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Following in Delta’s footsteps, United today announced on FlyerTalk that, beginning in January 2014, MileagePlus elite status will be awarded on the basis of a combination of elite-qualifying miles (EQMs) or segments (EQSs) and elite-qualifying dollars (EQDs), as follows:
Elite-qualifying dollars include spending on “most” flights operated by United, United Express, or Copa Airlines, and flights operated by Star Alliance or MileagePlus carriers and issued on a United ticket.
The new minimum-spend requirement only applies to MileagePlus members whose accounts are registered to U.S. addresses.
Other terms and conditions
That’s a lot of requirements and exceptions to wade through and process. But the bottom line is that, going forward, elite status and spend will be aligned. No more long cheap flights just to qualify for elite perks.
Although it will come as a rude shock to some, the new system is fair and eminently sensible. Elite status was always intended to recognize and reward customers’ contribution to an airline’s bottom line. And keying status to spend does just that.
Winnowing out the mileage-runners will reduce the ranks of MileagePlus elites, although it remains to be seen by how much. What is more certain is that there will be at least somewhat fewer elites competing for upgrades. So it’s a win for those who qualify for their status the old-fashioned way, by earning it.
Reader Reality Check
Will you be a winner or a loser under United’s new elite-qualification policy?
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