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United Airlines raises requirements for loyalty reward program's most elite premium status

United Airlines raises requirements for loyalty reward program's most elite premium status
People stand in line at a United Airlines counter at LaGuardia Airport in New York. The airline announced a higher spending minimum to qualify for Premier 1K status on its MileagePlus loyalty reward program. (Seth Wenig / Associated Press)

Starting next year, United Airlines will make it more difficult to reach the MileagePlus plans’ most elite status level — Premier 1K — but the carrier is offering a new perk for such top-tier fliers.

Starting Jan. 1, members of the loyalty reward program must spend a minimum of $15,000 and accumulate at least 100,000 miles or fly at least 120 segments to reach Premier 1K status, a 25% increase from the current spending minimum of $12,000. The mileage minimum won’t change, just the spending obligation.

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Another change involves how many miles travelers collect once they reach Premier Silver, Premier Gold, Premier Platinum or Premier 1K status. Instead of collecting the equivalent of twice the number of miles when they buy a discounted fare, Premier status members will get 1.5 times the number of miles, starting Jan. 1.

But fliers who reach Premier 1K status are already getting a benefit: Starting in September, such fliers got to board along with the very first passengers, during the “preboarding” period, instead of boarding with Group 1. Premier Gold members can now board with Group 1 instead of with Group 2.

Also, Premier Silver members now get to check up to three bags that weigh as much as 70 pounds apiece — up from a maximum of weight of 50 pounds — free of charge when flying business or first class. When flying economy, up to two bags are allowed.

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