A few updates for you on the news this morning that United is dramatically slashing the number of elite status points you can earn on partner flights.
PQP Limit Is Per Segment, Not Ticket
When United updated its website with the new information last night, it was not clear whether the limit (see table below) applied on a ticket basis, one-way basis, or segment basis. A United spokesperson confirmed that the limits are on a per-segment basis.
That’s good news. While it doesn’t suddenly make this surprise devaluation in the middle of the program year good news, it does soften the blow.
It will also encourage those who still hope to qualify this way to add multiple segments, just like the old mileage run days. I’m still running scenarios, but even with this small reprieve it will still be significantly harder to earn elite status based upon partner flights than it currently is.
In my question to United, I used the following example:
- EWR-SIN = 9,534 miles / 6 prior to 01 July = 1589 PQP. After 01 July, 500 PQP
- SIN-SYD = 3,908 miles / 6 prior to 01 July = 651 PQP. After 01 July, 500 PQP
- SYD-SIN = 3,908 miles / 6 prior to 01 July = 651 PQP. After 01 July, 500 PQP
- SIN-EWR = 9,534 miles / 6 prior to 01 July = 1589 PQP. After 01 July, 500 PQP
2,000 PQP is less than half of 4,480 PQP (current earnings on the itinerary), but far better than 500 PQP (if United maxed out PQP at 500 for the whole ticket).
Foreign Waiver Will Not Return
Up until this year, those who lived outside the USA were spared from the minimum spending requirement. I asked United if that waiver would return since it is harder for those outside the USA to fly United and was told:
“No changes to the waiver at this time.”
As I discussed earlier, the changes may close some loopholes, but it truly limits the value proposition for many outside the USA who would have been happy to give United longhaul business to the States, but now are incentivized to be free agents.
These Are Not Temporary Caps
Finally, I asked if these caps were for a limited time or permanent. I was told:
“These caps will be in place for all flights booked after April 29 for travel after July 1.”
I don’t expect these limits to be dropped. United simply does not want to incentivize travel on partner airlines at its expense. I’d think there would still be a waiver for joint venture partners like Lufthansa, Air Canada, or ANA, but nothing so far.
Limiting PQPs per segment instead of per ticket is good news. I’ll continue to run the numbers and see if and where it still makes sense to pursue elite status via partner flights.
Does the per segment cap rather than per ticket cap change your calculus?