United Airlines planes at Denver International Airport.
United Airlines plans to make it easier for patrons to earn elite status through co-branded Chase bank cards, the most recent airline to tweak its lucrative frequent flyer program to reward big spenders.
The airline is not changing overall requirements for elite frequent flyer status next yr, a primary for the carrier because the start of the Covid-19 pandemic. As a substitute, United said Thursday that in 2024, it’s going to reward customers with 25 qualifying points for each $500 they spend on co-branded cards. Currently, customers get 500 points for each $12,000 spent. The carrier may also lift caps on bank card spending that may qualify toward elite status.
Travelers need 5,000 qualifying points plus 4 flights to get to silver status, the bottom level, or have a mixture of flights and points.
Airlines reward their elites with perks similar to free upgrades, when available; earlier boarding; and other perks.
But ranks of elite frequent flyers have surged in recent times as travelers continued to spend through the Covid-19 pandemic and airlines allowed them to carry on to their tier status even in the event that they weren’t flying.
That has challenged airlines to maintain their programs each exclusive and fairly attainable and angered elites who’re jostling alongside fellow travelers for upgrades or airport lounge access.
Delta Air Lines in September said elite status could be awarded solely on spend — as a substitute of a mixture of flights and spending — though last month it walked back some planned changes to its SkyMiles program and lounge access limits after customer complaints.
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