United quietly extended status for other Mileage Plus members but I, like many others, have not yet seen an extension yet.
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United, Other Carriers Not Meeting Elite Projections Despite Requirement Reductions
Delta saw the writing on the wall months ago. They extended elite status levels, as did Hilton, for its loyalty program elite members for yet another year. When Delta did so, all the way back in late summer, they might have predicted another variant or many more variants and knew their most loyal travelers wouldn’t be able to hit their lowered elite qualification standards.
United and American both offered accelerated earning paths with reduced elite requirements but it was clear that even that wouldn’t be enough to get elites re-qualified. These promotions required between $2,000-3,000 to be spent over about three months in the fall leading up to the busy travel season over Thanksgiving but stopping short of December.
With the latest variant (omicron) – highly contagious though understood to be very mild – has clearly pushed off travel plans for business travelers and active leisure travelers. Even through these promotions which were somewhat generous, they simply will not have enough elites to accommodate their business needs.
United Quietly Extends Status, As Predicted
I predicted a few weeks ago that United Airlines would simply cede too many MileagePlus members to free agency (other airlines) if they didn’t extend. As such, they have extended for some but not for all. I also predicted at that time that a first quarter promotion in 2022 would be coming if they didn’t meet their targets. American has already done this masked by its new Loyalty Points program rollout and I suspect that an accelerated earning promotion for United in the first quarter will be introduced as well.
However, they did not extend status for all United MileagePlus program members and, at least in my case, that list will include some Premier 1K flyers that didn’t make the grade.
In an article published by Matthew on this blog yesterday, United confirmed that they had extended some but not all MileagePlus members. In the statement from United Airlines representatives to LiveAndLetsFly, the airline said the following:
“We know many of our most loyal customers haven’t been able to travel and earn like they used to, so as an extra gesture to show that we understand and appreciate their loyalty, we’re extending PlusPoints and select Premier members’ status. On Monday, we will distribute a customer email with this news to qualifying Premier members.” – United
Much of my post had already been written before this was confirmed by management and some of my sentiments were also made by LALF commenter, Jim, on Matthew’s post:
“A high-risk move from United here, if I’m one of the folks who didn’t get an extension, what does that say to me about how United values my loyalty? Interested to learn more about what proportion of all elites got an extension, if it’s a large proportion, I don’t really see how this is a better move than a universal extension.”
Was It Something I Said?
For those who have not yet been extended – and may never be – what was the criteria for keeping some elites by extension and not others? We can only know anecdotally (I wouldn’t expect United to indicate its criteria for extension) situations that led to extension. Here’s what we know:
- Some elites have reported an extension of their Plus Points to July without status extended (which is also my case)
- Some have had their status extended flying little to none with United this year, specifically very little or none through the “fly to the finish” promotion
- Some attempted to fly to the finish but didn’t make it and have not been extended
- Those who have received status extensions tend to also have Plus Points extended through January of 2023 as opposed to July of 2022
My personal situation included about half of the fly to the finish $3k in airfare target over the course of four flights – all of them revenue (though I will get a bonus for three of them.) I will still be short by about 2,000 PQP (Premier Qualifying Points/Dollars) for the year and several segments. I have no doubt others are in the same situation.
Oddly, some that have been extended have less activity than I did and didn’t fly United at all during the promotion so whatever the criteria, it doesn’t appear to be based on effort or revenue.
If it’s not revenue, and it’s not activity, is it possible that the extensions simply haven’t been made yet for members that will be ultimately extended? I think (and hope) this is a possibility too. It would make sense that the action wasn’t instantaneous, or that calculations for the last promotion (which have not yet posted for most) could delay an extension.
While I would like to think it’s not because I bashed their failure to extend, maybe it’s something I said (though I don’t genuinely think I would be targeted.)
There’s a real consequence for United with those that don’t find themselves among the lucky few. For example, colleagues that find out that others have been granted Premier status extensions who flew less, may opt for another frequent flyer program. For those who routinely fly partner airlines, maybe crediting to Star Alliance partners will be more beneficial.
Those who give up on United (as frankly, United gave up on them) might opt to move to an airline that awards miles differently. They might give up earning MileagePlus miles for a program that allows you to increase the number of miles you earn from flying based on class of service and distance of miles on flights, or allows them to redeem miles at a lower cost like ANA which typically charges half United’s rate for business class across the Pacific.
That’s the gamble United will play with elites who won’t understand the logic and metrics behind a decision that grants extensions to some and not all. Others who flew to the finish, logged extra flights, spent more money specifically to fly United and earn more MileagePlus credit to retain or elevate their status also can’t be very pleased. Arbitrary extensions for those who did not exert the same effort will not sit well. At a cost 50% higher than what American offered and 100% higher than what Delta did, they should be rightly upset.
For this United Premier 1K, I am a little conflicted. On the one hand, if they end up extending me, I will be glad to have the status for another year and hope to be able to return to the level of flying we all had enjoyed before the pandemic hit. On the other hand, if I’m not extended, maybe it will be the push I need to jump to free agency.
I can understand how those who really pushed (as I feel I did too) and made it through the final promotion requirements only to watch others who didn’t achieve it receive extensions anyway would be justifiably perturbed. Even to let Premier Silver, Premier Gold, and Premier Platinum flyers go to other carriers while others are welcomed back for another year is an odd and dangerous game to play. Here’s to hoping they simply hadn’t gotten around to all of the extensions, and Christmas will come early for MileagePlus elites once more.
What do you think? Were you granted a status extension? Did you “fly to the finish”, and if so, are you upset that others that didn’t and flew less have been given an extension?
I did “fly to the finish” and had my Plus Points extended to 2023. It will be interesting (and probably frustrating) to hear how many people were extended making little to no effort to fly enough to retain their status.
How can you tell. I think I go there via FTTF but no confirmation on the app or website ?
@Owen Serjeant – The United app displays current status and expiry, there’s no confirmation for FTTF.
After spending the $3K on the fly to the finish, I’ll be pissed off if they are granting 1K to those that haven’t spent the money to requalify
I read on one of the travel sites (might be tpg) that a united spokesperson said in high level terms that the extension is based on a multitude of factors, such as if Covid restricted you from flying to destinations you primarily flew to before or if it restricted your company’s travel policy. All of my 1k qualifications were primarily based on business trips to Asia and I got an extension. Maybe because 1/ most of Asia is still closed off and 2/ my company is a big spender with united and didn’t allow business travel yet.
I’m curious if any that got extended flew primarily domestic, or to Europe primarily in the past. Maybe United doesn’t see Covid affecting those markets as much in 2021.
This is the nail in the coffin for me and my relationship with United. I qualified for Gold (was 1K since 2017) this year, after FTTF and Breakout Bonus and limited flying. Didn’t get extended, nor that I was expecting to, but sure would have been nice. Adios United 2022.
I am in almost exactly the same situation. I am 1K and tried the fly to finish nonsense but only got about halfway or so. I will be around 2K PQP short after the “breakout bonus”, which btw still has not shown up in my account. I have not had anything extended.
Interestingly, my plus points were extended a long time ago to July 2022 for no apparent reason. They are still July ‘22 this morning.
I am currently gold but was “extended” up to 1K for next year. I appreciate both the extension and the little bump up.
I did the full spend and more for 1K qualification a d every dollar came out of my own pocket (as it does every year). Should I be happy about increased competition for 1K upgrades and other benefits from people who didn’t do the full spend (and who mostly travel on their employer’s dime in an case)?
I could not concur more. I made a concerted effort all year to make it and did. It is indeed perturbing when everyone had the same rules to follow, yet they’re changed after you’ve played by them and met the requirements.
I’m reminded of this piece I wrote many years ago:
Amen brother Jim. I spent $34k this year and only got one upgrade. I now have 800 plus points but cannot find a flight to use them on as all the mooches who didn’t fly United get renewed and get above me on the list. I’m a lowly 1K who can never get an upgrade. They have totally devalued the 1K experience. I never have checked a bag in the past 5 years, I fly business class paid half the time and the other half the time there is no chance of an upgrade. Why bother. Air France and Lufthansa with better food, better service, and better wine here I come.
I’ll help you use your PlusPoints. I always run out…
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I am a 1k who didn’t get the extension. On one of the few United legs I was able to fly this year, the flight attendant profusely thanked some of the other passenger’s for their loyalty as she took dinner orders. When she got to me, she said (honestly rather condescendingly) ” not really flying much anymore these days, are we?” At that moment I knew which bucket I was in, and that I wouldn’t be getting an extension.
I’ll be honest with you, that’s a scenario that you put WAY too much thought into as there’s absolutely NO way a flight attendant has any clue how much any passenger has flown. The only information that is given is current status. I think you took offense to something that was not intended to be condescending but rather conversational. Literally, the ONLY info we are given is name, status, current reservation (connecting flight)
Also, we are too busy not trying to get cussed out or assaulted to make up random facts about our elite customers. We are SO HAPPY to have our 1ks and GSs back! They aren’t trying to wear women’s thongs over their faces as masks or trying to argue about why they can’t drink their own handle of Jack Daniel’s during the flight. I assure you Ann, your presence is VERY much appreciated.
I did the Fly to the Finish and spent my own $ this year (no biz travel) to hit 1K again. This was the game the UA and AA tried to play: drum up as much business as possible with some promos and if we don’t meet our quota, we’ll just extend anyway, and in the process create bad will. The wanted it both ways. My biggest issue is UA reneging on those of us who played their very confusing game.
I will be pissed if those of us that requalified the hard way aren’t prioritized for UG’s over the extensions. With the new glut, next spring and early summer will be impossible for PP upgrades.
I am only Platinum but I met all of the requirements on my own this year and it is frustrating to know they’re extending status for others who didn’t even make an effort to fly on UA this year. When the announcement comes out, let’s hope they provide something significant to those of us who actually made the effort. Delta did it right, where those who qualified get higher priority.
YES, it was “something you said.”
I qualified for 1K the last two years in the midst of the pandemic. Two years ago it was PQD & PQS. This year it was by meeting the PQD target. I was happy to see the Plus Points extension and sent a note to 1K voice thanking them for the consideration.
It will be interesting to see if there is any segmentation between how 1K status was achieved and upgrades/benefits.
Do you meet United’s ‘revenue profile’ for what they consider is a ‘1K’ member .. ?? It’s business .. if you’re not pulling in the $$ for their ‘1K profile’ they will walk away. Have fun with Delta or American ..
United extended my 1K status. For all those complaining about having gone out of their way to do United’s ridiculous promo you have nothing to worry about. I used the time wisely to go after much better promos which were easier to understand and to qualify for. This month I become KLM/AF Platinum (useful if flying Delta) and I’m already BA Gold (useful if flying American or any other OW carrier). United 1k is just not that great of a status and United just not that great of an airline. #freeagent
Became a free agent almost 10 years ago and never looked back. There is no loyalty in loyalty programs and it’s been interesting to watch these dumpster fires burn. I live in a ‘focus city’ and buy for nonstops, product, then schedule. Discounted first is awesome, when one has the flexibility.
Will be interested to see what level of business travel will be replaced by zoom calls. My productivity has skyrocketed with zoom, and while I’ll get back to business travel, it will ‘maybe’ return to 20% of pre-covid, and it’s going to be social calls / client connection calls. Work gets done on zoom.
I did not get the extension. I had a flight booked that would have gotten me “fly to the finish” but had to change dates. If it’s not just a matter of time, I’m not well pleased.
I barely flew at all this year but was extended. Once borders open, I’ll be going full United
I’d be interested in how much a persons international travel profile played into the extensions. Were there people with a 100% domestic profile who got extensions and those with a 50%+ international that didn’t? With domestic travel mostly recovered I wouldn’t be surprised if United is focusing more on those who will fly international once borders re-open.
I will make requalification this year the hard way for 1k. Not happy with all the other extensions in which people got free passes.
Was a 1K , went down to Premier Platinum pre-COVID and just got my extension today.
Flew once with United in March and have another trip coming up in Mid-December
Been flying United 10+ years between IAH and LHR. Work travel substantially curtailed but qualified 1K last year on personal spend on this route. This year missed on FttF, still waiting for BoB to credit. Will qualify 1K on spend before year is over but was NOT extended. Got to say it is beyond frustrating to jump through the hoops, spend out of pocket when my business coverage of travel costs has not returned and then….seems like everyone but me is getting an extension I was excluded from.
I worked hard to re-earn 1K this year. Makes it feel as if the fruits of my labor were meaningless honestly. I’ve been 1K for 10 years straight. I did get an extension on 580 plus points until 1/31/2023.
I earned gold in 2017, was given a complimentary extension for 2018 due to lack of travel when my son was born, and earned gold again in 2019. Nearly 100% of my travel is international (Japan and Mexico). I have not been able to travel to Japan in the past 2 years, due to ongoing quarantine requirements. My company has not resumed travel to Mexico. I am sitting on a $1000 credit from a canceled trip to Mexico in March of 2020 that I have not been able to use.
My status was not extended.
I’m a little pissed, because I will be required to fly United because of the canceled flight credit, but I’ll now be flying without status.
Penny wise and pound foolish decision. I will be going from 1K to Silver. I switched to United two years ago via a status match after being a long time DL loyalist (8 x Diamond, MM). Due to roll over and extensions I’ll be Platinum on Delta this year despite flying them only twice since 2018 and giving United 150k BiS miles over that same timeframe. Very tempted to go back to DL. I would have been satisfied with a one level downgrade by UA (ie 1k to Plat) but going all the way back to the starting line is just rude.
I got a 1K extension after only flying a few domestic trips this year for personal travel. My normal travel is half domestic, half intl (Europe, LATAM and occasional Asia). My 100K employee company is a big user of United/Lufthansa and travel restrictions have been tight. I have over 1.5 million lifetime miles, so maybe that played a role?
I’m very pleased to have gotten the extension, but also sympathize with those that spent to earn status via the promo.
I think I’d did everything needed for the fly to the finish and still don’t see any updates posted to my account. I did oddly get 280 additional plus points posted to my account in mid November.
No idea what’s going on. I will switch to American and f I worked that hard to meet the requirements and am not extended,
United told us you had to have had international travel in 2019 for the extension.
@Lisa – I had international travel in 2019 and 2020 – it didn’t matter in my case.
All my travel in 2019 sans a single trip from CVG to EWR was international, and my Gold status was not extended. I wonder if this means they’ll charge me luggage when I use my flight credit since I no longer have status and I can’t use my United credit card because I already paid.