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As of next year, United’s MileagePlus program will be bringing in the elite qualification criteria that it had promised to introduce before the pandemic put a halt to the program’s plans. Unfortunately, that means that the lower elite status thresholds that flyers have been enjoying for the past few years will soon be nothing more than a pleasant memory but on the upside, there is at least a little bit of good news coming out of MileagePlus today.
Jumpstart elite earnings next year
This is what the MileagePlus elite status qualification criteria will look like in 2023…
…but a little surprisingly, not everyone will have to earn the full number of PQP to lock in elite status next year and into 2024.
Just as we saw during the pandemic, United will be gifting elite members a set number of Premier Qualifying Points at the start of next year. The number of PQPs that will be handed out will depend on a MileagePlus member’s elite status reached at the end of 2022 and will look like this:
- Premier Silver – 500 PQP
- Premier Gold – 1,000 PQP
- Premier Platinum – 1,500 PQP
- Premier 1K – 2,500 PQP
All members with Premier status as of 1 February 2023, except for those that hold Trial status, will receive these PQP deposits applied to their 2023 balances.
Better yet, United says that it will repeat this generosity in 2024 (although it seems a bit early to be announcing details for the 2024 qualification year).
Select award bookings will earn Premier Qualifying credits
In what has to be one of the bigger positive moves that a US airline loyalty program has made in recent years, MileagePlus has confirmed that starting next year, award bookings made for flights operated by United Airlines or United Express will be eligible to earn Premier qualifying credits.
Eligible award flights will give MileagePlus members the following:
- 1 PQP per 100 miles redeemed
- 1 PQF earned per United or United Express flight.
These PQP and PQF will count toward earning all status levels, whether through both PQF and PQP or PQP only thresholds.
Additionally, PQP from award flights will also count towards earning incremental PlusPoints for eligible members.
Credit card PQP caps are being increased
Starting next year, the maximum number of PQP that holders of select United Airlines co-branded credit cards will be able to earn will be increasing significantly.
- Holders of the United Quest℠ card will see their cap raised from 3,000 to 6,000 PQP
- Holders of the United Club℠ Infinite card will see their cap increased from 4,000 to 8,000 PQP.
In addition, eligible United MileagePlus Chase Cardmembers will continue to earn 500 PQP per $12,000 spent, and the maximum number of PQP that can be earned on eligible spending across multiple credit cards will increase from 5,000 PQP to 15,000 PQP.
Once a flyer reaches Premier Platinum or Premier 1K elite status, they immediately receive PlusPoints based on their status:
- Premier Platinum – 40 PlusPoints
- Premier 1K – A further 280 PlusPoints
As things stand in 2022, flyers reaching Premier 1K elite status can earn 20 more PlusPoints for every 2,000 PQP they earn beyond the 15,000 needed for 1K status.
In 2023, however, this will be changing to reflect the new elite status earning criteria so as of next year, once a flyer has met the requirements of Premier 1K status, they will earn 20 PlusPoints for every 3,000 PQP earned beyond 18,000 PQP (starting at 21,000 PQP).
We’ve known that United was planning to increase the elite status targets for MileagePlus members since before the pandemic so while it’s disappointing to see these changes finally being implemented, this isn’t exactly a surprising move.
What’s more than a little surprising is seeing United moving to a model that allows flyers to earn PQP and PQF from award flights (albeit only on award flights taken with United and United Express). This move follows in the footsteps of Virgin Atlantic and Delta.
To a degree, that move makes United’s miles a little more valuable and should help (slightly) to take the edge off the newly increased elite status targets.
The changes being made to the PQP caps on the United Quest℠ card and the United Club℠ Infinite card are good to see but will, in reality, only benefit a small percentage of MileagePlus members (cardholders earn just 500 PQP for every $12,000 they spend so the increased caps will only benefit truly big spenders).
United Airlines has confirmed that for the 2023 qualification year it is finally bringing in the increased elite status targets that it announced back in 2019 and that were paused by the pandemic. To help offset this negative change, the airline has also announced that select award bookings will now be eligible to earn PQP and PQF and that it will be depositing bonus PQP into all elite member accounts early next year.