United Makes Earning Status In 2022 Easier, After Already Having Made It Easier

United Airlines laid out reduced elite qualifying criteria for 2022, and when they did so back in December it was already clear this wouldn’t be nearly enough.

For 2022 here’s how members reach elite status with United Airlines:

Status Normal Qualifying Spend/Flights 2022 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

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 as I wrote two months ago Omicron is delaying even further some return to office plans.

And 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. 2022 isn’t just about lopping a quarter of premium international travel off. There’s no sign of a return to the carrier selling Apple 50 business class seats a day on the San Francisco – Shanghai route.

In what no doubt will not be the last concession to make status-earning easier this year, United will let members know on Friday they’re getting deposits in their accounts of 15% – 20% of the qualifying dollars they need to keep their current status. And in typical United fashion, it’s complicated

United is showing love to its most loyal customers just in time for Valentine’s Day….United will notify MileagePlus Premier members of a surprise deposit of extra Premier Qualifying Points (PQP) to their accounts to help jump start earning towards their 2023 Premier status goals. Since United extended the lowered Premier qualification thresholds offered at all levels last year, the personalized deposit gifts members 15% -20% of what they need to requalify for status through 2023.

Premier members’ deposit amounts will vary depending on:

  • The Premier status level reached at the end of 2021
  • Whether Premier status was earned or extended
  • Members who earned status, by either meeting the annual requirements or completing the Fly to the Finish challenge, will receive higher PQP deposit amounts

These post as “Starter PQP” in member accounts. A silver might receive 700, a Platinum with extended status 2000, while a Platinum who earned their status last year would receive 2250. 1Ks who qualified ‘for real’ and Global Services members receive 3000 “PQP.”

Of course this does nothing to help those actually flying the airline now – perhaps for the first time – earn status. It only helps existing elites keep status. More to come, no doubt. United just wants to wait and see how much more will be needed, what the crest of the Omicron wave and the rash of global re-openings, means for their business book.

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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Comments

  1. I earned Platinum for 2022, up from Gold last year, and I had 2000 pqp deposited in my account today. Seemed like that should have been 2250 based on the metric in LALF?

  2. and AA continues to play the stupid LP game with ridiculous re-qualification requirement. Time to jump the sinking AA ship?

  3. Looks like OPM flying is not coming back as fast as they’d like it to….

    Corporate overlords have realized that there is no need to send out anymore to present powerpoints…

  4. “a Platinum with extended status 2000, while a Platinum who earned their status last year would receive 2250”

    Nope. Platinum here with earned status, and I only got 2000.

  5. I earned Plat last year, up from Gold the year before and I also only got 2,000.

    It’s funny because I fly almost exclusively personal travel on my own dime, and now that everyone is in the same boat as me they have to lower the thresholds so that anyone will qualify. I’m doing the same flying I normally do but qualifying for Gold or Plat instead of struggling to hit Silver.

  6. The negative tone of this post seems unwarranted to me. What UA is attempting to accomplish is laudable and not “complicated” at all because it is exactly what they did last year, except that they did not tell members ahead of time. They just did it. I automatically got 3K PQP as a head start last year and this year for 2023 status chase my account now shows:

    Premier qualifying points (PQP) 3,000

    Kool. I suspect that that might not be the end of it. Should it look like too many members won’t retain status because of the pandemic, we may see another ‘fly to the finish’-type promo, which I took advantage to the fullest…

    Woah! Just now accessed my MileagePlus account for the first time in 2022 and in the status tracker there is smiling mug of Scott Kirby himself congratulating me for earning/retaining the 1K status! Not bad…

  7. How exactly does this compare to DL, AA and AS? How much does it cost to obtain top status (1k equivalent) on those airlines? I think AS is the only one that still counts EQM.

  8. I was a United 1K for over a decade and went out of my way to fly United but UA gutted Mileage Plus and any benefits. United is crazy to think that I will go out of my way to spend five figures to be a 1K each year. Fortunately KLM/AF/IB/BA and other airlines are happy to take my money 🙂

  9. LOL

    I was a United 1K for over a decade and went out of my way to fly United but UA gutted Mileage Plus and any benefits. United is crazy to think that I will go out of my way to spend five figures to be a 1K each year. Fortunately KLM/AF/IB/BA and other airlines are happy to take my money 🙂

    Not to worry. Please stay put exactly where you are. It will be less competition for PlusPoints upgrades, UA’s highly flexible and most innovative cabin upgrade instrument in the history of airline loyalty!

    G’day.

  10. FTTF 1K here and got 3k PQP. Grateful for that; my business travel this year is still nil due to COVID, and all my booked vacations at EK and SQ due to the crazy F redemptions that have been available.

  11. @DCS

    Except you will be competing with people that United is selling paid upgrades to at less than the price they offer it to 1Ks. When travel bounces back you can forget about much upgrade success.
    So don’t count on those “free” upgrades when people fly more.

    I don’t need upgrades as I’m flying in paid business (including on occasion on United). As a 1K I consistently gave away my GPUs while spending far less than what United wants from 1Ks as minimum spend.

  12. Except you will be competing with people that United is selling paid upgrades to at less than the price they offer it to 1Ks.

    Same tired old paranoid claims that never materialize and I am yet to experience as a 1K, like forever, and a Million Miler.

    I don’t need upgrades as I’m flying in paid business (including on occasion on United).

    Keep flying paid business. I will take my chances with PlusPoints upgrades (nothing like your granddaddy’s SWU or GPU) because if I imitated you and started to fly in paid business, I would have no valid rationale to keep playing the “game” and would stop roaming travel blogosphere and commenting on elite status, upgrades, etc.

    What is your rationale for continuing to roam these forums if you fly exclusively in paid business? Inquiring minds wanna know…

  13. @DCS

    “What is your rationale for continuing to roam these forums if you fly exclusively in paid business? Inquiring minds wanna know…”

    Every once in a while I have to use miles as they tend to become less valuable over time and don’t like to keep them in any airline account for too long. And since I care more about racking up miles through Chase, Citi, etc (no program lock-in) where to best spend/convert them. I also stay at hotels and this blog also helps me understand the yearly program devaluations by United (in fairness some devaluations where more than once a year) and other airlines. On occasion this site also posts routing info on good discount business fare sales.

    And you are really missing out by not flying other airlines more.

  14. Earned 1K last year and nothing in my account so far – hopefully it is a rolling ‘Valentine’s Surprise’

  15. @EndlosLuft — Fair enough. I purchase premium cabin tickets only if I need a lot of PQPs for status qualification, otherwise it is economy for which I am reimbursed by my employer if it is business-related, which it usually is, and then I use PlusPoints to upgrade and collect flight miles. For personal travel, which I do at the end of the year when I take 4 weeks off for some R&R, I fly with plenty of other *A airlines (SQ, OZ, CA, BR, LH, TG). So, fly with plenty of other airlines. United is for status and fpr earning flight miles. I seldom redeem miles to fly on UA metal; always for premium cabins in *A carriers.

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