United Airlines has quietly extended the MileagePlus Premier status of many account holders after giving no indication that it would in 2023 (and frankly every indication that it would not). It represents the persisting reality of air travel still compromised by the effects of the pandemic.
United Airlines 2023 Status Extension: Premier Status Extended Again Through Early 2024 For Many United MileagePlus Members
No official word has been released yet and not every member was targeted, but many MileagePlus members found their elite status extended another year last night.
All week, the elite progress indicator in our MileagePlus accounts looked something like this:
That was a good indication that something was going on behind the scenes. As it turned out, United was preparing to extend the elite status of many members. We are still gathering data points, but it seems that many with overseas addresses were specifically targeted and received notes like this:
For MileagePlus members in Asia, the status extension recognizes that 2022 was impacted by both limited flight schedules and lingering travel restrictions that made traditional Premier qualification almost insurmountable. However, these status extensions also targeted some MileagePlus flyers in the USA and Europe as well, who did not face similar restrictions.
On a personal note, I fall on the other side for the second year in a row. I made a push for 1K status at the end of the year, reasonably believing that United would not extend status again on a complimentary basis. One main reason I did so was out of hope that the herd of 1K members would be thinned out, making it possible once again to clear upgrades on domestic flights. It appears that will not be the case.
I will not wallow in indignation over “fairness” concerning these extensions (this argument still applies). At the same time, though, I cannot help but point out that the lack of upgrades really eviscerates the remaining value of 1K status (since award changes and redeposits are now free for all MileagePlus members).
No predictions from me on how my travel patterns will ultimately shape up this year – we’ll have to wait and see – but I do not believe United is helping itself by granting such extensions for three years in a row but leaving in place rather draconian policies to require for status this year (for example, 1K status will purportedly require $18,500 in spending this year, not even counting government taxes).
My ultimate response to this latest round of status extensions is a big shrug. Am I happy about it? Of course not, since I spent the money to actually re-qualify for status. But am I going to accuse United of being unfair? Nope. Status extensions are the prerogative of United and the carrier can certainly make reasonable arguments for doing so. The net result, however, is that people who have flown virtually nothing on United in three years may still retain top-tier status and that will certainly increase competition for upgrades both domestically and internationally. That disincentivizes those actually booking travel from flying on United.
Will this status extension change your travel patterns with United in 2023?
top image: United