United Increases Revenue Requirements for Elite Status

United has updated their elite qualification critieria at united.com to show that next year the minimum spending requirement to earn elite status will go up for each status level by 20%. That’s the exact percentage that Delta is raising their requirement.

So United isn’t looking at their elite ranks and figuring out at what spend level they’ll have a manageable number of elites for which they can deliver consistent benefits. They’re cribbing what Delta is doing, assuming that Delta is smarter than they are and must know what they’re doing. (Of course Delta’s business is materially different than United’s, from their customer base to their corporate contracts to load factor to cities served, so United management may find that “your mileage may vary.”)

In 2015 you will have to fly and spend:

  • 25,000 miles or 30 segments and $3000 for Silver
  • 50,000 miles or 60 segments and $6000 for Gold
  • 75,000 miles or 90 segments and $9000 for Platinum
  • 100,000 miles or 120 segments and $12,000 for 1K

… in order to have status in 2016.

These spending levels are 20% higher than they were when United first announced revenue-based requirements for 2015 status.

As before these requirements should only apply to members with US addresses, and members who spend $25,000 or more on a co-brand United credit card during the year can earn up to Platinum status regardless of their spend on United tickets.

Of course, as they raise the required revenue, it’s worth reminding that United isn’t even all that good at tracking revenue.

End of the day, United is requiring a minimum spend of 12 cents per mile flown in order to earn elite status, and their average fare is higher than 12 cents. As a result these are hardly insurmountable numbers. Plenty of flyers will have no problem with them.

It’s also not at all unexpected. When Delta announced last month that they were going to require 20% more spending for elite status next year, commenter Dan wrote,

You may as well duplicate the post, and then do a find on the word “Delta” and replace with “United.” You’ll get a jump on the competition, and be considered a prophet.

Funny line, since United continues managing by doing what Delta does.

Some folks will want to move their business to American which at least for 2015 travel and 2016 benefits will not have revenue requirements for status.

(HT: Wandering Aramean)


About Gary Leff

Gary Leff is one of the foremost experts in the field of miles, points, and frequent business travel - a topic he has covered since 2002. Co-founder of frequent flyer community InsideFlyer.com, emcee of the Freddie Awards, and named one of the "World's Top Travel Experts" by Conde' Nast Traveler (2010-Present) Gary has been a guest on most major news media, profiled in several top print publications, and published broadly on the topic of consumer loyalty. More About Gary »

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Comments

  1. In Australia we have a term that our friends in the USA don’t use often but it is quite common in Oz. Although in Goodfella’s the movie someone used it! That term is “What a bunch of cunts these people are” Cunts with a capital K. Sorry, but this is disgraceful and they are nothing but cunts. In USA the equivalent I guess would be Mother fuckers. Either way, they are fuckers.

  2. I don’t think United made this change with an eye to maintaining service for elites at all. It’s all part of reducing the amount of miles printed for flying and increasing those for 3rd parties. I am surprised they haven’t copied Delta in allowing a 1k spend waiver if you spend enough on their credit cards, what’s with that?

  3. That’s the end of 1K for us. Since I have about 15 confirmed upgrade instruments and since I get “Buy One Status Get One Fee” as a 1MM, I’ll earn Platinum via the Chase PQD exemption and 75,000 PQM next year. After that, we’ll just become lowly Golds. Still holding onto AA EXP and DL DM for now, although I suspect that will end once AA adds revenue requirements (my money is on 2016).

  4. Hey Gary, how come Robbo can call United cunts and motherfuckers and you haven’t (yet) said a peep, but when I and another commenter called Chris Elliott an idiot (a far less offensive term) a while back, we got chided?

  5. As a leisure traveler who buys my own tickets, I balked at paying 2.5k+/year. That’s why I met the CC spend requirement. I’d rather give my money to Chase than get extorted by UA. When that goes, I’m out.

  6. Hi Brian, two things.

    1. I didn’t see the comment earlier, I’ve been in meetings at work

    2. I don’t like that language in the comments here, I really don’t. I do think that using such language about a company rather than a person is less bad, but still not loving it…

  7. Sorry, the Australian in me came out, say it like it is. As opposed to PC USA where everyone is so scared to say anything anymore about anything which explains the mess the country is in. I apologise if anyone takes offence at an everyday Australianism.

  8. I can see PQD is going to inch up every year. I’m happy to be lifetime Platinum, for as long as that’s worth anything. I don’t expect MY lifetime that’s for sure.

  9. The nice thing about the Aussies is you never have to wonder what they ‘really’ think. It used to be somewhat that way here in the USA, but then the PC idiots gained an upper hand (temporarily, I hope) and only a few of us still dare speak our minds publicly. Thanks for the refreshingly honest post, robbo!

  10. Maybe I got this wrong. I spend more than $25,000 per year on my two United Chase accounts. Does this mean that I can retain some of my status? Gold, Platinum? I’ve been 1-K since year one, but will lose it this year.

  11. It is very clear to me that DL and UA (copying DL) have decided that they really don’t care about the frequent leisure traveler. At least in terms of giving benefits to these folks.

    I understand the idea and the rational for the PQD requirements and in many ways it does make sense from a business standpoint. That rational is I don’t want to give benefits that are going to cost me money when you actually don’t fly me or fly me enough. If you are not flying UA but getting status you are costing UA money when you use that status to travel on other airlines. Primarily this is the lounge access fees, but I am sure there is other $ that changes hands based on elite flyers flying other airlines.

    The move to reduce miles earned on fares is clearly a desire to reduce the amount of currency that they give away for providing a product. By controlling who has status and at what level, you can control the amount of the currency that you have to print. Case in point under the new scheme a person who flys 100K miles and spends the exact $12000 only earns 132,000 miles (assuming 1K already) as opposed to the 200K now.

    My guess is that this trend will continue on for several years until it is nigh impossible to actually earn a status beyond Gold. I wonder when spend requirements will hit the lifetime status as well (i.e. you have to have some spend to “activate” your status for the next year, just don’t need the miles flown)

  12. @Kevin and @those worried about status – what are you really getting by being an elite on United above Gold?

    Yes you get higher priority upgrades, but since they sell them outright I’d (if flying United) get the CC that gives you boarding group 2 and some free bags then fly the airline makes sense for your destination and if you want an upgrade, buy it.

    Sadly United has seriously disappointed since the merger and I have taken my business elsewhere. Case in point, I recently took my wife and her parents on an overseas vacation as part of my goal to get rid of my MIleage Plus miles before they devalue further. I flew SWISS, Turkish and United (in Global First). All airlines except United were excellent. Beyond the nice seat, I had better service flying Emirates in coach. Plus they simply blew off the fact that my wife’s special meal was not loaded by catering – all other airlines had no issues. Had I actually paid for this flight, I’d been really upset but since my expectations for United are so low…meh!

  13. This is about screwing the international business traveler. The secret to international travel was to ditch the crappy US airlines and fly the flag carrier of the destination country, getting your miles and elite status through the alliances. I’m gold on USAir, but didn’t fly USAir at all to get that. All my miles were through ANA and their star alliance membership (yes, USAir has since changed alliances). And seriously, given a choice, why would I fly a US airline when I can get Japanese-style service?

  14. Not really liking how this is going. It seems that eventually United will be headed down the Solitaire PPS Club qualification route. Hopefully the United perks will be at least as good (but I have the gut feeling they won’t be).

  15. Ok, I have a newbie question: I have silver status on united and am going to lose it this year, BUT, I will have $25,000 organic spend on the cobranded credit card by year end.

    1. Will I be able to keep silver status? or will it be extended because of minimum spend?
    2. Can I get status match from another airline for 2015? (and how?)

  16. @m-girl

    1) No you won’t be able to keep it, unless you also have 25K PQM
    2) Maybe. You need to contact the airline directly.

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