Maintaining my United 1K Status is very important to me and my family. For the last year, distance flown matters more than just money spent (and segments) which means I have one more true mileage run, this year via Honolulu.
United 1K Requirements and Changes
United changed its requirements for achieving status by halving the segment requirements and excluding distance flown as a factor in determining eligibility. I had discussed before that I thought airlines should have a waiver for those who spend more than most but don’t fly as far or as often as others. That’s better business for airlines anyway (fewer passengers occupying seats for more money per flight.)
United heard my call… or just made the business decision they thought was best and changed their qualification methods as a result. However, that’s next year and doesn’t help me in re-qualifying this year. As it stands, I will have had 93,500 PQMs, 79.5 PQSs and 17,000 PQDs. That places me at the following tiers based on activity:
- PQM = Platinum (1K deficient by 6.5%)
- PQS = Platinum (1K deficient by 34%)
- PQD = 1K (1K proficient by 13%)
I can’t be just 6.5% away to finish the year and miss out on 1K when next year I will clear under the new system anyway.
When hunting for an end-of-the-year mileage run I had to be a little choosier than normal. When I used to re-qualify with American Airlines and I knew that I wasn’t flying enough to hit status from regular activity, Asia runs were my best option. Fares were inexpensive, especially early in the year, upgrades were almost a guarantee (though not any more) and I could coast the rest of the year.
There are certainly cheap flights and good odds to upgrade on trips to Hong Kong right now, but I just don’t have the time. This year I needed something closer to home. Honolulu with connections on both the outbound and the inbound routes offered a chance to obtain my goals with the minimum time away from home and good chances to clear space in the pointy-end of the plane.
There are worse places to mileage run.
Why I Maintain Status
My friend, Sriram, has long quit the status-chasing game; He is a free agent, every airline is eligible for his business. I disagree with his take on status (though he has some valid points for his situation) as I frequently clear upgrades and benefit from direct flights to my most frequent business destination.
I also fail to see what the point would be to save $2,000-3,000/year but lose upgrades, add connections to every journey, and add the cost of same-day flight changes or stick with inconvenient plans. That slight premium makes status runs like this one worth it.
What Next Year Looks Like
I could have hit status this year if I had flown United exclusively. I didn’t do that and won’t next year either. For nonstop flights to Florida on Spirit using $40-60 roundtrips, I refuse to spend 3-4x that price and take a connection to fly United for the route. I also spend miles to fund personal trips for myself and my family and that will not change either.
However, the spend requirement I achieved this year was all on United metal. In 2020, I will be less restricted due to the new rules and though I would likely achieve $18,000 in PQDs for business travel and some personal trips, it will be the international trips where I can now fly and earn status-qualifying points that will make next year a much lower threshold.
There are worse places to mileage run/status run than Honolulu. I don’t look forward to the chance at riding in the back on an unnecessary trip, but this year it seems like an exceedingly smaller price to pay, especially given that next year should be easier to re-qualify for me personally.
What about you? Have you mileage run (or mattress run) to close out the year this year? Have you given up on status altogether? Have United re-qualification changes helped or hurt you?