United, following Delta's lead, extends elite status for all Premier members and more
Well, that was quick. In response to Delta's announcement Sunday morning extending elite status for another year, United's just made its move.
Like Delta, United is extending status to all its current Premier members through the end of the 2021 program year, which ends on Jan. 31, 2022. There's a lot more in UA's announcement than just a status extension, so let's take a look at the details.
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United Premier elite-status extension
As mentioned above, all current elite status will be extended until Jan. 31, 2022. This includes all tiers, up to UA's highest Premier 1K.
Unfortunately, the carrier isn't ready to announce what's going to happen to fliers holding its invite-only Global Services (GS) status. According to recent reports, at a minimum, United is going to offer current GS members 1K status for 2021.
Earning United Premier status in 2020
Earlier this year, United introduced new paths to earning Premier status, based on spend with the airline (which United refers to as Premier Qualifying Points (PQP), earning 1 PQP for roughly every dollar you spend on a United-operated flight) combined with number of flights taken (known as Premier Qualifying Flights (PQF), which you earn for each flight segment you fly with United or its Star Alliance partners).
Related: Complete guide to United Premier elite status
In order to incentivize customers to continue flying with the airline, United is going to lower the PQP and PQF thresholds by 50% for earning status this year. (Delta pulled a similar move by rolling over all Medallion Qualifying Miles earned this year to 2021).
If you're going for status with United, here's the updated chart:
|Status level||PQF||PQP||PQP only|
Note that there are two tracks to earning status — either a combination of PQF and PQP, or just PQP (at a higher rate). Depending on when it's safe to once again resume travel, these numbers are certainly within reach for those looking to lock in status with United. Interestingly, United halved all the requirements, except for PQF for Premier 1K, which should've been 27 — not 26 — as fellow Zach (Honig) originally reported.
Related: Best credit cards for flying United
Furthermore, United's making it easier to earn PQPs from its co-branded cards. From May 1 until Dec. 31, you can earn double the PQP from the United Explorer Card family or quadruple the PQP from the United Club Infinite Card family. Unfortunately, PQP earned from co-branded cards are only applicable up to the Premier Platinum. (Specifically, this offer will apply to the United Explorer Card, United Business Card, United Club Card, United Club Business Card and the United Club Infinite Card).
Earning United Premier status in 2021
Delta's move of rolling over all MQMs makes it easier to earn status in 2021 for 2022. Well, unsurprisingly, United plans to do something similar. Although the airline doesn't have details to share yet, it promises that "changes" will be made "to help you earn status in 2021 for 2022."
We expect to learn more about those plans later this year.
PlusPoints upgrade extensions
PlusPoints are United's newest currency, which let Platinum and 1Ks apply upgrades on all United operated flights. United's extending the validity of all PlusPoints that are set to expire on or before Jan. 31, 2021 by six months.
Furthermore, UA's greatly expanding the availability of the Skip Waitlist feature for the remainder of 2020 and 2021. This option allows you to confirm an upgrade at the time of booking in exchange for a higher number of PlusPoints. It's hardly a good deal, so I wouldn't get too excited about this news. (Plus, there should be plenty of confirmable upgrade space for the rest of year, rendering the Skip Waitlist feature useless).
Related: How to upgrade United flights
But perhaps worst of all is that United isn't giving PlusPoints next year to Platinum and 1K members if they didn't re-qualify for status (at the decreased thresholds). Delta, on the other hand, is giving all members a fresh set of Choice Benefits for 2021, so this move is definitely a bit stingy on United's part.
If you over-qualify for 1K using a combination of PQF and PQP, you'll receive additional PlusPoints at the standard rate — 20 PlusPoints for every 3,000 additional PQPs earned. Sadly, these thresholds are unchanged from the beginning of 2020.
Extending United Club memberships and subscriptions
United is extending all of its annual subscription options, including United Club memberships, Wi-Fi packages, Economy Plus and checked bag memberships by six months for each customer.
Additionally, if you've got a one-time United Club pass that expires between March and July, it'll get extended for 90 days.
United status match extensions
If you signed up for a status match and already earned status, it'll be extended until Jan. 2022. If you're in the middle of one and want to change the date or cancel and restart later, you can do so by calling United.
Waived award redeposit fees
As we previously reported, United is waiving all award redeposit fees from March 30 until May 31. And now, as part of this news, the airline is going to waive redeposit fees for the remainder of 2020, so long as you cancel your award more than 30 days before scheduled departure.
This is great news for United MileagePlus members. Though Delta led the pack, United was quick to follow up with the details of the Premier program for 2020 and 2021. The only real difference from Delta's plan is that UA's not giving extra upgrades to elites whose status is extended and didn't fly enough in 2020 to re-qualify for status.
Now that Delta and United have made their move, it's only days (or minutes) until we hear from American.
For the latest on elite status extension, check out:
- Delta becomes the first U.S. airline to extend elite status
- Why TPG’s Brian Kelly is becoming more loyal to Delta — without even flying
- Here’s how Delta, Hilton and Hyatt impressed me during a crisis
- Is it time for AAdvantage to once again follow Delta’s lead?
All photos by the author.