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United Airlines Eyeing Big Changes for 2020 Mileage Plus Calculations

New estimations will no longer count distance flown as a factor

October 13, 2019

A few weeks ago, United Airlines came out with a new PlusPoints program to simplify and enhance rewards earning options for their MileagePlus Premier members. Starting in January, however, advancing through UAL’s elite status tiers actually gets a little more complicated.

Those familiar with United’s points program will know that, currently, MileagePlus members advance through elite status tiers by earning “Premier qualifying dollars” (PQDs) as well as either “Premier qualifying segments” (PQSs) or “Premier qualifying miles” (PQMs).

Starting in 2020, however, miles flown will no longer count in the miles accruing equation. The current qualification requirements will be replaced with an equation involving Premier qualifying points (PQPs) and Premier qualifying flights (PQFs). Qualifying points will be formulated according to the base fare of the passenger’s ticket, as well carrier-imposed surcharges and paid upgrades and upgraded seat choices. Those qualifying flights or PQFs be calculated by the flight segments taken. This means that distance flown will not be figured into rewards earned.

Thus, every flight – or take off and landing – gets the passenger a PQF point regardless of where or in what cabin that passenger is sitting. Those passengers with a “basic economy” ticket, however, will not earn any PQFs at all.

Then there are the PQPs. Those are points earned per dollar spent. For these factors, only base fares count. That means taxes and fees do not apply toward this total. For this program, United is allowing surcharges on base fares to apply as well as Economy Plus seating, preferred seat purchases, award co-pays, paid upgrades and flights booked and operated through Star Alliance partnerships.

The upshot, in a system that may actually have become more complicated than the simplicity the carrier tried to create with its PlusPoints program, MileagePlus members can attain elite status either only through how much they spend, how many take-offs and landings they sustained, or a combination of both. Adding up those golden miles will no longer be necessary.

Premier Silver

2019: 25,000 PQM or 30 PQS plus $3,000 PQD

2020: 12 PQF and 4,000 PQP or 5,000 PQP

Premier Gold

2019: 50,000 PQM or 60 PQS plus $6,000 PQD

2020: 24 PQF and 8,000 PQP or 10,000 PQP

Premier Platinum

2019: 75,000 PQM or 90 PQS plus $9,000 PQD

2020: 36 PQF and 12,000 PQP or 15,000 PQP

Premier 1k

2019: 100,000 PQM or 120 PQS plus $15,000 PQD

2020: 54 PQF and 18,000 PQP or 24,000 PQP