United makes it tougher to earn Premier standing, provides new methods to unlock perks

With journey demand rebounding to 2019 ranges, United Airways is making some large modifications to its Premier program and qualification pathways.

The Chicago-based service is elevating the thresholds to realize standing, whereas additionally introducing some extra methods to earn Premier perks.

The transfer comes simply weeks after competitor Delta Air Strains introduced its 2023 modifications to the Medallion program — and the message throughout the airline trade is evident: journey is booming, and individuals are taking to the skies at ranges not seen since 2019.

To that finish, United is searching for to implement modifications to the Premier standing tiers that assist rebalance this system and guarantee its frequent flyers truly obtain the advantages they’re promised.

This is how United plans to do this.

United Premier necessities for 2023

To earn standing in 2023 (legitimate by way of Jan. 31, 2025), you may want a bunch of Premier Qualifying Flights (PQFs) and Premier Qualifying Factors (PQPs), as you’ll be able to see within the chart beneath.

Tier Premier Qualifying Factors (PQPs) + Premier Qualifying Flights (PQFs) Premier Qualifying Factors (PQPs) solely
Premier Silver 4,000 PQPs + 12 PQFs 5,000 PQP
Premier Gold 8,000 PQPs + 24 PQFs 10,000 PQP
Premier Platinum 12,000 PQPs + 36 PQFs 15,000 PQP
Premier 1K 18,000 PQPs + 54 PQFs 24,000 PQP

Be aware that there are two tracks to incomes Premier standing. The primary combines PQPs and PQFs, and the second is a better PQP-only purpose. Every monitor requires not less than 4 flights on United or United Categorical steel — i.e., not on companions.

Luc Bondar, president of MileagePlus, advised TPG in an unique interview that this variation is pushed by journey demand. “This actually displays the journey frequency we’re seeing from our clients,” he mentioned.


For long-time United flyers, these “new” thresholds could also be acquainted. That is as a result of they’re the very same ones that United shared when it launched the PQF and PQP metrics again in 2019.

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However, only a few months after United launched the revamped Premier program in 2019, the pandemic shut down the journey trade and grounded frequent flyers.

United acted rapidly by turning into the second airline to formally lengthen all current standing. On the identical time, United halved the thresholds required for aspiring elites who deliberate to journey throughout 2020.

For 2021 and 2022, United lowered the necessities by about 25% to 30% (relying on the tier you have been concentrating on) to compensate for decrease demand related to the pandemic.

And now, as 2023 is simply weeks away and there isn’t any signal of journey slowing down, United is bringing again the necessities it first unveiled again in 2019 however by no means truly applied.

In fact, the transfer will sting for anybody who received used to United’s lowered necessities through the pandemic. Larger necessities will imply that you’ll want to spend and fly extra to attain standing.

However, the flip aspect is that as airfares have risen over the previous few months and demand has bounced again, an increasing number of flyers have discovered themselves qualifying for elite standing.

Whereas it might really feel good to unlock elite standing, the draw back is that with so many members, it is onerous for airways to really ship the advantages they promised to supply. Simply ask the TPG crew what number of complimentary upgrades they acquired on United this yr.

To that finish, Bondar shared that “one of many issues we anticipate to see is the quantity of members that obtain standing at every tier will get in keeping with our capability to make sure that we’re delivering nice worth to members as soon as they obtain that stage.”

Everybody goes to need to crunch the numbers to see if the brand new metrics work for his or her journey patterns.

However, not less than the airline is softening the blow by introducing new pathways to incomes Premier standing.

United Premier head-start bonus

For those who earn Premier standing in 2022, you may mechanically obtain a starter pack of PQPs within the new yr that’ll provide you with a head begin at requalifying.

Particularly, you may obtain the next variety of PQPs in 2023 based mostly on the standing you earned in 2022:

  • Premier Silver: 500 PQPs.
  • Premier Gold: 1,000 PQPs.
  • Premier Platinum: 1,500 PQPs.
  • Premier 1K: 2,500 PQPs.

These deposits can be processed in early 2023. Free PQPs actually do not damage, however they alone will not allow you to requalify for standing. You will nonetheless have to do a whole lot of flying (or swiping, extra on that beneath) that can assist you cross the end line.


Apparently, United is already promising to make this identical head-start deposit in 2024 based mostly on the Premier standing you obtain in 2023.

This starter bonus successfully makes it a (bit) simpler for somebody to requalify. For those who’re rising the ranks to Premier standing for the primary time, you may have to earn the total set of PQFs and/or PQPs.

Earn Premier standing from award flights

This one is large. For the primary time, United goes to grant PQPs and PQFs on award bookings.

While you redeem MileagePlus miles for flight awards, you may earn 1 PQP per each 100 miles redeemed in addition to 1 PQF for each flight taken. Be aware that Premier qualification on awards is restricted to flights operated by United or United Categorical.

On this case, United is technically taking part in catch-up with Delta, which introduced an analogous everlasting enchancment earlier this yr.

United’s announcement would not use the “everlasting” wording, so it will be attention-grabbing to see if this characteristic is prolonged past 2023.


For elites, this might undoubtedly shift the calculation of whether or not it is sensible to redeem miles or pay money for an upcoming United flight. You will undoubtedly need to crunch the numbers earlier than reserving.

For instance, should you’re contemplating paying $500 for a ticket or redeeming 35,000 MileagePlus for a similar flight, you should definitely think about that you will earn 350 PQPs from the redemption (in comparison with roughly 500 PQPs from the money ticket).

United is making this transfer primarily as a result of it is sensing competitors from bank card journey portals that permit cardholders to redeem factors towards flights — and nonetheless earn redeemable miles and elite credit, Bondar advised TPG.

“As we take into consideration what this appears to be like like as a aggressive providing, recognizing that for a very long time different varieties of forex outdoors of aviation have had maybe a notion of aggressive benefit in offering award mile incomes and standing contribution,” Bondar talked about.

“I feel it provides us a extra aggressive providing in that sense, and it provides our clients a cause to decide on our merchandise over aggressive merchandise, each to fly and likewise for spending and funds,” he mentioned.

Earn Premier standing from bank card spend

Spending on a cobranded United bank card may also allow you to get nearer to Premier standing.

For 2023, United is doubling the utmost variety of PQPs you’ll be able to earn from the United Quest℠ Card and the United Membership℠ Infinite Card. These thresholds are going from 3,000 to six,000 PQPs and from 4,000 to eight,000 PQPs, respectively. (You will proceed to earn 500 PQPs for each $12,000 spent on these playing cards, as much as the elevated PQP restrict.)

Plus, in case you have a number of cobranded United playing cards, the entire annual PQP restrict is growing from 5,000 PQPs to fifteen,000 PQPs.

Whereas United is making it simpler to spend your strategy to standing, it isn’t going to allow you to spend your strategy to top-tier perks like American launched earlier this yr with Loyalty Factors.

The PQPs earned from cobranded spending won’t rely in the direction of the PQP-only monitor for Premier 1K, so you may nonetheless want 54 PQFs and three,000 PQPs should you’re planning to spend your strategy to 1K.

Bondar defined the rationale behind this transfer by saying that “we need to make it possible for we’re defending the integrity of the worth that we give to our 1K members, and that we’re actually reflecting a program for our easiest flyers at that stage. And once more, that is completely different from a few of our competitors, and everybody chooses to run their enterprise the way in which they select to.”

Incomes extra PlusPoints

Whereas going above and past the Premier 1K thresholds could appear formidable to many flyers, it does occur. And if it does, you may be rewarded with extra PlusPoints (United’s improve forex).


Qualifying for Premier Platinum earns you 40 PlusPoints and qualifying for Premier 1K nets you an extra 280. You will obtain 20 extra PlusPoints for each 3,000 PQP earned past 18,000 PQPs.

So, should you’re a Premier 1K who qualifies on the PQP-only monitor, you may earn 360 PlusPoints (40 from crossing Platinum, 280 from crossing Premier 1K and 40 for going 6,000 PQPs over the 18,000 PQP requirement.)

Award charges are lastly gone

United was the primary airline to completely get rid of change charges in August 2020. Different U.S. carriers matched by additionally eradicating modifications charges, however in addition they dropped a slew of different ancillary charges associated to modifying journey plans.

Whereas United in the end joined most of its rivals by eradicating different irksome charges, it continued to cost an award redeposit payment for tickets canceled inside 30 days of departure (although there have been workarounds to keep away from this).

Now, United is saying goodbye to all redeposit charges, efficient instantly.

Backside line

United is gearing up for what it expects to be a really busy yr of journey with some main changes to its Premier program.

Headlining the modifications is the introduction of upper necessities to earn standing. As an example, top-tier members who do not fly 54 flights every year might want to spend roughly $24,000 on United tickets to retain standing.

The upper necessities are designed to rebalance the elite tiers and permit United to ship the advantages it seeks to offer, Bondar mentioned.

Although the elevated thresholds will sting for a lot of, United is introducing the power to earn standing credit from award tickets and doubling the variety of PQPs you’ll be able to earn from cobranded bank card spending.

Mixed with the head-start bonus, requalifying should not be too onerous, particularly if journey demand (and airfare) stays on the present stage.

In fact, with the financial system teetering and lots of firms searching for to chop prices, it will be attention-grabbing to see if United in the end wants to regulate these thresholds in some unspecified time in the future subsequent yr.

We’ll need to see how the yr unfolds, however till then, better of luck in incomes United standing subsequent yr!

To maintain up with United’s MileagePlus updates all year long, you should definitely observe TPG and bookmark the airline’s new touchdown web page: www.united.com/mpnews

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