United MileagePlus: Is Premier Status Worth It For Me?

Discussion in 'Newbies' started by HappyJim, Jul 29, 2012.  |  Print Topic

  1. HappyJim

    HappyJim Member

    Messages:
    14
    Likes Received:
    13
    Status Points:
    25
    Hi all,

    Hi all. I'm new here and I hope to one day contribute.

    Right now, I'm trying to figure out if it's worth it (for me personally) to spend $$ to achieve Premier or Premier Exec status on United when the only perk I care about is the free upgrade to Economy Plus Seating, or even First Class seating, when available.

    What if I was a non-status member and merely upgraded my cheap seats with MileagePlus miles? How many miles would that generally cost?

    So to be more specific, let's say I purchased cheap economy round-trip seats between the following cities. What would an upgrade cost in MileagePlus miles to get me into an EconomyPlus seat, or a First Class seat?
    • New York -> Los Angeles
    • Chicago -> Las Vegas

    Thank you all for the wealth of information here!
     
    yarasalem, 8MiHi, tommy777 and 2 others like this.
  2. sobore
    Original Member

    sobore Gold Member

    Messages:
    12,421
    Likes Received:
    33,847
    Status Points:
    16,520
    Welcome to Milepoint HappyJim. :)

    A couple things to consider, as a silver member the upgrade to E+ is no longer at the time of booking, so it's no longer a sure thing. I do not believe you can upgrade to E+ with miles.
    Your miles may be better spent on an international itinerary vs. a domestic upgrade.
    If you are able to achieve a higher level of status, you would have a better chance at the 'elite upgrade', however ORD and LAX tend to have many elites you would be competing with for the upgrade.
     
    HappyJim likes this.
  3. mommypoints

    mommypoints Gold Member

    Messages:
    864
    Likes Received:
    2,476
    Status Points:
    1,145
    If you usually buy up to E+ regularly then there are usually still E+ seats at 24 hours out
     
    HappyJim likes this.
  4. mommypoints

    mommypoints Gold Member

    Messages:
    864
    Likes Received:
    2,476
    Status Points:
    1,145
    Sorry iPhone accidentally sent the comment....meant to say it could be worth it if you regularly buy up to E+ anyway. There are usually seats available at 24 hours out.
     
  5. NYCUA1K

    NYCUA1K Gold Member

    Messages:
    4,745
    Likes Received:
    5,088
    Status Points:
    4,270
    I think that you would need to aim for at least Premier Gold for the elite status to really make a difference since that would make you eligible for E+ at booking, increase (very slightly) your chances for complimentary upgrades, and, importantly, if you do any kind of intl travel, get Star Alliance (*A) Gold status that will give you access to international lounges, and for long-haul trips you can quickly stock up on redeemable miles because you would get 50% bonus miles for each mile flown. The complete list of perks is here: http://www.united.com/web/en-US/content/mileageplus/premier/default.aspx

    Welcome to MilePoint!
     
    HappyJim likes this.
  6. HappyJim

    HappyJim Member

    Messages:
    14
    Likes Received:
    13
    Status Points:
    25
    I previously had Premier or Premier Exec status until 2011 but lost it. During that time, after purchasing an economy ticket, I was always able to login to the United website and change my seats: if EconomyPlus seats were available, I was always able to change my seat to them. Is that no longer the case?

    Also, at other times, when I didn't have any Premier status, upon check-in at the Airport Kiosk, I was usually given the option to upgrade my seat to EconomyPlus (assuming seats were available) and the upgrade usually cost X miles. I never paid attention to those offers, but now I'm curious about how many miles it would take to upgrade the seat at check-in. If X was low enough, my thinking is that maybe it's cheaper simply to use miles to get the upgrade to EconomyPlus, which is the only perk I really care about.

    Does anyone know how many miles this upgrade usually costs? Or are you saying this isn't really possible anymore?
     
  7. NYCUA1K

    NYCUA1K Gold Member

    Messages:
    4,745
    Likes Received:
    5,088
    Status Points:
    4,270
    E+ is no longer available to Premier Silvers (formerly known as Premier) at booking; if E+ space is still available at check-in then a Silver can grab it.

    As for purchasing E+, I am not sure that there is a fixed number of miles for it, but the option to purchase it is available at the time of booking:

     
    HappyJim likes this.
  8. HappyJim

    HappyJim Member

    Messages:
    14
    Likes Received:
    13
    Status Points:
    25
    Thanks for all the helpful information. But, it wasn't quite what I was looking for (though it might be helpful later on). Maybe I should restate:

    Every time someone (who isn't a Premier Silver or Gold member) checks in at the airport for a United Flight at an automated Kiosk, then are given the option to upgrade their seats to Economy Plus (if such seats are available). The upgrade can be paid for in dollars or miles. All I'm asking here is this: what does that upgrade typically cost is one chooses to pay in miles?
     
  9. NYCUA1K

    NYCUA1K Gold Member

    Messages:
    4,745
    Likes Received:
    5,088
    Status Points:
    4,270
    I believe I answered that question:If there is an option to pay for E+ with miles, you will find out how many miles you need when you actually go to make a purchase. I may be mistaken but I do not think that there is a published table of the number of miles you need to purchase E+. I just tried to purchase E+ and what it did was to take me to my current reservations, meaning that E+ purchase is made in conjunction with a booking or an existing reservation, which might determine the price in $$ or miles.

    The UA website seems to suggest what I just stated above:
     
    HappyJim and 8MiHi like this.
  10. HappyJim

    HappyJim Member

    Messages:
    14
    Likes Received:
    13
    Status Points:
    25
    Thanks again for helping out. I'd prefer not to purchase a United ticket, and then try to upgrade the seat to Economy Plus in order to determine how many miles it costs. What I'm hoping for instead is that someone could tell me how many miles (in actual numbers) that typically costs before I purchase the ticket. It doesn't have to be exact, an estimate would do.

    Why do I want to know this? I live in an area that isn't well served by United, or any other airline. If I were to focus solely on achieving Premier Silver/Gold status on United, instead of buying the cheapest ticket at each point in time, it would cost a lot extra in raw ticket price over the course of a year. Maybe $2,000 extra (over a year). So, since the only benefit (for me) of having that Premier Status is the possible upgrade to EconomyPlus, I'm wondering what the raw cost would be to buy those upgrades in dollars or miles. If that number is less than the increased ticket prices ($2,000 over a year), then it makes sense to simply buy the cheapest ticket at the time, not achieve status on any one airline, and use the savings obtained to upgrade the seat. Does that explanation help explain?

    I'm basically looking for a numeric estimate of the amount of miles/dollars it costs to upgrade a seat from Economy to Economy Plus. Even if there's no exact formula published online, every United traveler who doesn't have Premier status has this choice whenever they fly.

    Thank you.
     
  11. mattsteg
    Original Member

    mattsteg Gold Member

    Messages:
    3,278
    Likes Received:
    5,543
    Status Points:
    4,170
    $2000 extra buys a lot of E+. If you anticipate the cost of sticking with United for a year to obtain silver status to be that high, then I don't see where it makes great sense to try to be loyal. What are your other options, and what's normally cheapest?

    $2000 seems really steep unless you're buying a ton of last minute tickets. Assuming you'e on all short-hops and barely make *gold* It's over $30 a segment, so at a minimum $60 per round trip, and if you're poorly covered that would typically mean connecting all the time, so really more like $120+ premium per ticket. That seems like a figure you'd be nuts to pay for domestic coach travel. If your flying level is lower (and your emphasis on silver suggests it may be) the $2000 number would have you regularly paying a $200 premium to fly united, by my estimate. Before looking at upcharges for E+, do you value it just the amount of the fare differences you'll apparently need to pay?
     
    HappyJim and HaveMilesWillTravel like this.
  12. HaveMilesWillTravel
    Original Member

    HaveMilesWillTravel Gold Member

    Messages:
    12,506
    Likes Received:
    20,199
    Status Points:
    16,520
    I didn't even know until this thread that UA was selling E+ upgrades for miles. If they do, I would expect it to be a bad value proposition compared to other usages of the same miles.
     
    8MiHi and desamo like this.
  13. NYCUA1K

    NYCUA1K Gold Member

    Messages:
    4,745
    Likes Received:
    5,088
    Status Points:
    4,270
    I just tried to do a dummy purchase of E+ on my existing reservations but, being 1K, E+ is already available to me so there is no option to actually purchase it, although it took me to "my reservations" from the UA website FAQ on purchasing E+. Maybe a Silver who has already booked a trip or is about to book one can explore the additional option of purchasing E+ and report on the requirement in terms of $$ and miles?
     
    HappyJim likes this.
  14. HappyJim

    HappyJim Member

    Messages:
    14
    Likes Received:
    13
    Status Points:
    25
    Well, in order for me to determine whether it's a good or bad value proposition, I'd have to know how many miles it cost to do the upgrade:
    • If the E+ upgrade cost 100 miles, then it's worth it,
    • If the E+ upgrade cost 1,000 miles, it's still probably worth it.
    • If the E+ upgrade costs 10,000 miles, it's probably not worth it.
    It doesn't seem like anyone here has an estimate numbers (which is understandable: you people have high enough status that you wouldn't ever consider this). I wonder where I can find those numbers.
     
    8MiHi likes this.
  15. HaveMilesWillTravel
    Original Member

    HaveMilesWillTravel Gold Member

    Messages:
    12,506
    Likes Received:
    20,199
    Status Points:
    16,520
    I'd guestimate that they probably value the miles at 1 cent per mile, so if the upgrade costs $50, they'd want 5000 miles. How did I come to that conclusion? That's the typical valuation when you "buy" stuff with miles from United.
     
    HappyJim, 8MiHi and bucketlist like this.
  16. desamo

    desamo Gold Member

    Messages:
    9,320
    Likes Received:
    10,970
    Status Points:
    14,975
    Current config on most (p.s.) planes for JFK-LAX is an all E+ or higher, but those planes (13 of them) are being converted to E, E+, and C.

    Never seen E+ upgrade for miles.

    I think the status point you're looking for is Premier Gold, which allows you to select E+ at purchase, where Premier Silver, the lowest tier, it's at check-in.
     
    HappyJim and 8MiHi like this.
  17. NYCUA1K

    NYCUA1K Gold Member

    Messages:
    4,745
    Likes Received:
    5,088
    Status Points:
    4,270
    I am not even sure if E+ can be purchased with miles. I just logged out as 1K and did an anonymous dummy booking to see at which point it would offer the option to purchase E+. It does so when it asks you to select a seat but before you pay for the purchase. The dummy booking I just did is for ORD-SFO. The E+ option shows up and it starts at $39, but there is no "pay with miles" option, which indicates that the exact fee would be assessed and included in the final ticket price at check out.
     
  18. desamo

    desamo Gold Member

    Messages:
    9,320
    Likes Received:
    10,970
    Status Points:
    14,975
    I'm silver, so I can address the E+ cost from my own bookings, which aren't exactly the same itineraries.

    Here's some data points out of my itins.

    Chicago - San Francisco, we booked in T one way and S the other (two of the cheaper United fare classes). One flight has since essentially sold out, so our offers are 20k miles per person each way to upgrade to first, or $554 on the T leg and $2735 on the S leg (per person).

    E+ on those flights ranges from $44 to $54 pp.

    I don't have any data on SFO-EWR because all my flights that involve EWR are either not direct flights from the west coast (because it's a mileage run) or because I've already been upgraded (or in one case, bought an F ticket as it was the lowest available).

    As another data point, SFO-FRA (Frankfurt) E+ cost runs $105-149.
     
  19. glovestravel

    glovestravel Active Member

    Messages:
    8
    Likes Received:
    12
    Status Points:
    70
    My collegue got upgraded on 3/4 segments last month as Premier Silver. Traveling on E fares (5th bucket) from LAX-IAH-MGA redeye outbound, midday inbound (wed) on both.

    It's rare, but he's cleared more this year than I have as a Gold.

    Usually odd segments or random times. My travel is mostly transcon for work, so no love for less than GS
     
    HappyJim likes this.
  20. HappyJim

    HappyJim Member

    Messages:
    14
    Likes Received:
    13
    Status Points:
    25
    Hmmm. Looks like United used to have an 'Economy Plus Annual Pass' which they sold for about $400 or so. This allowed you the ability to upgrade to EconomyPlus seats from Coach if available. But, unfortunately they don't seem to offer this anymore.
     
    Sunshine7 likes this.
  21. Sunshine7

    Sunshine7 Silver Member

    Messages:
    301
    Likes Received:
    911
    Status Points:
    635
    Correct. It was one of the things that went away with the merger.
     
    cvsara likes this.
  22. cvsara
    Original Member

    cvsara Gold Member

    Messages:
    3,502
    Likes Received:
    4,545
    Status Points:
    2,670
    Go figger. A lot of things we (Pre merger elites) had went away. IMO, that every level of status that elites had on the old UA, and drop it down a notch. Maybe even a notch and a half.
     
    Sunshine7 likes this.
  23. Richard Chen
    Original Member

    Richard Chen Silver Member

    Messages:
    86
    Likes Received:
    115
    Status Points:
    355
    Whether UA will ever actually have I (Saver Business) on LAX-JFK for any date for this "lowly" Silver will decide if Premier is worth it. Looks like they 0 it permanently (have had a waitlist sit for 8mos, checking on united.com for any date set shows 0 even for most flights' economy reward seats), such misfortune for me so my UA loyalty after 420,000 lifetime miles mostly from EWR winds down.
     
  24. Photonerd71

    Photonerd71 Silver Member

    Messages:
    762
    Likes Received:
    973
    Status Points:
    770
    You do realize this thread is 2 years old right? Sent using a small piece of fruit.
     
    8MiHi likes this.
  25. howtofreetravel

    howtofreetravel Active Member

    Messages:
    28
    Likes Received:
    27
    Status Points:
    80
    If you want to fly business class and first class you gotta use miles to book an award ticket upgrading is never worth it
     

Share This Page