kaisatsu asked in TravelAir Travel · 1 decade ago

What are the advantages of United MileagePlus Elite status?

We're one flight away from reaching Elite status on all of our frequent flyer accounts, so we're trying to decide which one to use. I'm leaning towards United MileagePlus, because we fly their Star Alliance partners (SAS and Lufthansa) quite a lot.

What kind of advantages would we get with United "Premier" Elite status? What about on non-United Star Alliance partner flights?


I've read the information on the website (PS - there's a difference between "Premier" and "Premier Executive") and am more looking for first-hand experience. Things like:

- How much better are the Economy Plus seats, and do you have any trouble booking them?

- How often do you get receive complimentary upgrades?

- Do you save time with priority check-in, and can you use the business class line on partner airlines or just United?

Basically, how does your travel experience differ with Premier-level Elite status? For example, with Continental's Elite status, you get priority luggage handling and a separate security line at Newark, which makes tight international connections much, much easier.

2 Answers

  • 1 decade ago
    Favorite Answer

    So that was a nice copy-paste from the United website, which is a nice summary of the published benefits, but I'll give you some real-world experience based on my current Premier (2P) and former Premier Executive (1P) statuses.

    2P: you need to have 25k Elite Qualifying Miles (EQM) or 30 Elite Qualifying Segments (EQS) in a calendar year to attain 2P status. The biggest benefits for me are:

    - Priority security lanes at some airports. I'm based in Chicago and frequently fly to San Francisco, so this works out very well. It doesn't mean much at non-United/Star hubs or where they are employing the Expert-Intermediate-Novice security scheme.

    - Priority boarding. You get boarding zone 1. The only people that board ahead of you are First/Business class, Premier Executive 100k (top tier, aka 1K), and United Global Services (UGS - by invitation only for very high revenue customers). It can be crazy in the hubs (ORD, SFO, IAD), but still a nice benefit to be boarding ahead of the general masses.

    - Complimentary access to Economy Plus (E+). There are 3-4" of extra legroom compared to regular economy (called Economy Minus, or E-, by some). This makes a significant difference when you've got your laptop open, if you have long legs, like to stretch out, etc.

    - No checked baggage fees. You get 2 checked bags for free as a Premier customer. In fact, everyone on the same reservation as you gets their bags checked for free as well, regardless of their status (up to 9 people total). I am travelling to Hawaii in October with family and all 7 of us are exempt from baggage fees (I am the only elite).

    - 25% Redeemable miles (RDM) bonus on actual flight miles. This is a little help when accruing miles.

    - Dedicated customer service phone number. This slots you ahead of the general members (GM) when calling, but still behind 1P, 1K, and GS. You also still get routed to the India Call Center 90% of the time, but the wait is generally short unless there are massive irregular operations (eg, weather).

    - Star Alliance Silver status on *A member airlines. Not a ton of benefit, although some airlines (eg, US and Air Canada) will give you access to "preferred" seats.

    - Elite Choice. Once you attain 30k EQM, you can select an Elite Choice "gift" in addition to gifting someone Premier Associate (3P) status. The gifts range from things like carrying over 1500 EQM/1.5 EQS the next year to $25 gift certs. Premier Associate gives the recipient access to E+, priority boarding, and exemption from baggage fees. No bonus miles, though.

    - Ability to bring one companion with you into E+. If you are travelling as a party of two, both of you can sit in E+. If three of you, only 2 can sit in E+.

    - E500 accrual. These are upgrade certificates that are accrued at a rate of 4 for every 10k EQM earned. You are not guaranteed an upgrade, but you can get on the waitlist and use these as your upgrade instrument if you clear. If your flight is 1400 miles, you need 3 E500s. If it's 1501 miles, you'll need 4 E500's (you see how this works).

    - Automatic upgrades for certain fare classes (full fare economy). That is, you'll automatically be put on the upgrade waitlist for Y/B fares without having to use an upgrade instrument, but subject to availability.

    1P: You need 50k EQM or 60 EQS to attain this status. All the above benefits, plus:

    - 100% RDM bonus

    - Star Gold, which gives you lounge access when travelling internationally (eg, if you're flying

    - Another Elite Choice at 75K miles. You don't get another 3P gift, though.

    - Ability to book exit row seats. Only 1P's and up are allowed to pre-book exit rows.

    That's all I can think of off the top of my head. I encourage you to check out the Flyertalk message board, as there are many who are FAR more experienced and knowledgeable about the intricacies of air travel and frequent flyer programs than me. In any case, I believe I hit all your questions, but drop me a note if I missed something or if you have further questions.

  • 1 decade ago

    Exempt from Baggage Fees

    Elite members are exempt from first, second and third checked baggage fees for travel within the U.S. and Canada. Additional baggage charges may apply for checking more than three bags or if any bag is overweight or oversized. Visit united.com/baggage for more information about baggage policies.

    100% Premier Executive mileage bonuses

    As a Premier Executive® member, you will automatically earn a 100% redeemable mileage bonus every time you fly a paid United, TedSM, United Express® and US Airways flight. This redeemable mileage bonus is also valid on transatlantic Lufthansa flights between the U.S. and Europe. Bonus miles are in addition to the credit you receive for the paid miles you fly, based on the origin and destination of flights.

    Star Alliance Gold benefits

    Premier Executive level members also receive Star Alliance® Gold benefits when flying on any Star Alliance member. These benefits include:

    Priority airport check-in

    Priority reservations waitlist when the flight or eligible fare requested is full on any Star Alliance member airline

    Priority baggage allowance, which may allow one additional checked bag for a total of three on any Star Alliance flight where the piece concept applies in any class of service (OR an additional weight allowance where the weight concept applies)

    Priority airport standby (where allowed by law) if you do not have a confirmed reservation on a Star Alliance flight

    Priority boarding

    Star Alliance lounges

    When traveling internationally on any Star Alliance member airline, present your same-day international ticket and your Premier Executive card, and you may relax in any Star Alliance lounge. Look for the "Star Alliance Gold" sign outside eligible lounges.

    Elite Qualifying Miles (EQMs)

    Miles earned on most paid, published fares on Star Alliance member flights count toward your elite status qualification. United First® and United Business® bonuses also count toward elite status. So it's even easier to retain your Premier Executive membership, or to move up to the higher rewards of 1K® status.

    Million Miles and Beyond Rewards

    For details on these exclusive rewards

    Savings and bonus miles from Mileage Plus credit cards

    You can earn miles for every purchase you make with the Mileage Plus® Signature Visa®. As a Premier Executive member, you will have no mileage-earning limit.

    Discounts on Red Carpet Club membership

    You are invited to enroll in United's exclusive Red Carpet Club and enjoy the amenities of our private clubrooms in major airports around the world. As a Premier Executive member, you'll receive a discount off the annual membership dues.

    Important notes about your Premier Executive membership

    Unless otherwise stated, the terms and conditions set forth in the Mileage Plus Program Rules are applicable to the elite program, including rules for mileage accrual, award redemptions and conditions affecting the use of certificates, such as stopovers, open jaws and area of travel.

    All Mileage Plus miles earned on United, Ted and Star Alliance partner flights are based on origin and destination of paid flights.

    Qualification period

    Qualification is required each year, based on paid miles or segments flown between January 1 and December 31. The benefits for 2008 Premier Executive status presented here are for members who qualified in the 2007 calendar year or during 2008.

    As a Premier Executive® member, you are entitled to special upgrade privileges and priorities on United.

    Complimentary upgrades

    For every 10,000 paid, qualifying miles you fly as an Elite member on United, United Express®, or TedSM in a calendar year, you will receive four complimentary 500-mile E-UpgradesSM. These upgrades are valid for travel within Region 1 which includes North America, Hawaii, the Caribbean and Central America. 500-mile E-Upgrades are automatically deposited into your account when earned.

    Also, when you book a full fare economy electronic ticket (select Y or B fares*) for travel within the United States, Canada, Hawaii, Caribbean or Central America (Region 1), a request for an upgrade to the next class of service (Business or First) will automatically be placed in the member’s reservation. Upgrades are based on seat availability and may be confirmed up to 24 hours prior to departure. See the chart below. If traveling with a companion on the same reservation and itinerary, the companion will clear based on your status.

    * Eligible Y or B fares include Fare Basis Codes: Y, YUAS, YUA, Y2, YZ9L3, YZ9LT3, YZ9L3S, BUAS, BA3, BA3S, BUA and B2. Excludes governmental/military and some other fares.

    Your priority status with upgrades

    Upgrades are confirmed in the following order, at the following times before departure, based on availability:

    1K® members 100 hours

    Premier Executive® members 72 hours

    Premier® members 48 hours

    General members and non-members 24 hours

    You may request your upgrade when you reserve your tickets. You needn't call to confirm your upgrade. As a Premier Executive benefit, your upgrade will be confirmed automatically, based on availability. Or you may receive priority standby status at the gate.

    Purchased 500-mile E-Upgrades

    You are invited to purchase 500-mile E-Upgrades at the discounted prices shown below.

    Upgrade prices for elite members

    Four 500-mile E-upgrades US$200 (save US$125 off regular price)

    Prices subject to change without notice.

    Here are a few of the ways we put Premier Executive® members first:

    First on the phone: Premier Executive reservations

    To receive personal assistance in booking your worldwide flights, you or your travel agent can call our private Premier Executive Reservations service in the U.S., Canada and several locations in Asia, Australia, Europe and Central America. In other areas, your local United Reservations office will assist you. For a complete directory of elite reservations phone numbers, please refer to your Premier Executive brochure.

    First in line: Priority check-in

    Check-in for your United flights at the counters designated specifically for you. If no elite line exists, you are welcome to check in with our United First® customers at most major terminals in the U.S. and Canada. On international flights, you may check-in with our United Business® customers.

    You may also use Priority check-in counters when flying on any of our Star Alliance® member carriers. Look for the "Star Alliance Gold" sign for your Priority check-in position.

    United Economy Plus

    Complimentary for Elite members and a companion. United Economy Plus is an exclusive area of 6 to 11 rows in the United Economy section, offering up to an additional 5 inches of legroom. Advance seating is available at the time of booking on a first-come, first-served basis; member must also have Elite status at the time of travel to retain reserved Economy Plus seats. Economy Plus® is available on all United and Ted aircraft.

    Complimentary Upgrades

    When seating is available, Premier Executive members who book select Y or B class tickets within Region 1 (U.S., Canada, Caribbean, Central America and Mexico) will automatically be upgraded to the next class of service: Business Class on a three-cabin aircraft, First Class on a two-cabin aircraft.

    Priority on the waitlist

    If a United flight you want is full, you can be added to the waitlist for seats that may become available. Your priority status on the waitlist is determined first by the fare you purchase, with highest fares getting highest priority. Then, within each fare, priority is based on your Mileage Plus® status. For award travel, your place on the waitlist is determined first by status, then by the time your request is made.

    Source(s): www.united.com
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