United Airlines elite status benefits

Elite status on United can get you free checked luggage, complimentary upgrades, lounge access and other valuable benefits

United elite status benefits

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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
Premier Gold Premier Platinum Premier 1K

How to qualify

25,000 PQMs and $3,000 PQDs

or

30 PQSs and $3,000 EQDs

How to qualify

50,000 PQMs and $6,000 PQDs

or

60 PQSs and $6,000 PQDs

How to qualify

75,000 PQMs and $9,000 PQDs

or

90 PQSs and $9,000 PQDs

How to qualify

100,000 PQMs and $12,000 PQDs

or

120 PQSs and $12,000 PQDs

Base-point rate

7 miles/dollar

Base-point rate

8 miles/dollar

Base-point rate

9 miles/dollar

Base-point rate

11 miles/dollar

Benefits

  • Complimentary access to Economy Plus
  • 1 Economy Plus companion
  • Complimentary Premier upgrades
  • Complimentary Premier Upgrades Companion Upgrades
  • Instant upgrades on Y- or B-class full-fare economy tickets
  • 500 PQM minimum accrual
  • Priority check-in
  • Priority security screening
  • Priority boarding
  • Priority baggage handling
  • Premier Priority Desk phone line
  • Access to most sold-out flights
  • Complimentary checked bag on United economy tickets (50 lbs.)
  • Priority award waitlisting
  • Standby for international awards
  • Unrestricted access to United Everyday Awards on United- and United Express-operated flights
  • Better availability for United Saver Awards in economy
  • Reduced or waived close-in booking fee
  • Reduced or waived award redeposit fee
  • Reduced or waived award change fee

Benefits

Same benefits as Premier Silver members, plus:

  • Lounge access when traveling internationally
  • Complimentary checked bag on United economy tickets (2 bags at 70 lbs. each)
  • Discounted or waived same-day flight changes

Benefits

Same benefits as Premier Gold members, plus:

  • 8 Economy Plus companions
  • Complimentary checked bag on United economy tickets (3 bags at 70 lbs. each)
  • Discounted United Club membership
  • Discounted or waived phone service charge
  • Better availability for United Saver Awards in select premium cabins

Benefits

Premier Platinum members, plus:

  • Instant upgrades on M-class economy tickets
  • Global Premier Upgrades eligibility
  • Dedicated 1k phone line
  • Reduced or waived same-day flight changes

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. Not only do you have to fly a specific number of segments or miles, but you must also hit a spending requirement on paid fares.

Here’s how each of those requirements breaks down:

  • PQMs (Premier qualifying miles) are based on the number of paid flight miles you travel along with the fare you purchase.
  • PQS (Premier qualifying segments) are based on the number of paid segments you fly each year.
  • PQDs (Premier qualifying dollars) are determined by the base fare you pay along with any carrier-imposed surcharges.

You must fly a minimum of four paid flight segments on flights operated by United Airlines or United Express during a calendar year to be eligible for elite status with the airline. Note that Basic Economy fares do not count toward the four-segment minimum.

Shortcuts to United MileagePlus Premier status

Qualify for a PQD waiver with co-branded United Airlines credit card from Chase. While there are no United MileagePlus credit cards that offer automatic elite status, you can qualify for a PQD waiver for Premier Silver, Premier Gold or Premier Platinum status with $25,000 worth of spending within a calendar year on a United credit card, including the United Explorer Card, United MileagePlus Club Card and the United MileagePlus Explorer Business Card.

Buy miles through Premier Accelerator. The United MileagePlus program offers a Premier Accelerator program that allows you to purchase Premier Qualifying miles (PQMs) for use toward elite status qualification. The price for these PQMs can be outrageously high, but the accelerator can be a good option if you’re close to elite status and only need a slight boost.

Join a Status Match challenge. The United MileagePlus program 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 PQM and PQS 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.
  • Priority baggage handling – You can avoid waiting at the luggage carousel for an eternity with priority baggage handling.
  • 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.

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


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Updated: 11-15-2018