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

Discussion in 'General Discussion | Miles/Points' started by dac729, Sep 1, 2011.  |  Print Topic

  1. dac729

    dac729 Active Member

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    Dear Folks,
    Greetings--just joined. First my status, then a few questions, please:
    UA 24K, all EQM, need 1K to Elite; US Air 15K + 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 for our alliance. 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? Or, perhaps we only need ONE Elite member in the family to benefit?
    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. AZjohn

    AZjohn Silver Member

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    Guess you will be the honor of my first post here on this site :)

    I can try and answer some of your questions, but I will first start off by asking you what you are looking for with elite status? This varies from person to person and we likely do not have the same goals. I have been a UA 1K for some years now so will try to answer what I know, OK?

    1) We will buy Coach tix to China in Oct and Thailand in Dec. I assume UA is best? Or, *A partner OK?
    Some *A partners to not have 100% rate if you want the miles to go to your UA account. Please check UA web site for their partners benefits. I would not personally agree UA is the best airlines to either China or Thailand, but they do offer E+ in economy and I do like that point.

    2) I can qualify for UA Silver Elite in Oct, but then I have to start over in Jan right?
    UA currently has levels of Premier (25K miles EQM), Premier Executive (50K miles EQM), 1K (100K miles EQM), and Global Service (private invitation by UA for the big $ spenders). So maybe you are thinking of CO silver status, which I think is 25K EQM (not 100% sure). Regardless, you are correct that Dec 31 is the last calendar day of the yearly program and anything flow Jan 1 or later will only be applied to your 2012 program.

    3) So, perhaps wait until Jan. to obtain a UA Credit Card? Which card awards best pts?
    Again, the CC programs is a very personal preference and can’t tell you what is best for you. But, UA and CO is starting to roll out new CC programs the next 2 quarters and I personally am going to wait until all the new CC programs are announced before switching over. You should keep checking UA and CO web sites to see what is rolling out.

    4) Should my wife and I apply for separate cards so she can also make Elite? Or, perhaps we only need ONE Elite member in the family to benefit?

    Get your wife and kids their own accounts. Miles your wife and kids fly will not go to your account, only theirs. You can share your elite status with them (if you have more miles then them) but why let their miles go to waste???

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


    Not that I know of

    6) UA cancelled 14K pts on me when I had serious chronic health problems. Any way to get those back?

    You can try and write UA with the details and ask them. The worse they can say is no (which might be their response)

    7) How best to get lounge access? Perhaps AmEx Plat charge card is easier than gunning for top elite?


    No personal knowledge of AmEx CC but do know they are no longer partners with both UA and CO now. I didn’t really understand your CO status and/or miles, but if you have 24K with UA this year and some with CO, you can merge both accounts and get the best status between the two. If you are 1K (again, didn’t understand your CO status in your post) then you get free lounge access on international itineraries on any *A airline. This holds true for being a 50K mile Premier Executive also.
    Cheers,

    John
     
  3. jetsetr
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    jetsetr Gold Member

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    Welcome to MilePoint dac729! I think AZjohn gave you some good points of advice, so I'll enhance some of his answers, below. BUT, the TWO most important pieces of advice I will give you are that:

    1) If you currently have 24K UA EQMs and 1K CO EQMs in 2011, you can become both a CO Silver Elite AND a UA Premier Member in a matter of days, and your status will be good through January 31, 2013 (or until you qualify at the next highest status level). Link your CO OP and UA MP accounts here:

    http://www.continental.com/web/en-US/apps/onepass/transferMiles/betweenPrograms/signInHome.aspx

    2) The newly combined UA/CO Mileage Plus program that exists in 2012 may not be as appealing given the nasty rumors swirling that elite levels will have not only an EQM component, but also a spend component. I reiterate that this is only rumor, but the rumor comes from somewhat trusted circles in the frequent flyer community. You can read the details here:

    http://boardingarea.com/blogs/onemileatatime/2011/08/11/rumor-possible-details-of-united’s-2012-mileage-plus-program/

    At next week's Star Mega Do 3 event (http://www.starmegado3.com/), folks from MIlePoint, including Randy Petersen, will meet with UA execs in Chicago, and we hope to glean specifics about the status of Mileage Plus, Lifetime Miles, and Million Miler status.

    Now to address some of AZjohn's points:

    You said you can fly out of EWR or IAD. From EWR there are nonstops to China (PEK, SHA or HKG) and from IAD you can fly to nonstop to PEK or BKK.

    But az AZ john said, if you fly *A partners, especially in economy fare classes, you indeed may not get 100% mileage credit.

    See my "two most important pieces of advice, #1" But yes, you always have to re-qualify every calendar year for the next year's elite status...welcome to madness that is mileage runs, taking extra flights/segments, and such!

    YES, there are ways to do this, but it requires conversions of miles to hotel points back to miles, and by the time you do this, you will have devalued your original miles in the conversion process (because it is not a 1-to-1-to-1 conversion rate). So I highly recommend AGAINST this course of action.

    I think AZjohn confused your "1K miles with CO" to mean that you are a 1K (i.e., 100,000 mile) flyer. If you were a CO Gold Elite or UA Premier Exec (both levels are 50K miles), CO Platinum (75K) or UA 1K, THEN you would be a *A Gold member, a benefit of which includes foreign *A lounge access. But since you are not yet Elite, let alone *A Gold, this will not help you in the short term.

    The Amex Platinum & Centurion ("black card") lounge benefit with CO does end effective October 1, 2011. You NEVER could get access to UA lounges on the Amex Plat or Cent cards. You CAN access the AAdmirals Clubs and DL SkyMiles Clubs with a same-day ticket and the Amex. You can also access US Chairman's Clubs without a same-day ticket and the Amex. Because Amex is losing CO as a partner for point transfers and President's Club access, they are sweetening the offer for U.S.-based members:

    1) You get a $200 credit that can be used to offset ancillary airline fees on one airline that you designate each calendar year. You may change airlines once a year in December, or you can stick with the same airline year after year.

    2) You get Priority Pass Select membership, which gives you access to lounges around the world - this benefit really helps overseas, however, and less so domestically in the U.S. (though before Oct. 1, 2011, the Priority Pass Select card can gain access to select UA lounges in the U.S.

    3) If you apply for the U.S. Customs and Border Patrol Global Entry program, and are approved as a trusted traveler, Amex will reimburse the $100 Global Entry fee (fee covers a 5-year GE membership).

    In all, the benefits listed above easily make the $450 AX Plat annual fee much more palatable. AX Cent is by invite only, based on higher spend patterns than are required for AX Plat, and if invited to join AX Cent, it comes with a $5000 buy-in, and a $2500 annual fee.

    Hope this helps. Again, welcome!
     
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  4. MSPeconomist
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    MSPeconomist Gold Member

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    You can also buy a regular Priority Pass membership (NOT Select) which will continue to cover some UA and CO lounges. There are different plans, starting with IIRC about $150 per year and about $30 per person for each lounge visit to over $400 for unlimited lounge visits and a few guest passes. Check their website to see whether airports you will use are covered and pay attention to security and other rules that can affect whether you can physically get to the lounge door.
     
  5. MrAOK
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    MrAOK Silver Member

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    While it may pay to wait for the credit card, if you are 1,000 miles short of elite status and can't get elite status by combining Continental and United miles, I'd look at doing a cheap trip before going.

    With elite you'd get economy plus seats on the trip to China and would have to pay for that otherwise (about $129 for each of you). By the way, if for some reason you don't do it, your elite status would kick in on the flight to China. That means two or three days after you get to China and United recognizes you as elite, you need to go to United's web page and change your return seats to economy plus (which will be free at that point).

    I believe you'd each get to take two bags for free instead of one, but you better check. (United now charges $70 for a second bag)

    The clubs are nice, but watch that you don't overpay for the benefits. United now offers advance purchase one time access to a club for $35, but that is per person.
     
  6. jetsetr
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    jetsetr Gold Member

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    You can get elite status by combining UA & CO EQMs. See my earlier post in this thread (post #3) regarding how to do this.

    The original poster (OP) won't have to worry about this if he combines his UA & CO elite miles now,

    Correct.

    The one-time pass pay-in-advance fee fluctuates. It's been $35 at certain times on the website, but mostly $39. Paying at the door is $50.
     
  7. dac729

    dac729 Active Member

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    Wow, this is REALLY exciting now! Both my wife and I are SO close to Elite on UA! Thanks for your advice. I combined UA and CO miles, but my CO miles were NOT EQMs. I applied for mileage credit from IST to MUC, which is 976 miles, according to Web Flyer. But, my wife and I flew that leg on Turkish, so MP says to "allow 4 weeks until posting," which would be only about 2 weeks before we fly to China. Too tight, and not enough EQMs anyway...

    BUT, here's the BIG news: if my wife and I can dig up between 1000 and 2000 EQMs before China, that will give us a mileage bonus on both China and Thai trips, which pretty much guarantees we could achieve 50 Elite status this year! It seems clear I need to get a UA credit card (with EQMs) pronto, so I can buy the China tickets on it for added bonus. What's best? MP Select Visa? Plat Class MP Visa Card?
    OR: how can I get UAMP to offer me one of those "challenges" I've read about?
    OR: how can I get in touch with a current Elite person who would "gift" Elite status?
    Thanks,
    DAC729
     
  8. jetsetr
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    jetsetr Gold Member

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    Not sure what you mean by "50 elite status" (did you mean 50,000 EQMs in 2011 for both you and your wife in your separate accounts?), but to clarify, while you will earn elite mileage bonuses if you are elite by the time you fly to China, those elite bonuses will NOT count toward elite qualification. Elite bonus miles are RDMs - redemption miles (miles that can be used for awards), not EQMs - elite qualification miles. Unless you mean you will be flying on a paid first/business first/business/full-fare economy ticket (for which you would earn "class of service" bonus miles which do count toward your EQM balance.

    Sure, this is a potential strategy, but i agree with AZjohn's original assessment that I would wait until the dust settles in 2012. There are bound to be lots of new offers coming. To date, the new Mileage Plus "Explorer Card" credit card from Chase is much to do about nothing, but that's coming from the perspective of a top-level elite with lounge access, so indeed, you may feel differently.

    In general, I wouldn't think about the short-term advantage of getting the credit card, just so that you can earn bonus miles (RDMs, not EQMs, mind you) for the trip you're about to take. Especially in this economy, IMHO, you need to take a long view regarding the best options for credit cards.

    However, if there is a "UA/CO credit card with EQMs" that you are specifically referring to, then this could change the equation, but I am just not aware of the specifics of what you mean.

    To get a challenge offer, you usually have to have some elite status with another airline, and usually not just the lowest level elite status. I don't think you will find much success here, but I could be mistaken.
     
  9. dac729

    dac729 Active Member

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    Ahh, I thought the mileage bonuses were EQMs. Tx for clarifying. No, we'll be flying coach (hopefully coach+ if I can dig up 2k EQMs pronto!).
    Re: EQM c. cds, consider this: Right now, we both have 23k EQMs. In Oct, R/T China from IAD is ~15k, and 1/W to Bangkok in Dec is 8800 (we'll return in early Jan). Total: almost 47k. So, it seems like we will both need 3k EQMs to make UA 50k status by Dec 31, and C. Cds are the easiest route, no? Best EQM cards? Other options? --thanks.
     
  10. jetsetr
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    jetsetr Gold Member

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    To clarify, my understanding is that your respective 23K EQMs are a result of your individual 2011 CO & UA accounts being combined for EQM purposes. If so, and if you and your wife will truly have ~47K EQMs each by December, I would look to book a cheap mileage run to get you to 50K (cheap defined as a flight that will help you meet your mileage objective at a cost of 4.5 cents per EQM or less). If you can't find 4.5 cents per EQM, it would still be worth it to do a run, IMHO.

    Note that IF you decide to fly another carrier's metal to Asia in economy, heed the earlier warnings about ensuring that the fare class (not the class of service booked), will give you maximum EQM credit. In some cases it will make a difference if you credit to UA versus CO.

    BUT - again, if you are flying another carrier's metal - if you are certain that the EQM earnings would be the same on either CO or UA, I would choose to earn credit in CO because at this time, partner flight EQM earnings count toward CO Lifetime Miles (for million miler status), but they do not count toward UA lifetime miles (a.k.a. "butt-in-seat" miles). There is speculation that the lifetime miles from each program will simply be combined (but this is speculation), and if so, you want to make sure your EQMs earned will count toward lifetime status.

    Lifetime miles and million miler status details for the "new" 2012 UA/CO Mileage Plus program will be announced soon. So right now, all of us are flying a bit blind.
     
  11. AZjohn

    AZjohn Silver Member

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    Hey dac,

    Seems like jetsetr, MSPeconomist, MrAOK has added a lot of help to your situation. Sorry I was getting a little confused between your UA Silver and 1K CO accounts :p.

    Anyways, because it seems that 2K-3K EQM’s (in simple terms this is Butt-In-Seat, but there can be additional methods to get them, just don’t want to confuse the issue right now) will yield you special 2P UA benefits you can use for your China trip AND help you get 1P UA (50K EQM) status at the end of the year, I agree 100% with jetsetr with doing a quick 1 day millage run on UA or CO.

    I’m sorry I don’t know where you are at, but hopefully you can find something $0.04 per mile and can afford to take maybe 6 hours of your time on a weekend. This is the easiest and surest way you will get you status and benefits for China and also for next year.

    If you are unsure about how to locate a MR (millage run) you can google it and see the results. I haven’t seen a form on the web site yet that members post on specific MR’s, but if you can’t find one there is another web site that might come up if you google (sorry, I’m trying to be very respectful of this new web site and don’t want to get in trouble). But hav a feeling many here know what I’m talking about.

    Let us know what you come up with,

    John
     
  12. dac729

    dac729 Active Member

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    Thanks for MilePoint. You have been much more friendly and responsive to my Rookie queries in FFP than FT. This week has been a steep learning curve for me, but I have summarized my UAMP options in a couple paragraphs below, if you don't mind giving me some more advice.

    I am 2,317 miles short of UA Elite (25K) status. Ditto for my wife. We'd like to have Elite before we fly to China October 14. But family and financial commitments prevent us from doing a mileage run. I see several other options to get these 2,300 EQMs, and seek your advice, please:

    1) Via US AIR: In April 2011, we flew 10,500 miles to Rio on US Air, but we credited those miles to our US Air accounts (yes, I regret that). I called US Air to ask if they would simply delete those miles, so I could instead request that mileage at UAMP (I saved all our boarding passes). No go. BUT, we have only the Rio points in US Air, so we don't mind cancelling our US Air accounts completely, and then requesting the Rio mileage through UAMP. Would that work? Are the UAMP computers "smart enough" to know that the Rio points were once credited to a US Air account that no longer exists?

    2) Via Credit Cards: I want to apply for a UA or CO EQM credit card, but cannot find one. Do you know a place where I can still apply for the Platinum Class Mileage Plus Visa or Select Visa Card? I have a $5,000 spend coming up soon when we buy our tickets (4 with kids) to China. Would the CO Presidential Plus C Cd solve our UA EQM problem, or do the CO points transfer to UA only as RDM's (I already linked my CO and UA accounts, but my wife has not yet)? Do I have to pay the $395 fee up front, or is that after several months of use?

    3) Purchase a Y class plane ticket with EQM maximizers, then cancel the ticket and keep the EQMs I paid for?
    Are there other options I haven't thought of, besides the Mileage Run? I tried to search for posts relevant to my query, with no luck. Please let me know if there's a thread I missed.
    Thanks for your help.
     
  13. jetsetr
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    jetsetr Gold Member

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    Won't work. UA will need to see copies of boarding passes and also verify the flights flown with US. "Cancelling" an account is not the same as "deleting" the data.

    Now that UA is pushing its "Explorer" credit card, no.

    No.

    ***ADDENDUM*** The reason the answer is "no" is because you earn 1000 "flex" EQMs for every $5000 spent. You will of course earn RDMs, too, but as you have learned here, RDMs are not EQMs.

    Yes

    If you can afford to do this, then the mileage run is cheaper (unless you *REALLY* can't spare the time for a quick turnaround), because to exercise this option, you need to first buy the RDMs, then add-on the EQMs.
     
  14. bonnerbl
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    bonnerbl Gold Member

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    :)This doesn't deal specificlly wth your situation but might help with future plans. When I decided to make 1K the first thing I did was figure out how many miles I had to fly per month, That 8,000 miles became my regular target. I live in SFO so it stuck in my mind I had to do at least transcontinental plus another "quickie". Fights to the East Coast or down into Mexico became prime targets to get big chunks of miles. Then I used other "quickies" to fill in. For example SFO-Houston-Milwaukee and return the next day.Or SF-ORL and back. Then every once in a while a much longer trip would open up somehere during the year (like Germany or the MegaDo or NewZeland/Australia).

    The next issue was the cost of those miles. I watch the mileage threads religiously as well as use FareCompare and KVS for the sales or deals. If a weekend jaunt is $250-$300 dollar with good miles I grab it. That is about what I would spend anyway staying at home that weekend <smile>. When I have what looks as a good deal I will also check the fare calendar to see if different day combos will cost less.

    I don't spend time travel hacking or paying attention to the fuel dump ideas. That is beyond me - have tried and tried to figure it out but the jargon etc makes it pretty opaque to me. This year I have been thinking about trying one of the advanced mileage runs with multiple segments and changes. Will be at the Chicago DO to learn new tricks - you might consider that as welll. Bottom line - status is achievable and not be at some exhorbitant price. Just pick a level, create a plan, and stick to the strategy. This is my second year as a 1K on leisure travel. Those upgrades are nice!
     
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  15. dac729

    dac729 Active Member

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    To all: thanks once again for your advice. My wife dug up some old flights and I just requested credit for those (Turkish Air and US Air, so it takes 4 weeks I guess). Looks like she is now only 635 miles from Elite Status! She has an upcoming round-trip SCE to IAD, which is only 266 miles R/T, is there any way she can turn on the EQM maximizer to triple her EQM mileage for that flight? I've never used the maximizer...
     
  16. jetsetr
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    jetsetr Gold Member

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    If the maximizer is offered (I'm not certain it's available for EVERY flight, but I'm not sure, since I've never used that option), remember that you will have to buy the extra RDM option first. Good luck.
     
  17. AZjohn

    AZjohn Silver Member

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    Hi dac729,
    As everyone with experiance is trying to confirm, BIS for this small amount of miles is really the best way to go. MR's aren't that bad, mostly for <3k miles. I have one in two weeks for 13K miles and only going to be gone less than 48 hours (including a night in a hotel).
    Also, the whole new CC thing as well as buying RDM's then EQM's can get really expensive if you only need <3K miles. And they also may take a long time to post miles in your account.
    Good luck,
    John
     
  18. Photonerd71

    Photonerd71 Silver Member

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    The elite maximizer (on the CO site) works out to .08 per mile. Don't know if its offered on the UA site though.

    Another option (which would be pricey) would be to after you get your China tics in Oct to go in and do the elite maximizer before you travel. These extra EQM's will post in a couple hrs, and you will have enough to get elite status before you fly w/o having to do a mile run. I did this myself last month as I was a few miles short of silver and wanted to get silver before a short business trip to WI. (Was a tad pricey but did get free upgrade to the big comfy seats on the return from ORD to IAH. the ORD-GRB was on the kiddie planes but did get the extra leg room seat)
     
  19. cvarming
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    cvarming Silver Member

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    With so little to go and a price of roughly $0.08 per EQM mile I would simply purchase a fully refundable ticket with continental for a short flight (lets say 650 miles), buy the RDMs and the EQMs using the maximizer, and cancel the ticket for a refund. I have done the steps for RDMs before at no hassle. The miles posted over night. 650 EQMs at $0.08 cent/EQM will only cost you $52 and then you can forget all your worries.
     

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