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We can remember that 2019 was an unforgettable year for United Airlines members since spending requirements were increased just to qualify for elite status. But when the coronavirus hit the travel industry this 2020, the airline has made some changes again for their United MileagePlus status qualifications.
Travel restrictions and bans prevented members from earning PQPs and PQFs so the airline wanted to extend status membership and reduce status requirements for its members through January 2022.
Apart from United Airlines, others were also forced to tweak their policies and plans in response to the pandemic. For example, Delta plans to implement a roll-over of credits that were accrued in 2020 while United also updated their elite status requirements for next year.
United MileagePlus Status Qualifications Updates
It was in late 2019 when United rolled out a new system on how to earn Mileage Plus status. The new system does not count the number of miles you’ve flown but rather uses two metrics which are:
- Premier Qualifying Points – Earn 1 PQP for every dollar spent on eligible fares purchased.
- Premier Qualifying Flights – Earn 1 PQF for every eligible flight segment taken.
United’s loyalty program uses a combination of both PQPs and PQFs to determine your status, or a higher number of PQPs for those members who can’t reach the flight segment requirement.
The United Mileage Plus Status requirements have dropped to about 25% for the 2021 qualification year. This makes it easier for members to reach Premier 1k through credit card spending.
See the table below as reference.
PQP Boost For Existing MileagePlus Premier Members
Apart from the lower status requirements for 2021, current elite members will also get a headstart because they’ll receive an additional 25% PQP based on their current 2020 Premier status.
The bonus won’t be based on the number of flights you’ve taken but it will be based on your current status level.
- Silver Members – 875 bonus PQPs
- Gold Members – 1,750 bonus PQPs
- Platinum Members – 2,500 bonus PQPs
- Premier 1K Members – 3,750 bonus PQPs
Here’s an example for Premier 1k members who want to requalify for Premier 1k status in 2021. Initially, you need to acquire 15,000 PQPs if you want to reach Premier 1k status again, but since Premier 1k members will get a bonus of 3,750 PQPs, you’d only need 11,250 PQPs to renew your Premier
More Ways To Earn PQPs
Despite the lower status requirements and bonus PQPs, there are still members who won’t be able to reach the thresholds because of pandemic-related reasons.
Fortunately, there’s another way to earn more PQPs so you can reach elite status next year. MileagePlus members can now earn bonus PQPs in their first three eligible United or United Express trips from Jan.1 – March 31, 2021.
Elite members can earn between 300 – 1,500 bonus PQPs per trip while non-elite members can earn between 150 – 1,000 bonus PQPs per trip.
Earn PQPs Through Credit Card Spending
Co-branded cards such as the United Explorer Card and United Club Infinite Card allow cardholders to earn PQPs and reach Premier 1K status. In fact, a lot of current cards can help members to reach 1K status next year and not just be limited to the Premier Platinum just like before.
FOr example, all co-branded cards that have an annual fee let members earn 500 PQPS for every $12,000 spent (up to 1,000 PQP maximum bonus). Meanwhile, legacy cardmembers can earn as much as 10,000 PQPs depending on the card that they have.
This is a big upgrade for all MileagePlus members since the previous rule only limited them to the Premier Platinum level.
Apart from the changes mentioned above, there’s more updates to United’s policies and rules.
- The expiry dates of Plys Points for all 1K and Platinum members will be extended by six months.
- There will be a six-month extension for United Club memberships, Economy Plus, United Wifi, and checked bag subscriptions.
- The validity of all electronic travel certificates will be extended up to two years, plus 11 months travel time (includes all tickets issued after April 1, 2020). These e-tickets mentioned refer to those flights that were canceled during the pandemic.
- Expansion of the Skip Waitlist benefit to more international long-haul flights for 1K members.
- Award redeposit fees are waived for travel through May 2020. The waived fees also apply to award ticket cancellations made more than 30 days prior to departure for the remaining months of 2020.
What Should United Loyalists Expect?
In a recent press release, United Vice President of Loyalty and Marketing and President of MileagePlus Luc Bondar said, “Throughout this year, United has taken a leadership approach in enacting customer-friendly changes, and today’s announcement of making it easier to qualify for status is just another step we are taking to make United a better airline for our customers.”
The changes for the United Mileage Plus qualifications just shows that next year would be a big come back for the travel industry. United is expecting that more people, especially business travelers, will start to fly again in 2021.
This also means that a lot of major credit card issuers will start to bring back their travel credit cards into the market (this includes all United co-branded cards).