Airlines and hotels aren’t only competing against each other, they’re also competing to win over you — the loyal customer. In a fragmented economy, brand-loyal customers are difficult to come by. Because of this, airlines are doing their best to entice customers through automatic airline status.
Airline status is a great way to raise the bar on your flight experience. Status is typically earned through a mixture of number of flights taken or miles flown — or both. With airline status, you can earn perks such as seat upgrades, preferred boarding, lounge access, and more. If you fly on a regular basis or do long-haul flights a few times per year, committing to one airline could earn you status — and a comfier ride.
Even better, if the airline you commit to isn’t United, you can still “match” your status from your selected airline. In this article, you’ll learn what a status match is, how the United Status Match program works, and the specific things you’ll need to be aware of regarding the United Status Match promotion.
- What is a status match?
- How does the United Status Match program work?
- How United status corresponds to status from other airlines
- How to submit a request for a United Status Match
- Use a United credit card to amplify your new United status
- Things to be aware of about United Status Match
- The bottom line on United Status Match
What is a status match?
First let’s define “status.” Status simply means you’ve flown enough with a particular airline to be recognized within its frequent-flyer program at a certain level correlating with a specific set of benefits or privileges.
You’ll earn “status” once you fly a specified amount with a particular airline. Once you reach a given level of status, you can receive benefits such as free upgrades, free checked bags, and additional customer service.
Each carrier publicly lists its requirements to earn and maintain status in either “miles” (number of miles flown) or “segments” (number of flights flown). This system allows people to earn status whether they’re flying a bunch of short flights or a few longer flights.
So, this brings us to a few more terms related to the concept of “matching” status:
- Status match: A status match is a promotion where an airline will give you automatic status related to the status you already have with a competitor. In the case we’re discussing today, you can ask United Airlines to match your status with another airline.
- Status challenge: A status challenge begins with you requesting a status match. Then you’ll have a certain amount of time to complete the airline’s travel requirements. If you’re able to do so, you’ll be awarded your status match and the associated benefits.
- Status match with a status challenge: This is where it gets a bit different. A status match with a status challenge gives you airline status instantly while you’re completing the requirements to actually earn the status. With this type of promotion, you can enjoy the luxury of the airline status as you work through the conditions. If you don’t complete the requirements, the status will be taken from you.
All that said, each status match program works differently from airline to airline. Thankfully, the United Status Match program is quite simple to navigate.
How does the United Status Match program work?
The whole point of a status match is to lure you away from your loyalty with a competing airline. For example, United Airlines will status match against other large U.S. carriers, such as American Airlines or Delta Air Lines. So think of getting a status match as a “free trial” to experience how a certain airline treats its loyal flyers.
The United Status promotion falls under the definition of “status match with a status challenge” as explained above. Here’s how it works:
- Once you have status with another airline, you apply for United Status Match (we’ll go over how that works below).
- Once your Status Match Request has been approved, you have 90 days to complete your travel conditions.
- If you’re able to meet the requirements, you’ll be able to keep your United status.
The travel requirements to fulfil your Status Match are that you must fly a certain amount, measured in either Premier qualifying miles (PQMs) or Premier qualifying segments (PQSs). PQMs are earned through the amount of miles you fly and the fare class you booked. PQSs are earned through the amount of flights you take, plus the fare class you booked. Why the two different measurements?
- If Bob is flying from Los Angeles to Las Vegas and back once a week for work, he’s racking up tons of flights but not many miles flown. For Bob, it would be unfair if the requirement was to fly at least 15,000 miles for status.
- If Jenny is flying from New York City to London and back once a month for work, it would be very difficult for her to obtain status if the requirement was solely based on number of flights.
So the answer to this question is that airlines have elected to recognize both those who fly often and long-haul flyers alike.
During the 90-day period status challenge period, the requirements to earn your status are as follows:
|MileagePlus Premier status||PQM or PQS requirements|
|Premier Silver||Fly 7,000 PQM or eight PQS on flights operated by United or United Express|
|Premier Gold||Fly 12,500 PQM or 15 PQS on flights operated by United or United Express|
|Premier Platinum||Fly 18,000 PQM or 22 PQS on flights operated by United or United Express|
Which MileagePlus Premier status you’ll be aiming for depends on the status you have with the other airline. We’ll go over how all the levels of status correlate later in the article.
In the meantime, to find out how many PQMs and PQSs you’ll earn on a certain flight, follow these steps:
- Book your flight using United’s advanced search page. Be sure as you’re filling it out to click “Yes” on “Show mileage earnings in search results.”
- On the next page, you’ll get your results. With each one, there will be a “Details” tab. From there, you can see what you’ll be earning on each flight.
With this tool, you can strategically plan to meet the requirements for the United Status Match program.
If you’re able to complete the requirements for your United Status Match, you’ll have status for up to 19 months. If you earn your status between July 1 and December 31, you’ll enjoy your status until January 31 two years in the future. So, if you earned your status in the second half of 2019, your status will be good through 2021. If you earn your status between January 1 and June 30, you’ll have status until January 31 of the next year. So, if you earned your status during the first half of 2020, your status would also be good through 2021.
Keep in mind that once you officially qualify for your United status, you must complete additional requirements before it expires to maintain your status beyond that date.
How United status corresponds to status from other airlines
If you have status with another airline but are interested in giving United a try, you have a world of opportunity in front of you. The chart below shows the status you may currently have and the matching United Airlines status.
|United Status||Premier Silver||Premier Gold||Premier Platinum|
|Delta Air Lines Medallion Elite Status||Silver||Gold||Platinum|
|American Airlines AAdvantage Elite Status||Gold||Platinum||Platinum Pro|
|Southwest Airlines Rapid Rewards||A-List||A-List Preferred||N/A|
While this isn’t a comprehensive list, you can see the full lineup of all 44 airlines and levels of status that qualify for matching when you submit your United Status Match application.
How to submit a request for a United Status Match
You can request a United Status Match online by logging into your MileagePlus account. If you don’t have a MileagePlus account, simply go to United.com and click on the MileagePlus link on the far-right side of the screen. Signing up will take you about two minutes.
Once you have a MileagePlus account, you can complete the Status Match Challenge form, which will require the following information:
- Your full name, mailing address, and email address
- Your MileagePlus account number
- A copy of your membership card from the current airline status you hold. The card must show the expiration date on it.
Don’t expect an answer right away, as United states it will take seven to 14 business days to process and issue the new status.
If you complete the requirements for the United Status Match promotion within the 90-day period, your account will be updated within five to seven business days. Your membership materials should arrive in your mailbox four to six weeks after that.
How to time your United Status Match request
Time your Status Match application while keeping in mind any upcoming travel you already have planned. You don’t want to file a Status Match without any trips on your horizon, as you do so every five years. So don’t apply if you aren’t 100% sure you’ll be able to hit the requirements. If you’re planning on several business trips in the near future or a good amount of summer travel, filing for a Status Match may make sense.
If you fly frequently and choose when you want to Status Match, it makes the most sense to apply July 1 and earn your status quickly — because then you’ll enjoy roughly a year and a half of United status. How does that work?
- Your 2019 status (if earned after July 1, 2019) will be valid until January 2021.
- If you were to earn the United Status Match immediately after July 1, that could give you 19 full months of status with United.
Use a United credit card to amplify your new United status
To increase the value of your new status with United, consider applying for a United Airlines credit card or another travel rewards credit card. Each of them will give you various perks to make your flying experience with United even better.
|Card name||Sign-up bonus||Earning rate||Annual fee|
|United Explorer Card||Earn up to 40,000 bonus miles after spending $2,000 in the first 3 months||2X miles at restaurants, hotel accommodations booked directly with the hotel, and eligible United purchases; 1X miles on everything else||$95 (waived first year)|
|United Explorer Business Card||Earn up to 100,000 bonus miles: 50,000 bonus miles when you spend $5,000 on purchases within the first 3 months, plus earn an additional 50,000 miles after you spend $25,000 on purchases in the first 6 months (limited time offer)||2X miles per $1 spent at restaurants, gas stations, office supply stores and on United purchases, plus 1X mile per $1 spent on everything else||$95|
|United MileagePlus Club Card||Earn 50,000 bonus miles after spending $3,000 in the first 3 months||2X miles on United purchases and 1.5X miles per dollar spent on all other purchases||$450|
|Chase Sapphire Preferred||Earn 60,000 points after spending $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months||2X points on eligible dining and travel, and 1X points per $1 on all other eligible purchases||$95|
United Explorer Card
The United Explorer Card is perfect for someone who flys with United even as little as once or twice per year. With no annual fee the first year along with great perks, you can earn rewards quickly.
With the United Explorer Card, you’ll earn 2X miles at restaurants, hotel accommodations booked directly with the hotel, and eligible United purchases; 1X miles on everything else. Along with the earnings on your purchases, you can also earn up to 40,000 bonus miles after spending $2,000 in the first 3 months. Additionally, you can get up to a $100 statement credit for Global Entry or TSA PreCheck, which are incredibly helpful to expedite your security screening.
While you’re flying, you’ll also earn 25% back as a statement credit on inflight purchases such as food, beverages, or Wi-Fi when you pay with the United Explorer Card. The primary cardholder and one companion traveling on the same reservation will also each get their first checked bag free. If you and your significant other, for example, were to travel somewhere with checked bags on a round-trip itinerary, that could cost up to $120. With the United Explorer Card, you can avoid these pesky fees.
Lastly, this card gives you Complimentary Premier Upgrades, otherwise known as “CPUs.” With a CPU, you and a guest traveling on the same itinerary will both be recognized at the highest level of status on United between the both of you. As long as your companion purchases a full-fare economy ticket (not basic economy), they’ll be eligible to use a CPU. Keep in mind that a CPU is only applicable to paid fares. Award tickets aren’t eligible, and all upgrades are subject to availability.
United Explorer Business Card
The United Explorer Business Card is great for someone who owns a small business and is looking to save money on business travel. With the United Explorer Business Card, you can earn up to 100,000 bonus miles: 50,000 bonus miles when you spend $5,000 on purchases within the first 3 months, plus earn an additional 50,000 miles after you spend $25,000 on purchases in the first 6 months (limited time offer).
Along with a healthy sign-up bonus, you’ll earn 2X miles per $1 spent at restaurants, gas stations, office supply stores and on United purchases, plus 1X mile per $1 spent on everything else. You’ll also get your first checked bag free when flying United, two one-time United Club passes per card anniversary, and priority boarding on your flight.
While this card doesn’t play into status, it does have a generous sign-up bonus, no foreign transaction fees, and more expanded spending categories than the personal United card.
United MileagePlus Club Card
The United MileagePlus Club Card is ideal for a frequent flyer. If you’re flying more than once a month, this card would be a great fit for your wallet.
The United MileagePlus Club Card comes with a laundry list of perks, including:
- You can earn 50,000 bonus miles after spending $3,000 in the first 3 months
- Access for either you and two adult companions or one adult and dependent children under 21 into United Club lounges. This includes access to Star Alliance member lounges, which are located around the globe
- You and a traveling companion will receive your first two checked bags free on United-operated flights when you include your MileagePlus number in the reservation and pay for the flight with your Club Card. Keep in mind that this is different than most airline cards. With many other airline cards — like the American Express Gold Delta SkyMiles Card — you don’t need to pay for the flight with the card to earn free checked bags. The card simply needs to be active.
- No foreign transaction fees
- Travel and purchase coverage
Chase Sapphire Preferred
While the Chase Sapphire Preferred isn’t a United co-branded card, it has incredible potential to earn you rewards that you can transfer to your United MileagePlus account. With this card, you can transfer the Chase Ultimate Rewards points earned on your card directly to your United MileagePlus account at a 1:1 ratio.
Along with the option to transfer your points, you’ll also enjoy a bunch of perks. You’ll earn 60,000 points after spending $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months. When you use your card, you’ll earn 2X points on eligible dining and travel, and 1X points per $1 on all other eligible purchases. And to add to the reasons why this is widely known as one of the best travel credit cards, you’ll also get trip cancellation and interruption insurance, auto rental collision damage waiver (primary coverage), baggage delay insurance, travel and emergency assistance services, and trip delay reimbursement.
With Chase Ultimate Rewards, you can transfer points to United MileagePlus or other airline rewards programs. That’s what makes Chase Ultimate Rewards so valuable. The Chase Sapphire Preferred doesn’t play directly into United status, but with its great sign-up bonus and ability to transfer to United, you could be on your way to an award flight in no time.
Things to be aware of about United Status Match
With the United Status Match, there are a few things you need to keep in mind:
You’ll receive most of the benefits of having status with United during your 90-day trial. You may not have access to the same benefits across United’s Star Alliance partners, including lounge entry.
You can only apply for a United Status Match every five years. Before applying, be confident that you’ll be able to complete your Status Match requirements as you won’t have another opportunity for a while.
Lastly, if you already have Star Alliance Silver or Gold status, you’re excluded from the United Status Match promotion. United belongs to Star Alliance, so having Silver or Gold status already grants you elite status across all 27 of the alliance’s airlines.
The bottom line on United Status Match
The United Status Match program is a fantastic way to try out a new airline. Airlines are constantly innovating their products and frequent-flyer programs to attract new customers. If you travel consistently for work or pleasure with one airline and already have status, consider giving United Airlines a shot. With newly announced routes to Switzerland, France, Italy, and Curacao, luxury seats on United are only a status match away!
#1 Travel Rewards Card
Chase Sapphire Preferred
Chase Sapphire Preferred
- 60,000 point sign-up bonus
- 2X points on eligible dining and travel purchases
- 25% more value when redeeming rewards for travel through Chase Ultimate Rewards
- Premium travel protection benefits
- No foreign transaction fees