For those of us who care about status, the middle of the year is a great time to figure out what our status will look like for the upcoming year. I have already hit Platinum Medallion on Delta thanks to 24,000+ rollover Medallion Qualification Miles and Amex bonuses (and yes, also flying ;)). I’ve already begun using my Platinum Medallion benefits, mainly making free changes and cancellations to award tickets, saving $150 each time. I’ve booked a few speculative awards for trips I may take. Already, I’ve saved about $500 because of this status.
One of the reasons I hit Platinum so early in the year was because I wanted to leverage that status to match to United Premier Platinum. I know a lot of people have denounced the United elite program since the merger, but Platinum members (as well as 1K and Global Services) get the same fee waivers for award changes and cancellations, which I think is HUGE. If I want to redeem for Lufthansa First Class, I have to do so within 15 days of departure. Having Platinum status would make that easy with no close-in ticketing fees or change fees. I already have several awards booked for myself and family under my MileagePlus account, so getting Platinum would allow me to make changes closer to departure for free.
Here is the link to United’s Status Challenge program. They officially have challenges for Premier Silver (the 25K elite level), Premier Gold (50K), and Premier Platinum (75K). I’ve heard of unofficial challenges for United 1K from people who are American Executive Platinum or Delta Diamond Medallion.
As you can see from the chart above, Premier Silver requires 7,000 PQMs or 8 segments on United, United Express, or COPA flights. Premier Gold requires 12,500 PQMs or 15 PQS. Premier Platinum requires 18,000 PQM or 22 PQS. This seems pretty reasonable — Platinum would require a bit more than a transcontinental trip every month.
Underneath the chart, you’ll see United state, “Customers whose offer enables them to meet the flight requirement on or after July 1, 2013, will retain their matched Premier status through January 31, 2015, unless a higher Premier level is earned.”
Since the challenges are 90-day affairs, starting a challenge now would allow one to meet the flight requirement on/after July 1, 2013, meaning you would have Premier status until the end of January 2015. If you had done it earlier than April 1, it would have been good only until this upcoming January 2014.
However, I noticed on the top of the page that “this offer is valid for requests received between January 1 and June 30, and may change from month to month.”
My thought process is that on July 1, United will require more miles flown in order to qualify for a status challenge. If you take a look at The Points Guy’s challenge from last August, he was required to fly 10,000 flight miles/15 segments for Silver, 17,500 miles/22 segments for Gold, or 25,000 flight miles/30 segments for Platinum. Keep in mind that signing up for Platinum challenge and only fulfilling enough for Silver or Gold means your forfeit the challenge, ie, you have to fulfill the challenge you signed up for.
If United changes the requirements to last year’s number on July 1, this would be about a 40% increase in the number of miles required to fulfill a challenge. For hardcore mileage runners, it’s not an issue, but it’s worth considering. It’s also worth noting that last year’s challenge required actual flight miles, while this year’s challenge allows for bonus PQM for higher fare classes to count toward the challenge. This won’t affect you if you don’t purchase higher fares, though.
I’ll have some required flights coming up in August and September, so I’m biding my time until late June to ask for the status match so that I can book those flights on United and have them count toward the status match. My idea is that in doing so shortly before July 1, I’ll get the best of both worlds — a reduced number of miles required to fulfill the status plus status for 18 months.
The funny thing about getting a Premier Platinum challenge is that once I fulfill the challenge, I actually will probably return to Delta for the remainder of the year to increase my rollover miles, since I likely won’t be able to hit 100,000 PQM for United 1K in just over 6 months. After all, I’ll have United Platinum already in the bag.