Tim Foolery

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United Airlines – Premier Platinum

For years I’ve earned United Premier Gold Status – what use to be called Premier Executive.  This required flying 50,000 paid miles annually.  I first earned this status when I was flying back and forth to PDX when my dad was sick and have managed to keep that status for more than 8 years.  Luckily, I travel a bit for work each year, which helps me get a leg up on the status treadmill.

This year, I was able to achieve the next status level with United – Premier Platinum.  This threshold requires earning 75,000 Premier Qualifying Miles, plus $9,000 Premier Qualifying Dollars.  As I mentioned in a post earlier this month, I didn’t actually fly 75,000 paid miles this year, but with more reasonable pricing for premium cabin flights, I was able to earn bonus qualifying miles.  I found that I could pay for first class (domestic) for only $100 more round trip on many flights to the west coast. Paying for first changes your mileage earning – you get twice the Premier Qualifying Miles.  For an additional $100 round trip, that breaks down to just $12.50 per hour for the better seat, a mediocre meal and complimentary booze.  Mostly, it allows me more room to get work done on the flight – unfortunately, I can’t get reimbursed for first class tickets nor for paid upgrades.

So what does this status change actually mean?  You can take a look at the full benefits chart on United.com. For me, two biggest benefits – that I’ll actually use – are 1) Higher Priority for Complimentary Upgrades and 2) Increased Award Miles.

Higher Priority for Complimentary Upgrades.  As a Premier Platinum, my complimentary upgrade could clear 72 hours before departure, where the upgrades only clear 48 hours prior with Premier Gold.  If the upgrade doesn’t clear before departure, you are also higher on the upgrade list as a Platinum.  You’ll be behind Global Service Members and Premier 1K, but you’ll be ahead of Gold and Silver members. I will see how much this status bump actually impacts my ability to get complimentary upgrades.  I found, as a Premier Gold, I’d be often somewhere between number one and number 15 on the upgrade list — AFTER all the seats were taken.  I often would joke that I was the first loser on the upgrade game.  If the logic is true, then I should be seeing many more upgrades during my travel year in 2017.  Premier Platinum members also get two Regional Premier Upgrades, which put you even farther ahead on the upgrade list.  Since you only get two of those, I’ll need to plan my use strategically.

Increased Award Miles.  A few years ago, United changed the way in which you earn award miles – instead of being based on the actual amount of miles flown, times a multiplier based on your elite status, you know get award miles based on the cost of your airfare, times a multiplier.  That multiplier for Premier Gold is eight times the fare, with Premier Platinum you get nine times the fare.  While this isn’t a huge increase, it should give me an additional 9K miles each year.

premier-platnium-photo

You also get additional benefits like an extra checked bag for free – bringing your total to three bags for no charge.  Unless I’m fleeing the country or moving, there is no way I’m checking three bags. The idea of lugging that much luggage around gives me a panic attack.  One also with Premier Platinum status you board with Group One – as a Premier Gold you board with Group Two (the people who have the United Explorer Credit Card get to board with Group Two).  This isn’t necessarily a big deal, except when you are on a smaller plane with very limited overhead space.

How did your airline status end up this year?  Did you keep your status or were you like me, fortunate enough to make it to the next level?  What benefit, of any status level, do you most value?


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