Our guide to elite status on United Airlines gives an overview of the benefits and ways to earn status, plus tips to earn status faster.
Whether you want to earn free flights or score spectacular perks with elite airline status, joining the United MileagePlus program is a smart idea. Not only can you earn airline miles any time you fly with United or one of its partners, but you can pool your loyalty to qualify for valuable elite status benefits such as better award availability, priority waitlisting and complimentary upgrades.
Scoring elite status can make travel more comfortable and more rewarding overall. Check out the chart below for details on each tier of elite status:
United Airlines elite status
|Premier Silver||Premier Gold||Premier Platinum||Premier 1K|
|How to qualify|
12 PQFs and 4,000 PQPs
|How to qualify|
24 PQFs and 8,000 PQPs
|How to qualify|
36 PQFs and 12,000 PQPs
|How to qualify|
54 PQFs and 18,000 PQPs
Same benefits as Premier Silver members, plus:
Same benefits as Premier Gold members, plus:
Premier Platinum members, plus:
Qualifying for elite status with the United MileagePlus program
As you can see, qualifying for elite status with the United MileagePlus program requires you to hit a few milestones. You have to collect the right combinations of flights and points.
Here’s how each of those requirements breaks down:
- PQFs (Premier qualifying flights) are based on the number of flights (defined as a takeoff and landing) that you fly each year.
- PQPs (Premier qualifying points) are elite qualifying points (not the same as airline miles) that you accumulate based on the base fare of your ticket, carrier-imposed surcharges, as well as fees for seat purchases and upgrades.
You must collect at least 5,000 points each year – or accumulate a combination of 12 flights and 4,000 points – to qualify for elite status. Note that most fares are eligible for PQFs, except for basic economy fares.
Shortcuts to United MileagePlus Premier status
Earn PQPs on your spending with co-branded United Airlines credit card from Chase. While there are no United MileagePlus credit cards that offer automatic elite status, you can earn PQPs on your spending with the United℠ Explorer Card and United Club℠ Infinite Card. Cardholders earn 500 PQPs for every $12,000 they spend, with a maximum of 1,000 PQPs per calendar year. That will get you at least a fifth of the way toward elite status.
Why should you get this card?
With a generous sign-up bonus, the United Explorer Card makes it easy to earn a free flight quickly. If you fly United often, it is easy to make up for the card’s $95 annual fee (waived first year).
|More things to know: |
Join a Status Match challenge. The United MileagePlus program often allows you to status-match your elite status from other airlines when you meet certain criteria. The initial status match is offered for 90 days, but you will need to meet a PQF and PQP requirement to keep your status for the remainder of the year.
Is United MileagePlus elite status worth it?
If you fly with United Airlines and its Star Alliance partners often enough, pooling your loyalty with United could pay off. Not only can you earn more miles with a specific airline to earn free travel faster, but you can also score important perks that can make travel more comfortable, convenient and carefree.
Here are some of the most important benefits you can look forward to if you earn elite status with United Airlines this year:
- Free checked bags – Depending on your elite status level, you can qualify for one to three free checked bags per flight. Since checked bags typically cost $25 or more for non-elites, this benefit can lead to considerable savings over time.
- Elite mileage bonus – You can earn more miles for free flights faster as you climb to higher levels of elite status with the United MileagePlus program.
- Priority check–in – Every level of elite status offers priority check-in at the airport. This benefit can help you avoid long waits so you can get to your gate faster.
- Elite status benefits with partners – Premier Silver, Premier Gold, Premier Platinum and Premier 1k members receive travel benefits when flying with Star Alliance member airlines.
- Access to airport lounges – Premier Gold, Premier Platinum and Premier 1K elite members receive automatic access to airport lounges when traveling internationally.
- Better award availability – United MileagePlus elite status qualifies you for better award availability in economy. Premier Platinum and Premier 1k members also receive better award availability in select premium cabins.
- Complimentary Premier Upgrades (based on availability) – Having elite status with the United MileagePlus program helps you qualify for complimentary upgrades based on availability.
- Reduced or waived award fees – While United MileagePlus members may be required to pay fees for certain transactions, having elite status with the program can lead to waived or reduced fees in some cases. This benefit is applicable to close-in award booking fees, award redeposit fees and award change fees.
- Priority award waitlisting and standby for international awards – All four levels of United MileagePlus elite status offer both priority award waitlisting and free standby for award flights abroad.
- Discounted or complimentary CLEAR membership – Thanks to a partnership between United and CLEAR, all MileagePlus members can enjoy discounted membership with the program, which allows passengers to bypass the normal security line for a much more streamlined process. If you reach Premier 1K status, CLEAR membership is complimentary.
The bottom line
Pursuing elite status with the United MileagePlus program can make sense if you fly frequently and feel you could take advantage of the benefits afforded to you. Make sure to weigh the pros and cons of pooling loyalty with a single airline versus booking flights based on price alone. While pursuing elite status could mean missing out on sales with other airlines, the benefits of elite status could be well worth it over the long haul.
See Related: How much are United miles worth?, Best United Airlines credit cards, 12 ways to earn United miles, Best ways to redeem United miles, United Airlines partners, A guide to United Club lounges, How to book a United flight with miles, United MileagePlus Shopping guide