United Airlines Matches Varig — or Most Airline — Status

Continuing my kick of linking to just about anything Upgrade: Travel Better has to say, Mark points to the Star Alliance offer to match status held with Varig.

    Varig went bankrupt and lost its membership the Star Alliance, so other Star Alliance members are jockeying to pick up the elite frequent flyers in the now-defunct Varig “Smiles” program. The Star Alliance webpage lists the different status match programs that are available to Smiles members until April 30, 2007. Air Canada, Lufthansa, South African, Swiss, and TAP are all granting status matches to Varig’s elites.

    BUT: United goes one further. Their rules doesn’t specify that the status match is only open to Varig flyers, either on the Star Alliance site or on their own page. So this is where it gets interesting.

This is a good offer for Varig elite members. It’s quite rare for most international airlines to offer to match status. Outside of North America the only one that I can think of making the offer on a standing basis is British Midland. Other carriers will do it occasionally, or through their sales office in specific countries for very high potential revenue flyers, or as part of a corporate contract. But blanket offers to the public on most airlines are rare — such offers are generally just the province of US airlines, almost all of which will do a one-time granting of status to flyers with equivalent status on another airline.

But here’s the rub — Ashley says this is a special opportunity for anyone with status to get matched on United. But United has offered status matches for years — just fax (current number 605-341-6140, email to PremierMatch@united.com might work as well) in your frequent flyer statement showing your status and flight activity on another carrier along with a note including your Mileage Plus number and requesting status on United, and bingo it’s generally yours without too much hassle. Same is true for most US airlines across the board. Full details can be found in a Flyertalk thread I started in 2003 that continues to attract new posts to this day.

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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