As something new, I am going to start a series of basic knowledge about the various FF programs and some tips and tricks that I have learned along the way. First up – United!

Airline: United
FF Program: MileagePlus
Flights: 5,446/ day to 370 airports
Aircraft: 700+ including the new 787
Alliance: Star Alliance
Club: United Club (Cost=$400-500/ year depending upon Mileage Plus status)

Why fly United?: Carries the most passengers of any worldwide airline. Hub locations in ten cities including the four largest in the U.S. (NY, LA, Houston, and Chicago). Non-stop or one-stop service to Asia, Australia, Europe, Latin America, and the Middle East. Star Alliance is the world’s largest meaning code shares to almost any part of the world.

FF Program at a glance: United’s program is a typical one where frequent flyers earn one mile for every mile flown. Bonuses are granted for RDMs based upon fare class and status. Bonuses are granted for EQM (known here as PQM) based upon fare class. Bonus EQM are sometimes announced on flights between certain cities and/or for flying certain higher priced fare classes. Actual miles can be determined with this calculator.


Eligible United fare classes Award mile earnings MileagePlus Bonus
Purchased fare class Base award miles

(including class of service bonus)

F, A (3-cabin Global First) 250% 150%
F, A (all other) 175% 150%
J, C, D 175% 150%
Z, P 150% 150%
Y, B 125% 150%
M, E, U, H, Q, V, W, S, T, L, K, G, N 100% 100%

Status is achieved at four levels. Status lasts from the date earned through the next calendar year to January 31st of the year after that. Soft landings generally do not occur and status can drop to GM immediately.


To achieve You must earn
Premier Silver 25,000 Premier qualifying miles or 30 Premier qualifying segments
Premier Gold 50,000 Premier qualifying miles or 60 Premier qualifying segments
Premier Platinum 75,000 Premier qualifying miles or 90 Premier qualifying segments
Premier 1K(R) 100,000 Premier qualifying miles or 120 Premier qualifying segments
Premier qualification is based on the calendar year (January 1 – December 31).

In addition, Global Services

At 75,000 EQM earn two Regional Premier Upgrades(RPU) and two more for each additional 25,000 EQM. At 100,000 EQM earn six Global Premier Upgrades (GPU) and two GPUs per additional 25,000 EQM. RPUs are good for one way upgrades within the 50 states, Caribbean, Central and South America. GPUs are good for upgrades worldwide but only on fares above “W” class, so not on Z, P, S, T, K, L, G, or N. If exrecises ahead of time, these upgrades will trump the fare class order mentioned above and put you ahead of all complimentary upgrades.

Tips and Tricks:

1. If you qualify, get the Veterans Advantage card. You get 5% off of all United and Lufthansa flights. I calculate the breakpoint of the cost of the card at $1299/ year. If you spend more than that, you will be saving money and that does not count any savings you get on all the other benefits of the card.

2. Join United For a $25 yearly fee, you get a flat $5 off every flight. The math is obvious here.

3. If you like United Club access, get the United Club Card from Chase. The annual fee is $395 and gives you club access plus 1.5 miles/ $. So for less then the normal cost of club membership, you also get the normal CC bonuses and special benefits such as no foreign transaction fees. Note that currently you get $100 statement credit which lowers the cost even more.

4. If your flight is cancelled or so delayed that they book you on to another flight, check and see what class they book you into. Often these last minute changes book into “Y” meaning 125% RDM and 150% EQM.

5. Gold status members have free lounge access to all Star Alliance lounges when flying on an international ticket, including U.S. clubs on the way overseas.

Posted by glenn | One Comment

One response to “Everything United”

  1. Jonathan says:

    United has, by far, the most functional online award booking engine of any airline. Combine that with their long list of partners and their flexible award routing rules, and it becomes quite clear that they have the best frequent flyer program of any US legacy carrier!

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