I’m still pretty new to the whole points and miles game so I still get excited about the little things. One of those little things that got me excited last year was reaching my first mid-tier status with an airline. After 50,000 miles of “butt in seat” flying, I finally reached United Airlines Premier Gold status in November of last year. Having had it for a few months now, I’ve decided to do a post on whether or not it was worth it.
To get this status, you have to fly at least 50,000 miles with United Airlines, Copa, or any of their Star Alliance partners. Four international trips or 10 transcontinental flights should be enough to get you this mid-level elite status. And just a reminder, these are Premier Qualifying Miles (PQM) that you have to earn. Miles earned from credit card spend or bonus miles do not count toward elite status. You need “butt in a seat” miles that are earned from actual travel. You can also earn Premier status from the number of segments you fly on a trip. For example, Los Angeles to New York, nets you one segment. Los Angeles to San Francisco to New York, nets you two segments. For Premier Gold status, you need 60 segments (PQS) or 50,000 flown miles (PQM) to qualify.
In addition to the PSQ or PQM requirement, United also requires that you spend a certain amount of money to qualify for elite status. This new requirement is called Premier Qualifying Dollars (PQD) and for Premier Gold status, you need to spend at least $5,000 on flights with United, United Express, Copa, Star Alliance or partner flights issued on a United ticket (ticket number starting with 016), or Economy Plus upgrade purchases. Taxes and fees do not count towards your PQD requirement. More information about Premier Qualifying Dollars can be found here.
Once you reach Premier Gold status, you get the following benefits.
First off, you get this shiny new Mileage Plus Premier Gold luggage tag. It’s nothing fancy and comes with a basic plastic strap. You also get a Star Alliance Gold level membership card.
Premier Gold status gets you:
- Premier Access priority airport services, including priority check in, security screening, baggage handling and a dedicated phone line.
- Complimentary Premier Upgrades for you and one guest, 48 hours before the day of your departure, if space is available on most domestic flights.
- 50% bonus awards miles on flights.
- Complimentary access to Economy Plus seats at time of booking for you and one guest on both domestic and international flights.
- Instant upgrades on full economy, Y or B class fares.
- 500 award miles and PQM minimum accrual.
- Three free checked bags when flying United Airlines for the Premier member and up to eight companions traveling on the same reservation.
- No fee for same day flight changes and reduced fees for other services such as close-in award booking fees ($25), award redeposit fee ($100) and award change fee ($25).
- Better access to “Saver Awards” at the economy level.
Star Alliance Gold status gets you:
- Priority reservations waitlisting. You get higher priority for getting on a flight that’s sold out when seats become available.
- Priority airport standby. You get higher priority when standing by for a sold out flight at the airport.
- Lounge access when traveling internationally on any Star Alliance flight regardless of class of service.
- One additional checked bag when traveling on Star Alliance partner flights.
All those benefits combined, Premier Gold really is ten times better than Premier Silver. Having access to Economy Plus seats at booking is a nice perk and you have much better access to complimentary first class upgrades. However, in my experience, I have not been upgraded once yet. Since having Premier Gold status, I have flown from Los Angeles to San Francisco, Miami and New York. I have gotten close to being upgraded but I guess flying out of a major hub doesn’t help my chances. My other friends who consistently fly out of non-hubs have much more success with upgrades.
The bonus miles are a great perk and I really appreciate the lounge access when traveling internationally. I like to do long haul mileage runs and having lounge access and an Economy Plus seat with some extra legroom is always appreciated.
So what’s my opinion now that I had it for a few months? I’d say this is a great benefit if you’re already doing the traveling. I wouldn’t recommend traveling this much just so you can get Premier Gold status. The lounge access is great and it’s nice to secure an Economy Plus seat at booking. All the other perks such as priority access and boarding can be obtained simply by having a United branded credit card.
For United, you really don’t start seeing the upgrade benefits till you hit at least the Premier Platinum status mark (if you’re flying out of a hub airport). But who knows, maybe with all the cheap mileage runners like me defecting to other airlines, you’ll have less competition and might get a better chance of clearing those complimentary upgrades.