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Do Million Milers Get a Head Start on Elite Qualification?

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TPG reader Erica sent me a message on Facebook to ask about million miler status:

“I’m about to hit one million miles flown with United, and I’m a little confused about lifetime Premier Gold status. Does this mean that I only have to fly 25,000 miles each year to get to Premier Platinum, or 50,000 miles for Premier 1K?”

All three of the US legacy carriers offer million miler elite status to reward frequent flyers for long-term loyalty. The rewards and qualification requirements vary from one airline to another, but overall I think United offers the best opportunities for million milers. Unlike Delta and American, United lets you earn lifetime status at the highest tier (Global Services), and even extends benefits to your spouse or significant other.

Once you reach one million miles — keep in mind those are actual miles flown, not award miles or elite miles earned — you’ll be granted lifetime Premier Gold status and all the benefits that come with it. Even if you don’t fly a single mile with United the following year, your elite status will remain unchanged. However, qualifying for million miler status with United doesn’t give you a leg up on reaching the next level of MileagePlus Premier status.

Basically, the fact that you start each year with Gold status doesn’t mean you also start with 50,000 Premier Qualifying Miles (PQMs). Your total resets to zero every January just like it would if you didn’t have lifetime status, so you’ll have to meet the normal qualification requirements in order to reach a higher tier. That means you still need 75,000 PQMs and $9,000 Premier Qualifying Dollars (PQDs) to earn Premier Platinum status, or 100,000 PQMs and $12,000 PQDs to earn Premier 1K status.

United Plane taking off eco-skies banner
United offers good opportunities for million milers, but you’ll still have to earn additional status the hard way.

Unfortunately, your million miler Gold status also doesn’t help you earn PQMs more quickly, since those are based on your fare and not your Premier status. On the bright side, United recently raised PQM earning rates for first- and business-class fares, so you’ll have an easier time reaching Platinum if you fly regularly in those premium cabins.

For more on million miler status and United MileagePlus Premier, check out these posts:

If you have any other questions, please tweet me @thepointsguy, message me on Facebook or send me an email at info@thepointsguy.com.

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