Travel

Guide To United Airlines Status Match & Challenge

It’s common for airlines to offer some sort of status challenge or status match program, in order to lure frequent flyers who are loyal to competing airlines, but are considering a switch. In the United States, most major airlines offer some sort of a status match challenge opportunity. In this post I wanted to take a look at the program offered by United.

United MileagePlus status match as of January 2022

United MileagePlus has a published status challenge program, which is currently valid through June 30, 2022.

With this program, you can have your status matched for a period of 120 days, and then your status can be extended based on qualifying activity within that period. As it stands, United is offering this program in order to earn Premier Silver, Premier Gold, and Premier Platinum status (it’s not available for Premier 1K or Global Services status).

What status will United match?

Currently United Airlines is offering to match those who have status with any of the following programs:

  • Alaska Mileage Plan
  • American AAdvantage
  • Delta SkyMiles
  • JetBlue TrueBlue
  • Southwest Rapid Rewards

Elite tiers roughly map over as you’d expect, and below you can see a chart with all the details. While not explicitly listed, higher elite tiers can similarly be matched to Premier Platinum. All status challenges give you the status for 120 days, so if you want to keep the status longer you’ll need to complete certain requirements.

United has a published status match challenge program

How do you maintain United status?

In order to maintain your United status beyond the initial 120 day match period, you’ll have to complete a certain amount of qualifying activity within that timeframe. The ability to maintain elite status is based on earning PQF and PQP:

  • PQF stands for “Premier Qualifying Flights,” with each flight you take earning you one PQF
  • PQP stands for “Premier Qualifying Points,” with one point being earned for each dollar spent, before taxes and fees

For 2022, standard United MileagePlus status requirements are as follows:

  • Premier Silver requires eight PQF and 3,000 PQP, OR just 3,500 PQP
  • Premier Gold requires 16 PQF and 6,000 PQP, OR just 7,000 PQP
  • Premier Platinum requires 24 PQF and 9,000 PQP, OR just 10,000 PQP
  • Premier 1K requires 36 PQF and 13,500 PQP, OR 15,000 PQP

With the challenge, you need to earn the following number of PQF and PQP in a 120 day period:

  • Premier Silver requires four PQF and 1,000 PQP
  • Premier Gold requires six PQF and 2,000 PQP
  • Premier Platinum requires 10 PQF and 3,000 PQP

How long is matched United status valid for?

Assuming you satisfy the PQF and PQP requirements, the validity of your status is dependent on when you complete your challenge:

  • If you complete the challenge before July 1, then the status is only valid for the remainder of the program year (which would be through January 31 of the following year, in this case 2023)
  • If you complete the challenge after July 1, then the status is valid for the remainder of the program year, and the entire following program year (which would be through January 31 two years later, in this case 2024)

So currently if you started a challenge it would be valid through January 31, 2023. However, if you waited until July it would be valid through January 31, 2024.

Status earned now would be valid through January 2023

How do you request a United status challenge?

To take part in a United MileagePlus status match challenge, complete this form. A few things to note:

  • It can take 7-14 business days to get a response and for your account to be upgraded
  • This program is not available to those who have participated in a status match challenge with United in the past five years
  • Those who hold trial or temporary status with a competitor aren’t eligible to participate
  • Those who earn Premier Platinum through the match will be awarded 20 PlusPoints
  • There’s no cost to participate in a United status match

What are the benefits of United elite status?

What are United Airlines MileagePlus status perks like?

Some of the most popular benefits of Premier Silver status include:

  • Complimentary upgrades in most domestic markets
  • Complimentary Economy Plus seating at time of check-in
  • One complimentary checked bag
  • A 40% mileage bonus (7x miles per dollar spent)

Some of the most popular benefits of Premier Gold status include:

  • Complimentary upgrades in most domestic markets
  • Complimentary Economy Plus seating at time of booking
  • Two complimentary checked bags
  • A 60% mileage bonus (8x miles per dollar spent)
  • Star Alliance Gold status

Some of the most popular benefits of Premier Platinum status include:

  • Complimentary upgrades in most domestic markets
  • Complimentary Economy Plus seating at time of booking
  • Three complimentary checked bags
  • An 80% mileage bonus (9x miles per dollar spent)
  • Star Alliance Gold status

Upgrades are obviously the most valuable benefit, and those are prioritized by status. The higher your status, the better the odds of those clearing. Don’t expect that you’ll be seeing too many upgrades as a Premier Silver member, for example.

Elite members are eligible for complimentary upgrades

Is a United Airlines status challenge worth it?

If you’re genuinely thinking of switching your loyalty to United (whether it’s because you’re fed up with your current airline, you’re moving, your travel patterns are changing, or whatever else), then it’s absolutely worth completing a status challenge. This gives you some status upfront, with the potential to maintain it in the long run.

I know some people also like to status match just for the heck of it, or because they have one trip where it could come in handy. In this case I probably wouldn’t recommend taking advantage of that, since you can only request one challenge every five years, and you can’t even get top tier status with this program.

So while United’s status challenge program isn’t the most exciting in the industry, it is your best option if switching business to United.

A status challenge could be worthwhile if switching to United

Bottom line

United Airlines’ MileagePlus program offers a status match promotion, open to frequent flyers with other major US airlines. You can receive status upfront for 120 days, and then you need to complete certain flying and spending requirements in order to maintain that status through next January. It could be worth waiting until July to complete a status challenge, so that you get an entire extra year of status from the program.

Have any OMAAT readers taken part in a United status challenge? If so, what was your experience like?

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