Four Things to Do Before Your United Elite Status Level Drops

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I have United Platinum status for about another week before it drops down to lowly silver status. Shudder. I’m not looking forward to that change, but it is just a direct byproduct of choosing to be home with my family as much as possible, and not flying in circles just for the sake of flying.

It was the right choice, but before that precipitous drop in status and benefits occurs, I have a few final things I want to do with the higher level United elite status, and if you are in a similar situation with United elite status level dropping you may wish to do some of the same.

  1. Book Future United Flights 

I want to get as much as my 2017 travel squared away as I can in the next week both because I do better having my year outlined as early as possible, but also because I can get Economy Plus seats for up to 8 people on my reservation at the time of booking as a Platinum member until my status level drops on February 1st. As a Silver I will only be able to get two E+ seats and not until the check-in window opens 24 hours in advance of travel. Gold elites get two E+ seats at the time of booking, so those losing Gold status may also wish to secure some seat assignments now.

 

This is no small thing for me as United E+ seats can easily cost about $50 each way per person or more, meaning for a family of four that can be a swing of $400 per booked round trip flight. Since my husband is pretty tall and kids can be kinda squirmy, I am a big fan of the additional legroom that E+ seats provide, and will likely strongly consider an E+ subscription for my family at some point if we continue to have multiple United trips per year, but don’t fly enough for one of us to have a higher level elite status that provides for complimentary E+ seats at the time of booking.

We will take all the legroom we can get!

We will take all the legroom we can get!

2. Double Check all United Seat Assignments

Hand in hand with booking as many 2017 flights on United as I can before February 1st (assuming the price is right), I also plan to double check all of my United flights to ensure that we have our E+ seat assignments secured on those flights before my status drops. It can be easy to forget the seat assignment step at the time of booking, or even sometimes have the seat assignments change or disappear for reasons beyond your control after the time of booking.

Select your E+ seats now, or pay more later

3. Book United Awards to Lock in Higher Elite Level Perks and Fees

As is stated here, with United if your elite status changes between the time that you book an award and the time of travel and you need to make a change, they will apply the lower fee of the two status levels you held. As a specific example of these fees, as a United Platinum elite there are no fees for award changes or redeposits that happen 61 or more days before travel, and as a Silver there is a $50 fee in that time frame. Within 60 days of travel Platinum elites face a $50 fee for changes or redeposits on awards and Silvers have a $100 fee. When you multiply by four travelers that is a huge swing, so it makes sense to lock in the awards we can before my status level drops since United will honor the fees associated with the status I had at the time of booking.

If you have United 1K status that is dropping you certainly want to lock in awards before that status drops since 1Ks are exempt from all award changes and redeposits.

4. Match Your Airline Elite Status Level to Others

A final thing I am considering, and encourage others to do as well, is to match an expiring airline elite status to another airline before you lose it. A good example of this that I am going to do myself is to match my United Platinum status to Alaska Airlines.

This is not worth doing if you don’t think you will make use of the status, since such things are generally done only “once during the lifetime of the account”, but I very well may have some travel on Alaska this year so I figure “what the heck”. For Alaska specifically you need to email elite.flyer@alaskaair.com a copy of both sides of your current elite card, a screen shot of your online account showing your name, current status and YTD miles flown. There may be other requirements as well, but those were the minimum ones displayed in their auto-response to emails from that account. Alaska will match status from AeroMexico, Air Canada, American, Delta, Frontier, Hawaiian, Jet Blue, Southwest, United and Virgin America.

There is only about a week left before many airline elite status accounts will drop on February 1st, so don’t put off these sort of tasks to make the most of the status you have before you lose it! Are there any other tasks you are doing before your United (or other airline) elite status level drops?

Editorial Note: The opinions expressed here are mine and not provided, reviewed, by any bank, card issuer, or other company unless otherwise stated.

Comments

  1. United gold here. How do I now what my status will be for 2017? (Ridiculous question I know, but American and Delta make it easy to know by emailing me.)

  2. It was my understanding (been flying UA since 1988), that when you lose status, you also lose your good seats, and other associated benefits. YMMV.

    • As long as there are no major flight changes, and everything remains status quo, then your seat assignments will stay intact.

      • Denise is correct…if an aircraft swap or similar causes your seat assignments to go poof you may not get E+ back, but they don’t remove you from your assigned seats just because status dropped.

  3. Great post and I am doing all these things (including going for the Alaskan Airlines match) as I have stopped traveling for work and losing my Gold Status.
    One other thing to consider is if you are going to book award travel, I believe it costs more when you have less status. So if you have an award travel trip that you want to takes that’s firm in terms of date, you should probably book it before you lose your status.

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