How to get Star Alliance Gold status in a single flight

By Chris Chamberlin , May 27 2016
How to get Star Alliance Gold status in a single flight

Yes, you read that right: here's a status match promotion that can land you Star Alliance Gold frequent flyer status with just one flight.

That shiny Star Alliance Gold card is your key to primo perks like airport lounge access, priority treatment and extra baggage allowance with the likes of Air New Zealand, Singapore Airlines, Thai Airways, United, ANA, Lufthansa, Swiss and many more.

What's more, that card and those perks can be yours through to January 2018: that's almost 18 months of VIP treatment, even when you're flying economy class.

Star Alliance Gold challenge: how it works

The key to this is a nifty new 'status challenge' promotion offered by Star Alliance member United Airlines.

It plays out in two parts.

Firstly, you apply to have your current Platinum or Gold status with the likes of Qantas or Virgin Australia matched to the same level of United's MileagePlus frequent flyer program: that's United Premier Gold for Qantas and Velocity Gold, and United Premier Platinum for Qantas and Velocity Platinum.

Both of those United tiers are equivalent to Star Alliance Gold, which in turn lines up against the top rankings of other Star Alliance members.

Gold status opens the door at the superb Star Alliance lounge at LAX
Gold status opens the door at the superb Star Alliance lounge at LAX

If your application is accepted you'll get an instant upgrade to United Premier Gold or Platinum that's valid for 90 days, no flying required!

(This alone could prove timely if you've got travel with any Star Alliance airlines coming up in the next few months.)

Most travellers will want to keep their Gold card even longer, of course, and that's the second part of this 'challenge': you need only to complete a certain number of United Airlines flights within that 90 day window to qualify for up to 18 months of gratis status.

Star Alliance Gold challenge: what you’ll need

You have to be a Gold-grade or Platinum-grade frequent flyer with any airline that's not part of the Star Alliance family.

For instance, Gold and Platinum flyers with Qantas and Virgin Australia can apply – as can top-tier travellers with British Airways, Cathay Pacific, Etihad Airways, Emirates and some 40 other airlines... it's a fairly long and generous eligibility list!

However, if you’ve previously taken up a MileagePlus or OnePass status match offer in the last five years, even if that matched status has since expired, you’re not able to sign up this time around.

Star Alliance Gold challenge: registration

Head to this promotional page on the United Airlines website and login to your MileagePlus frequent flyer account.

If you’re not already a MileagePlus member, sign up – it's free – and then return to the promo page.

Then just confirm your email address, postal address and mobile number, enter the details of your current Gold or Platinum frequent flyer status with another airline and offer proof of that status, such as by a photo of your current membership card which shows a clear expiry date.

You can also select a preferred start date for your 90-day 'instant Gold status' period, but choose wisely.

If you take your qualifying flight/s on or before June 30 2016, your Star Alliance Gold status will be valid only through January 2017.

But if you take those flights on or after July 1 2016, your Gold-grade status will extend through to January 2018 – that's an extra year of elite goodness!

Star Alliance Gold challenge: set your targets

If your application is accepted and your 90 days as a United Premium Gold or Premium Platinum flyer begin, the 'status challenge' clock starts ticking.

Premier Gold members need to earn at least 12,500 of what United calls 'Premier-qualifying miles' (PQMs) on United Airlines flights within that 90 day period to keep their elite membership.

For Premier Platinum members the bar is set a little higher, at 18,000 PQMs.

Here's where this challenge is a perfect fit for Australian business travellers: the sheer length of United's flights from Sydney to Los Angeles and San Francisco, and Melbourne to Los Angeles, puts both of those targets within easy reach – regardless of whether you fly in business class or economy.

A one-way business class flight or a return trip in economy on any of those Australia-US routes earns over 14,000 PQMs – enough to trigger Premier Gold, and thus Star Alliance Gold, through to January 2018 if you fly on or after July 1 2016.

Unfortunately, if you’re a Platinum flyer and matched to United Premier Platinum status you’ll need to meet the higher Platinum target of 18,000 PQMs – but just one return trip in business class or two return trips in economy gets you over the line.

Once you've met your target, your United Premier / Star Alliance Gold membership expiry date will be updated within five to seven business days and a proper United membership card will arrive at your doorstep shortly after.

(Note that United's Gold and Platinum-grade frequent flyers don't enjoy access to United Airlines lounges on domestic trips within the USA even though other Star Alliance Gold members get through the door... but if you followed AusBT's advice last November and snared a Star Alliance Gold card via Avianca Brazil, the lounge awaits.)

Also read: Your guide to the United MileagePlus frequent flyer program

Follow Australian Business Traveller on Twitter: we're @AusBT

Chris Chamberlin

Chris Chamberlin is the Associate Editor of Executive Traveller, and lives by the motto that a journey of a thousand miles begins not just with a single step, but also a strong latte, a theatre ticket, and later in the day, a good gin and tonic.

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

10 May 2012

Total posts 140

Only Problem. It's United. 

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

03 Mar 2014

Total posts 16

Signed up last week and they got back in just a few hours. Now Star Gold, for a short while at the very least.

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

13 Jul 2012

Total posts 43

It would only accept the uploaded file after I converted it to PDF. I first tried JPG and GIF, as that is what the site said they would accept, but kept getting filetype not supported errore message.

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

20 May 2016

Total posts 9

I had the same issue and finally realized that it was the file size!

Singapore Airlines - KrisFlyer

27 May 2016

Total posts 2

Can you travel with other star alliance like SQ after you get the status match?

Yep the Star Alliance Gold status is valid across all Star Alliance carriers for things like lounge access and other benefits.

Singapore Airlines - KrisFlyer

27 May 2016

Total posts 2

Can your paltinum status get extended to january 2018 if you travel SQ Business to London return? I am currently Velocity Platinum.

Air Canada - Aeroplan

28 Apr 2015

Total posts 11

Reading this in LHR T2 LH Senator lounge - a very pleasant place to spend a bit of time (good selection of booze incl some excellent single malts - not with breakfast..although.) and a fine perk of the Star Alliance Gold Card. The UA deal might cause a bit grumbling with their insistence for loyal flyers to have a UA spend in addition to miles to get status.  AC have just done the same thing - $5k with them and 50K miles to get gold..$20K and 100K miles if I want to keep Super Elite status  (which would be nice but I'm buggered if I'm goint to spend 20K a year to fly AC) - bye bye AC and hello Krisflyer (again)! AC was good while it lasted.

Spend requirements to retain status don't apply to United frequent flyers based outside of North America. ;)

14 Jul 2015

Total posts 2

Do the PQM flights have to be with United directly, or can it be through a partner airline? 

Good Question

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

20 May 2016

Total posts 9

I've signed up and been approved. In four weeks we're flying to Buenos Aires with AZ. Now very confused. How does AZ know of my new UA status? Should we get lounge access in BNE and AKL? Should I take off my Airports number and replace with UA number if the flights will count towards qualifying? We're flying Y to EZE but J home. Sorry for the newby questions.

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

20 May 2016

Total posts 9

Just read everything sent and no the flights won't count so might as well get the airpoints dollars. Still not sure about how AZ can confirm my UA status to get lounge access 

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

04 Mar 2014

Total posts 40

I assume you mean NZ (Air New Zealand) not AZ (Alitalia)?

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

20 May 2016

Total posts 9

Argh. Newby error already. Yes. NZ. Of course...

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

20 May 2016

Total posts 9

Just a further follow up. I mentioned the UA status on check-in in Brisbane. The agent centred the number, added it to booking as secondary number, have us new boarding passes with fastrack and lounge access in both Brisbane and Auckland. Mission accomplished. Now sitting in Star Alliance lounge in EZE courtesy of a now cancelled St George card, on our way to Lima.

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

23 Feb 2015

Total posts 7

Just requested the match for QF Plat One...  So with United Plat membership will this give me access to the Swiss First lounges in ZRH next month??

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

29 May 2016

Total posts 1

Can anyone tell me when this expire? I have one trip to get to Platimum and hoping to swap to a Platimum status with UA instead of just a Gold.

I will get my Platimum by late June 2016

Thanks

Requested status match with VA Gold and received Silver. Was told VA Silver or Gold is equivalent to United. Not sure if they've just changed this, might want to update this post

Shame as I'm flying AC in July and this would have been useful

04 Jan 2015

Total posts 7

another top travel tip, thanks chris.

do you know how much longer this will be offered? you have to start the 90-day period within 14 days of applying for the promotion challenge..and i won't have a chance to book any UA flights until toward the end of the year.

12 Sep 2014

Total posts 6

Will this work if I travel using Swiss to Europe from Africa - dont need to fly with United but do have to fly from JHB to Europe. I normally fly Qantas but am looking at a Star Alliance RTW trip

I have status matched my Qantas Gold to United Gold and booked a flight with over 19,000 PQM's so I'm assuming this will be enough to qualify for United Gold. I am guessing your reference to the 12,500 is pro rata for the year?

Hi Michael, not sure where your idea of a pro rata earning tally came from – you simply need to earn at least 12,000 PQMs within the 90-day window you specified, so if you'll earn 19,000+ during that time via United as above, you're all set.

23 Aug 2016

Total posts 1

PQMs for the challenge can only be earned on United metal though right?  Anybody know if UA codeshares will count towards the PQM requirement for the challenge?

Virgin Australia - Velocity Rewards

30 May 2016

Total posts 11

1. How have people gone accessing lounges during the 90 day period?

Its the main reason I'm considering this as Singapore doesn't give me lounge access in Europe frommy velocity gold but this clause worries me that I'll just be wasting my time "During the 90-day period, you may not have access to all reciprocal Premier benefits with United's partner airlines, including access to Star Alliance lounges."

2. Has anyone with Velocity Gold successfully gotten matched to Gold?

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

24 Oct 2016

Total posts 2

Excellent Question - I am similar...I am flying to Singapore and then Europe early 17. Can I access Singapore lounges in Sydney and Singapore once I am approved?

14 Jul 2015

Total posts 2

I was able to access the Air Canada lounge during the 3 month trial period. 


I can also confirm that you need to be flying with United directly in order for the PQM to count towards your status challenge. Unfortunately as I flew Air Canada return from NYC to BNE, I did NOT qualify to remain as United Gold (and since I live in the USA and United Gold doesn't even give lounge access for domestic flights - no big deal). 

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

01 May 2017

Total posts 1

Chris

old thread, but United still have this offer and as QF platinum was thinking of doing the challenge as I have some international travel planned in Oct and fancy a change.  Question is do you know if you get lounge access, and benefits of being closer on the upgrade list when you are in the 90day challenge period?

You receive all the usual status benefits of the level you're matched to for the period you hold that status, unless United advises otherwise.


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