While other airlines announced changes to their elite-level programs long ago, United Mileage Plus remained silent – putting off a decision until the last possible moment. Now, as expected, the program has decided not to lower requirements.
We can only guess that, because the program made major elite concessions in 2000, the Mileage Plus executives felt that a second round of concessions would sharply dilute the quality of this program. And we can’t say we disagree with this line of reasoning. In fact, Mileage Plus has done a favor to those members who make a living flying on United aircraft.
A quick look at the experiences of other frequent flyer programs may tell the tale of why United made this decision. When Continental introduced its Lifetime Platinum program a few years back, it was quickly canceled because many members quit flying Continental once they qualified for the lifetime status. And, if you look over the comments from British Airways in this month’s “60 Seconds” feature, you’ll find that the brass at Executive Club decided not to extend elite benefits to its members for the very same reason.
But the lateness of this announcement is in poor form, and will certainly send many Mileage Plus members scrambling in December. United, however, is offering Mileage Plus members who will not qualify for 2002 elite status under the standard criteria another way to qualify. Under this alternate plan, Mileage Plus members can qualify for 2002 elite status based on their current status and the status they earned in either 2000 or 1999. For example, if you currently hold Premier status and you held Premier status or above in either 2000 or 1999, you will be awarded Premier status through 2002. If your current status is Premier Executive, and you held Premier Executive or 1K status in either 2000 or 1999, you will be awarded Premier Executive status through 2002. If your current status is Premier Executive 1K and you qualified for this status in either 2000 or 1999, your 2002 status will be Premier Executive 1K. If your current status is Premier Executive 1K and you qualified for Premier Executive or Premier status in either 2000 or 1999, your 2002 status will be Premier Executive.
If you’re scratching your head right now, trust us, you’re not alone. This alternate qualifying method is somewhat like income averaging for tax purposes … and we all know how easy it is to decipher tax codes, right? To review the benefits that Mileage Plus elite members receive, check out the following link: http://www.ual.com/site/primary/0,10017,1159,00.html.