United Airlines MileagePlus Elite Qualification Changes For 2020

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United Airlines today announced changes for elite qualification in 2020. This won’t affect how you qualify for status this year.

United is moving away from flown miles (not with partners) and only uses segments (Premier Qualifying Flight – PQF) and Premier Qualifying Points (PQP). United claims that this makes qualifying simpler, although my take is just more confusion.

You can access United’s page for the changes here.

Here’s a video released by United:

Less Confusing?

United MileagePlus 2019 - 2020 Confusing

United tries to convey that the new system would be less confusing than the one it replaces. Quite the contrary, in reality, however.

Qualification Requirements in 2020

These requirements are in place for the 2020 membership year. There is no longer the number of flown miles requirement. The qualification is entirely based on PQFs and PQPs. You can earn the status solely with PQPs without taking the 54 flights.

Remember that you always need to have a minimum of four United-operated segments.

Earning PQPs on partners

Previously, you would only earn Premier Qualifying Dollars on tickets issues on United’s ticket stock (016). Now, all miles eligible partner flights qualify.

Calculating how many PQPs you earn on partners is very confusing, however. You use the number of miles flown, including the class of service (fare class bonus). Elite bonuses do not count.

You then divide the number of miles earned excluding the elite bonus by 5 (preferred partners) or 6 (MileagePlus partners)

Preferred partners are:

  • Air Canada
  • Air China
  • Air New Zealand
  • All Nippon Airways
  • Austrian Airlines
  • Avianca
  • Azul Brazilian Airlines
  • Brussels Airlines
  • Copa Airlines
  • Eurowings
  • Lufthansa
  • SWISS International Airlines

MileagePlus partners:

  • Aegean Airlines
  • Air Dolomiti
  • Air India
  • Asiana Airlines
  • Croatia Airlines
  • Edelweiss
  • EgyptAir
  • Ethiopian Airlines
  • EVA Air
  • Juneyao Air
  • LOT Polish Airlines
  • Olympic Air
  • SAS
  • Shenzhen Airlines
  • Singapore Airlines
  • South African Airways
  • TAP Air Portugal
  • Thai Airways International
  • Turkish Airlines

No PQP Waiver

There is no PQP waiver in place for MileagePlus members whose account address is outside of the United States

Qualification strategy for 2021

Partner flights that are ticketed on non-United stock (016) are the answer. The number of PQP is not tied to the price of the ticket but rather the distance flown and fare class. This can be beneficial for flights ticketed on partner airlines in Premium Economy, Business and First.

You can often buy premium-class tickets at a competitive price, and it shouldn’t be too challenging to get double or triple PQPs compared to the actual ticket cost.

Conclusion

United has now effectively doubled the 1K qualification requirement from $12K to $24K in just a few years.

Not sure if United knows what they are doing here. They are incentivizing MileagePlus members to book preferred partners on non-United ticket stock (016) to earn a higher number of PQPs (compared to flying on United).

There is no longer a requirement to fly on United to earn Premier Qualifying Dollars (PQDs) because PQPs can be collected on all airlines. You still, however, need to have a minimum of four United-operated segments.

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