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United Airlines Making Major Changes to ‘Premier’ Membership Criteria



United Airlines has announced that it’s overhauling the way the airline calculates eligibility requirements for frequent flyers to qualify for MileagePlus “Premier” status.

With four Premier tiers—Silver, Gold, Platinum and Premier 1K—Premier status affords its members special perks, such as free upgrades, pre-boarding, priority service and extra checked baggage allowances.

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At the moment, Mileage Plus frequent flyers can qualify for Premier status based on the amount of money they spend, number of miles flown or total eligible flight segments taken. But, starting in 2020, Premier status’ qualifying criteria will be based instead upon the number of qualifying flights purchased, which won’t include basic economy tickets.

An illustrative video from United explains that achieving Premier status will be less about distance flown, and more about the value of tickets purchased and the number of trips flown in eligible classes. Ultimately, this means travelers will need to spend more in order to reach each Premier tier.

To clarify, currently, Premier status calculation takes into account:

— Premier Qualifying Miles

— Premier Qualifying Segments

— Premier Qualifying Dollars

Now, Premier qualifying credit will be based upon just two factors:

— Premier Qualifying Points (PQP)

— Premier Qualifying Flights (PQF)

Under the new system, United has done away with complicated fare-class multipliers, which is considered to make tracking their qualification status more difficult for customers. Moving forward, without flight segments taken into consideration, any takeoff and landing combination counts as a flight, no matter how far the distance flown.

Each dollar spent on Economy Plus seating, or subscriptions, and preferred seat purchases will earn the purchaser one premier qualifying point, including basic fare and surcharges. Members achieve status for each Premier tier through a combination of accrued PQPs and PQFs, or through a higher number of PQPs alone.

New factors being incorporated into the Premier status calculations include MileagePlus upgrade award co-pays, paid upgrades and flights ticketed and operated by Star Alliance partners, although these will be credited at a lesser ratio of PQPs to dollars spent.

“The goal of these changes was to offer a more valuable program to our most loyal and valued customers,” a United spokesperson told FOX Business.

The evolution of Premier status calculations doesn’t change the way the average United MileagePlus member accrues his or her awards miles, and the way that customers qualify for Million Miler status isn’t changing, still being based upon actual distances flown.

To benefit frequent flyers on the whole, United also recently eliminated its expiration policy on rewards miles and began offering discounts for MileagePlus members to join Clear, the biometric airport security screening service.

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