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Thursday, May 15, 2008

Getting Harder to Earn Elite Status on United Airlines

After a great experience earlier this week on United airlines, today I found out that it is going to be a lot hard for some people to achieve an elite status on United like Premier, Premier Executive, or 1K.


Check out the content of the email I received from United today:

To ensure that Mileage Plus miles earned toward elite status and award travel on United are aligned with actual miles flown, we are revising our base accrual policy. Beginning July 1, 2008, for flights of less than 500 miles, passengers will earn redeemable miles equal to the actual miles flown. Elite Qualifying Miles (EQM) will also be awarded based on actual miles. Elite Qualifying Segments (EQS) are not affected.

This new mileage accrual structure will apply to travel on or after July 1, 2008, regardless of when the travel was ticketed. Flights of less than 500 miles flown on or before June 30, 2008, will accrue Mileage Plus miles under the previous policy of a minimum mileage accrual per individual segment flown.
What does that mean?

Well for one, anyone who takes a lot of short "commuter" flights will not longer accrue the miles in the Mileage Plus program that they have been accustomed to. That will impact everyone who qualifies for their Elite status based on the number of miles. The good news is that if you qualify based on Elite Qualifying Segments (EQS) then there is very little change for you, other than you will have less miles to spend on free travel.

What does this mean to me?

Basically, a reduction in the number of miles I accrue each year. Since I take a lot of trips each year (about 20) between Los Angeles (LAX) and San Francisco (SFO), I was used to seeing about 1,000 Elite Qualifying Miles (EQM) each trip which will now be reduced to approximately 600 per trip. That will leave a gap of about 8,000 miles from what I normally would have seen.

While not the end of the world, that would have left me really close to not qualifying for the United Premier Executive 1K program in 2007. The reason for that is that I qualify based on miles, due to a couple of big trips (to India) and lots of small trips on the West Coast. I am hoping to still acheive the Premier Exec 1K status in 2008, but we will see how this mid year change impacts that.

While it is not the end of the world, I am disappointed in the decision by United Airlines. It is never fun to "give up" something.

Will you be impacted by this change? If so, let me know.