Big Changes To United Airlines Elite Status Qualification

While United Airlines made elite status easier to earn in 2022 they’re returning to their harder revenue-based spend requirements for 2023, while giving existing elite frequent flyers a small head start towards status, allowing award travel on United to count towards status, and increasing the credit members can earn by spending on United co-brand credit cards.

The straight ticket spending rules for status qualification that United announced in fall 2019 but that never really took effect due to the pandemic will finally be in place for 2023. That means 1K status will require either $24,000 in ticket spend (“PQP”) or $18,000 spend plus a minimum of 54 qualifying flights:

Premier Qualifying Points (PQP) + 
Level Premier Qualifying Flights (PQF) Premier Qualifying Points Only
Silver 4000 PQP + 12 PQF 5000 PQP
Gold 8000 PQP + 24 PQF 10,000 PQP
Platinum 12,000 PQP + 36 PQF 15,000 PQP
1K 18,000 PQP + 54 PQF 24,000 PQP

That’s still slightly less spend than Delta just announced for its Diamond status on top of Delta flying requirements. But it’s a lot of spend on tickets – your frequency and wallet share (‘loyalty’) matters far less to United than a straight total of airfares purchased.

What’s new going forward in 2023:

  • Award travel will count towards status like at Delta, and following Virgin Atlantic. Each segment flown on United or United Express will count as a qualifying flight, and the miles you spend on United award travel will be valued at a penny apiece towards qualification (100 miles redeemed = 1 qualifying point, a 100,000 mile award is $1000).

  • Existing elites start out with qualifying spend towards status in 2023 with existing Silvers receiving a 500 PQP bonus; Golds a 1,000 PQP bonus; Platinums a 1,500 PQP bonus and 1Ks a 2,500 PQP bonus. A current 1K has a much easier time earning status next year than someone starting from scratch, even flying the same amount and spending just as much.

  • More qualifying points from credit card spend. United’s premium cards will be able to earn more qualifying points – double the current level for United Quest (6,000) and United Club Infinite (8,000) cards. And there’s an incentive to have multiple United cards and keep spending, since you can earn up to 15,000 PQPs total across multiple cards. Of course you need to be under 5/24 to get approved.

United is also eliminating award cancel and redeposit fees. Though paid tickets haven’t had change fees, award fees were still published though you did not actually have to pay them. They’ll go away officially as well. That benefits all members.

None of this is especially original. Planes are full, elite ranks are swelling, so United can return to plan while copying some of the moves made by other airlines – like counting award flights towards status and eliminating change fees, plus counting credit card spend towards status. These are all places where both Delta and American (American which counts award flights towards Loyalty Choice Awards, their status benefits which require flight segments) were ahead of United.

The airline does this with much traditional corporate travel still inhibited, and as we likely head into recession, but overall they should keep their elite numbers up (even if some traditional elites aren’t back yet) and they can always bonus customers if these thresholds prove too high. Ultimately it’s possible with enough Chase cards and the starter bonus and a few award trips to get all the way towards status without revenue tickets, as well.

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