Last month, United Airlines published a new cabin upgrade system. While that change was fairly positive, United made some challenging changes on how to earn MileagePlus Premier status.

A Few Definitions

Right now, there are three requirements to get a United premier status:

  • Premier Qualifying Miles (PQM): Earn based on the number of miles flown and type of fare purchased.
  • Premier Qualifying Segments (PQS): Earn based on the number of flight segments flown and type of fare purchased.
  • Premier Qualifying Dollar (PQD): Earn based on base fare and carrier-imposed surcharges on United flights (only for US–based customers).
United Premier Qualification Requirements Change 2020

For 2020, United published two new requirements and the previous three will expire:

  • Premier Qualifying Flights (PQF): Earn based on the number of flight segments flown, four of which need to be flown on United or United Express (one for each flight no matter the fare type except Basic Economy).
  • Premier Qualifying Points (PQP): Earn based on the base fare and carrier-imposed surcharge of flight purchases, along with seating purchases and paid upgrades (can earn on both United flights and partner flights).

Current Qualification Requirements

Currently, to get United premier status, you need:


Note if you have a foreign address or spend $25,000 on Chase United credit card, the PDQ requirement is waived.

2020 Qualification Requirements

To get United premier status for 2020, you need:


Additionally, you need to fly at least 4 United flights.

Earn PQP on Partners

Previously, if you flew on a Star Alliance partner airline, and your flight was not ticketed by United, you couldn’t earn Premier qualifying dollars. With the new program, you’ll receive credit on these flights in the form of Premier qualifying points. Your PQP will be equal to award miles (Premier bonus miles not included) earned divided by 5, if you’re flying on a preferred partner; for other MileagePlus partner airlines, it will be award miles earned divided by 6.

Preferred PartnersMileagePlus Partners
Air CanadaAegean Airlines
Air ChinaAir Dolomiti
Air New ZealandAir India
All Nippon AirwaysAsiana Airlines
Austrian AirlinesCroatia Airlines
Azul Brazilian AirlinesEgyptAir
Brussels AirlinesEthiopian Airlines
Copa AirlinesEVA Air
EurowingsJuneyao Air
LufthansaLOT Polish Airlines
SWISS International AirlinesOlympic Air
Shenzhen Airlines
Singapore Airlines
South African Airways
TAP Air Portugal
Thai Airways International
Turkish Airlines

Bottom Line

United is making it clear going forward the Mileage Plus program is about how much you spend on airfare. Distance flown doesn’t matter as much as the money spent on airfare. The cheap mileage run strategies to get gold or 1K status is now behind us.

A company representative of United explains about the new changes:

Members that made status via several lower value paid tickets on long-haul routes may find it more challenging to make status with distance being removed as a qualifying metric. This was our intent, as we are not trying to reward long-haul travel; these changes will award status based on the value of paid tickets and flights taken.

Additionally, members that benefited from the international PQD waiver, which our US members still had to meet, may find the new spend thresholds more challenging to meet although that’s why we’ve added ability to earn on flights ticketed and operated by our partners. We feel these changes align the way all of our members qualify for status regardless of how far they fly or where they live.

The only positive change to the elite qualifying rules is adding 12 airline partners to the Premier Qualifying Points (PQP). If you’re flying United and its partners often, it may help you to qualify sooner.

Do the changes benefit your way of getting a premier status? If not, will you consider changing to another program?