To Star Alliance Experts, please advise this rookie how best to make UA Elite!

Discussion in 'United Airlines | MileagePlus' started by dac729, Aug 31, 2011.  |  Print Topic

  1. dac729

    dac729 Active Member

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    Dear UA and *A Mentors,
    First my status, then a few questions, please:
    UA 24K, need 6K EQM to Elite; US Air15K + 8 segments; CO 1K only; Delta 84K but no EQMs
    I can access 6 airports: IAD, EWR, JFK, PIT, PHL and SCE (State College, PA)
    My wife, 2 kids and I fly 4-5 major trips per year: Asia, Europe and S. America. *A seems the logical choice. My questions:
    1) We will buy Coach tix to China in Oct and Thailand in Dec. I assume UA is best? Or, *A partner OK?
    2) I can qualify for UA Silver Elite in Oct, but then I have to start over in Jan right?
    3) So, perhaps wait until Jan. to obtain a UA Credit Card? Which card awards best pts?
    4) Should my wife and I apply for separate cards so she can also make Elite?
    5) Is there a way to transfer my US Air pts to UA?
    6) UA cancelled 14K pts on me when I had serious chronic health problems. Any way to get those back?
    7) How best to get lounge access? Perhaps AmEx Plat charge card is easier than gunning for top elite?
    Thanks for taking the time to get me "up to speed,"
    D
     
  2. Lufthansa Flyer
    Original Member

    Lufthansa Flyer Gold Member

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    1) We will buy Coach tix to China in Oct and Thailand in Dec. I assume UA is best? Or, *A partner OK?
    Just make sure the fare classes on non UA metal maps over appropriately and that you dont get a mileage credit penalty by flying some super discount Y fare on non UA metal

    2) I can qualify for UA Silver Elite in Oct, but then I have to start over in Jan right?
    Yes, but you would be Premier for all of 2012

    3) So, perhaps wait until Jan. to obtain a UA Credit Card? Which card awards best pts?
    Dont know much about UA cards. I uses Amex and their MR program.

    4) Should my wife and I apply for separate cards so she can also make Elite?
    If she travels significantly and separately from you then yes, otherwise use one card/account to gain benefits earlier. If you travel together, you and her benefit from just one elite account in terms of upgrades etc if you travel on the same itinerary.

    5) Is there a way to transfer my US Air pts to UA?
    Unlikely

    6) UA cancelled 14K pts on me when I had serious chronic health problems. Any way to get those back?
    Send a handwritten note to them explaining the situation and what happened (you can try to email them, but I've read about better outcomes with handwritten notes). But its the luck of the draw in terms of who reads the mail

    7) How best to get lounge access? Perhaps AmEx Plat charge card is easier than gunning for top elite?
    Thanks for taking the time to get me "up to speed,"
    Most UA elite levels give you NO access to stateside lounges. Premier gets you Star Silver equiv, Premier Exec gives you *gold which allow you to access some int'l lounges. I dont think the AMEX plat gives you access to UA RCC

    BTW, you said you have 24k UA miles, are they all current year EQM's? If so, you only need 1000 miles for Premier not the 6k that you mentioned.
     
  3. BackSlash

    BackSlash Silver Member

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    I focus on Aeroplan in *A, but I see some pitfalls you should watch out for.

    Always watch out for the difference between RDM (redeemable miles), and EQM (Elite Qualifying Miles).

    In reference to #3: The signup bonus for the Mileage Plus Visa card is RDM not EQM, so while it's useful for getting you an award ticket, it doesn't get you any closer to Elite Status. As a general rule, when you fly, you earn towards Elite Status (EQMs) and towards awards (RDMs) but when you get a bonus (shopping on their mileage mall or from credit card spending) it's only RDMs.

    In reference to #1: United offers 100% miles flown for discount economy ( http://www.united.com/page/article/0,8566,3122,00.html ) , but when booking on a *A airline other than United and crediting to MileagePlus make sure that the fare class of ticket that you purchase earns you miles. Not all fares on other *A airlines do.

    It's also important that the airline with that has their name painted on the side of the plane (a.k.a. their metal) that decides whether your seat earns mileage. If you book a codeshare flight where you buy the ticket from United but fly on a China Airlines plane, even with a UA### flight number there's no good way to be sure you're going to earn points.

    #5: You can't transfer directly because they agree not to steal customers from each other, you might be able to transfer using an intermediate 3rd program like Amtrak, but you'd lose a whole lot of value doing it.

    #2 I can't speak to, but for Air Canada you earn status January to January but receive status for the following March-March. So if you flew 35000 miles between Jan 2011 and Jan 2012, you would earn elite status for Mar 2012-Mar 2013.

    #7: Buying lounge access is always the easiest way. Whether it be through signing up for the Amex Plat card, the Chase Visa card, or buying a Red Carpet Club membership directly ($475).

    I know I've thrown a lot at you; the airlines have created a hugely complicated system here to entice you to keep flying. I'll keep an eye out if you need clarification on anything.
     
  4. BackSlash

    BackSlash Silver Member

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    Well.. That's just funny.
     
  5. Lufthansa Flyer
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    Lufthansa Flyer Gold Member

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    For your wife to benefit from your elite status for things like free y+ or upgrades she would need to be on your itinerary. For any lounge access, you could simply guest her in. most lounges allow one adult guest and all children under 18 traveling with you.

    I guess I dont have a great answer in terms of booking separate tix. One problem I can see, but its more of a hassle, is if your family gets bumped, misses a flight, etc. then theres 4x the work involved in re-booking you. That could lead to things like being booked on separate flights, etc. Especially if rebooking is done automatically due to a major airline ops issue like severe weather etc.

    An advantage I do see for having both of you be elites (and your kids too can be elites) is that when it comes time for upgrades. If there are 4 of you on one PNR, its unlikely you'll ever score 4 upgrades on the same flight. But if you and your wife are each elite under a separate booking, your odds increase that someone will score an upgrade. If all 4 are elites, then odds get even better. So if little suzie child scores an upgrade and mom/dad/brother didnt, Dad can take suzie's F seat.:D

    What if you used one FF program and had your wife do another?? here's an example:

    you use UA mileage plus.....rack up your eqm for potential upgrades, free Y+ for everyone on the itinerary, etc etc.

    AND

    your wife signs up for something like Aegean. Have her eqm go there because they are among the "friendliest" ff programs in terms of earning gold status the quickest. If you take 4-5 big trips a year, your wife will easily get *Gold on aegean, which then in turn you can turn around and use her *G aegean to get you into State side lounges (which you can't as most UA elite levels), and her *G will get you into better intl lounges like lufthansa's Senator Lounge, etc. Plus your wife can then redeem miles out of Aegean for travel. Many people utilize Aegean as a "low cost" option in terms of eqm for *G status and getting the intl premium lounge access. In your case, since you are traveling in Y, this may have a nice advantage to it.

    Even if traveling on one booking, you can have different miles accounts for each family member.

    Too bad you didnt have this question a year or 2 ago. You could have used BMI's Diamond Club and use their family membership where you can easily roll up everyones miles into yours, so you really add up the miles quickly. But there is speculation that Lufthansa's miles/more will absorb Diamond Club since it already owns most of BMI and will want to consolidate its FF programs just as it did with LOT Polish, swiss, austrian, etc. Once LH does this, the benefits of diamond club will go away and redemption tables get more expensive.

    Sorry to confuse you even more! ;)
     
  6. BackSlash

    BackSlash Silver Member

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    Last year there was a promo on expedia.ca where you got a fixed dollar amount ($350 If I remember correctly) off any package to Las Vegas or New York, and single person packages could be made to price out at $375 so it cost $25/person but it meant that we were booked until 2 PNRs and upgrades aside, it was a problem just getting seat selection together. On Air Canada booked through Expedia, we couldn't select seats together until Online Check-in (OLCI).

    Admittedly, 4 upgrades is unlikely to come by, but FAs frown upon people travelling between the Y and J cabins, and on some flights I've been on it's announced as not allowed for security reasons. So 1 upgraded spouse and 1 spouse with the kids in the back might not work for you on a long flight depending on the ages of the kids.

    Dac... I'm sorry about the "That's just funny" comment, it wasn't in reference to your post, it was to the fact that 744 and I were writing our responses at the same time. In the time between reading your post and hitting the post reply button your question had already been answered by someone else.
     
  7. Jimgotkp
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    Jimgotkp Gold Member

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    If you want, I recommend Asiana's FF program. 20K miles in two years for Star Silver. 40K miles in two years for Star Gold which gives you access to lounges in the US other than the Int'l F. They have a family plan too so you can use each other's miles. The only downside is the taxes/fees you are responsible for when redeeming award tickets and the very low possibility of getting upgraded on an OZ flight.
     
  8. Wandering Aramean
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    Wandering Aramean Gold Member

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    If you have 24K EQMs in UA and 1K EQMs in CO you are already elite. Link your accounts and you'll have 25K EQMs and CO Silver and UA Premier (2P) status. If those are just award miles then never mind.

    AmEx is a bad plan for lounge access if you are flying *A partners.

    Regarding earning status on Air Canada, remember that it now requires flying on AC metal.
     

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