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Take a look at this picture. Do you see what I see?
That’s right, I am one trip away from elite status with United. Truth is, I’m pretty excited about it. I haven’t had status in years due to redeeming awards for much of my travel. I know many of you are probably laughing at me being excited about bottom tier elite status with United, especially since benefits for bottom tier elites have been slashed with United in recent months, but let me tell you what a huge step this will be above traveling with no status. In fact, more and more I believe that the only way to be treated decently by the airlines these days is to have some sort of status. In fact, several others, including Gary Leff, have recently posted on this topic. In many ways, I think this is more important for families than for single travelers. Status (or at least lower tier status) doesn’t mean that the airlines are going to treat you like royalty, but you will at least be treated better than you would be without it. Here are a few of the perks I am looking forward to once I obtain my United MileagePlus Silver status:
- Priority security screening: This is actually pretty huge for me. I got used to it by having the Continental OnePass Plus card for years, however the “glitch” that was permitting cardholders to have “Premier Access” in the security lines has been fixed since the merger. I don’t like scheduling in enough extra time for the massive security lines that often are present early in the morning.
- Complimentary Access to E+: Economy Plus seats have enough legroom that even my tall husband doesn’t complain when we sit in those seats. However, those seats come with an extra price tag. For the routes I fly, E+ seats are often an extra $60 – $70 each. Multiply that by two or three and it adds up. As a Silver member, I will only be able to secure E+ seats for myself and one other person on my reservation 24 hours before departure when I check-in, but that is way better than what I have going for me now.
- Premier Priority Desk Phone Line: Again, this may not sound like much, but given how many calls I have had to make to United in recent months, this is a welcome change. Anything has to be better than the insanely-long hold times with exclusively overseas phone representatives that I seem to keep running into.
- A shot at complimentary upgrades: My expectations are very low here, however I often fly on flights that aren’t elite-heavy, so I do have a shot at occasional upgrades. I’m not expecting much, but it would be a nice surprise if/when it happens.
- 500 mile minimums: I fly a very short route from Houston to Austin occasionally, and it will be nice to earn a minimum of 500 miles on every flight segment instead of the 140-ish miles that the route would otherwise provide.
- 25% Premier Mileage Bonus: Now I will receive a 25% bonus on miles earned by flying with United and some of their partners. So, if I fly a flight that normally would earn 4,000 miles, I now earn 5,000 redeemable miles. Not earth shattering, but not bad.
Perhaps the best benefit of all is that I am only 25,000 miles away from Gold status. 😉 I’ll save reviewing those benefits for another post, but I think Gold status with United is where things really start to improve for the traveler. Based on travel that is already planned, I will at least obtain Gold status this year, but Platinum is certainly not out of the question. I’m not a big fan of mileage running (ie taking flights just to earn the miles), but I am a fan of making the trips I take with my family as seamless and comfortable as I can, so we’ll see what happens later in the year. For now, I’m counting the days until my self-hosted “Silver Party”.
What do you think about airline elite status and family travelers?