United quietly extended status for other Mileage Plus members but I, like many others, have not yet seen an extension yet.
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:
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?