United MileagePlus Simplifies Qualification in 2021

United Boeing 777 AMS

In early April, United announced that it would extend all MileagePlus frequent flyers’ statuses for 12 months, i.e. all statuses that were reached in 2019 will remain valid until January 2022. At that point, United also announced that it would lower the status requirements for the following year. Now, time was starting to run out, and regarding the promising news about a vaccine, United has apparently now made up its mind.

There will not be another status extension. Nevertheless, United is lowering the requirements by 25% and is granting current frequent flyers a starting bonus for the new year. Last but not least, there’s a bonus for flights in the first quarter of 2021, and upgrade points are once again extended. Here are the details:

Lowered Requirements for 2021

This point is the easiest to understand. To (re)qualify in 2021, all status requirements are lowered by 25%, i.e. you need to reach the following mileage to renew or get a status:

  • Premier Silver: 3,000 PQP + 8 flights (or 3,500 PQP)
  • Premier Gold: 6,000 PQP + 16 flights (or 7,000 PQP)
  • Premier Platinum: 9,000 PQP + 24 flights (or 10,000 PQP)
  • Premier 1K: 13,500 PQP + 36 flights (or 15,000 PQP)

Additionally, you need four segments with United. The Premier Qualifying Points (PQP) and Premier Qualifying Flights (PQF) were introduced by United in October 2019. PQPs are the new status miles. They are calculated through the ticket price in USD (excl. taxes) on United flights, or by dividing the award miles by 5 or 6 on flights with partner airlines. PQFs are the number of segments flown with United and partners in a calendar year, excluding Basic-Economy tickets. You can read more about this here.

Starting Bonus for Current Premier Members

Lowering the requirements by 25% does not sound like much at first as the travel industry will definitely not have recovered until mid-2021. That’s why there’s another bonus for all MileagePlus members, who already hold a status. This bonus will apparently be credited automatically before February 2021 and is based on the status that you currently hold:

  • Premier Silver: starting bonus of 875 PQP
  • Premier Gold: starting bonus of 1,750 PQP
  • Premier Platinum: starting bonus of 2,500 PQP
  • Premier 1K / Global Services: starting bonus of 3,750 PQP

The requalification becomes especially much easier for 1K members. More on this in our example calculation below.

Bonus Points for United Flights in First Quarter of 2021

If you fly with United between January 1 and March 31, you can expect an additional PQP bonus. Current frequent flyers will earn double PQP for the first three trips with United, all others will receive a bonus of 50%. A trip is a ticket, i.e. can include various segments. United has even dedicated an extra site to this offer, stating all the details.

The problem here: it is still not possible to know if Europeans will be able to enter the United States before the end of March. This offer is aimed more at American frequent flyers.

Further Changes

Additionally, to the aforementioned points, these following news are also worth a mention:

  • All PlusPoints (upgrade points) will be extended by another six months (even those from 2019 – now valid until January 2022)
  • In 2021, once you’ve reached 15,000 PQP, you’ll get another 20 PlusPoints for each 2,000 PQP.
  • PQPs that are earned with United credit cards, will also count toward 1K-status requalification (only available in North America)
Polaris Business Class 767
PlusPoints can get you an upgrade into these Polaris seats

Example Calculation

For this example calculation, I’ll simply show you my personal situation, which probably also applies to many others. I had accumulated 100,000 miles in 2019 and thus reached the 1K status. The status-requalification in 2020 would have been nearly impossible with the new revenue-based system, but then came Corona.

The status, which was originally due to expire in January 2021 was thus extended until January 2022. As a current 1K member, I get a starting bonus of 3,750 PQPs for 2021. To secure a status for 2022, I thus still need:

  • Premier Silver: Reached through the starting bonus (four United segments still missing)
  • Premier Gold: Still 2,250 PQP + 16 flights (or 3.250 PQP)
  • Premier Platinum: Still 5,250 PQP + 24 flights (or 6,250 PQP)
  • Premier 1K: Still 9,750 PQP + 36 flights (or 11,250 PQP)

I’ve omitted the four United-segments, so that the list does not become too large. These are required for every status, no matter if Silver or 1K.

2,250 PQPs are no joke, but possible. It would require spending US$2,250 (~โ‚ฌ1,931) at United, but can also be reached far easier through partners. For instance, a flight in Lufthansa’s premium economy from Amsterdam to Bangkok already gets you 1,640 PQPs. It seems that at least a Premier Gold status is within reach. The requirement for this is, of course, that traveling will be possible in 2021 – at least toward the end.

Extending the 1K status, however, is really tough. That, however, is mainly due to MileagePlus’ new system, which makes it practically impossible to reach a prominent status with economy class tickets.

Conclusion

I had personally hoped that Delta would publish something that would make United simply extend the status by another year. This is not the case, yet I find these rules quite fair. They do not change the fact, that MileagePlus will not be the program of many current status holders in the future, but at least one could have the chance to requalify quite easily for 2022.

Now, however, the focus is set to other questions: Can rapid testing lead to a lifting of entry requirements and from when will vaccines be massively distributed?

Translated by Ditmar Lange

Source: United MileagePlus Updates

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