As airlines get ready to rethink their operations and vie once again for customer trust, various legacy carriers are paying some attention to their loyalty programs and coming up with policies that will comfort customers during these uncertain times.

Delta Air Lines was the first U.S. carrier to offer up an extension window that will allow frequent flyers to hold onto their elite status during these times. Now United Airlines is stretching 2020 Premier Status for MileagePlus members through 2022.

"From the onset of this crisis, we committed to doing what is right and fair for all of our members," said Luc Bondar, vice president of loyalty at United. "Over the years, our members have placed their trust and loyalty in United, and through the various initiatives we're laying out today, we are reiterating our mutual commitment and loyalty to them. When they are ready to travel with us again, we will be there for them. And in these unprecedented times where it seems like every day brings new challenges, it's an honor to share positive news that will – I hope – put a smile on the faces of our loyal customers."

At a minimum, all MileagePlus Premier members will retain the status they earned for 2020, through January 2022, and, for the 2021 status year, United is reducing thresholds for Premier qualification by 50 percent for each status level, to make reaching an even higher status tier easier.

Doubling Down on MileagePlus

By lowering thresholds for each Premier tier, for the first time ever, United is increasing the maximum number of premier qualifying points (PQPs) United Explorer and United Club credit card holders can earn through card spend toward status in 2021.

From May 1 through December 31, 2020, United will be offering a promotion that doubles the maximum PQPs for United Explorer credit cardmembers and quadruples the maximum PQPs for United Club cardmembers to help customers achieve a higher level of status. More details on this promotion will be available in the future.

In addition, United is increasing the ability for Premier members to use their upgrade benefits. To that end and for the first time, the airline is offering a six-month extension for all PlusPoints, which is the currency used for systemwide upgrades, that are set to expire on or before January 31, 2021. United is also expanding the availability of “Skip Waitlist” – an upgrade option that allows Premier 1K members to confirm upgrades at the time of booking and to more long-haul flight choices.


For customers who purchased annual membership and subscription benefits directly from United, the expiration will be extended by six months, ensuring that they receive the full value of their benefits when they are ready to start flying again. This includes United Club℠ memberships purchased directly from United and purchased subscriptions for Economy Plus®, United Wi-Fi℠ and checked bags.

Fees Waived

To provide customers with more flexibility, United is extending electronic travel certificates (ETCs) and waiving redeposit fees for members who booked travel using award miles. ETCs will now be valid for two years from the time of booking. The airline is also waiving all redeposit fees for members who have flights booked through May 31, 2020 and will be waiving fees for all members who cancel their flights at least 30 days before departure for the remainder of 2020.

All of the changes mentioned above will be updated automatically and reflected in customers' accounts in the coming weeks. For more information on these changes, click the UAL Hub Team Page here. At minimum, flyers will enjoy the same published status next year that they have today, up to Premier 1K®.