccinate which implies someone at United knows there is a pandemic still going on. To ask their best customers to fly before it is over misses the point. Some despite years of flying United are older and have health issues and are not ready to fly. Delta seems to understand this.

  18. Anyway, what all this does is to save me $3,235 because I’d already booked enough revenue trips to fly between August 20 and November 14 to (11,765 PQP + 14 PQF) or simply 11,765 PQF, i.e., I was well on my way to requalifying for 1K with 15,000 PQF, but will now get there without spending a penny more.

    It would be a bit much to spend $3,235 to requalify for 1K during the promo period the usual way just so that I would be eligible for the “Breakout” bonus offer. Therefore, I am essentially done booking revenue flights for the year. Instead, I will begin planning to redeem *A award flights for my annual year-end escapade(tm), which will likely take me to Eastern Europe this time rather than to Asia, the destination of all my prior year-end escapades.

    The only unknown factor is whether the delta variant of the SARS-CoV-2 virus will disrupt commercial flights to the level that original virus did…

  19. correction: “… I’d already booked enough revenue trips to fly between August 20 and November 14 to earn (11,765 PQP + 14 PQF) or simply 11,765 PQPQP, i.e., I was well on my way to requalifying for 1K with 15,000 PQF, but will now get there without spending a penny more”

  20. UA should consider targeted promos for 1K’s based in competitor hub cities. Like me. I’m a 1K based in DFW, having switched biz from AA a few years back. Flying a non-hub airline out of a competitive hub city has its share of inconveniences. But the past 18 months it has become extremely tough. Flight schedule paring, aircraft down-gauging and airline club closures all make it hard to justify flying UA out of DFW. I’m sure many fellow elites in other cities, regardless of airline, face similar situations trying to remain loyal to their airline of choice flying from a hub city of a competitor. My experience on UA has generally been good and I hate to change, but I may be forced to.

  21. What about the usual minimum flight segments then?

    The “fly to the finish” promo says I can retain 1k status with 3000 PQP only but doesn’t mention the usual required flight segments. And it’s before November 30th (?) which makes it even more confusing. And there’s 3750 PQP already deposited as a 1k. I called the 1k desk but they said they’re not too familiar with the new promotion and ended up just reading info off the website in hopes of explaining it.

    Honestly feels like United just wants to confuse everyone.

  22. This is why I’m so glad I started flying with Delta last year. With what they are doing, I’m literally working on my 2025 diamond status. The money is never an issue, it’s the 125k MQMs or 140 segments. But with 220k MQMs right now (and I’ll be flying at least 75% each month), the bonus and all of them rolling over, I’ll be diamond for awhile. Delta also did it right as those that have earned the status (like myself) have higher upgrade priority of those that got it extended again.

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