Elite Status Travel News

United Tries to Confuse Customers to Spin Their Negative Changes

wait one day
Written by Charlie

As a way to justify and spin their new elite changes, see how United tries to confuse their customers with new charts – instead of the way things have been.

A short while ago, I wrote about the new United elite qualifications for 2020 and beyond. I had to do a follow up as I really wanted to just vent a bit and did not want to do that (too much) in the other post. So, here is how United tries to create confusion to spin their negative changes.

United Opts for Confusion to Help With Spin

Link: Post on New United Elite Status for 2020+

Let’s start with this – United is the one that made their program. They don’t have another entity making the program rules and they have been using the same program for quite a while to let customers know how to achieve loyalty status. I think it is safe to say that many/most customers who have United elite status today know enough about the program to know if they have earned it or not.

Yet, United actually has tried to make their current elite earnings to be a big bowl of confusion. Here is what they said (in all of their own words!) to “help” their customers see how “confusing” the program has been:

Why are we making these changes?

Measuring Premier qualification based on the dollars you spend and number of flights you take rewards customers equally. We’re making these changes to ensure our most loyal members get the best value from their benefits.

We also wanted to get rid of factors like fare class multipliers, which made it harder to track your qualifying activity.

Today, you earn PQM and PQS based on fare class. Confused? We get it.

See that last part of the image? “Confused? We get it.” Ok…

Well, let’s see how United has actually showed this information for the last many, many years:

Ok, so that is a better graphic to explain the elite earnings, isn’t it? But, what if you don’t know what fare class you are about to purchase from United? Well, they have made that easy as well – all you need to do is to click “details” on the ticket option page to see this information:

How about that? That is also quite simple and helpful! Let’s take another look at it with the part about how many miles you would earn highlighted:

So, even if you didn’t want to have to check on the first chart what a “Z” fare would earn you in elite miles, United still has you covered and tells you you would earn 1,056 elite miles. Under the new program, you would only earn 1 PQF (flight segment – instead of 1.5 under the current program) and $329 PQP – but no elite miles.

It Does Not Stop There!

I’m not sure I even need to say anything about this part!


I wish United would just come out and say, “dynamics in the area of rewarding customers have shifted to reward based on spending. We want to lead the way in the airline space by doing just that. If you spend more with us, we promise to show you our appreciation by rewarding you with industry-leading benefits.” But, no, they instead try to treat us like we are stupid and that we cannot figure out, with the tools they have provided, how to earn elite status.

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About the author


Charlie has been an avid traveler and runner for many years. He has run in marathons around the world for less than it would cost to travel to the next town - all as a result of collecting and using miles and points. Over the years, he has flown hundreds of thousands of miles and collected millions of miles and points.
Now he uses this experience and knowledge to help others through Running with Miles.

1 Comment

  • Nice post. I’m trying to remember the last time United did something, anything really, purely to benefit the customer. Certainly not since Scott Kirby arrived. Now they’re working to burn their best and most engaged customers in favor of a much lower number of big spenders who don’t have to show any loyalty. At a certain point, screwing over your best customers just because you can is a bad idea. I think we’ve certainly reached that point.