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Got Elite Status? United Will Match It

Got Elite Status? United Will Match It

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).

Offer Details

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:

  • 10,000 qualifying flight miles or 15 flight segments to retain Premier Silver status
  • 17,500 qualifying flight miles or 22 flight segments to retain Premier Gold status
  • 25,000 qualifying flight miles or 30 flight segments to retain Premier Platinum status

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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  • Bradley

    I will stay loyal to American… Their elite program seems significantly better at all 3 levels!

  • Lin

    It’s about time Loyalty becomes a two-way street in the airline business. As a frequent flier for 25 years, I paid Continental enormous amounts of money & gave them almost exclusive patronage simply to accrue reward points. Their merger with United & the subsequent doubling of members in the Elite pools, has already tremendously watered down my ability to qualify for any benefits. By promoting other airline Elites into these same pools, only those in the very highest Elite tiers have ANY chance of collecting on reward promises — we all know Elite perks are issued on a trickle down tier system. So where’s my incentive to become a loyal supporter of United – or any other airline for that matter?
    Let’s call frequent flier miles what they have become — bitter reminders of a very expensive, and now useless ruse. Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice, shame on me.

  • Larry

    “Unental” chooses to continually water down benefits. The mass marketing of their Explorer card further devalues elite status. I’m Lifetime Platinum on AA and dropping from Premier Exec on UAL down to Premier. I’ll cash in on this but will seriously consider leaving UAL if there are no real benefits-

  • Gee

    United has downgraded rewards for its own premier customers but offers upgrades to other airlines customers? I guess loyalty counts for nothing

  • Dave

    Oh good, more “elites”! Now, I can be number 76 on the Upgrade screen instead of number 54!

  • Dee

    Let’s see…UAL downgrades the benefits of its lowest level (Silver) such that most of the benefits are accessible via a Chase Explorer Card–and yet folks with elite benefits on other airlines who might not have worked anywhere near as hard as the Silver members to renew that status…are invited to join their ranks and therein dilute their access to Economy Plus even more. That’s it. UAL clearly does not care whatsoever about its lowest tier members. I don’t care if AA is bankrupt; I’ve flown them for years and they are nicer and it’s easier to book their premier flights. I’m leavin UAL and never looking back.

  • Gary Birk

    Another example of how the “New” United is downgrading benefits to its current elite members. Having been a Platinum member with Continental for the past 7 years I now get less bonus miles and watered down benefits. United has now offered elite reciprocity for other airlines’ elite members. Maybe it’s because United’s current elite members are bailing out to other airlines for their gross arrogance and neglect to the customers that allowed them to continue flying. No need to email and complain about the new Mileage Plus Program. I emailed twice my concerns. It took 1 month to get a response to the 1st email. None yet from the 2nd. The response was a standard form email – thank you for your comments, blah, blah, blah and never addressed one of my concerns. Yet they ended it by saying their program is the “most rewarding frequent flier program.” What a crock that is!

  • don

    United Falling
    Once the role model of programs and premium flying it has become a sad shadow of its former self
    This is exactly why mergers shouldnt happen
    reduced choices for consumers,less benefits and higher prices.Trying booking a saver award.50,000 is the average.United is looking more amd more like Delta airlines every day.
    They are totally out of touch with their customers.Heres to AMERICAN with prayers they get back on their feet.A great program and no overseas call centers.The best in the the US but partially because how awful United and others are in comparison

  • shawn

    Regarding the reality check:

    Yes, I sure did take advantage of a challenge!

    When I LEFT United… I was living in Chicago at the time, and wanted to support the hometown airline (I had moved there in 1990 and signed up on their program) I quickly gained platinum status and life was good. Then the employees took over the airline and all aspects of service were lost.

    So, after 10 years of supporting the home town airline I wrote AA and asked about a “challenge”. They wrote me back and said if you fly XX,000 miles in the next three months we will match the status for the remainder of 2000 and all of 2001. I had flown the required miles in about one month and have since given all my business to AA (1.5 mill miles).

    I will NEVER fly on UA again unless it is the last remaining airline in the US.

    I hold out hope that AA will make it through this period and in MHO remain the top US major carrier.

  • Jack

    I told the AA president a few years ago that he had the least bad frequent flier program and I still believe that. However, because of an uncertain AA future – and few 2012 planned trips – I know I can do 6 United trips and thus get Gold status – based on my AA status. It’s worth hedging my bet an flying UA/CO in the spring.

  • Lynn

    I have been a loyal flier with American for years. I’ve had a couple bad experiences lately and decided to give United a chance. I sent them my info and only got automated messages. My follow up attempts have resulted in long phone waits, returned emails to inboxes that are full, and frustrating calls with “supervisors”. Weeks after I submitted info and still no match. With this kind of customer service to someone who is telling them “hey, I am a frequent flier and I want to give you my business”, I think I will not make the switch. We will see if this elusive match ever really happens. Shame on you United!!!

  • Robert

    United, as of March 3 2012, has further watered down benefits for their so-called “Silver” elite members. We can no longer book seats in Economy Plus at booking but only AT CHECK-IN! Good luck getting any good seat. I have more than 540,000 lifetime miles on United and am disgusted with their new policies.

    American/BA looks like a much better choice. If you have a United Mileage Plus credit card acct with Chase, they also have a similar card for BA — with actually better benefits.

    Farewell United/Continental — where “bigger” means lousy. They deserve to be treated the way they treat their customers.

  • Doug Baker

    Like Lynn above I sent in my matls and hoped, I also called for two straight weeks and when I finally got a person, they said that they were backed up and that they were going to change the deadlines for responding which were 7-14 days, and I should re-submit. Well, this didn’t do me any good as I booked the required 10,000 miles to Africa for after the 14 days, counting on the match. I flew and now can only hope that they will recognize this and award it retroactively. What a mess. If I’d known I would have just booked AA/BA or Delta/AF and gotten more miles.

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