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Status matches—in which one airline matches a traveler’s elite status in another airline’s program—are a fact of life in the world of travel rewards. But they’re typically conducted more with a wink and a nod than with any public fanfare. As much as airlines covet their competitors’ best customers, they don’t want to be too brazen in their poaching efforts for fear of igniting an all-out recruiting war.
United’s new Premier Status Match Challenge is unusual both in its visibility (high) and in its duration (one year).
Throughout 2012, MileagePlus members with elite status in another airline’s loyalty program can a) enjoy equivalent status in United’s program for three months and b) retain that status for the rest of 2012 by meeting special requirements during that three-month period.
So, for example, a traveler with Gold status in American’s AAdvantage program would be granted Premier Silver status in MileagePlus; an American Platinum member would receive United Premier Gold status; and an American Executive Platinum member would receive Premier Platinum. The match does not include United’s highest elite tier, 1K.
To maintain the matched status, MileagePlus members must complete the following flights operated by United, United Express, Continental, or Copa Airlines within the 90-day timeframe:
To qualify for the match, travelers must provide United with a copy of their most recent account statement from another program, or their elite-status membership card.
MileagePlus or OnePass members who have participated in a status match within the past five years are not eligible to apply.
Deal or No Deal
While this unusually public status match is likely directed at American, whose bankruptcy makes it especially vulnerable to such poaching, it represents an opportunity for members of other programs to refocus their loyalty as well.
If you’ve been considering a deeper relationship with United, and your elite status with a competing airline has kept you from making the switch, this may be the ideal opportunity to see what, if anything, you’ve been missing.
Reader Reality Check
Have you ever taken advantage of a status match? Will you take advantage of this one?
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