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United’s Latest Challenge Offers Elite Status Through Early 2018

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Update: Apparently it may be possible to request a match from AA Executive Platinum to United 1K. The same 90-day trial applies, with a requirement to earn 35,000 PQMs or 40 segments during that period.

Last month we reported that United’s status match program was ending — fortunately, that’s no longer the case. United has just extended its status match/challenge program, allowing you to register up until June 30, 2016. You’ll have higher status for a 90-day period, during which you must meet certain terms for the match to stick.

Since we’re approaching the halfway mark of 2016, United’s status match can be even more advantageous this time around — assuming you meet the requirements on or after July 1, 2016, you’ll have your new status through January 2018! Here are the terms from UA:

Earned 2016 Premier status is valid through January 2017. The MileagePlus status is valid through January 2018 for customers who earn Premier status through this promotion on or after July 1, 2016. *For customers who meet the PQM or PQS requirement of this promotion on or after July 1, 2016, status is valid through January 2018, unless a higher Premier level is earned.

Here’s how this works:

Match

United will only match status with one of its top legacy competitors. Here’s which UA level to expect, based on the status you currently hold with another airline:

Level matched to in MileagePlus Premier Silver Premier Gold Premier Platinum
Delta Air Lines Medallion level Silver Gold Platinum
American Airlines AAdvantage elite status Gold Platinum Determined upon review
US Airways Preferred level Silver Gold Platinum

Interestingly, United still includes matching from US Airways Preferred, though that program is now defunct. Additionally, you may have success matching to a higher level than what’s shown above. TPG contributor JT Genter managed to get United to match an AA Gold (lowest level) member to United Gold (mid-level) by demonstrating that this traveler has plans to fly extensively throughout the year.

You’ll need to status match and then meet the challenge to keep the matched status.

After submitting your match request, you’ll have your new status for a 90-day “Offer Period.” You can choose the start date, but it needs to be within 14 days of the date you submit your request, so don’t contact United until just before you’re ready to begin.

Additionally, your trial status won’t include full Star Alliance benefits, such as access to partner lounges. If you don’t meet the challenge requirements, United may (and likely will) downgrade your account.

Challenge

You must meet the following requirements within 90 days of your start date:

MileagePlus Premier status PQM (Premier Qualifying Miles) or PQS (Premier Qualifying Segments)
Premier Silver Fly 7,000 PQM or 8 PQS on flights operated by United or United Express
Premier Gold Fly 12,500 PQM or 15 PQS on flights operated by United or United Express
Premier Platinum Fly 18,000 PQM or 22 PQS on flights operated by United or United Express

Unfortunately even if you earn enough PQMs or PQSs to reach a higher status level, United will only issue permanent status based on the chart up top. So if you’re a current American Airlines Platinum elite and match to UA Gold, you can’t fly 18,000 PQM and get United Premier Platinum.

Again, if you meet the challenge requirements on or after July 1, 2016, you’ll keep the matched status for the remainder of 2016 and the entire 2017 program year (until January 31, 2018). That’s a pretty sweet deal!

Notes

I got a free upgrade to United's first-class cabin (on a 747 domestic flight) thanks to my 1K status.
I got a free upgrade to United’s first-class cabin (on a 747 domestic flight) thanks to my 1K status.

– You technically can’t participate if you currently hold Star Alliance Silver or Gold status (though it’s unclear how United will confirm this if you don’t provide these credentials).

– You aren’t eligible if you’ve participated in a OnePass or MileagePlus status match within the past five years.

– It may take United 7-14 days to upgrade your account with temporary matched status, so keep that in mind if you’re planning to travel soon.

Thanks to TPG reader Charlton Y., who shared this news tip by emailing tpgtips@thepointsguy.com. We’ll be sending out a $200 Visa gift card as a token of our appreciation.

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