Hoping to earn United Airlines MileagePlus elite status by flying partner airlines? It just became much harder. For those outside the USA, the latest move further diminished the value of crediting flights to United.
I wrote about the “loophole” here in great detail. Put simply, by strategically crediting inexpensive partner flights to United, you could earn status by spending much less.
For example, buy a Singapore Airlines premium economy ticket from Newark to Singapore for $1136.15. It books into R class, which earns 100% of miles flown. That trip is 9,534 miles in each direction, so a total of 19,068 miles round-trip. Divide that by six (again, more details in the link above) and you’d receive 3,178 PQP toward your elite status goal. In a sense, a $1136.15 ticket would be worth $3,178 toward satisfying your minimum spend toward elite status.
American and Delta have similar policies for partner flights.
Partner Earnings Severely Capped For Flights On Or After July 1, 2020
Recognizing that this loophole disincentivizes flying on United, United has closed the loophole (H/T: The Points Guy). Per United:
For flights on or after July 1, 2020, the maximum Premier qualifying points that can be earned on tickets issued and operated by Star Alliance partners and select MileagePlus partner airlines are as follows:
|Class Of Service||Preferred Partner PQP||MileagePlus Partner PQP|
A United spokesperson confirmed this is a per-segment limit.
If you book before April 29, 2020 (meaning today is your deadline), you can still earn PQPs uncapped. However, you’ll need to submit receipts:
“MileagePlus members who purchased tickets on eligible partners prior to these new rules may submit receipts showing tickets were issued prior to April 29, 2020, to email@example.com with the subject line “OA PQP Review” to be considered for PQP earning under the prior rules. Receipts should not be submitted until after travel is completed for flights on or after July 1, 2020.”
Double Whammy For United Overseas Elites
It was just this year that United stopped exempting MileagePlus elites living outside the USA from its minimum spend requirements to secure elite status. The reprieve was that partner flights would now count toward that spending goal. With partner flights capped at absurdly low levels (especially for premium cabins), those living outside the USA will find it much more difficult than ever before to qualify for elite status on United.
There is much more to say about this and I will provide further analysis later today. Obviously, this will hurt some U.S flyers as well. But I wanted to start this conversation by pointing out that those outside the United States and more prone to fly United’s worldwide network of partners will be particularly hit hard by this news.