Skift Take

United's making more friends within its loyalty ranks by giving away upgraded status.

Last month, United Airlines quietly launched a campaign aimed at bringing former elite customers back into the ranks of MileagePlus, the airline’s loyalty program.

The scope of that effort now appears to be widening, as the airline now seems to be broadening its outreach campaign and proactively boosting members’ elite status without notice.

First noticed on Flyertalk by gene2632, the broadened effort is pushing some MileagePlus members up one notch in elite status, for example, from Gold to Platinum or Platinum to 1K. Members still have to earn that status by flying the requisite number of miles that year — they just get to enjoy the premium status before it’s actually earned.

No official details on the campaign (including qualification criteria) have been released by United Airlines, though the carrier has acknowledged that “select members have been chosen to receive a step up” over social media. 1K members (earned after flying 100,000 miles each year) also seem to be exempt from the promotion as the next layer of status higher, Global Services, generally has a minimum revenue component attached and is only preserved for the most lucrative of United customers.

Indeed, those top tier 1K members may be the only cohort unhappy with the current offer from United. In a lengthy thread discussing the deal on FlyerTalk, a web forum focused on the airline industry, many Gold and Silver members excitedly reported their upgraded status, while 1Ks shared strategies for complaining to management.

Regardless of the unrest in the ranks, United appears to be bent on inflating the general elite status of MileagePlus members throughout the year, an effort perhaps tied to lower-than-expected subscriptions to its loyalty program. Bad news has heaped on the carrier over the last twelve months, including a near-coup on the board, a CEO with health problems, lagging on time performance and most recently an increase in consumer dissatisfaction. As loyal members consider leaving United for greener pastures, these incentives may be changing some minds.


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Tags: loyalty, mileageplus, united airlines

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