United just ended its Premier Status Match Challenge. Why?
TPG reader Grant wrote in telling us he noticed the ever-popular United MileagePlus Premier Status Challenge program had closed enrollments for 2019. A quick check of the dedicated website confirms the program has ended for this year and to "be on the lookout for a 2020 Premier Status match offer, which could be available as early as January."
Status matches and challenges have long proven popular and most carriers operating in the U.S. do have an option to match, and usually require a challenge. You'll have a time frame in which to earn a certain number of elite qualifying miles, segments and/or elite qualifying dollars to keep status for the remainder of the status year, and even possibly through the following status year.
Here are the requirements for the United Premier Status Match Challenge you needed to meet within 90 days of registering in order to maintain the status you were matched to — assuming you registered before Oct. 1:
This is a letdown for anyone who planned to utilize a competing airline status, match to United for the fourth quarter, complete the challenge and then carry United Premier status through 2020. My personal guess is that is the exact reason United closed the challenge. Many customers over the last few years have been hopping airlines from year to year, counting on end-of-year matches and challenges to pick their carrier for the next year or carry multiple statuses. This doesn't bode well for long-term loyalty and we can assume some smart folks over at United looked at their elite membership count and decided they were happy with the current picture.
I would imagine the challenge will open again right at the beginning of the New Year, but I don't recommend signing up for a challenge at that time. If you complete challenge requirements before July 1 in any given year, you'll only keep the status for the remainder of that status year. If you complete a challenge after July 1, you'll keep if for the remainder of the current status year and all of the following year. This means you need to sign up for and time completing a challenge on or as close to possible as July 1.
We reached out to United for comment and a spokesman told us "We are working to consolidate two previous programs — the Corporate Status Match program and the Premier Status Match program into one offer that will return in 2020." The corporate program as far as we know has been targeted to employees of companies that do a lot of business with United, so it will be interesting to see how the public and targeted programs come together in 2020.