Hey United Airlines! You’re Drunk, Please, Just Stop.

When you’re driving down the road and you see a car accident, let’s all be honest, you slow down to look. We’re mesmerized by the accident, and even though often times it is gruesome and horrible, we stop, slow down, and look. That seems to be what’s going on here at United Airlines with their new launch of Premier Status and their Premier Upgrade “plan” for 2020. And I’m using the word plan generously. I can’t help but watch this epic disaster on these of the road. Grab your popcorn.

If you haven’t heard about the new changes that United is making for 2020, don’t worry, United made a 2 minute video to attempt to explain how you’re not going to get elite status moving forward and how it’ll be great for their “most loyal customers.” Spoiler alert, it won’t be.


How things work today

There are three ways to earn Premier Status with United

  • PQM (Miles Flown)
  • PQD (Dollars Spent)
  • PQS (Segments Flown)

Seems kinda simple, right? You fly 2,500 miles, you spend $300, and you get 1 segment. This is the way the ship has been running for a while now, and while United still is, in my opinion, not a great airline, their mileage program has survived for now.

(Overheard at the United Airlines Board Room Meeting) Hey, I got a great idea – let’s remove all of that and add two new categories and complicate matters even more. HOORAY! And now we go live to the United Boardroom for a play by play review of the recent meeting!


How things work in 2020

Throw everything you knew out the window. You’ve only got 2 ways to earn status. Two is better than three, right? 

  • PQP (Points)
  • PQF (Flights)

$1 = 1 point, and will now include things like seat upgrade and paid upgrades to premium cabins. Previous you wouldn’t have earned spend credit on Star Alliance carriers, but now you will. United never had visibility into the price of your ticket on those carriers so there wasn’t a way for them to know how much credit to give you.

1 take off and 1 landing is considered a flight, so now you’ll be even more rewarded for not flying nonstop. That’s a head scratcher, for sure…

Fare Sale

United Dreamliner via YouTube and Kris Trexler

How to Achieve Status

There are 4 levels just as there was before, and the requiremints to achieve status has changed as well.

  • Silver = 12 PQF and $4,000 points OR $5,000
  • Gold = 24 PQF and $8,000 points OR $10,000
  • Platinum = 36 PQF and $12,000 points OR $15,000
  • 1k = 54 PQF and $18,000 points OR $24,000

You noticed I didn’t remove the dollar sign from the points qualification. That’s because you need to remember that a point is a dollar. Don’t let the fact that they call it a PQP detract from the fact that it’s a dollar spent.

Also, you’ll notice the very high requirement for 1K status. That’s more than 1 flight a week and almost $350 a week spent on flights with United. Wow. Just, Wow.

Can’t hit the PQF’s? Just spend even more money and we’ll be happy to give you that status. These are the highest spend qualifiers in the world on any airline. United truly is here for a money grab.

Also, it is important to note for all of our international readers that United Airlines has removed the waiver for International addresses. You’ll now be subject to the same spend qualifier as those of us here in the US. Congratulations.

United Credit Card Holders

If you hold the United Credit Card from Chase, you can earn some spend credits that way:

  • The United Explorer, United Club, United Explorer Business, United Club Business, United MileagePlus Awards, United MileagePlus, and United MileagePlus Business Cards earn 500 PQP for every $12,000 in card spend, up to 1,000 PQP in a calendar year, that can be applied up to Platinum.
  • The United MileagePlus Select and United MileagePlus Platinum Class Visa cards earn 500 PQP for every $12,000 in card spend, up to 3,000 PQP in a calendar year, that can be applied up to 1K.
  • The United Presidential Plus Card and United Presidential Plus Business Card earn 500 PQP for every $12,000 in card spend, up to 10,000 PQP in a calendar year, that can be applied up to 1K.

All of the current cards in United’s Chase Portfolio ONLY earn a maximum of $1,000 towards your qualifying spend AND can only be applied up to Platinum.

If and only if you have the MileagePlus Select or higher card can you earn PQP towards 1k status. It should be noted that the only card that earns up to $10,000 in PQP spend is a card that doesn’t exist anymore.

Well Played, United… Well Played… You really rewarded all of those loyal card members too I see…

I’m not sure why United even calls their program “MileagePlus” anymore because it’s obvious that they don’t care about mileage. It should be called “DollarsPlus.” Everything moving forward is about your money spent.

The video above states that “status will be less about the distance flown and more about the number of flights taken.” Actually, it won’t be at ALL about distance flown, as someone who flies from San Francisco to Stockton, CA will be actually considering a better customer than someone flying from San Francisco to Tokyo.

Key Takeaways

  1. It doesn’t matter how far you fly, it only matters if you can give them money.
  2. If you think you’re going to get a waiver by spending on your credit card, think again.
  3. If you travel domestically this might be good for you. If you travel internationally, you’re being punished.
  4. United is encouraging you to move to Delta, Alaska, or American.
  5. You should probably consider becoming a free agent if you live in a United Hub.
  6. United Airlines is being run by a band of monkeys with knives. And you know if you walk into a room full of monkeys with knives, you should run away fast. Anything could happen.
  7. No one at United actually understands loyalty and business

Seriously, I’m looking for someone to help me with an intervention here with United Airlines. I’m fully convinced that everyone over there is either drunk or high, and we as the general public are forced to sit back and watch this disaster with no power to do anything… other than choose another airline to give your money to.

Author: Jon Nickel-D'Andrea

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  1. Thank you, thank you, thank you! It’s nice to see a blogger not paint this as having good aspects for normal people. Personally, I think this is pure Scott Kirby. The man has absolutely no understanding of customer loyalty.

    Post a Reply
    • For normal people, this sucks. For elite long haul fliers, this sucks. Pretty much, it just sucks.

      Post a Reply
  2. I completely agree. The new program just creates all kinds of disincentives for existing premier members who don’t work / travel for a corporation willing to pay for Z/J/D (non-P) business class tickets or expensive last minute short haul tickets. I for one won’t be able to renew 1K status for 2021.
    The $15K spend for 2020 1K status was already a stretch but the crazy number of PQFs for $18K spend or $24K is too much.
    Being a million miler in a captive hub, my choice is basically (i) to become a free agent and buy optimal (cheapest / most convenient) tickets (rather than my current focus on maximizing UA flights to reach PQP/PQD spend) and drop down to Gold for 2021 or (ii) make an effort similar to 2020 1K status to earn Platinum with only a marginal improvement in benefits vs. Gold.
    The only “upside” is the new disincentive to fly UA as Star Alliance partner flights will accrue PQP (vs. currently focusing on UA coded flights to meet PQD).

    Post a Reply
  3. And its not like they have a superior product. They don’t have even have music on demand. They recycle their TV shows for months only offering one or two episodes. Has anyone ever been in Emirates economy with its 450 movies and entire seasons of TV series? Now United is encouraging you to fly partners like Singapore Airlines to earn status at a better rate of return then to buy a ticket with them. Why? All in hopes to give a business flyer 1K status for spending $8000 on three trips. Meanwhile the rest of the plane has abandoned ship and moved to foreign carriers and Delta.

    The part that really irks me is the promotion and communication around the change assumes you are are stupid. “This is going to be better” . No it not, and you don’t care United. Just say it.

    Post a Reply
  4. There is no longer an incentive to fly United. I have been a 1K for years and always thought that United’s program was the best. Because of that program I actively sought to fly United even though their product has always been pedestrian in comparison to other carriers (think Delta or many foreign carriers). Here I come Delta, Iberia, Copa, Virgin, Singapore. United, it was fun while it lasted.

    Post a Reply
    • You and a lot of people I’m afraid

      Post a Reply
  5. Am just waiting for f*#king Doug Parker and rest of old USAir management at AA to copy this. If so, here I come Delta.

    Post a Reply


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