How to Status Match With United Airlines [In-Depth Guide]

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Many travelers have abandoned the chase for elite airline status primarily due to the addition of minimum spending requirements with the airline in order to qualify.

Other travelers still find enough value in the perks and benefits that come with being an elite frequent flyer member, and they find a way to qualify each year.

It’s no wonder there are still plenty of status-holding flyers out there, as the list of elite benefits can be significant:

  • Upgraded seats
  • Priority boarding
  • Free checked bags
  • Change fees waived
  • Redeposit fees waived for miles when award tickets are canceled
  • Special assistance when things go wrong
  • Discounted or free lounge membership
  • Ability to change flights the same day without hassle or fees
  • Complimentary drink vouchers
  • International/domestic upgrade certificates

If you currently have airline elite status, you’re fully aware of the value. But what happens when you need or want to change your airline loyalty?

For example, your ability to re-qualify for elite status with Delta may be threatened if you move from a Delta hub city to a United hub city.

Fortunately, there is a shortcut you can take to match status from one airline to another, and we’re here to give you all the information to make that happen.

United Airlines is just one airline that offers a “status match”, along with AA, Alaska, & Delta, among others.

Here’s everything you need to know to request, receive, and qualify for a status match with United Airlines MileagePlus® frequent flier program.

What Is a Status Match and How Does it Work?

A status match is an opportunity for elite members in one airline’s frequent flier program to request a similar (matching) status with another airline.

The airline you don’t have status with will review your documented status with your current airline, and then grants you corresponding status for a specific period of time.

The elite status you have earned with your current airline of course remains intact — once your status is matched with the new airline, you will have dual status!

Not all airlines offer status matches and/or challenges, but fortunately United Airlines is one that does.

The Difference Between a Status Match and a Challenge

For starters, the airline you don’t have status with will grant you a status match, a status challenge, or a combination of these.

Here’s what that means:

Status Match

No minimum flying requirements are needed. You receive immediate matching status once your request is approved, and it continues for a specified period of time.

Status Challenge

You are required to fly a specific number of miles or segments within a period of time, usually 90 days. You do not receive elite status until the challenge is completed.

Status Match With a Status Challenge

You receive immediate elite status, and you keep that status level during the time you spend completing the challenge flying requirements until a specified expiration date.

United Airlines offers an initial status match for 90 days, and then requires you to complete a challenge during that time by flying a certain amount of miles or flight segments. If you complete the challenge, you’ll keep your status.

United Polaris Middle Seats
You’ll earn frequent flier miles faster and premium flight redemptions sooner with United MileagePlus elite status. Image courtesy of United.

United’s Status Match Program

United will match your current airline elite status to either their Premier Silver, Premier Gold, or Premier Platinum status levels.

Note that United does match other airline statuses at their discretion, but they only publish the matchups for Delta Air Lines and American Airlines.

Here’s how United’s status matches line up:

Corresponding United MileagePlus® Status
Premier SilverPremier GoldPremier Platinum
Delta Air Lines Medallion® Elite StatusSilverGoldPlatinum
American Airlines AAdvantage® Elite StatusGoldPlatinumPlatinum Pro

For example:

  • If you have American Airlines Platinum status, you would be matched to United Premier Gold status.
  • Delta Silver Medallion status would be matched to United’s Premier Silver, etc.

Bottom Line: United’s status match program aligns your current elite status with their equivalent elite status, and then requires you to complete flying requirements to extend the temporarily granted status.  

How and When to Submit a Status Match Request

Completing the Status Match Request

You can request a MileagePlus Premier Status Match Challenge online by logging into your United MileagePlus account, completing the Status Match form, and attaching the following information:

  • A copy of your current membership card for the airline you’d like to match status from
    • The membership card must clearly show your current elite status and the status expiration date

You can also submit a request for a United Premier status match via email (premiermatch@united.com) and include the following information:

  • Your MileagePlus account number
  • Your full name, mailing address, and email address
  • A copy of your current membership card for the airline you’d like to match status from
    • The membership card must clearly show your current elite status and the status expiration date

You can expect a response to your request within 7-14 business days.

The Importance of Timing

If you have a major trip or several trips planned on United Airlines, by all means request the status match to align with those trips!

If you have yet to book any United flights, you may want to time your status match request and completion to maximize the length of time the granted status will be valid.

Consider these time frames when requesting and completing your status match challenge:

  1. If you complete the status match requirements prior to July 1, you will have status through the current year and through January of the following year.
  2. If you complete the status match requirements after July 1, you will have status through the current year, for the entire next year, and through January of the following year.

Here are a few examples of how that can work:

  • If you request a status match and complete the requirements in November of 2018, you will keep that status for 2018, all of 2019, and through January of 2020.
  • If you complete the status match requirements in March of 2019, you will keep that status for the remainder of 2019 and through January 2020.
  • If you complete the status match requirements in August of 2019, you will keep the status for the remainder of 2019, all of 2020, and through January 2021.

Hot Tip: Requesting and completing a status match in July offers you the longest period of elite status with United. 

Completing the Flying Requirements

Once you are approved for a status match with United, you will need to complete the flying requirements to finish the challenge.

The amount of miles or segments you’ll need depends on the level of status you were matched to.

Approved United MileagePlus® Status Match Elite LevelPremier Qualifying Miles or Premier Qualifying Segments Needed
Premier SilverFly 7,000 PQM or 8 PQS on flights operated by United or United Express
Premier GoldFly 12,500 PQM or 15 PQS on flights operated by United or United Express
Premier PlatinumFly 18,000 PQM or 22 PQS on flights operated by United or United Express

You will only have 90 days after approval to complete the flying requirements, so be sure to plan ahead. If you do not complete the requirements, your temporary elite status will expire, and you may not be eligible for another status match for 5 years.

Google flight map
Use the Google Flights explore map to search for United flights to complete your status match challenge. Image courtesy Google.com/flights.

Creating a Status Match Challenge Itinerary

If you already have United flights booked, you’re well on your way to completing your flying challenge.

If you need to book flights, you can use Google Flights and select United as the airline to find flights for completing your challenge. You could easily complete any of the status match challenges with just 1 flight.

Here are some examples:

Premier Silver

Fly 7,926 miles Chicago to London nonstop round-trip on United to complete the challenge for Premier Silver status.

Premier Gold

Fly 15,307 miles Chicago to Beijing round-trip on United to complete the challenge for Premier Gold status. (routing: ORD-EWR-PEK-SFO-ORD)

Premier Platinum

Fly 20,770 miles Chicago to Singapore round-trip on United to complete the challenge for Premier Platinum status. (routing: ORD-LAX-SIN-SFO-ORD)

Mileage calculation example
Use a mileage calculator such as MileCalc to estimate your flown mileage for the status match challenge. Image courtesy of Milecalc.com.

We recommend taking the extra time to estimate the amount miles you’ll be flying, so you can make sure to exceed the amount needed for the status match challenge.

Enhancing Your New Elite Status

Once you’ve completed your status match and are flying on United, you might want to elevate your experience with the United MileagePlus® Club Card. You’ll receive VIP perks including:

  • United Club lounge membership (normally costing $550 annually)
  • 2 free checked bags when you use your card to purchase the ticket
  • Premier Access® including priority check-in, screening, boarding, and baggage handling

You’ll also be earning United frequent flier miles you can redeem for very cheap flights. You might even want to use your miles to try the exceptional United Polaris experience.

  • 2 miles/$1 spent on United, 1.5 miles/$1 all other purchases
  • Generous sign-up bonus

Access our complete expert guide for a summary of all the United Airlines co-branded credit credits and comparisons of their perks and benefits.

Bottom Line: If you’re loyal to a particular airline, having the affiliated airline-branded credit card allows you to earn miles faster and enjoy benefits you don’t normally receive from elite status alone. 

Everything Else You Need to Know

If you’ve participated in a United Airlines status match within the past 5 years, you are not eligible to participate in another status match.

When you are completing the status match challenge, you can only qualify for the status level you were matched to in the program. For example, if you are granted a status match for Silver Elite, you cannot qualify for Gold Elite regardless of the number of miles/segments you complete during the 90 day period.

To qualify for a higher status level, you would need to complete the normal annual requirements as published.

If you don’t meet the status match requirements during the 90-day period, your temporary status will expire. All qualifying miles and segments must appear in your account before the end of the 90-day period.

If you have status with an airline other than Delta or American, you can still request a status match by completing the status match request form or sending an email containing the required documents and information.

Final Thoughts

If you need or want to change airline loyalty and you currently have elite status, a status match (or status challenge) is a much better alternative than earning elite status with a new airline from scratch!


*Featured image credit: United Airlines

FAQ

What is a status match?

If you have elite frequent flier status with an airline, you may be able to ask another airline to match that status. This process is called a status match.

Some airlines will grant you the same status you have with no other requirements. Other airlines will match your status but require you to complete a certain amount of flying on their airline in order for you to keep the status for a specific period of time.

What is a status challenge?

A status challenge is a requirement by an airline with which you’re requesting a status match. It requires you to fly a certain number of miles/segments before the airline will match your current elite status.

Some airlines will even allow you to complete a challenge that gives you a higher level of status than you have currently.

For example, you may have Silver elite status with an airline and request a status challenge with another airline for their Gold level elite status.

An airline may offer a status match, a status challenge, or a combination of both.

How do I request a status match with an airline?

You can request a status match via email or complete a status match form, which may be provided by the airline’s frequent flier program.

You can usually find the information for requesting a status match/challenge in the airline’s frequent flier program section on their website.

For example, to find the information on how to request a status match with United, you would visit their MileagePlus section of United.com. For American Airlines, you would visit their AAdvantage program section on AA.com.

How long does it take to get the status match?

Once you submit your request, you should receive a response within 14 business days. If you’re approved, all the terms of the status match/challenge will be communicated to you.

An example of a response might be: “You have been approved for Premier Silver elite status. The status will be effective immediately and continue for 90 days, expiring on November 30. If you complete 7,000 Premier Qualifying Miles or 8 Premier Qualifying Segments by that date, your Silver elite status will be valid through January 31, 2020.”

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6 comments

  1. Douglas S Baker · October 16, 2018 · Reply

    You must also fly on the the “metal” of the airline you want to get status on. So if you want United, you cannot fly on a codeshare partner even though they are in the same affiliation. This can make it harder overseas as United hands off to Lufthansa, for example, and the Lufthansa miles would not count.

    • Christine Krzyszton · October 16, 2018 · Reply

      Hi Douglas. Thank you for that reminder. As mentioned in the article, when status matching with United, you must fly on United or United Express operated flights. There are other airline status match programs that do not require you to fly on just the “metal” of the airline for which you want status, however, so it’s good to reiterate that point for United. Thanks again for your comment.

  2. 2 Questions ~

    1) How long from the time you submit the request till you receive an email confirmation that your account has updated status?

    2) If you booked flights before the status challenge request but the trip falls after the suggested start date will you get credit for the miles?

    • Christine Krzyszton · October 18, 2018 · Reply

      Hi Zach. You should receive a reply in 7-14 business days. Yes, if the flights you have booked fall within the period of your status challenge, you should receive the mileage credit. The email reply you receive from United will let you know the start date and terms of the challenge. Thanks for your questions.

  3. Do miles flown from award tickets count toward the PQM requirement for the status challenge?

    • Christine Krzyszton · October 30, 2018 · Reply

      Hi Allen. I’m sorry but award tickets do not earn PQMs, only paid flights. Thank you for your question.

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