Do You See What I See?

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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?

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  1. Congrats! I am in the same boat and am really hoping that United runs some sort of status challenge for the SMD4 like AA did for the OneWorldDO.

  2. That’s great, however this also means you are paying for your tickets? How much did this status cost you? I would think you would have enough miles.Even for short trips I use BA.

  3. I think I’ll stick to accumulating miles through credit cards and promotions and redeeming them for awards rather than chasing status. While it is great to have, we only fly 6 times a year at most, so the economics just don’t work for us.

  4. When do they provide you with the premiere desk phone line? I’ve been silver for a year and never saw it. When I’ve called to ask they say they know nothing about it??? Was it in a packet?

  5. You didnt tell us how you achieve this?

    Did you get any “perks” such as ATTENDING the mega-do to help you get the silver status faster ?

    I believe it takes 25K miles for simply flying.

    I hope you will share your experience.

  6. Early congrats to you! Question though-if traveling with your family, and the rules state you and a companion get an E+ upgrade, will it be your husband or little C riding in E+ with you? Would they keep the three of you together since a child is involved (I would hope)?

  7. Jeff:

    The number on the back of your Premier card is different from the main number on the website. Call that number and enter your MP number and you’ll be routed appropriately!

  8. Congrats and I hope you get to gold real quick because getting E+ with a companion sitting together is nearly impossible or something that is not a middle seat. Throw in split itineraries because of upgrade procedure and the companion gets nothing. There is no additional baggage allowance on international flights. And most of the benefits can be had with a credit card.

  9. Any plans on doing a breakdown of the economics of your plan? As said above, for a few trips a year family it rarely makes economic sense for a whole family.
    What will you do about E+ when you travel together?

  10. You didn’t mention free checked bags? I think it’s dropped to one bag for silver, but if you’re checking a bag and didn’t have the United card, this is a benefit worth ~$50 per round trip which is fairly substantial. I don’t know off the top of my head, but maybe if your family is traveling on the same res, they get the checked bag benefit as well?

  11. Being careful about choosing aircraft can greatly affect your upgrade possibilities. I recently flew from Sacramento to IAH and had the choice of going though LAX on an RJ and A320, through DEN on two A320’s or direct to IAH on a 737-800. Of course the last aircraft has 20 seats up front. Even with my lowly Silver status(I affectionately refer to it as tinfoil) I was able to score seat #20. I wouldn’t have come anywhere close on the other aircraft. I won’t make Silver on UA this year but I did get the credit card. It won’t get me access to E+ but that’s the only benefit I’ll really miss.

  12. Just a few quick responses:
    -This was primarily from flying (and no “mileage runs”)
    -Thus far I have received no perks from hopefully attending the Star MegaDO 4 – I should earn some miles from that if I am lucky enough to get on (just like the rest of the participants), but none thus far
    -Had I redeemed miles for any of these flights I have taken thus far this year it would have been for less than 2 cents per mile, and mostly less than 1.5 cents per mile, so I wasn’t interested in redeeming for those levels right now.
    -I’m not sure yet what my E+ plan will be for family trips yet – we will play that by ear. I do often see two together at 24 hours out when elites get upgraded, but three together would often require seat swapping. For shorter flights, I may play the odds and see if we can end up with three seats by just paying for two. For longer flights, I may still confirm in advance. In a few months I should have Gold status though, so it is a short-term issue.
    -I don’t mention the baggage allowance as it can easily be had with a credit card, so I wasn’t overly excited about that.
    -The economics do not make sense for all families, but I do truly believe that the only way to get decent treatment by airlines, and in the airport, these days is to have elite status, so if at least one person in the family can have it, it helps. Of course, if you are a family that travels just 1-2 times per year, then it still doesn’t make financial sense.
    -I am close to having elite status on AA, but had trouble getting some miles to post from a trip and have kind of abandoned that for now since UA is my primary airline.
    -I agree 100% that if you can’t get status by flying, then having a credit card is the next best thing. It does not give you all the “perks”, but it certainly helps.

  13. The type of trips you seem to be taking, are you sure a 2% cash back CC wouldn’t be your best bet? They work great for domestic coach and no capacity controls.If you really fly Houston/Austin.Really?

  14. Silver Elite perks are pathetic now that Continental has become United. It just gets worse and worse. On international flights Continental’s Silver Elitse got to take 2 bags. That perk has been taken away. The only benefit IMHO is getting 25% more miles.

    Aegean requires you to have 10,000 of the required miles to be flown on Aegean. And not every class on United gets 100% of the miles. I know that the Economy S & T fares only get 50%. So its not as simple and easy as it seems.

    @Frequent Flyer Collector
    Yes, they do also get the extra bag.

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